Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (CBCT for PTSD)


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop when an individual experiences a traumatic event such as physical and sexual abuse or assault, accidents, threats, military combat, or being a witness to violence or death. Although PTSD is often thought of as an individual disorder, research has shown that PTSD and its treatment are affected by relationship factors like social support, intimate relationships, and family relationships.

CBCT is an evidence-based therapy for PTSD, meaning that it has been proven to work through rigorous scientific research. While treating PTSD, it has the benefit of simultaneously improving relationship functioning and the health and well-being of close significant others PTSD.

CBCT for PTSD usually lasts for 15 sessions that are 75 minutes each, which are attended by both the individual experiencing PTSD and a close significant other (e.g., intimate partner, family member, close friend). Each session concludes with out-of-session assignments that help clients practice the skills taught in CBCT in their everyday lives.

CBCT for PTSD usually proceeds in three phases:

  • Education.

Clients first learn about PTSD and its symptoms. This includes information on how avoidance and problematic thoughts maintain PTSD, and ways that PTSD can contribute to and maintain relationship problems. Clients also learn to feel emotionally and physically safe in their relationships and are taught strategies for managing conflict.

  • Increasing Satisfaction and Decreasing Avoidance.

Clients then learn how to enhance their communication in order to  increase emotional intimacy and counteract symptoms of PTSD. Clients are taught skills to help identify and share their feelings, and to notice how thoughts influence their feelings and affect their behaviours.  Clients use these communication skills to problem-solve how they will “shrink” the role of PTSD in their relationships. This includes addressing the avoidance of places, situations, people and emotions that can contribute to and maintain both PTSD and relationship difficulties.

  • Trauma-Related Thoughts.

In the final phase, clients learn to challenge thoughts that maintain PTSD and relationship problems. Certain thoughts specific to the traumatic experience are challenged as well as beliefs about others and relationships that have changed and become unhelpful following the experience.  Clients are shown how to anticipate and deal with future stressors using skills learned during therapy. Upon completing therapy, clients will be able to use these skills to continue to grow and improve.

Clinicians at EBT3 are experienced in treating PTSD and the related relationship difficulties using CBCT. In fact, Dr. Candice Monson, one of the creators of CBCT, is a partner and clinician in the practice.

For more information about CBCT for PTSD, or to find an experienced psychologist, please contact us.

If you are a clinician interested in learning more about CBCT for PTSD, we also provide training and consultation.