Millions of Americans suffer from PTSD, and for far too many of them the combination of talk therapy and medication is not enough to provide relief.
That is why this weekend a Dallas hotel conference room was abuzz with a flurry of activity — specifically a group of mental health professionals from as far away as Canada learning a technique of combining hand movements with rapid eye movement to effectively remove negative images associated with trauma.
“The body remembers everything. I might remember how I felt at the moment I saw the car coming toward me. I felt anxious in my chest, so we work on the picture of that event,” said Jennifer Street, a certified trauma professional with the Lone Survivor Foundation, who is in town to teach Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART).
When she treats someone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Street will sit across from the patient and guide them through a scripted ART session. She instructs the patient to follow her rapid, side-to-side hand movements with their eyes while they visualize their traumatic experience.
“The science behind the eye movements is bilateral stimulation. They are going from the left to the right sides of their brain. The story of a traumatic incident exists in a different part of your brain than the area that stores the images of that trauma,” Street said. “ART helps us to ‘unstick’ the images.”
Kim Tubbs, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and owner of Whole Life Psychiatry in Las Colinas, was among those who took part in the three-day ART seminar.
“Some of my patients don’t sleep. They struggle with going places with their families. They are unable to participate in life the way they were participating prior to their trauma,” Tubbs said about the debilitating impact of PTSD. “Medicine does not take the trauma away. But [ART] could help.”