Cognitive Processing Therapy Techniques
Cognitive processing therapy techniques are designed to assist those who have experienced trauma or PTSD in managing their emotions and beliefs. It can also be an invaluable aid for individuals working through other mental health issues.
CPT is an evidence-based treatment for PTSD and other trauma-related issues. It challenges faulty thoughts and behaviors related to traumatic events, leading to reductions in symptoms associated with PTSD.
Cognitive processing therapy begins with psychoeducation, or teaching clients about PTSD and their thoughts and feelings related to the traumatic event. This phase usually lasts an hour and may include worksheets or exercises for the client to complete on their own.
Once the initial stage has passed, formal processing of the traumatic event begins. Patients are asked to create a detailed account of their experience by writing down all sensory details they remember as well as thoughts and feelings associated with it.
Patients may be encouraged to create an impact statement which outlines how their traumatic event has affected them. While not all therapists ask this question, it can be a useful way for getting inside the patient’s head and understanding what they are feeling.
Next, the therapist will ask the patient to identify any intrusive and harmful thoughts related to their trauma. These could include things like:
“I will never feel secure again.” Or, perhaps more damagingly, these negative thoughts can obstruct healing or progress in one’s life.
Once a patient has identified these intrusive thoughts, they can discuss them with their therapist and work towards challenging them. Doing this helps them conquer these anxieties and move on with life.
One major objective of this process is for the patient to comprehend their traumatic event and its lasting effects on their life. The therapist will facilitate this by asking questions and encouraging them to write down their answers.
Once this has been addressed, the therapist can use techniques to explore how the trauma has affected their life and offer strategies for improvement moving forward. This will give patients insight into how it has shaped them and allow them to assess where improvements can be made moving forward.
This phase of treatment is essential and requires a great deal of focus. Although it can be an emotionally taxing experience for the patient, it is necessary in order for them to begin processing their trauma.
Following this process, the therapist will teach the patient cognitive-behavioral techniques that will enable them to recognize and address negative thoughts. They’ll practice these techniques both with their therapist and independently. With these strategies in place, patients are now ready to conquer PTSD as well as other related issues.