“Kathy” had been doing well in her recovery from gambling addiction, having abstained for a dozen years with only occasional fleeting thoughts about gambling. But when a workplace assault created new trauma and awakened old feelings from previous traumatic experiences, she suddenly had unprecedented cravings to gamble, even devising a plan to travel far away to engage in a gambling spree.
For nearly a year after the workplace incident, which left her with both physical (torn ligaments and broken bones in both wrists) and psychological damage, Kathy was unable to find relief. “I went through a lot of talk therapy to work through things, but it just wasn’t helping,” says Kathy. “I didn’t feel better and was in a constant state of fear. There were times when I was afraid to leave my apartment, stayed in bed all the time, felt suicidal and was just not living a life.”
As Kathy’s addiction symptoms worsened and her physical pain persisted, she sought out options that would be more effective than traditional talk therapy and medication. A friend mentioned a therapeutic approached called accelerated resolution therapy (ART) that could potentially provide help for both the psychological anguish and the physical pain.
“I was feeling so bad physically and emotionally that I was ready to try anything,” says Kathy. “I went into it accelerated resolution therapy with an open mind.” Kathy had her first ART session in November, ten months after the workplace incident.
To her surprise, Kathy experienced immediate improvement—both for her mental anguish and physical pain. “My psychological pain, as measured by feelings of anger, hurt, depression, anxiety, etc., went from a 9 or 10 at the beginning of the session to zero or 1 at the end of the session. And I was able to decrease the amount of pain medication I needed by approximately 60 percent.”
“It may be hard to believe, but it’s common for one session of ART to have these kind of results,” says Wade Lang, LPCC, LADC, NCGC-II, who led Kathy through accelerated resolution therapy. “Kathy’s anxiety and depression were eliminated, the craving went away and even the pain at the original trauma sites was drastically reduced.” Kathy’s PCL-5 score (the PCL-5 is a 20-item self-report measure that assesses the 20 DSM-5 symptoms of PTSD) dropped from the 60s to a 6.
Kathy had two additional ART sessions to solidify the gains she made, but does not anticipate the need for extended therapy lasting for months or years. “For the first time in my life, I’m feeling content,” says Kathy. “I’m experiencing an awareness I haven’t felt for a long time and even found myself asking, ‘When did all the leaves on the trees fall off the trees?’ There’s light in my life.”