The Life-Saving Impact of ART®:  Abby’s Extraordinary Journey

The impact of Accelerated Resolution Therapy can be life-saving. Beyond providing relief for various life-altering mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, OCD, grief, and PTSD, ART has demonstrated incredible efficacy in emergency situations, such as suicidal intent. It frequently serves as a final recourse for clients who have exhausted numerous other techniques in their pursuit of relief. Such was the case for Ann Haydu’s client, “Abby.”

Ann Haydu’s ARTistry: Thirty Years of Healing and Innovation

With over thirty years of experience, Ann Haydu, LCSW, has dedicated her career to working with individuals in various life stages, including children, adolescents, adults, and older people and couples. Specializing in trauma healing, she is a Master Level ART therapist. In the past, she has consulted with the creator of Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), Laney Rosenzweig LMFT, traveling throughout the U.S. to provide training to both military and civilian therapists in the application of ART.

Abby’s Story: Navigating Complexity with ART

Ann encountered a particularly unique case while working with “Abby”, a thirty-seven-year-old female client diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Over the course of more than ten years working together, Ann developed a deep understanding of Abby’s complex situation. Abby also faced a combination of intricate physical and mental disabilities, including a chromosomal abnormality. During her early years, she underwent five eye surgeries before the age of five. She spent a lot of time in the hospital during her formative years, and there were moments when her parents were concerned about her survival.

Apart from this, Abby’s mental health deteriorated further following her sister’s unforeseen car crash. She began making daily calls to 911, expressing suicidal thoughts from her job, which supported individuals with developmental disabilities.

Eleven years ago, when Abby initially sought Ann’s support, her biological parents—both registered nurses—were in a state of desperation, unsure of how to navigate and address Abby’s needs.

She faced intense daily emotional breakdowns both at home and in her MARC/DDS-supported employment, where she crafted birdhouses. During this challenging period, she would throw herself on the ground, scream and cry, lock herself in the restroom, and make multiple 911 calls each day for months. Her parents were beside themselves, unsure of the following steps to take with her.

Doubts to Determination: Overcoming Challenges with ART

Abby came to the community mental health center where Ann worked, seeking help. At this point, Ann had been practicing Accelerated Resolution Therapy for about three years. However, Abby presented a special challenge: she was legally blind. Ann was initially uncertain about the practicality of using ART with her, “how could she engage in eye movements if she couldn’t follow my hand?” 

Fortunately, her supportive parents were eager to be involved. They were curious about the possibility of practicing eye movements at home. Believing in the potential for improvement and considering the eye as a muscle,  Ann agreed, saying, “Sure, we can try it.”  Abby’s parents took her home and engaged in practice sessions using a black-topped Sharpie pen.

Innovative Practices: ART’s Unconventional Approach to Therapeutic Breakthroughs

When Abby returned a week later, Ann was still determining if this approach would be effective. Abby’s cognitive functioning was below a 70 I.Q., and doubts lingered in Ann’s mind. Recognizing the impact of Abby’s challenges on both her family and the community, Ann opted to proceed.  Ann used the black Sharpie pen for Abby’s eye movement sets.

When Abby was brought back to Ann a week later, Ann felt little confidence that the sessions would work, but she felt there was a lot riding on them. Abby’s entire family and her community were suffering. So, Ann continued to move forward with hope.

To Ann’s amazement, Abby was tracking the pen with her eyes; yes, her eyes were exhibiting non-traditional movements—bouncing up and down and left and right. However, Abby’s determination shone through as she followed the eye movement sets and was able to visualize scenes.

Uplifted by Abby’s progress, Ann moved forward with her comprehensive ART training. The education she received from the Advanced and Enhanced training levels allowed her to deviate from the Basic ART script. She had Abby visualize a scene where she sat on her bed at home with her deceased sister and trusted Abby would tap into her own inner wisdom. Abby remembered an imagined conversation with her sister and what she thought she would tell her. 

Struggle to Success: Abby’s Miraculous Shift with ART

The ART sessions made a profound shift for Abby. To her parents’ astonishment, Abby experienced a profound change—she went back to work and stopped calling 911 for her daily struggles.

Abby still faces persistent emotional and physical struggles. While employed at the hospital where her sister was airlifted after her accident, the sound of a helicopter triggered Abby, leading to her requiring hospitalization.

However, eleven years later, Ann proudly boasts of Abby’s success. The impact of her transformation was unfathomable, a complete turnaround for someone who was once deemed unlikely to live independently. Abby now resides in her apartment with the assistance of an aide who comes in once a week for two hours to help with cleaning, shipping, dishes, and household chores. Abby now works at Chick-fil-A in another DDS/MARC-supported employment position where she thoroughly enjoys working and helping others. It is her best job yet.

Abby’s success story is a testament to the power of ART in her life. Ann still proudly works with her on other issues, such as OCD and the experienced trigger of a helicopter at the hospital. Her family has also been involved in her therapy throughout the years. Ann praises family therapy as an excellent add-on to ART, especially in Abby’s case. Her whole family knew how difficult her life was before ART and the drastic improvements made: After only one ART session, Abby had stopped calling 911 and she stopped throwing herself on the floor, crying.  Abby’s life is now filled with more joy and contentment. She visits her sister’s grave with her thirteen-year-old nephew, maintains a job that gives her joy and feels a sense of accomplishment, having navigated one of the biggest losses of her life.  

Ann and Abby don’t always use ART as the focus of their sessions, but Abby and her family are profoundly grateful for the life-changing relief it has given them.

Abby’s story is one incredible example of the transformative power of Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). Her journey from a place of intense struggle to a life marked by joy and accomplishment serves as an example of hope, illustrating the impact this therapeutic approach can have on individuals facing complex challenges.

Stories of Transformation with ART

Abby’s experience is not an isolated case. Across the globe, countless lives have been touched, changed, and saved through the application of ART. From alleviating the burdens of anxiety, depression, and PTSD to offering a lifeline in moments of crisis, this innovative therapy continues to demonstrate its efficacy in diverse contexts.

Shaping a Brighter Future for Mental Health

As the reach of ART expands, more stories unfold—each unique, yet united by the common thread of resilience and transformation. Therapists like Ann Haydu, LCSW, and practitioners worldwide continue to witness the fantastic shifts that occur when individuals engage with the therapeutic power of ART.

The ripple effect of ART extends beyond the individual to families, communities, and the mental health landscape as a whole. With each success story, the collective understanding of what is possible in mental health treatment expands, breaking down barriers and offering renewed hope to those who may have felt hopeless.

To witness the life-altering power of ART for yourself, Find an ART-trained therapist near you.


This story was based on a submission by Ann Haydu, LCSW  from the “Featured Story” section of IS-ART’s newsletter. Learn more about joining IS-ART.