Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
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. CPT is a treatment for PTSD and related conditions. It is a cognitive-behavioural treatment, in that it focuses on the connections between thoughts, feelings, behaviour and bodily sensations.
CPT provides a way to understand why recovery from traumatic events is difficult and how symptoms of PTSD affect daily life. The focus is on identifying how traumatic experiences change thoughts and beliefs, and how thoughts influence current feelings and behaviours. An important part of the treatment is addressing ways of thinking that might keep individuals stuck and get in the way of recovery from symptoms of PTSD and other problems.
What are the goals of CPT?
- Improve understanding of PTSD
- Reduce distress about memories of the trauma
- Decrease emotional numbing (i.e., difficulty feeling feelings) and avoidance of trauma reminders
- Reduce feelings of being tense or “on edge"
- Decrease depression, anxiety, guilt or shame
- Improve day-to-day living
What happens in CPT?
CPT lasts for approximately 12 therapy sessions. During those sessions, individuals will:
- Get information on common reactions to trauma
- Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts with structured therapy sessions
- Complete regular out-of-session practice assignments to apply what has been discussed in therapy sessions
What topics are covered in CPT?
- The meaning of the traumatic event(s)
- Identification of thoughts and feelings
- Trust issues
- Safety issues
- Issues of power and control
- Esteem issues
- Intimacy issues
CPT is an evidence-based therapy, meaning that it has been proven to be effective through rigorous scientific research. Clinicians at EBT3 are experienced in treating PTSD and the related symptoms using CPT. In fact, Dr. Candice Monson, one of the creators of CPT, is a partner and clinician in the practice.
For more information about CPT, or to find an experienced psychologist, please contact us.
If you are a clinician interested in learning more about CPT, we also provide training and consultation.
Video used with permission from the US Department of Veteran Affairs National Center for PTSD