Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a type of treatment for PTSD(post-traumatic stress disorder). Many people will experience or witness trauma at some point in their lives. Those who have experience war are at the highest risk for experiencing serious trauma and developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); followed by first responders, police, firefighters and sexual assault survivors (in no particular order).PTSD can impair a person's ability to return to their usual life and activities. The effects of trauma can present as anxiety, avoidance, anger or fear. Addressing PTSD symptoms can be difficult, but treatment options can help improve a person’s quality of life and allow them to return to their regular activities.
How Does Cognitive Processing Therapy Work?
Your therapist follows a manual that includes 12 sessions in total. These sessions last approximately 60 minutes, and are usually held once or twice a week. CPT sessions follow a process that includes three phases:
First Phase – Psychoeducation:
This stage is about learning about thoughts, feelings, and PTSD in general. A client learns about the link between trauma-related thoughts and feelings and PTSD symptoms. This phase also allows clients to identify unhelpful thoughts that might contribute to PTSD symptoms.
Second Phase – Processing of Trauma:
This stage includes writing about the trauma. A client reads their trauma discussion for the therapist in the next session, which helps them face a trauma they might otherwise avoid discussing. A therapist then uses questioning techniques to help the person with PTSD examine how they think about the trauma, which can help highlight unhelpful beliefs about the trauma, such as self-blame.
Third Phase – Modify Beliefs Related to Traumatic Events:
Questioning skills are used on an ongoing basis to examine thoughts and beliefs about trauma. The therapist and client work together to change beliefs about trust, safety and other concepts that are often impacted by trauma. This phase helps the client to use these skills and strategies after treatment is complete.
The effectiveness of cognitive processing therapy has been well researched, and CPT has been shown to be effective at reducing PTSD symptoms.Cognitive processing therapy is strongly recommended for the treatment of PTSD due to significant improvements in conditions that are often related to PTSD, such as depression, anxiety, and relationships.