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  • Writer's pictureBrittani Antunes, MC, LPC

Accelerated Resolution Therapy vs EMDR

Updated: Feb 26

Which type of trauma therapy is right for you?


A beautiful brain made from leaves to depict the art of different types of PTSD therapy | Phoenix, AZ

Let’s be honest, it doesn’t sound like fun to start trauma therapy. I get it. Perhaps we can make it less daunting by empowering you with information about the options.


There are different types of trauma therapy out there, finding the right fit for you can save a lot of time and emotional energy.  I’m going to talk about the two types I know best and use with people every day.  Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) and EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). They are certainly similar in some ways and different in others, how is one supposed to know which one to choose?

 

Short answer- You don’t.

(well at least if you work with me because I can talk through it with you and we can choose together). I also love making a special blend of the two :)


Longer answer- Both methods are really great, productive, and effective but they have different strengths so it depends on what you’re looking for.


Before I share my opinions on this topic, it's only fair for you to know where these thoughts are coming from so let me take a brief detour to convey how regularly I use both of these methods.


My EMDR Therapy Experience:

I am certified in EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

o  I have been using it with the majority of my clients since 2017

o  I have continuously attended additional trainings since then

o  I lead a monthly group with other EMDR therapists to discuss techniques + protocols

o  I have gone through EMDR personally and have first-hand experience of the benefits

My Accelerated Resolution Therapy Experience:

I was trained in ART in 2019

I have used this to completely treat uncountable traumas/events for those it was a good fit for. Also using it as an option for the majority of the people I work with

I constantly engage in the community of other ART therapists to keep my on my toes

I have also gone through ART myself and to this day have zero emotional or physical reaction when I recall a scary trauma that occurred in my childhood.


Ok, so here are my thoughts about the differences between each trauma therapy approach:

*Note that other therapists have different specialities and, therefore, may have different opinions on how they personally use each method. I specialize in treating traumas and micro-traumas (smaller events that feel big but you may not think to call a 'trauma').


Accelerated Resolution Therapy


plant with exposed roots varying in areas to convey differences in accelerated resolution therapy vs emdr therapy

EMDR

Best for single memories. This method is ideal for memories that could play through in your mind from start to finish. (ex- an assault, witnessing an attack, a traumatic birth, an embarrassing moment) It will likely be the last time it feels that bad to think about it.

Type of Memory

Best for a chapter/cluster of memories. This is better for healing from things that don’t have one single moment/event attached to them (ex- being bullied in grade school, years of childhood abuse, long medical trauma).   

Excellent. At the end of the process it’s likely that you’d be able to think about the experience and not have an emotional reaction to it.

Reducing Emotions

Excellent. At the end of the process it’s likely that you’d be able to think about the experience and not have an emotional reaction to it.

Uses eye-movements (or other back-and-forth options that prompt your brain such as self-tapping) Has a more structured approach. You are guided to recall the memory in your mind, relieve related physical sensations, or other techniques for very short periods of time, taking breaths and emotionally stabilizing in-between.

How it’s Done


art of a brain to depict the bi-lateral stimulation that takes place during both types of trauma therapy, ART and EMDR

Uses eye-movements (or other back-and-forth options that prompt your brain such as self-tapping) Has a less structured approach. You typically have a anchor point of your topic and your mind processes through thoughts, feelings, and body sensations related to it.

Excellent. This helps to reorganize and store the memory in a way that lets your mind know it’s no longer happening… stopping you from feeling like you’re reliving it when you think about it.

Filing old Events in the Past

Excellent. It may take a little longer to get there due to the increased thoroughness of the process. Having skills to manage emotions in-between sessions is really helpful. Sometimes things get a bit tough before we get to the relieving end result.

Very Quick! I don’t know of any other trauma therapy that can get relief as successfully and quickly as ART. Once we’re set up, it’s common to heal from a single memory in 1-3 sessions.

Quickness


art of flowers and plants depicting quick trauma therapy such as EMDR vs Accelerated Resolution Therapy


Quick, but not as quick. EMDR is quick compared to typical talk therapy, however, does take longer than ART. The process is more thorough in sorting out more thoughts, sometimes connected to other related experiences (which we can choose to explore or not). For example, if you’re working on years of being bullied in school, it will take longer than doing ART on one single memory of being bullied.  Research leans toward 8-12 sessions, I have worked with people that process something entirely in one to two sessions, and some that make much more because of the complexity of it.

Excellent. Once you complete the process, the memory should no longer feel emotionally or physically activating and should remain that way.  In my years of doing this I find this to be true.

Permanency of

Results

Excellent, however... it’s worth noting that the topics addressed with EMDR are typically more complex so it’s possible that there will be an area of the topic that doesn’t get fully sorted and healed so it’s possible that unprocessed aspects of the events may show up later.

Excellent. We could technically heal the pain from an entire experience without you having to share what the memory is of. It would still work.  

Not Having to

Share Aloud

Great. We do check in a little bit more about what’s going on in your mind when doing EMDR but it can still be very limited, just enough for me know you’re emotionally ok and what next steps to guide you through.

Excellent. It's very helpful at relieving things you feel in your body when you recall the event. We tune into body sensations and work through them very often throughout the process, it’s a part of the foundation of the method. Trauma is stored in the body, ART helps to relieve it.

Body Sensation Release

Helpful but ... It's not quite as focused on body sensations. It’s up to the therapist to periodically prompt you to tune into body sensations and work through them, which some do often, some don’t. It’s not as built into the protocol as ART but can be made a focus.

Excellent. Very helpful at making images from an experience more difficult to recall and stops them from popping up randomly.

Erasing Images from your Mind


plants depicted as dead or struggling to growing and thriving like erasing something from your memory with Accelerated Resolution Therapy near me

Not a primary focus. It may not help to erase images, however, when you think about moments of the experience EMDR helps it feel much less intense

More Visually Based. If you’re a very visual person, replaying conversations, experiences, traumas, dreams, etc. in your mind then ART would likely be right up your alley.   

Visual vs Thought Based

More Thought Based. If you consider yourself a logical thinker and recall memories more in sentences/thoughts than in pictures, EMDR may feel more in your comfort zone.

Not as thorough but will likely still help

Unhelpful Thoughts

Great. Very helpful at changing a negative belief about yourself that’s from a trauma (I’m bad, I’m not safe, It's my fault, I'm not enough, I can’t trust myself, etc …) to something much more comfortable.

Not a primary focus... of the process but thoughts often get sorted in the background. You may get less insights than you would with EMDR.  

Sorting Thoughts


organized potted plants to convey sorted thoughts after healing trauma from Accelerated Resolution Therapy vs EMDR

Very helpful. EMDR is goo at untangling a ball of mixed thoughts about the event, gaining a better understanding of things, of how you feel about parts of it, and finding new perspectives that feel much better.  


Overall,

Accelerated Resolution Therapy is the most helpful if you have a memory of an experience (big or small) that you could essentially play in your in your mind and you're wanting that memory to stop replaying in your mind and/or causing you emotional and physical discomfort. It works very quickly, is very body focused, and I feel it does an outstanding job at getting relief at the deepest level. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is more helpful if you have a chapter of your life with various related experiences, not just one, that you're wanting to heal from. It's more thorough in sorting out the thoughts that you have surrounding the events (the 'Why me's', 'Did I cause this?', 'How could this happen?', 'I'm a bad person' type thoughts). Doing the more thorough process does tend to take longer and may require more coping skills to manage emotions in-between sessions. Both work. Both are really great at healing from traumas and micro-traumas.


 

Want to start Accelerated Resolution Therapy or EMDR?

Let's do this, I'll guide you the whole way.




 

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