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New approach to treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

05 October 2015

Lyndsey Boardman

UCLan hosts first International Veterans Conference outside of USA in Cumbria  

A new approach to treating military mental health problems, most notably Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, has been shared at the first ever International Veterans Conference outside of the USA hosted by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The conference presented new research into Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART); a new and innovative way of dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can be caused by traumatic and distressing events and lead to flashbacks, insomnia and mood swings.

According to NHS figures*, PTSD is estimated to affect about one in every three people who have a traumatic experience. ART was developed in the US and has already been used by the country’s military to treat people suffering from PTSD, including the US Army Behavioural Health Unit and veterans groups such as Lone Survivor Foundation Retreats. Now for the first time this research is being brought to the UK. It uses the approach that traumatic images are connected to eye movements. Through this newly developed therapy it is possible to change the impact of the images while the veteran still retains the memory.

 

"The aim of ART is to integrate traumatic experiences together so when an individual experience is recalled the event is not relived but remembered without pain."

Left to right: Professor Dianne Morrison-Beady, Professor Mike Thomas, Colonel Alan Finnegan, Dr Rita D'Aoust, Dr Diego Hernandez, Wendy Nicholson, Professor Connie Visovsky, Vlademiro Rocas, Colonel Phil Harrison, Brigadier Robin Simpson, Dr Peter Carter, OBE.

Dr Diego Hernandez, a Professor of Nursing and Clinical Director of ART Research at the University of South Florida, spoke about research into the new therapy that has been conducted by the British Army, UCLan, The University of Florida, The University of Salford and the Rosenweig Center for Rapid Recovery Accelerated Resolution Therapy in Connecticut.**

He said: “ART in an innovative, emerging and promising therapeutic approach that targets a traumatic event in a single session without homework or repeated discussion of an event. The aim of ART is to integrate traumatic experiences together so when an individual experience is recalled the event is not relived but remembered without pain.

“Findings in ART research at the University of South Florida indicate positive results in three to four sessions for Post Traumatic Stress accompanied with subsequent drops in pain and suicidal thinking. ART can be delivered as a standalone intervention for traumatic memories or integrated into other therapeutic approaches.”

UCLan Interim Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas and Professor of Nursing in the UK Armed Forces Colonel Alan Finnegan have also worked with Dr Hernandez on the ART research. At the event, Professor Thomas talked specifically about the support available to UK veterans once they finish their military careers, including the establishment of the UK's College of Military Veterans and Emergency Services based at UCLan.

 

“We are delighted to host the first International Veterans Conference outside of the US, which for the first time in the UK showcases important developments in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

He commented: “We are delighted to host the first International Veterans Conference outside of the US, which for the first time in the UK showcases important developments in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that is already proving to be successful in the States.

“The College of Military Veterans and Emergency Services also presents another way of supporting the UK veteran community by enabling service people to make a smooth transition to civilian life and reach their full potential in whatever educational or employment routes they choose.”

Colonel Alan Finnegan commented: “ART offers the potential for rapid, safe and permanent resolution of trauma-related distress in a short period of time. This represents clear benefits for patients in quickly resolving distressing symptoms, for clinicians in improving clinical workflow and for the military by presenting an opportunity to treat service personnel in war zones.”

The collaborative International Veterans Conference was delivered in partnership with UCLan and the University of South Florida, bringing together international experts in military and veterans’ research, education, health and social care to showcase advances in research designed to meet the needs of veterans and their families.