ATLANTA (CW69 News at 10) — Trauma, stress, and anxiety are all part of a growing mental health crisis made worse by COVID-19. Local therapists spoke with CW69 about a treatment that is giving their clients some much-needed relief.

Stephanie Cirasa is an equine therapy provider based in Meriwether and Carroll Counties. She’s a co-founder of Waypoint Ranch Collaborative Learning and Counseling, an organization that uses horses to provide trauma therapy for veterans and military families.

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Cirasa partners with Dr. Elaine Dilbeck, a therapist licensed in Georgia and Texas. Both of them are trained in Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). It’s used to treat people dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, addictions and other issues made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“ART therapy allows you to take a specific memory or a specific incident, a specific trauma, and it allows you to work through it without having to talk about it. Traditional talk therapy has its place, but for some of us, we don’t want to re-hash the trauma. We don’t want to have to go back through it again,” said Dilbeck. “You get to not rewrite the memory, you get to rewrite how you reacted to it,” she said.

“I saw our participants, our combat veterans change so rapidly from one day to the next. My horses would treat them differently, like they were totally different people,” said Cirasa.

Having experiences mental trauma themselves, both Cirasa and Dilbeck also became ART therapy clients and know first-hand about the results.

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“Finding talk therapy really very difficult for me, I was really drawn to that therapy,” Cirasa said.

“I’ve had people sit in front of me going, ‘Wow, what just happened,’” said Dilbeck, describing the positive reactions of some clients.

She says people sleep better, their headaches are gone and their overall quality of life is improved. Yet, only a small percentage of the reported millions of people facing trauma get help.

“It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with us. It means our thinking process has been affected by what we’re been through,” Dilbeck said.

They’re hoping to get the word out about this solution and remove the stigmas around mental illness.

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For more information on ART therapy, click here.