Cognitive Processing Therapy Workbook
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is an evidence-based treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder that helps clients learn how to challenge and modify negative thoughts about a traumatic experience. As one of the most adaptable forms of CBT, CPT can be delivered in 8-18 sessions depending on client needs, making it suitable as either an addition to existing treatments or an entirely new option for those diagnosed with PTSD.
CPT is proven to be successful in treating a wide variety of symptoms, such as flashbacks and nightmares; intense emotions; impulses; avoidance behaviors; and interpersonal difficulties like low self-esteem, difficulty forming relationships, or social anxiety. It has been especially useful for helping those who have comorbid anxiety disorders or panic attacks; furthermore, CPT can be tailored for use with different populations and trauma types (Galovski et al. 2012).
This workbook draws upon the authors’ extensive clinical experience and research to give therapists a comprehensive overview of CPT theory and empirical underpinnings, along with guidelines for implementing it session by session. They include extensive sample dialogues and 40 reproducible client handouts to aid in this endeavor.
The treatment is founded in the Socratic method, which encourages clients to consider alternative or more balanced thoughts about a traumatic event without pressuring them into changing their beliefs or opinions. This approach has been employed in various psychological treatments but is especially suitable for CPT since it can be delivered both face-to-face and over the phone.
At the initial session, therapists and clients typically discuss psychoeducation about PTSD and its symptoms that may have been caused by trauma. They then identify and explore any negative thoughts that have come as a result of that experience, providing them with worksheets they can complete both during the therapy session as well as at home to challenge these unhelpful beliefs.
Therapists help their clients identify these thoughts by asking a Socratic question such as “How do you think about this?” They then encourage them to express their emotions or ideas in their own words. Therapists also challenge their clients to consider alternative perspectives of the situation, such as how they would respond differently if they believed different things.
Once identified, the therapist helps their client develop an alternative or more balanced perspective about an event that aligns with their values and beliefs. They often utilize CBW techniques to cultivate this new thought and asks the individual to express it verbally.
The therapist then encourages the client to consider other possible thoughts and express them in their own words. This may take some time since there may have been a period of avoidance when thinking about trauma for some time.
At the conclusion of each session, therapists review their notes and reflect on what they have observed and heard from the client throughout treatment. They then introduce a new module and practice assignment for the following week, continuing to monitor progress through these modules while offering support and guidance as necessary.