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Cognitive Processing TherapyComplete Guide

Cognitive processing therapy is a specific evidence-based model of cognitive behavioral therapy focused on reducing symptoms of PTSD. This form of therapy is typically delivered in 12 sessions over 3 months and helps patients develop a greater understanding of and healthier ways of thinking about a traumatic event they experienced in the past.

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1 out of 13 Americans will develop PTSD at some point in life. And while about 354 million adult war survivors suffer from PTSD around the globe, the mental condition isn’t isolated to one type of trauma.

Female adolescents and middle-aged adults are particularly prone to developing PTSD, either from sexual assault, serious accidents, physical assault, or a host of other causes.

It is fairly common for PTSD to go hand-in-hand with Substance Use Disorder. When this happens, a dual diagnosis approach addresses both issues simultaneously. This can include cognitive processing therapy, a proven treatment to help patients modify and challenge their beliefs surrounding many types of traumatic events.

What Is Cognitive Processing Therapy?

Cognitive processing therapy is a specific evidence-based model of cognitive behavioral therapy focused on reducing symptoms of PTSD. This form of therapy is typically delivered in 12 sessions over 3 months and helps patients develop a greater understanding of and healthier ways of thinking about a traumatic event they experienced in the past.

The therapy is founded on the principle that PTSD symptoms develop because of a conflict between beliefs the patient had before a traumatic event and the information they retain after the traumatic event occurs. This conflict causes the patient to become “stuck,” which may affect their everyday relationships, work-life, and more.

Who Developed Cognitive Processing Therapy?

Psychiatrist Patricia Resick developed cognitive processing therapy in the late 1980s. Resick is currently a psychiatry professor at Duke University, but also served as a faculty member at numerous other universities, including the Medical University of South Carolina, Boston University, and the University of South Dakota.

Resick first used cognitive processing therapy to treat sexual assault victims in the U.S.—but the treatment was quickly proven to help other PTSD patients suffering from the effects of child abuse, war, rape, and more.

How Does Cognitive Processing Therapy Work?

Cognitive processing therapy can be delivered in a group setting, through one-on-one therapy sessions, or through a combination of both formats.

There are four main stages of cognitive processing therapy, including:

  1. Identifying PTSD symptoms
  2. Understanding beliefs surrounding a traumatic event
  3. Challenging and questioning beliefs
  4. Changing old beliefs to promote healing

 

What Does Cognitive Processing Therapy Treat?

This form of therapy can be helpful to treat anyone suffering from PTSD, or those struggling to understand thoughts and emotions surrounding a traumatic event. The therapy can also be used to help those who expect to face traumatic events in the future, such as firefighters, police officers, etc. Cognitive Processing Therapy has been effective in both individual and group therapy formats.

Cognitive processing therapy may be used to treat:

  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Guilt
  • Other trauma from abuse, accident, injury, war, etc.

This type of therapy may not be right for those who are suffering from:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Dementia
  • Mania
  • Psychosis

Berkeley Police Officer On-Scene During Fire

Benefits of Cognitive Processing Therapy

Patients who complete cognitive processing therapy often have reduced symptoms of PTSD, and feel happier and more confident in relationships and everyday life. A few of the benefits of this form of therapy include:

  • Increased trust in others
  • Greater feelings of safety
  • Increased happiness
  • Improved intimacy
  • Enhanced relationships
  • Better sense of self
  • Anger management
  • Greater sense of control

Is Cognitive Processing Therapy Evidence-Based?

Cognitive processing therapy is based on much more than a theory—it is an evidence-based approach. Case studies have shown cognitive processing effectively treats PTSD and other symptoms resulting from a traumatic experience. It is used by the Department of Veterans Affairs, along with many other reputable programs.

Try Cognitive Processing Therapy Today

As part of your overall recovery plan, cognitive processing therapy is one of many evidence-based approaches used at Pinnacle Treatment Centers. Contact us today if you need help. We’re committed to helping our patients recover from a wide variety of addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders, including PTSD. We’ll be by your side every step of the healing journey, offering compassion and understanding along the way.

Our experts are thoroughly trained in cognitive processing therapy for PTSD, trauma processing, anger management, and more. Whether you’re looking for clinical groups, one-on-one therapy, or community support, you can find it at Pinnacle Treatment Centers. Get in touch and take the first step to lasting recovery.

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