Therapeutic Approaches

Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD (CPT)

Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD (CPT) is a form of trauma focused CBT,

which is a gold standard treatment for PTSD.

It helps clients identify beliefs related to a trauma that are hurting them and preventing recovery.

Beliefs generally fall into two categories

beliefs about being to blame/bad/dirty/shameful

beliefs about not being safe/being unable to trust/relax.

CPT helps clients to challenge those beliefs in an extremely rigorous, methodological, and contained way,

so that they can believe what is more accurate. For example, it can take assault victims from believing ‘it is my fault because I smiled at the guy who assaulted me at the start of the night’ to ‘smiling at someone does not give them permission to assault me, I did nothing wrong.’ This might take someone from feeling shame to feeling rightful anger towards the perpetrator and compassion for themselves. It also challenges and reduces beliefs leading to hypervigilance, eg. ‘all people will try to take advantage of me’ might become ‘I can choose to trust people when they have proven themselves trustworthy’, which in turn reduces fear, anxiety, and allows people to form close relationships again.

You can hear a beautiful example of an assault victim receiving CPT in this one-hour podcast episode of This American Life
it does contain some triggering content.

Podcast: Ten Sessions

What if someone told you about a type of therapy that could help you work through unhealed trauma in just ten sessions? Some people knock through it in two weeks. Jaime Lowe tried the therapy—and recorded it.

‘What is the problem you are seeking help with?’ Is the first question I will ask you. Good on you for seeking help.