When psychologists start using their Affect Regulation Therapy skills immediately after their training they often choose to work with their long-term clients first. They seem to be more comfortable explaining the new techniques to clients with whom they have a well established trust relationship. At the time their clients have often had several months, or in some cases several years of psychotherapy.
One of my trainees, a counseling psychologist, explained to me that she had been using CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) with a client for 12 months to treat several anxieties. The client felt anxious in social situations and had not driven a car for six years. She started A.R.T. and after six sessions her client noticed more confidence socially and he also started driving again. The client also felt he was getting a better result from hypnotherapy after A.R.T.
In another instance, I recently got the feedback from an A.R.T. practitioner, also using her new skills with her long-term clients, that her clients observed immediate improvements in mental clarity and better emotional control after A.R.T. They felt less emotional over-reactivity and sensitivity.
The evidence here points to the value of A.R.T. as a preparation for other psychotherapy techniques, such as CBT, EMDR, ACT and hypnotherapy. And A.R.T. also has unique ‘add on’ benefits for clients who have already had those particular psychotherapies.
When A.R.T. is used as a preparation for other psychotherapies, therapists can find that their clients respond much faster and better to their interventions. The reason for this is that A.R.T. can very specifically reduce emotional stress and lower hyper-arousal states. This means clients become more receptive to cognitively based approaches after A.R.T. Practically this means less work for the client, faster results and being able to use their often limited funds to cover more psychological ground, so better quality of life for the client.
Where the client has already been treated long-term with one of the abovementioned treatment methods, A.R.T. can be very effective in still further improving client wellbeing by accessing and developing certain psycho-social-emotional-cognitive areas not previously tapped into. Developing these areas proffers the hallmarks of A.R.T. benefits: the increased mental clarity, emotional regulation, emotional appropriateness and better cognitive/emotional balance. It is fairly standard for clients to specifically report these improvements in their mental health after A.R.T., even when they have had many years of cognitive-behavior or a psychodynamic psychotherapy.
Based on my own observations in my practice and also on the feedback I regularly get from my trainees A.R.T. delivers certain unique benefits to clients’ mental health and it is a valuable aid at any stage in a psychotherapy process.