Cognitive Processing Therapy For PTSD – A Comprehensive Manual
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is an evidence-based trauma-focused treatment that has shown promise for those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Commonly referred to as “cognitive behavioral therapy,” CPT is a manualized, evidence-based intervention that typically takes 12 sessions and follows an evidence-based schedule.
Psychoeducation, relearning and reframing thoughts about a traumatic event that led to the development of PTSD are all part of CPT. Furthermore, patients gain coping skills for dealing with their PTSD symptoms as well as other life challenges like depression, sleep issues and health concerns.
The therapist must first show the patient how their thoughts and emotions might be affecting their lives. This is essential as it makes the individual more conscious of their beliefs, how they shape feelings, and behaviors.
Next, the therapist attempts to identify any blockages in someone’s thought patterns that are keeping them from living their best life. This is done through Socratic questioning, which encourages clients to consider new perspectives and challenge any negative or inaccurate ones.
CPT’s most intensive phase, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), typically takes up the majority of sessions. Here, the therapist works to teach their client new thinking and reframe traumatic events in more realistic and accurate ways.
At this stage, the therapist asks the client to compose a detailed account of their most traumatic experience which they then read aloud during sessions. This is meant to break the pattern of avoiding thoughts and feelings connected with trauma and allow for emotional processing.
After this, the therapist uses the written account to examine and interpret the client’s responses and interpretations of the trauma. They also employ Socratic questioning in order to gently prod them towards coming to their own conclusions about it – an essential component of CPT as it encourages victims to process their trauma more authentically and less defensively.
The therapist also encourages the client to identify and challenge any unhelpful or inaccurate thoughts regarding their trauma. These exercises are an integral part of CPT, so they should not be neglected.
In the concluding phase of CPT, therapists help clients apply the techniques they learned in previous stages and apply them to situations that fall within five conceptual areas: safety, trust, power/control, esteem and intimacy. This stage is essential as it gives clients insight into how their traumatic experiences have affected them and enables them to alter distorted thought patterns for a more productive and fulfilling life.
Research studies have proven that cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is effective for alleviating PTSD symptoms caused by a range of traumas including child abuse, combat, rape and natural disasters. It’s typically completed over 12 sessions and can be delivered either individually or in group settings. To get the most benefit from CPT it is important to find a therapist trained in its use; you can search Psychology Today’s PTSD therapy directory or ask your doctor or mental healthcare provider for a referral.