At a hotel conference room, licensed mental health counselor Brenda Stutler is teaching clinicians a relatively new method of treating trauma called Accelerated Resolution Therapy, or ART.
"It's specifically designed to help people resolve the trauma they have had in the past," said Stutler.
Stutler, from Florida, is also a master ART clinician and instructs others on how to use the therapy.
During an ART session, the patient is asked to visualize the the traumatic event they experienced. While they do that, the therapist moves their hand quickly back and forth in front of the patient's face while they follow the hand with their eyes.
"The facts are separated from the trauma in the brain, so you'll remember the facts of the event, but you're not going to be traumatized every time you think of the event or get triggered," she said.
It's believed that ART mimics rapid eye movement sleep, or REM sleep. Stutler says that is the time when our brains naturally process trauma.
"We're basically setting it up so that the brain is in a familiar environment and knows what to do with the information we're presenting it with, which is the trauma."
Accelerated Resolution Therapy has been around for a decade but is new in the sense that, after research and studies, it is spreading to more parts of the country.
In 2015, ART was recognized by the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, or the NREPP, which is a part of the Sustance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA.
ART has been found helpful for treating PSTD along with anxiety and depression.
Stutler says instructors like her have taught therapists who work with the VA, but the department has not yet given it a final stamp of approval. Stutler says that's because more research would be required for that to happen.
She has been using it with her patients for six years.
"I work with a lot of first responders and military people and it changed their life."
Stutler says it's referred to as "accelerated" because those who practice it claim patients can begin to process trauma in 3-4 sessions.
The patient also does not have to tell the therapist details about their traumatic experiences since they are only visualizing it, which is one reason some patients like ART.
"Especially when you have military people that you're working with, it's hard for them to articulate some of the things they had to go through.
The workshop goes until Sunday. Stutler says there are a few certified ART clinicians in Washington.
To learn more about ART or to find an ART clinician, click here.