Art Therapy and Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) Therapy: The Art and Science of Integrative Mental Health Modalities

All human beings seek relief from suffering caused by past wounds, whether they be physical, mental, or emotional in nature. From a mind-body perspective and an integrative health approach, all types of trauma equally impact wellbeing, longevity, and quality of life. Integrative mental health services are becoming more widely practiced for deeper levels of healing as part of a comprehensive health and wellness program.

Art Therapy and Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) are two powerful integrative mental health modalities that rely on the art and science of healing. The effectiveness of both have been supported by research and clinically proven with the dedication and sensitivity of a well-trained facilitator in a professional setting.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is a drug-free, non-hypnosis intervention that transcends modern therapeutic methods by treating adults with a broad range of mental conditions resulting in remarkable benefits. ART uses visualization techniques and attention to how the body is affected by distressing images or memories, enhanced through the use of rapid eye movements similar to those experienced during dreaming.

ART has the ability to change the lives of individuals stuck in patterns rooted in past troubling events and experiences. Negative emotions, thoughts, images and body sensations linked to anxiety, depression, addiction and other problems are often associated with past experiences. These experiences create repetitive behaviors that can feel almost impossible to fix. ART relies on the fact that our brains are capable of positively modifying unwanted material. The treatment can help transform the memory of the event into one in which the patient is the observer and not the victim. ART helps patients process negative images associated with the troubling event, replacing them with positive ones to rapidly restore one's functioning and health.

Anne Harders has been a clinical social worker for over 18 years and has witnessed how Accelerated Resolution Therapy works in practice. She confirms how it helps to erase and replace painful images, emotions, and sensations from the past. Anne incorporates ART as part of her psychotherapy practice and individualized comprehensive treatment plan. She has seen how it eases suffering and shifts clients towards healing.

Another proven mental health adjunct is art therapy. As Julia Margaret Cameron wrote in The Artist's Way, "Art opens closets, airs out the cellars and attics. It brings healing." We tend to think of artists as only those who create beautiful masterpieces such as painters, writers, composers, and singers. However, the benefits of art-making are not limited to an end result. Through the lens of art therapy, the creative process itself is most valuable. It is a form of self-expression, a cathartic release of emotions, and a tangible representation of reality, imagination, experiences, and possibilities. Trials of life such as trauma, sadness, loss, fear, disease, depression, stress, and anxiety can cause a disconnect of body, mind, and spirit. This causes conflict with the body and directly impacts the stress response affecting thoughts, moods, immune system function, circulation, digestion, gut health, hormone regulation, sleep patterns, weight and metabolism, detoxification, and the body's natural healing process.

Every human has the innate ability to tap into creativity to promote healing, wellness, and enhanced quality of life. Professional Art Therapists are trained to guide, inspire, and uplift individuals in a safe, supportive, positive, respectful and nonjudgmental manner. They act as facilitators to invoke curiosity, inspiration, expression, joy, happiness, and healing into their patient's lives through art-making. During the creative exercises (especially with an intention to heal) one can feel more in control of his or her healing process. Creating disengages the stress response and promotes the healing response, returning the body to its natural state of ease. Like meditation, guided imagery and prayer, it can change the body's physiology by lowering blood pressure, increasing relaxation, deepening breathing, improving immune system function and reducing pain. Mental and emotional benefits include feeling empowered, hopeful, confident, relieved, decreased anxiety, and improved mood, mindfulness, and focus. On a spiritual level, one reconnects to the creative energy within to illuminate his or her authentic, uncensored self.

Susan Bass is a licensed professional counselor and registered art therapist (LPC, ATR) who embodies the saying "let your faith be bigger than your fear" which she has found encouraging for clients. Susan states that "change is so difficult for all of us. I try to inspire people through talking and art to have the courage to hear their inner voices and respond." One client wrote me a thank you note that read: "you encouraged us to be creative and open." Another wrote, "I found it both relaxing and insightful." Susan uses art therapy in practice along with CBT, person-centered, positive psychology and more to help people achieve their life goals and find the best in themselves. She has found that art therapy is a modality that is helpful when thoughts and emotions are difficult to express.

For more information on ART and Art Therapy or to schedule a consultation with Anne Harders LCSW or Susan Bass LPC, ATR, please call TAO Center for Vitality, Longevity, and Optimal Health LLC in Hebron CT at 860.228.1287 

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