Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a type of psychotherapy used to treat individuals who have experienced trauma, particularly those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was developed by Dr. Patricia Resick and her colleagues in the late 1980s.

Here is a summary of Cognitive Processing Therapy:

  • Purpose: CPT aims to help individuals process and make sense of traumatic experiences, as well as manage the associated emotions and beliefs that may be causing distress.

  • Cognitive Focus: The therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts, beliefs, and interpretations play a crucial role in how we feel and behave. CPT addresses and challenges unhelpful thought patterns related to the trauma.

  • Components:

    • Education about PTSD: Clients learn about common reactions to trauma and how PTSD manifests.
    • Learning to Recognize Cognitive Distortions: Individuals are taught to identify and challenge distorted or irrational thought patterns that contribute to distress.
    • Writing Exercises (Trauma Account): Clients are encouraged to write a detailed account of their traumatic experiences. This helps to confront and process the memories.
    • Challenging Beliefs: The therapist guides the individual in examining and challenging negative or irrational beliefs related to the trauma.
    • Skills Building: CPT may include techniques to improve coping skills, communication, and emotional regulation.
  • Duration: Typically, CPT is conducted over a series of structured sessions, usually 12 sessions, though this can vary depending on individual needs and progress.

  • Homework Assignments: Clients are often given assignments to complete outside of therapy sessions. These assignments may include writing exercises, practicing coping skills, or engaging in activities to reinforce learning.

  • Empowerment and Coping: CPT aims to empower individuals by helping them regain a sense of control over their thoughts and emotions. It equips them with effective coping strategies.

  • Effectiveness: Research has shown that CPT can be highly effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD and improving overall psychological well-being in individuals who have experienced trauma.

  • Applicability: While CPT was initially designed for individuals with PTSD, it has also been used effectively for other trauma-related conditions and in a variety of settings, including with military veterans, survivors of sexual assault, and individuals who have experienced other forms of trauma.

  • Collaborative Process: CPT is a collaborative therapy, meaning the therapist and client work together to explore and understand the impact of trauma and to develop coping skills and strategies.


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