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Trauma can change your perspective of yourself and the world around you. You may find yourself constantly reliving the traumatic event or blaming yourself for what happened. Cognitive processing therapy is an evidence-based approach that has helped many people with PTSD manage their symptoms and lead happier lives.

How Can CPT Benefit You?

Often, people who experience trauma – such as combat veterans and domestic abuse survivors – get stuck in a negative feedback loop that prevents them from moving forward. A crucial component of CPT is learning to examine your thoughts from a different perspective. A therapist trained in this method can teach you how to work through your trauma by giving you ways to handle intrusive thoughts and frightening flashbacks.

The overarching goal of CPT is to improve your outlook by reducing typical PTSD symptoms such as avoidance, emotional numbing, guilt and shame. By making your memories of the traumatic event less distressing, you can feel more relaxed and at ease with yourself instead of being constantly nervous or on edge.

What to Expect in CPT

During CPT, you will work closely with your therapist over 12 structured sessions. Your provider will start by educating you about PTSD to help you better understand your symptoms. Then, you can begin processing the traumatic event and its impact on your life by talking about it in detail. For example, your therapist may ask you to write a description of what happened to you and read it aloud. While this step can be uncomfortable, it should allow you to let go of complex emotions like anger, sadness and guilt.

Over the next several sessions, your therapist will ask you to describe any negative or unhelpful thoughts you have been having and suggest alternative ways of thinking about the situation. You will have homework assignments to complete outside sessions that help you learn healthier coping mechanisms.

In CPT, your therapist will equip you with adaptive strategies you can use to improve your overall well-being. During your last couple of therapy sessions, you and your counselor will focus on restoring your sense of safety, power, trust, control, self-esteem and intimacy, which trauma may have eroded.

CPT Changes Your Thought Processes

CPT draws from a social-cognitive theory about repairing the damage trauma can inflict on people’s worldview and self-image. By offering specific cognitive restructuring skills, CPT allows you to challenge negative thoughts and interpretations, known as “stuck points.” After CPT, you can look at your life from a healthier viewpoint, cope better with future trauma and move forward with a refreshed perspective.

By targeting negative thoughts and encouraging you to change how you think about trauma, CPT may even create a positive impact in areas you didn’t specifically talk about during therapy. For example, people who complete CPT may experience fewer feelings of sadness compared to people who go through other forms of therapy.

Start Your Recovery Journey Here

Due to obstacles like social stigma and fear, many trauma survivors do not receive the care they need. Fortunately, comprehensive, personalized help is available at Hope by the Sea. Our family-owned dual-diagnosis treatment center is here for adults who struggle with substance use and mental health disorders. Our specialized tracks can address any need, no matter how complex.

Contact our team to verify your health insurance coverage or ask any questions about our accredited California alcohol and drug treatment programs.