As the field of psychology has developed, many new theories and practices have become common, leading to many different types of therapy. The idea of a client and a psychologist, alone in a room for an hour, trying to discuss difficult topics and having that one single “breakthrough” is outdated – because in many cases, even the idea of discussing traumatic events can induce anxiety and dread.
As mental health professionals trying to provide a route to a better life for each client, we don’t want to force anyone to relive past trauma. Rather, we want them to work through it as comfortably as possible, while still making progress and building the tools they need to overcome the trauma in their daily life.
Trauma That's Hard to Talk About
Everybody responds to trauma differently, and there is no wrong way to do so. One of the most common outcomes, though, is some form of post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD – which can manifest with symptoms like extreme anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, and difficulty in addressing the trigger event. This aversion can last for years, often leading to secondary problems with emotional health or relationships.
Other people are simply not comfortable opening up to others, due to past experiences or personal beliefs. They may feel that they have nothing to gain by discussing their problems with another person, feeling that it makes them weak or inadequate. Sometimes, they may not feel a particular connection with a therapist, or with the methodology used – for example, if you suffer from anxiety, it is extraordinarily uncomfortable to be put on the spot in a one-on-one, face-to-face situation.
In short, some people cannot imagine discussing their trauma out loud, while others would simply prefer not to – and both are entirely valid when trying to improve mental health. With that in mind, are there therapy options for people who struggle to talk about their trauma?
Yes, there are!
Therapy Without Talking
Accelerated Resolution Therapy, or ART, is a relatively recent development in psychology, first used by family therapist Laney Rosenzweig in 2008. Building on the work done by Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) theory, this ground-breaking practice is notable for one very big reason: it requires no verbal discussion of past trauma for clients, who are always in control of the session. This makes it a truly safe and inclusive therapy method. If you can move your eyes, you can follow through with ART.
How Accelerated Resolution Therapy Works
ART uses techniques from several other types of behavioural therapy, such as rapid eye movement and guided imagery, to reduce the effect of past psychological stress. By mimicking the patterns of memory formation during REM sleep, past stressors and negative memories are recalled (but not necessarily verbalized), kept in mind throughout the exercises, and then better processed and reframed in the brain’s neurology.
The Benefits of Accelerated Resolution Therapy
ART requires no hypnotherapy, medication, or homework, and can be utilized without any overt discussion of specific trauma. For those who are unsure what to say – or could not speak out loud, even if they wanted to – it presents a unique and usually welcome opportunity to get relief suited to their specific needs.
In addition to that, it is known for being:
Efficient – results can often be seen in just a few sessions, over the span of several weeks;
Interactive – the client is asked to develop their own solutions for traumatic experiences, under the safe guidance of a professional psychologist;
Effective – individuals often “replace” traumatic memories with more positive ones, keeping the details intact but entirely removing the negative emotions associated with it.
What Accelerated Resolution Therapy is Best For
The main focus of ART is to reduce symptoms of traumatic recall, such as those instilled by PTSD. However, it can also be used for other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, grief, addictions, or issues stemming from abuse. These are often very difficult to summarize or talk about, making them best suited for this type of therapy.
Finding Therapy in Calgary, Alberta
You likely have more questions about methods like ART – and that’s okay, because there’s much more information than we can cover in a single article. Reach out today for a free consultation with one of our registered psychologists, and we can answer your questions and provide you with more information.