Boston Marathon Survivor Finds Relief from PTSD
Accelerated Resolution Therapy offers hope on National PTSD Awareness Day
Here's an inspiring story about a Rebekah Gregory, a Boston Marathon survivor from Orlando, as we approach World Mental Health Day, October 10.
Rebekah Gregory’s 5-year-old son was getting restless the crowd at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013. Sit down on my feet and play with the rocks, she told him.
It might be the best advice she ever gave them. Moments later, a bomb exploded three feet away from the pair, shattering Gregory’s legs. The boy, protected by his mother’s body, suffered only minor injuries.
Although Gregory was grateful that her son was spared by the blast, her battle was just beginning. She spent nearly two months in the hospital and underwent 68 surgeries over the next several years. Doctors were initially optimistic that they could save both of her legs, but ultimately were forced to amputate her left leg.
It was not the first time that Gregory has experienced trauma. She had witnessed domestic violence firsthand as a child. And several months before the bombing, she had been held up at gunpoint in a shopping center parking lot.
The now-32-year-old committed herself to getting better for her son’s sake. In addition to her grueling physical therapy regimen, she sought counseling to process the traumatic experiences. And she created a nonprofit, Rebekah’s Angels, to help young trauma survivors.
Yet Gregory was still haunted by sights and sounds of the bombing. “I had tried traditional styles of therapy and while I was learning to cope and manage my symptoms, I wasn’t healing from them,” she said.
Gregory tried Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), a technique that helps clients effectively create a new ending for traumatic memories. Unlike traditional talk therapy, ART helps most people experience a partial or complete reduction in the physical and psychological symptoms of trauma in just one to five sessions. ART is used to treat trauma, anxiety, depression and phobias, among other conditions.
In just a few sessions, Gregory felt dramatically better. “The part that really resonated with me is that you’re rewriting the narrative of your worst experiences,” she said. “ART really helped me in areas where I didn’t realize I had residual trauma.”
This year, Gregory was able to return to the marathon without experiencing anxiety. ART helped her put the horrific events behind her. “I can talk about my experiences in a different way now because the trauma isn’t there,” she said.
Through her foundation, Gregory is helping children and families discover ways of recovering from trauma. “I want to use our experiences to make it clear that people can heal,” she said.
Rebekah will be available for a limited number of phone and in-person interviews. If you are interested in interviewing Rebekah, speaking with an ART clinician or Kelly Breeding, executive director of ART International, please contact Julie Scharper with Sandy Hillman Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org.