Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Psychological .

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

What is Cognitive Processing Therapy?

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a type of cognitive therapy which is used in the treatment of PTSD. CPT teaches you how to evaluate and change upsetting thoughts that you may experience as a result of a traumatic experience. Cognitive therapies aim to help you change your thought process in order to help you change how you feel about it and how you can process it.

How does CPT work?

CPT focuses on repairing the damage done by a traumatic event to your beliefs about yourself and the world around. You may believe that you are to blame or you could have done something to prevent the event occurring or feel that the world is a dangerous place. By using restructuring skills, CPT allows you to:

  • Confront these negative thoughts and interpretations of others and the world (often referred to as stuck points)
  • Gain a healthier perspective about the trauma (for example, not trusting my abuser, but trusting other people),
  • Cope better with any future trauma and be able move forward with your life.

What problems can Cognitive Processing Therapy help with?

CPT has been used to help reduce symptoms of PTSD that have developed after experiencing a variety of traumatic events including:

  • Child abuse
  • Combat (as a result of being in the Army, Police Force)
  • Rape and sexual abuse
  • Natural disasters.
  • Physical Abuse

How many sessions would I need?

CPT is generally delivered over 12 sessions. This will help you learn how to challenge and modify unhelpful beliefs related to the trauma. This will be discussed with you during assessment.

CPT Case Study

Micah is a 26 year old man who wanted to access support a year after a traumatic event that he experienced whilst he was on active duty serving in the Army.

Past History

Micah grew up without a father figure and a mother who drank daily. He describes his mother as being ‘emotionally distant’. Micah has a close relationship with his grandmother and his siblings. He denies any mental health issues growing up, but did witness domestic violence on one occasion.


Micah witnessed his best friend lose his life after a bomb detonated on the base that they were assigned to. Micah indicated that this had affected him severely; he thinks about how it could have been him as he only a few steps in front of him and feels he is to blame for his friends death.

He reports that he tends to lose his temper easily as he feels irritable. He tends to spend time on his own and not with his family or friends. He is startled by loud noises and cannot watch some films that he used to enjoy watching because it reminds him about what he saw. He experiences intrusive thoughts regularly and cannot sleep as he reports having images in his sleep about what happened.

The therapist picked up some symptoms such as:

  • Intrusive Thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Loss of Interest
  • Sleep Difficulties
  • Trauma


Working with Micah, we identified goals that he wanted to achieve.

Micah was asked to write a detailed account of his traumatic experience at the end of his first session. In the second session he read his account in the session. The aim at the second session was to try and break the pattern of thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma.

He was asked Socratic questions and other strategies to help the patient question his trauma in order to modify any maladaptive thinking. Micah began developing skills to identify and address unhelpful thinking and continued to use these skills to evaluate his beliefs and modify them related to the trauma.

Micah was encouraged to continue to use these strategies outside of treatment to improve his overall functioning and quality of life. Post treatment, Micah reported that he felt that his self-control, esteem and intimacy had improved and he felt more able to challenge his thoughts when it came to his trauma.

If you would like to know more about how My Family Psychologist can help, call us on 07801 079555 or email

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