Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is one type of trauma-focused psychotherapy that has being identified as one of the evidence based treatments for PTSD. CPT teaches the client to challenge upsetting thoughts and beliefs that were created from the traumatic experience, and by changing these thoughts and beliefs, they are able to change how they feel.
Trauma changes the way people think about themselves and the world; some may believe they are responsible for what happened or that the world is a dangerous place. These kinds of thoughts keep them stuck in the PTSD cycle and cause them to stop doing thing they used to enjoy before. With CPT, they will learn how to examine whether their thoughts are factual or if they are not realistic due to lack of evidence, it also allows for clients to learn different ways to handle these upsetting thoughts by learning skills that allow them to develop more helpful and different ways in regards what happened.
During the course of CPT, clients will be asked to do some writing about how the trauma has affected them, they will talk about any negative or unhelpful thoughts they have about the trauma, and will e encouraged to consider other ways of thinking about the situation. Clients will use worksheets in session and at home that help them learn new strategies to change their thoughts and beliefs.
These writing assignments and exercises about the trauma may help clients cope with negative emotions and beliefs that came out from the trauma; also, during the last part of therapy protocol, clients will focus on some specific areas of their life that may have been affected by the trauma, including safety, trust, control, self-esteem, and intimacy. CPT will require clients to work on homework assignments in between sessions, and it is very important to complete them in order to practice the new skills and moving forward, CPT is a very structured therapy. Most people find that the more invested they are into their homework assignments and participation in therapy, the more benefits they get out of CPT.
CPT usually involves 12 weekly sessions (so treatment lasts about 3 months), but this can vary, everyone is different. It may be hard at the beginning about the trauma, beliefs and feelings, but the discomfort is at the beginning and people may feel better as they continue. People feel encouraged with CPT because they do not have to talk about what happened to them, but more about their feelings and beliefs related to the trauma, they can include some details, but that is a personal choice.
CPT Coach is a mobile app that clients can use while doing CPT, it helps clients learn more about CPT and PTSD symptoms, CPT Coach is free and can be downloaded on most mobile devices.