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What is Autonomic Cognitive Rehabituation Training (ACRT)?

ACRT is a behavioural therapy for developing management of seizures using Galvanic Skin Response (skin conductance) biofeedback and cognitive technique. Through the sessions, a participant will develop a specific set of skills to prevent and manage seizures. Once a participant obtains these skills, the effect can last for many years. ACRT is a non-invasive, side-effect free, effective and affordable therapy.

ACRT consists of 12 sessions, each session lasting about 45 minutes. To achieve the best effect, we recommend allocating three sessions a week (e.g. Monday, Wednesday and Friday) over a 4-week period.

During each session, you will also receive instructions and practice the technique, which you will then be able to start applying in your daily life.

How does ACRT work?

The therapy embodies both physiological and psychological approaches. Our thoughts and emotions are closely linked to our bodily responses and behaviour. Events in our daily lives trigger thoughts that in turn give rise to emotions that change both our bodily stress responses and our behaviour.

Psychological treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), argue that psychological distress is caused by distorted thoughts (or thinking habit) that trigger negative emotions and unhelpful behaviours. CBT helps you identify these distorted thoughts and correct them so that you can have a more realistic and balanced way of thinking.

ACRT extends this CBT model by also taking a more holistic account of the role of the body in the expression of emotional feelings and thoughts, and by working directly on physiological aspects of well-being. Published research shows that more than 80% of people with epilepsy consider stress and anxiety to be a major factor in causing seizures. It is therefore very important to understand the mechanisms of how the mind, brain and body interact. Drug treatments on their own cannot give this understanding.

Using ACRT, you will see how your body responds to your thinking and emotion. By receiving visual feedback about how your body reacts, you will be able to train yourself to become more sensitive to your bodily reactions and control your body’s state of alertness. Through this process, you will also learn how to stabilize your emotion.

Who will benefit?

People with epilepsy who experience brief auras are particularly good candidates for this type of therapy. However this is by no means a requirement for a successful outcome. There are people without any aura who reduce seizures by more than two thirds or more of seizures after a month of therapy. A modified set of instructions is given in the platform for those people who do not have an aura. People whose seizures occur predominantly with stress, anxiety and low mood are also good candidates. Unfortunately, clinical experience suggests that ACRT in its present form does not work as well for people who have a significant learning difficulty.