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Cognitive Processing Therapy is a Gold Standard Treatment for PTSD.

Cognitive Processing Therapy, which is also referred to as CPT, is a cognitive-behavioral therapy (treatment that focuses on thoughts and feelings) for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and related conditions. PTSD can develop when an individual experiences a traumatic event such as physical and sexual abuse or assault, accidents, threats, military combat, or being a witness to violence or death. CPT focuses on the connections between thoughts, feelings, behavior and bodily sensations. CPT is an evidenced-based therapy which means that it has been proven to be effective through rigorous scientific research.


CPT provides a way to understand why recovery from traumatic events is difficult and how symptoms of PTSD affect daily life. The focus is on identifying how traumatic experiences change thoughts and beliefs, and how thoughts influence current feelings and behaviors. An important part of the treatment is addressing ways of thinking that might keep individuals “stuck” and get in the way of recovery from symptoms of PTSD and other problems.


Goals of CPT

  • Improve understanding of PTSD

  • Reduce distress about memories of the trauma

  • Decrease emotional numbing (i.e., difficulty feeling feelings) and avoidance of trauma reminders

  • Reduce feelings of being tense or “on edge”

  • Decrease depression, anxiety, guilt or shame

  • Improve day-to-day living


What Happens in CPT?

  • CPT lasts for 12 therapy sessions (50 minutes each) during which individuals will:

  • Get information on common reactions to trauma

  • Identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts with structured therapy sessions

  • Complete regular out-of-session practice assignments to apply what has been discussed in therapy sessions


Topics Covered During CPT

  • The meaning of the traumatic event(s)

  • Identification of thoughts and feelings

  • Trust issues

  • Safety issues

  • Issues of power and control

  • Esteem issues

  • Intimacy issues

For more information, click on

Dr. Patricia Resick Interview

Dr. Patricia Resick is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Resick’s specialty is in understanding and treating the effects of traumatic events, particularly Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 1988, she developed Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD, a brief evidence-based treatment and has overseen multiple clinical trials. CPT is considered a first line therapy for PTSD. The treatment manual for CPT has been translated into 12 languages and has been disseminated throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs in the US, Canada, Australia, and currently the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dr. Resick has written extensively on PTSD and is a co-author of the primary text in the field Cognitive Processing Therapy: A Comprehensive Manual.


Click the links below to find out more about Cognitive Processing Therapy.

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