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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

South Florida: ART Helps Improve Mental Health of Homeless Veterans

University of South Florida College of Public Health’s Dr. Kevin Kip, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, compared the results of 23 homeless veterans and 94 veterans in the community who received treatment for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with a new treatment, accelerated resolution therapy (ART).

“We wanted to see how well the therapy worked in both groups because individuals who are homeless usually have many other life challenges, and we weren’t really sure what the response to the therapy would be for homeless vs. non-homeless veterans,” Dr. Kip said.

The study, “Evaluation of Brief Treatment of Symptoms of Psychological Trauma among Veterans residing in a Homeless Shelter by Use of Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)” is published in the journal, Nursing Outlook.

Kevin Kip, PhD, FAHA (Photo by Caitlin Keough).

[Dr. Kevin Kip, FAHA (Photo by Caitlin Keough).]

The therapy is usually completed in about three or four sessions depending on the amount and extent of the veteran’s traumatic experience(s).

Before the therapy took place, Dr. Kip and his research team collected baseline characteristics from the veterans. These characteristics included: age, how much combat exposure they had, trauma experienced, their symptoms of PTSD, if they had any alcohol or substance abuse problems, and their overall health.

The veterans then began their ART sessions.

Each session covers working through one significant traumatic experience from the past, with the therapy occurring in two phases. The first phase starts with the veteran being asked to just think, not talk, about the original experience, as if they were reliving it in their mind. This technique is called imaginable exposure.

During the imaginable exposure phase, the veteran will relive the experience in their mind which will usually cause a range of physiological reactions. The therapist will ask the veteran how they feel from head to toe. Whatever symptom the veteran might be feeling, the therapist will then ask them to focus on the specific symptom.  This will occur as the patient follows with their eyes the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth 40 times in front of their face. This is called smooth pursuit eye movements.

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