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What is Cognitive Processing Therapy?

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What is Cognitive Processing Therapy?

What is Cognitive Processing Therapy? graphic

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that is evidence-based and has been proven to effectively treat individuals struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Post-traumatic stress disorder is characterized by anxiety from previous traumatic events. The most common symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks of the event, depression and increased irritability. Cognitive processing therapy will typically take place over a period of 12 sessions with a therapist and aims to retrain the brain to think differently about the traumatic event.

All too often with post-traumatic stress disorder, the witness takes on the blame for the outcome of the traumatic occurrence. Through talk therapy, the therapist will be able to help a client decide if your thoughts are justified or not through reconceptualization. Having a therapist to provide the client with a second perspective can be very helpful to their recovery from PTSD. Cognitive processing therapy can be offered in both individual and group settings and sessions range from 60 to 90 minutes in length. Historically, the demographics that benefit the most from cognitive processing therapy include military veterans, sexual assault victims and first responders.

One of the primary goals of the therapist is to identify which emotions are obstructing their client’s recovery; also called “stuck points”. The therapist will then challenge these stuck points through open-ended questioning which will eventually deconstruct the traumatic event. Nearing the end of the final session, the client and therapist will often begin to devise a relapse prevention plan which will keep the client in recovery from their PTSD.

There are four main components to cognitive processing therapy.

  1. Client discusses PTSD symptoms with their primary therapist as well as other co-occurring disorders (often referred to as dual diagnosis) they may be struggling with.
  2. Client works to identify their belief system in relation to the emotions experienced following the traumatic event.
  3. Therapist helps the client challenge their own beliefs about the event.
  4. Therapist helps the client understand how their thoughts can change after experiencing trauma.

If you’re one of the several million people in the United States that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s important to address the emotions you’re experiencing before they become more severe. Lifeskills South Florida is one of the premier drug and alcohol rehabs in South Florida. We have been in operation since 1991 and strive to give our clients the tools necessary to regain their independence and live a happy and fulfilling life in recovery. To learn more about our treatment programs for post-traumatic stress disorder, please contact us below. We welcome most major insurance plans and also give our clients the opportunity to pay privately.


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