TUCSON, Ariz. — The horrific images and emotions associated with traumatic events can be ingrained in people's memories for a long time.
Now there's a therapy for PTSD that's growing in popularity, and takes a different approach to treatment. It's called Accelerated Resolution Therapy, or ART.
Trauma clinician Estefana Johnson says unlike other therapies, clients don't have to talk about what happened.
"Sometimes, it's too overwhelming for it to process," Johnson said. "So no matter how much you talk or share, and logically -- you know you're overreacting -- your body still reacts that way and that's where people get stuck."
Johnson says this form of therapy targets the images and sensations associated with the trauma. Think of the emotional responses your body has to something scary, like a sped up heart rate, and shallow breathing. She says through ART, by not talking about the traumatic event, patients actually get to the root of the problem -- the body's response to it. Johnson compares it to removing weeds.
"If you have weeds in your yard, and you trim them from the top down, yeah -- it looks like they're gone," Johnson said. "But they're going to grow back. The only way to really resolve it, is to pull it from the root."
When a clinician uses ART, the patient keeps their gaze focused on a the moving hand in front of their face. After a few moments, they are asked how they feel, and to take a deep breath.
The focus is on the images and the narrative of the traumatic event. But Johnson says this method changes the feelings and thoughts that come from that, and turn it into something more positive or neutral. She calls it post traumatic growth.
ART is said to be an effective treatment, not only for PTSD, but also for anxiety, depression, OCD, and performance anxiety.