USF Research Creates Psycho Therapy For Veterans

A University of South Florida (USF) researcher is testing a relatively new psychotherapy treatment he hopes will help veterans suffering from PTSD, substance abuse and other disabling emotional and mental challenges using a rapid-eye movement technique.

Dr. Kevin Kip, associate professor and executive director of the College of Nursing Research Center, is the principal investigator of a study to test the effects of Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) to treat emotional problems and related symptoms that arise from serving in combat operations. 

"ART is a relatively new type of psychotherapy developed in 2008 that uses a lot of components of existing therapies and lateral eye movement," says Kip. "In the case of trauma, we work with images of traumatic events. We ask the client to walk through experience as if it's a movie.To calm them and control physical reactions, we have them move their eyes from right to left. This lateral movement does a couple of things. It invokes both sides of the brain. When you have a traumatic experience, it’s not integrated correctly into the brain. We think the right to left eye movements help store the experience in a part of the brain that's not emotional.''

"Once calmness is achieved, we ask them to come up with a new way they would prefer to have experienced the event.
So it’s like overriding a file on your hard drive. Later, when you ask someone to recall the traumatic experience, they can remember historically what happened, but when they try to remember the images associated with it, new images come up instead of the old ones."

Kip says an initial study with nonmilitary participants showed promise. "We’ve just completed a study of 80 adults and saw very positive results in just three or four sessions on average. Their symptoms went way down. We’re on our second study now and it deals with combat only. We're getting positive results there, too."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Dr. Kevin Kip, University of South Florida
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