OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — According to ART International, mental health affects one in five adults each year, and about nine million Americans live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder each year.
Kansas City health professionals met for a workshop over the weekend in Overland Park to get trained on a new psychotherapy option, which helps treat PTSD, trauma, anxiety, phobias and other mental health conditions.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy uses traditional counseling and bilateral eye movements to help the brain remove negative emotions and physical sensations that are tied to a specific trauma or phobia.
Kristy Pauls, who has been in the mental health industry for over 20 years, is traveling the country to spread awareness around this new treatment method.
“It’s a modality that uses five different components in one session to help that person move through a traumatic situation,” Pauls said. “It’s really replacing images in your brain so that you don’t have to relive the trauma.”
ART is quicker and more effective compared to other therapy methods that Pauls has tried before. She believes it can be a tremendous tool for her clients who are suffering from the pandemic.
According to Mental Health America, anxiety increased by 93% and depression increased by 62% from January to September of 2020.
“COVID causes a lot of anxiety, a lot of depression, a lot of social isolation, so then they don’t know what to do with themselves," Pauls said. "And you can put that into the script, and they can literally fix some of that. Consistently one to five sessions, and the trauma was gone.”
Ana Vallecillos is a living testament that ART can work.
“It was great — we dealt with a phobia of crickets. And I know it’s kinda silly, but I haven’t been afraid of crickets anymore,” Vallecillos said.
She says living with a phobia can be debilitating for many. It hindered her from doing the things she loves most.
“Not being able to go fishing with my family because there are crickets and being scared that they are going to jump off at any point — that affects where you go, what you do, how you feel,” Vallecillos said.
Now she is training to practice ART on her clients and hopes others can find the same relief. She will be one of only 30-40 licensed professionals in Kansas who are trained on ART.
“Without the proper treatment, we’re talking about lifetime,” Vallecillos said.
To find licensed professionals in your area, head here.