Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) treats PTSD by primarily focusing on an individual’s beliefs about the traumatic event, and understanding the role that these beliefs play in maintaining painful emotions and symptoms. CPT aims to change unhelpful beliefs through cognitive restructuring, thereby reducing any unjustified guilt and hopelessness they may experience as a result of the trauma.
The initial step of CPT is psychoeducation around PTSD and trauma-related beliefs and emotions. From there, the individual learns to identify unhelpful beliefs (“stuck points”), confront the memory of their trauma, approach previously avoided situations, and emotionally process the trauma.
Finally, the individual learns skills and coping strategies to effectively reframe beliefs they have around safety, trust, control, esteem, and intimacy.