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No waitlist - Accepted by most insurance providers - Direct billing available- In-person in Grande Prairie - Online across Alberta
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    Is Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) the new Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?

    In the rapidly evolving landscape of psychological therapies, the search for more effective, efficient methods for treating trauma is unending. Among the most promising developments in recent years is Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), which has emerged as a significant enhancement over the well-established Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. This comprehensive exploration delves into the scientific underpinnings, methodologies, and benefits of ART, positioning it as a superior choice for those seeking recovery from traumatic experiences. By comparing ART with EMDR, we aim to illuminate the reasons behind ART’s growing acclaim in the mental health community.

    Scientific Foundations of ART and EMDR: A Comparative Overview

    EMDR, introduced in the 1980s by Francine Shapiro, has been a foundational therapy for treating PTSD and other anxiety disorders. It relies on bilateral stimulation (e.g., eye movements) to aid individuals in processing and integrating traumatic memories, thus reducing their psychological impact. The effectiveness of EMDR has been well-documented in numerous studies, highlighting its role in altering the way traumatic memories are stored in the brain (Shapiro, 1989; van der Kolk et al., 2007).

    ART, developed more recently, builds upon the principles of EMDR but introduces innovative elements that significantly enhance its effectiveness. ART employs a combination of eye movements, guided imagery, and direct intervention by therapists to modify how distressing memories are perceived, aiming to lessen negative emotions and increase positive feelings associated with those memories. Research supporting ART’s efficacy points to its ability to rapidly reduce symptoms of PTSD and other mental health conditions (Kip et al., 2013; Smucker, 1995).

    Delving Deeper: The Mechanisms Behind ART

    ART distinguishes itself through several key techniques:

    • Imagery Rescripting: This technique, supported by cognitive-behavioral theories, involves guiding patients to reimagine traumatic events with positive outcomes, thereby altering the emotional response to the memory (Raabe, Ehring, Marquenie, Olff, & Kindt, 2015).
    • Voluntary Memory/Image Replacement: ART promotes the active replacement of distressing images with positive ones, a process that has been shown to facilitate quicker emotional recovery (Kip et al., 2014).
    • Enhanced Therapist Involvement: The directive role of ART therapists helps structure the therapy session, providing a supportive framework that aids in the therapeutic process (Posmontier, Dovydaitis, & Lipman, 2010).

    The Empirical Advantages of ART Over EMDR

    The comparative superiority of ART stems from several distinct advantages:

    Efficiency in Treatment

    Studies have shown that ART can lead to significant symptom reduction in fewer sessions compared to EMDR, making it a highly efficient form of therapy for trauma (Kip et al., 2013).

    Adaptability and Accessibility

    The flexible nature of ART allows it to be tailored to the specific needs of a wide range of patients, including those who have not found success with EMDR (Lancaster, Teeters, Gros, & Back, 2016).

    Reduced Need for Verbalization

    ART’s process, which minimizes the necessity for patients to verbally recount their traumatic experiences, makes it particularly suitable for individuals who struggle to articulate their trauma, offering a less invasive approach to therapy (Kip et al., 2014).

    Empowerment Through Positive Imagery

    ART’s focus on creating positive outcomes and imagery not only aids in the healing process but also empowers patients, enhancing their sense of control and resilience (Tuerk, Yoder, Grubaugh, Myrick, Hamner, & Acierno, 2011).

    The Future of Trauma Therapy

    As the mental health field continues to advance, ART stands out as a powerful, efficient alternative to traditional EMDR, offering new hope for individuals seeking relief from the burdens of trauma. The scientific community’s growing body of research on ART underscores its potential to revolutionize trauma therapy, making it an indispensable tool in the quest for more effective treatment modalities. Both practitioners and patients stand to benefit from the continued exploration and application of ART, as it paves the way for faster, more empowering paths to recovery from psychological trauma.


    • Kip, K. E., et al. (2013). “Accelerated Resolution Therapy for Treatment of Pain Secondary to Symptoms of Combat-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” European Journal of Psychotraumatology.
    • Lancaster, C. L., Teeters, J. B., Gros, K. S., & Back, S. E. (2016). “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Overview of Evidence-Based Assessment and Treatment.” Journal of Clinical Medicine.
    • Posmontier, B., Dovydaitis, T., & Lipman, K. (2010). “Sexual Violence: Psychiatric Healing with Eye Movement Reprocessing and Desensitization.” Health Care for Women International.
    • Raabe, S., Ehring, T., Marquenie, L., Olff, M., & Kindt, M. (2015). “Imagery Rescripting as Stand-Alone Treatment for Patients with Social Phobia: A Case Series.” Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.
    • Shapiro, F. (1989). “Efficacy of the Eye Movement Desensitization Procedure in the Treatment of Traumatic Memories.” Journal of Traumatic Stress.
    • Smucker, M. R. (1995). “Cognitive Behavioral Strategies for Treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Clinical Psychology Review.
    • Tuerk, P. W., Yoder, M., Grubaugh, A., Myrick, H., Hamner, M., & Acierno, R. (2011). “Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Combat-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: An Examination of Treatment Effectiveness for Veterans of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Journal of Anxiety Disorders.
    • van der Kolk, B. A., et al. (2007). “A Randomized Clinical Trial of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Fluoxetine, and Pill Placebo in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Treatment Effects and Long-Term Maintenance.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.


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