What is CPT?

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a type of psychotherapy that is commonly used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in both civilian and military populations. This therapy is based on the idea that the way a person thinks about their trauma can have a major impact on their emotional and physical reactions to it.

The goal of CPT is to help individuals identify and change their negative thought patterns related to their trauma, which can reduce symptoms of PTSD and improve overall quality of life. CPT typically involves 12 weekly sessions, during which the therapist will work with the client to identify and challenge thoughts that may be contributing to their symptoms. The therapy also focuses on teaching coping skills and relaxation techniques to help clients manage their emotional reactions.

Studies have shown that CPT is an effective treatment for PTSD. For example, a randomized controlled trial conducted by Monson et al. (2006) found that individuals who received CPT had significantly greater reductions in PTSD symptoms compared to those who received supportive counseling. Additionally, a meta-analysis by Forbes et al. (2010) found that CPT was associated with a large effect size in reducing symptoms of PTSD.

One of the key components of CPT is the use of worksheets to help clients identify and challenge their negative thoughts related to their trauma. These worksheets typically involve a series of questions designed to help the client examine their thoughts and beliefs related to their trauma, such as “What does this experience mean about me as a person?” and “What are the chances that this will happen again?” By challenging these thoughts and beliefs, clients can begin to develop more adaptive ways of thinking about their trauma.

In addition to its efficacy in treating PTSD, CPT has also been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. A study by Resick et al. (2008) found that women who received CPT had significantly greater reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety compared to those who received supportive counseling.

CPT is a promising treatment option for individuals struggling with PTSD and related symptoms. Its focus on cognitive restructuring and the development of coping skills can help individuals regain a sense of control over their lives and improve their overall well-being. As with any treatment, it is important to work with a qualified mental health professional to determine if CPT is the right approach for your individual needs.

How Does CPT Work?

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) typically consists of 12-16 sessions of individual therapy. In each session, the therapist and client work collaboratively to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs related to the traumatic event(s).

The first few sessions of CPT focus on psychoeducation about trauma, PTSD, and the cognitive model of CPT. The therapist and client will establish a treatment plan and set goals for therapy. They will also complete a trauma narrative, where the client will write a detailed account of the traumatic event(s). This helps the client process the trauma and identify maladaptive thoughts and beliefs.

In the following sessions, the therapist will guide the client through the process of identifying and challenging the negative beliefs related to the trauma. The therapist may use a variety of techniques to help the client do this, including Socratic questioning, cognitive restructuring, and imaginal exposure.

Socratic questioning is a technique that helps the client explore their thoughts and beliefs related to the trauma and examine the evidence for and against them. Cognitive restructuring involves identifying and challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with more adaptive ones. Imaginal exposure involves revisiting the traumatic event(s) in a safe and controlled way to decrease avoidance and fear.

Throughout CPT, the therapist will encourage the client to practice the skills learned in session in their daily life. This may include keeping a thought record to monitor negative thoughts, practicing relaxation techniques, and completing homework assignments.

As therapy progresses, the client should begin to experience a reduction in symptoms of PTSD and an improvement in their overall quality of life. CPT has been found to be an effective treatment for PTSD, with several studies demonstrating its effectiveness in reducing symptoms of PTSD and improving overall functioning (Monson et al., 2006; Resick et al., 2002).

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Liz Lund, MPA

Liz is originally from lush green Washington State. She is a life enthusiast and a huge fan of people. Liz has always loved learning why people are the way they are. She moved to UT in 2013 and completed her bachelors degree in Psychology in 2016. After college Liz worked at a residential treatment center and found that she was not only passionate about people, but also administration. Liz is recently finished her MPA in April 2022. Liz loves serving people and is excited and looking forward to learning about; and from our clients here at Corner Canyon.
When Liz is not busy working she love being outdoors, eating ice cream, taking naps, and spending time with her precious baby girl and sweet husband.