Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a 12-week, structured therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that was initially developed through the Veteran's Administration Hospital for military-related trauma. This course of treatment has substantial research support for effectiveness and has been validated with adults and adolescents who have experienced a range of different traumatic experiences. CPT is based on cognitive, emotional, and information processing models of the development of PTSD. PTSD symptoms are nearly universal after a very serious traumatic stressor, and diagnosable PTSD may therefore be thought of as a "stalling out" of the recovery process, which typically takes a few months under normal circumstances.***
The basic premise of the CPT model of PTSD is that primary emotions surrounding a traumatic event, such as fear or anger, usually dissipate slowly if fully experienced and expressed. However, when the meaning of the event is interpreted in such a way that leads to shame, guilt, or humiliation (e.g., It wouldn't have happened if I had been more careful), these secondary emotions lead to avoidance of reminders of the trauma and interfere with the recovery process (e.g., avoiding people after an attack as a way of being more careful). CPT therapy involves desensitization of the emotions around the event and reframing of the understanding of why the event(s) happened and what they mean about the self, others, and the world. This then facilitates greater willingness to engage in activities and conversations that previously would have been avoided.
Dr. Ashbaugh completed training in CPT from the National Center for PTSD/VA Boston Healthcare System in Boston. Further information about CPT is available here. Videos that explain CPT further can be found here, here, and here.
**Explanation of CPT and theories that underlie CPT adapted from "Cognitive processing therapy: Veteran/military version: Therapist's manual."(Resick, Monson, & Chard 2010)