You need say nothing out loud. You just keep your body still and your eyes follow the tic-toc of the therapist’s hand going back and forth, while you think silently to yourself about the sights, sounds, and emotions that you want to loosen from your head, heart, and soul.
It’s called Accelerated Resolution Therapy, a new tool to treat acute trauma, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression that is being adopted into the menu of treatments available at Walter Reed and other army centers, and a vanguard of trailblazing veterans groups.
Partly because it works so fast, military leaders hope it could help handle a backlog of PTSD cases, and encourage more troops to seek treatment. It requires no surgical procedure, unlike another new-ish treatment called stellate ganglion block, in which local anesthetic is used to numb or block part of the nervous system.
The other advantage: unlike talk therapy or other commonly used methods, where the subject shares what’s bothering them out loud, the soldier need share nothing with the therapist.
Instead, the patient watches the therapist’s hand with their eyes, while bringing up in their own mind the disturbing memories or images, first tuning in to how the body reacts. Through deep breathing, the patient focuses on the tension and releases it, and then focuses on the memory piece by piece, progressively remember it, then mentally painting over the image or memory, and finally replacing it with a new image. It doesn’t erase the memory, but helps it fade. The therapist need hear nothing.