LUTZ, Fla. — Seven mental health professionals from Tampa Bay are taking part in Accelerated Resolution Therapy – or ART – training.

  • Accelerated Resolution Therapy, or ART, for PTSD treatment
  • Mental health professionals learning Accelerated Resolution Therapy
  • Used also for anxiety, depression and insomnia

It's one of 100 training sessions being hosted nationwide this year by the non-profit Art International.

Instructor Yolanda Harper said she's used the technique in her therapy practice for six years. It's commonly used to help people overcome trauma and PTSD, but Harper said she's seen positive results in people struggling with anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

"Really amazing results," Harper said. "Even after years of doing this, to see the look of relief and empowerment that come over clients at the end of a session, how they're able to walk, not kind of hunched over any longer, but with strength and with peace – that's what I see regularly."

Harper said she sees those results quickly – usually in five sessions or less.

The treatment involves a therapist moving his or her hand back and forth. Patients are instructed to follow the hand with their eyes and focus on the traumatic event, then think of more positive imagery.

"We're replacing those R-rated images with some G-rated pictures instead, so that when people think about the event, they remember the facts of the event, but they're not triggered by those R-rated images," Harper said. "The eye movement helps the brain to process more deeply. It helps the left side of the brain communicate with the right side of the brain. That’s one of the reasons why we believe it’s so effective."

Harper said ART helps with physical sensations associated with trauma that talk therapy may not, such as elevated heart rate, muscle tension, and sweating that can occur when thinking of the memory.

John Caporale is one of the trainees in the session being instructed by Harper. He works primarily with male offenders seeking drug treatment.

"The vast majority of people who experience addiction issues, at its core, there are some trauma issues associated with that," Caporale said.

In his case, Caporale said he wanted to become certified in ART because of the limited time he has to work with clients. 

"It provides an opportunity to really impact these people's lives within that short period of time so that they at least have a foundation, a basis for going on and continuing on a recovery path," Caporale said.