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What Is Cognitive Processing Therapy?


Cognitive processing therapy, or CPT, is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that is an effective treatment for various mental health issues. These clinical services have been shown to be helpful in the reduction of symptoms related to  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The most challenging aspect of therapy focused on PTSD is that many factors can lead to the onset or worsening of symptoms.

These include traumatic events like childhood abuse, wartime-related events, natural disasters, and many more. There are many ways thought patterns can relate to past traumatic experiences. Individual response to effective treatment varies, and that individualized approach is the goal of CPT sessions and support services.

What Is Cognitive Processing Therapy?

The question of what is CPT is one many patients have when they first come to us. The main idea behind CPT is not to forget the traumatic events or try to bury them down, which would be emotional numbing, which may be an individual’s first instinct when presented with these stressors. Instead, we want the patient to work through or “process” them. Hence the name “cognitive processing”. The concept seems easy enough to understand, but quite a lot of work goes into these therapy sessions.

How Does Cognitive Processing Therapy Work?

When starting cognitive processing therapy, it’s essential to teach the patient about PTSD and how it affects one’s emotions and thought processes. According to the American Psychological Association, the patient becomes more aware of the relationship between thoughts and feelings and identifies “automatic thoughts” that may maintain PTSD symptoms.

These thoughts are stalling the patient from recovery, and going through the cognitive and emotional processing related to these thoughts is the primary objective of cognitive processing therapy and related medical services. After this initial stage of learning what CPT therapy is and what it has to offer, the formal processing of the trauma begins. Understanding how cognitive processing therapy works will make the process easier and less frightening for patients. 

Essentially, the patient and the therapist go through the traumatic event repeatedly until the negative thoughts and emotions tied to that event are identified. The many forms of therapy can range from group and individual sessions, talk therapies, behavioral modification, and more. They all focus on helping to alleviate PTSD symptoms in those who have experienced trauma. Your healthcare providers, family or friends, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and other support groups all offer recommendations of where to go for effective treatments for PTSD symptoms.

What Do CPT Sessions Look Like?

The American Psychological Association says that CPT is generally delivered over 12 sessions to produce the best treatment for the patient. These are weekly sessions and can take place as an individualized treatment, or they can take place in trauma-focused group therapy. After that, the therapist will ask the patient about the type of trauma that they have gone through, although extensive details are not needed at this point in the process. The patient will write about how they believe trauma has appeared throughout their life and how it has affected their worldview and thought processes. 

The subsequent few cognitive process therapy sessions are dedicated to talking more in-depth about the trauma the patient has experienced and may involve session practice assignments to aid the process. During this time, the patient is encouraged to bring up any thoughts related to that trauma, especially any thoughts that could be deemed as the patient blaming themselves for the traumatic event. Cognitive processing therapy is here to help prevent and, instead, direct patients to change those kinds of thoughts.

After identifying those intrusive and harmful thoughts, the patient and therapist will find ways for the patient to work through those thoughts together. Unlearning previously held notions due to trauma is difficult, but it is necessary for recovery and understanding CPT therapy. When it comes close to the end of the patient’s treatment, however, the therapist will instead focus on different but specific areas of the patient’s life that could have been impacted by trauma.

How Does CPT Help Veterans Dealing With PTSD?

To answer this question, we must start by asking, how does cognitive processing therapy work? The National Center for PTSD says that “for the average patient, trauma-focused psychotherapies are the most effective treatment for PTSD,” Cognitive Processing Therapy is the most recommended therapy for veterans due to its effectiveness in treating PTSD symptoms.

 The Department of Veterans Affairs also recommends cognitive process therapy for military-related PTSD. They specifically recommend it for military veterans with military-related trauma as they “may believe they are to blame for what happened or that the world is a dangerous place…” which ” keeps them stuck in your PTSD and causes them to miss out on things you used to enjoy.” However, many find that cognitive-behavioral treatment programs help deal with traumatic memories and the negative emotions that come with them.

What Are the Options For CPT Treatment?

It is essential for therapy to not only be available but also accessible to those who need it. That’s why having many options for access to treatment has been a beautiful improvement in the healthcare industry in past years, especially after the growth in accessibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting many in-person options for individuals.

According to a study on a randomized clinical trial that BMC Psychiatry published, it was found that mental health patients can benefit from assistance overcoming stuck points and debilitating PTSD symptoms. Both in-person and telehealth cognitive processing therapy and psychiatry for PTSD in veterans were found to be efficient and effective modalities for treatment. In the study, there was no noticeable difference found between in-person and Telehealth cognitive-behavioral therapies. This means that getting treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder has never been easier!

Get Cognitive Process Therapy Treatment With New Choices Treatment Centers.

We have also never lived in a time where finding the right treatment center for yourself has been so easy.  Getting expert help sooner rather than later can do wonders for your cognitive recovery and growth.  We hope to see you soon and wish you a safe and healthy recovery. Contact us to learn how cognitive processing therapy works and how it can reduce your PTSD symptoms, and schedule your tour of our facility today.

To begin your recovery journey today, contact us online or call us at (726) 888-7003.