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Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD

Our experiences in life are filled with perceived positives, negatives, and neutrals. Challenging or scary memories can stay in our subconscious and continue having a poor effect on our lives. With cognitive processing therapy, individuals can work on overcoming the triggers that bring them back to these bad experiences, often known as PTSD.

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops in individuals who experience a traumatic event or series of events. Some of the most common PTSD symptoms include intense anxiety, panic attacks, depression, isolation, and nightmares, which may show up due to a trigger from stimuli that remind the person of their trauma. PTSD may last for weeks, months, or years following these experiences. In some cases, PTSD requires thorough treatment through psychological therapies to reduce symptoms.

What is Cognitive Processing Therapy, and How Does It Work For PTSD?

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a branch of cognitive behavioral therapy that targets the symptoms of PTSD. CPT is done over 12 sessions where the therapist will work with the patient to change current thought patterns and false beliefs that are contributing to PTSD-related symptoms, such as anxiety, panic attacks, poor self-esteem, and phobias.

CPT helps patients change their ways of thinking and brings truth to the false beliefs related to their trauma. The goal is to remove the trauma’s power over the person and reduce its negative effects on their life. To begin treatment, the therapist educates the patient on common symptoms of PTSD and how our thoughts and false beliefs can contribute to it. By bringing greater awareness of the disorder to the patient, they gain more power over their trauma, triggers, and emotional response. A better understanding of the relationship between thoughts and emotions and the role they play in PTSD symptoms can make coping mechanisms more effective and give the patient more confidence and strength to challenge thought patterns and triggers.

What Are The 5 Themes Of Cognitive Processing Therapy?

CPT starts off gradually, introducing the thought processes behind PTSD, the relationship between our thoughts and emotions, and beginning to challenge these ways of thinking. In the last several sessions of CBT, the therapist will have the patient focus on five themes: Safety, trust, power, control, esteem, and intimacy. These are all primary areas that PTSD patients typically struggle with.

Cognitive Processing Therapy at Fifth Avenue Psychiatry

At Fifth Avenue Psychiatry, our patients undergoing CPT will work one-on-one with a clinically licensed psychologist. They will identify and discuss trauma from their past that is causing a negative impact on their present, while the doctor helps recognize patterns of thought associated with the trauma.

As the sessions continue, CPT will teach the patient helpful skills in evaluating and modifying harmful and false beliefs related to their trauma. Our goal is to help each PTSD patient overcome the difficult emotions and triggers of their past experiences and release the hold these have over them. Learn more about our services and how we can help you or your loved one today by contacting us by phone or through our online form. We hope to hear from you soon.


While cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is made to address various mental health disorders and addictions, CPT is an adapted form of CBT explicitly designed for PTSD patients.

The goals of CBT are to identify harmful or false beliefs surrounding a traumatic event and challenge those beliefs to begin releasing their power for the individual.

CBT consists of 12 weekly sessions that may last between 50 to 90 minutes, depending on the patient’s goals, the severity of PTSD, and whether it’s done in a group or individual setting.

CPT can help with mental health symptoms that manifest from PTSD, such as anxiety, depression, and fear, but it’s specifically designed to treat patients with PTSD as their primary condition.