College days are supposed to be a time for football games, parties, and young adults being on their own for the first time. While all that sounds like fun times, it’s also a time of incredible stress — especially right now. But an innovative therapy being used in more than 40 states can help. It’s called ART, and it has nothing to do with drawing. It stands for Accelerated Resolution Therapy.
What Is Accelerated Resolution Therapy Training?
This therapy modality was developed by Laney Rosenzweig, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with more than 30 years of experience.
ART International describes the therapy as “an evidence-based novel psychotherapy that fosters rapid recovery by reprogramming how the brain stores traumatic memories and imagery. ART has roots in and includes elements of existing evidenced-based modalities. The treatment program incorporates memory visualization techniques that are enhanced by the use of horizontal eye movements, as well as memory reconsolidation, a way in which new information is incorporated into existing memories.”
What conditions can it help? The website lists:
- Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD)
It is also helpful for the more day-to-day issues of the average college student or young person.
“ART can be used for the big things as well as the small. It works just as effectively for a student that just lost a loved one as it can for a student that wants help with procrastination or test anxiety,” Western New England University ART therapist Amy Shuman MSW, LICSW, DCSW tells Parentology. Shuman is using ART to help students at the college, and the results are impressive.
Statistics indicate college life is anything but carefree. Between pressure for students to perform academically as well as socially, and bills, health and family concerns, anxiety among this population is on the rise. Students are seeking help at counseling centers in increasing numbers. The American Institute of Stress reports a 30% increase in the number of students who sought help at counseling centers when comparing 2009/2010 to 2014/2015.
“The larger environment that we live in has become one where safety and well-being are not a given,” Shuman observes. “Within this bigger social environment, we have continuously increased our expectations of our young people as they grow up, and we have decreased their ability to enjoy freedom of thought and imagination.”
Shuman notes that kids from families that enjoy socioeconomic privilege often have their lives programmed from morning until night. Families with less socioeconomic privilege deal with being in a community/school and home environment that is not as safe or conducive to the safety and comfort of the children. And young people from both groups have to navigate the world of social media.
“The inclusion of these domains in growing children and adolescents bring with them a constant social pressure and for many a feeling of not measuring up,” she says. “For more than a few, there is social bullying.”
Needless to say, the need is there.
How ART Works
Scientific study has shown that emotionally-based memories are not fixed, such as a computer program. Rather, it turns out that whenever we recall a memory that has emotions attached to it (such as anxiety), that memory becomes malleable and open to change.
During an ART protocol, Shuman who have a student focus on a day or memory when they remember experiencing anxiety. She guides the student through looking at the images associated with this incident, and help them make the images as neutral or as pleasant as they want.
“Many people find that the anxiety decreases or even goes away,” she explains, noting that these changes can last indefinitely. “In the studies conducted so far, when people checked their memories up to a year later, the positive changes that the person made lasted.”
You will still be able to remember the facts of the original memory, you will still retain the information about the incident, just not the upsetting images or accompanying sensations.
“Here at the college, we have been using this eye movement therapy to help students with problems like PTSD, anxiety, OCD, text anxiety, and social anxiety,” Shuman says. “We can take advantage of the natural opportunity to edit the images and sensations that are associated with your experience of anxiety.”
ART is an option from clinicians in more than 40 states.