Frequently Asked Questions About Cognitive Processing Therapy

Traumatic life events cause symptoms and behaviors in people that negatively impact their lives. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be extremely draining for a person who has the condition. They may need to undergo specific treatments such as Cognitive Processing Therapy, which is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

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Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) involves techniques that reduce symptoms of PTSD. It has proven to be effective in lessening the harmful effects of trauma in a person’s life. Furthermore, it gives patients tools that they can use to overcome unhelpful beliefs caused by trauma.

The first thing that the therapist will tackle in CPT is understanding what PTSD is and how it affects the person. CPT aims to develop a better relationship between an individual and thoughts and emotions. The therapy will teach how to “label” feelings by identifying and understanding them better. 

Throughout the following Cognitive Processing Therapy sessions, the therapist will serve as a guide by confronting and dissecting the trauma.

Eventually, the therapist will help identify points wherein there are “distorted cognitions,” such as self-blame and other guilt cognitions. Upon identifying these distorted beliefs, the therapist will assist in how to challenge and change them.

The end goal of Cognitive Processing Therapy is to be able to apply the skills outside of treatment. It aims to improve the handling of difficult situations related to traumas that bring out distorted beliefs.

How does cognitive processing therapy work? 

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It typically consists of 12 sessions of psychotherapy for trauma and PTSD. The process allows patients to conceptualize traumatic events in their life and develop ways to handle their adverse effects.

In doing so, patients can change how they think about their traumas and ultimately change how they feel about them.

How effective is cognitive processing therapy?       

Studies have shown that CPT is effective in reducing PTSD symptoms checklist scores. It also shows that CPT is highly effective in conditions reflective of clinical practice. It is especially beneficial for veterans, victims of abuse, and people who suffered from natural disasters.

What is cognitive processing?      

Cognitive processing is a term that refers to the series of cognitive operations that our brain does. It centers on all the information we take in and storing, altering, recovering, and applying it. Examples of cognitive processing include reading, calculating numbers, making decisions, and more.

Is cognitive processing therapy evidence-based?

CPT is under the category of evidence-based manualized treatment. Its focus is on addressing symptoms of trauma and PTSD and looking at how patients perceive traumatic events. It allows patients to develop ways for them to regain their sense of control in life.

What are the 8 cognitive skills?     

Cognitive skills refer to abilities developed by the brain to process information effectively. These skills are often categorized into eight.  Each category reflects a different method of how the brain interprets and uses information. The eight cognitive skills are:

  1. Sustained attention
  2. Response inhibition
  3. Processing speed
  4. Working memory
  5. Simultaneous attention
  6. Logic and reasoning
  7. Category formation
  8. Pattern recognition

Who needs cognitive behavioral therapy? 

CBT is a psychological treatment method that can address a wide range of psychological conditions. People suffering from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance problems, and mental illnesses can benefit the most from CBT.

What therapy is best for trauma?

Numerous therapy approaches can address trauma and traumatic responses. Since each approach has a different focus and methods, many therapists would combine them in their practice.

However, the most commonly integrated therapies for trauma include psychotherapy, exposure therapy, CBT, EMDR, hypnotherapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

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What therapy is best for PTSD?     

Most therapies for PTSD fall under the umbrella category of CBT. The methods involved in CBT allow PTSD patients to change their thought patterns about their fears and trauma. One of the best therapies for PTSD under CBT is cognitive processing therapy (CPT).

How do I get certified in cognitive processing therapy? 

Getting certified in CPT would require professional licensure as a psychotherapist. You would also need to undergo the necessary training, group consultations, initiation of CPT cases, and knowledge of CPT standardized instruments. You will then be subject to evaluation based on your qualifications.

Is Prolonged exposure therapy evidence-based?

Prolonged exposure falls under the category of evidence-based treatment for PTSD. It involved in-vivo exposure, imaginal exposure, and processing of traumatic memory. Many studies support prolonged exposure as one of the best treatment methods for PTSD.

Who developed cognitive processing therapy?

The person responsible for developing CPT is Dr. Patricia Resick in 1988. Together with other psychologists, they focused on treating PTSD symptoms of victims of sexual assault. Later, Dr. Candice M. Monson conducted the initial randomized controlled trials of CPT for PTSD treatment with U.S. Veterans.

What are stuck points?

Stuck points in CPT refers to statements and thoughts that restrict trauma patients from moving forward from their traumas. These statements, which often revolve around safety, trust, control, esteem, and intimacy, keep trauma patients from recovering.

It skews their perception of reality in an unhealthy way, which leads to withdrawal from things that they associate as threats.

How can I improve my cognitive skills?

Improving your cognitive skills allows you to perform better in almost all aspects of life. It helps enhance your attention, thought process, and problem-solving skills.

Working on your cognitive skills involves taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. Therefore, being physically active, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, maintaining social connections, and brain exercises can improve cognitive skills.

What is the 30-question cognitive test?

We refer to the 30-question cognitive test as the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) or Folstein test. It is an extensive test commonly used in research and clinical settings to measure potential cognitive impairment or dysfunction. It is also a widely-used screening instrument for dementia in medicine and allied health.

What are three examples of cognitive skills?

Cognitive skills are the abilities related to thinking and reasoning that requires the brain to process information. Some common examples of cognitive skills are spatial awareness, logical reasoning, and visual and auditory processing.

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Suffering through trauma can negatively impact life because it considerably changes a person’s way of thinking. PTSD patients are more prone to believe that they are at fault for what has happened to them. They might also think that the world is a dangerous place. 

A traumatic event brings them to the point where they have varying emotions that are hard to untangle alone. There might be a feeling of fear or distrust towards the world.

However, perceiving oneself to be responsible for the situation is more likely. It is very common for PTSD patients to overthink what they could have done more to prevent the event from happening.

The duration of Cognitive Processing Therapy is shorter compared to other forms of therapy. It normally takes about 12 sessions, which are around 60 to 90 minutes each. The effect may begin to take place after the first few sessions.

Cognitive Processing Therapy will teach how to separate and categorize emotions to understand better how it affects reactions to situations.

If you decide to undergo CPT, you will write an Impact Statement during the first session. It will contain how impactful your experiences are towards yourself, your family, and the rest of your loved ones. 

From there, your therapist will work with you for 12 sessions. By the end of it, you will learn how to become more self-aware. Self-awareness makes catching false beliefs about yourself a lot easier. Managing situations and switching up your way of thinking becomes a lot faster and better. 

You may feel broken and distrustful of the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t heal. Through CPT, you can mend your ways of thinking for a better, healthier life.

Mental Health: The Effectiveness Of Talk Therapy

Understandably, most people do not want to sit in front of a stranger only to talk about fear, stress, anxiety, and depression. The fact that the treatment sessions can last up to a couple of weeks, the whole idea is pretty much a waste of time. On top of that, it requires a large sum of money despite just sitting in front of an expert and talk for a couple of hours. However, as much as you thought that talking to someone who knows how to handle your psychological issues is nonsense, it actually works. But it is essential to note that not all talk therapy sessions are created equally. Thus, the different methods of therapy suit individual mental health conditions.

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Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the most known talk therapy that is scientifically studied. It helps address specific mental health conditions such as mood disorders, depression, and even schizophrenia. It runs through a process by assisting individuals in identifying their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, intending to alter the negative stuff with healthier ones. The therapy involves cognitive learning to help individuals look at things differently. CBT assists individuals to understand unusual life events and experiences. These include other people’s judgments, trauma from abuse, and distressing belief of one’s self. Cognitive Behavior Therapy also caters to different developing strategies that are often people’s main issue. It helps reduce stress, maintain an excellent mental and emotional balance, and improves overall well-being.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a promising talk therapy technique. It is more than just an advice-giving process. That is because of its ability to alter the structure and function of people’s brain’s circuitry. It promotes awareness of individuals’ reasons for happiness, anger, fear, and other emotions. CBT assists in the proper regulation of thoughts and feelings to help people decide how to act, respond, and behave accordingly. Remarkably, a week of Cognitive Behavior Therapy allows people to discriminate specific emotions better.

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Typical Access On Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy can assist individuals with face-to-face interaction. Individuals set up an appointment with a professional and sit and talk with the mental health expert for a couple of hours. However, it can also be useful even if delivered via the internet. This type of CBT arrangement helps a lot, especially for those people experiencing severe social anxiety. Since they are afraid of personal interaction, it becomes impossible for them to discuss mental health problems personally. But with an internet-delivered Cognitive Behavior Therapy, individuals are promised to improve health over time without the pressure of somebody else’s presence. Thus, it is understandable that CBT assists in brain alteration even if it gets delivered online.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is significant because of the change it can provide on people’s behaviors. Those changes often help a lot and are necessary for clinical improvement, provided with followed guidelines and essential therapy. However, it is vital to understand that what works for some does not guarantee to work for others. So it would be best for people to know their preference when it comes to treatment and therapy options that are available.

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Cognitive Behavior Therapy Benefits

Support System – For most people experiencing different emotions, the one thing they crave more is attention. Along with a professional mental health expert, CBT promises to provide that needed comfortability, guidance, and support.

Improved Self-Esteem – CBT increases people’s self-esteem. That is because of its talk-therapy procedure that allows individuals to express themselves in someone’s presence without criticism and judgment. There is the assurance of given confidence and self-worthiness.

Creations Of Positive Thoughts – Cognitive Behavior Therapy is clinically proven and recommended because of its primary function. That is to create a positive thought that would eventually remove the negative ones. Thought the fulfillment of the procedure may take a while, the therapy still ensures a bit-by-bit change that is also beneficial in long-term impact.

Relapses Prevention – Talk therapy, particularly CBT, can prevent people from degeneration. It aids in decreasing symptoms that may result from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, abuse-related fears, shame, some sexualized behaviors, etc. With CBT, it becomes easy for people to control the negative impact on particular aspects of their lives.

Better Communication Skills – For individuals experiencing a mental health issue, it is hard for them to maintain communication. But with CBT, the patients learn to communicate effectively without the risk of getting a bad feeling associated with their life problems.

Improves Coping Skills – Cognitive Behavior Therapy allows individuals to learn and practice their emotional and mental ability to control thinking and beliefs. It helps them sort out their issues and never to ignore it. The ongoing process of CBT improves people’s better logic and reasoning, as well.

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People should recognize the importance and benefits of talk therapy. They must understand that dealing with mental health issues are not always through medication and surgeries.

Dealing With Family Members’ Mental Health Issues

We agree that we have the responsibility to care and support our loved ones as a family member, especially when these individuals are dealing with a mental illness. But have you ever thought how much you should excuse family members for their unacceptable behaviors? When members of your family have been diagnosed with severe cases of panic disorder, anxiety, and depression, would you allow them to treat you and the rest of the family negatively? Understandably, your loved ones with mental health issues are not their normal selves. At times, they are short-tempered and irritable. They can also become quite vindictive and mean. Unfortunately, those negative behaviors are just part of their mental illness. As a concerned family member, would you confront and stop your loved ones from practicing negative behaviors? Or would you rather let them slip?

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What Can You Do?

First of all, you need to realize that it is not your loved ones’ fault that they behave differently. There is something wrong with their emotional and psychological function, which makes them respond to things unfavorably. Thus, it is reasonable to allow family members to feel that way. It is the only way your loved ones can validate their strengths and weaknesses. It becomes their outlet in dealing with so many overwhelming things. However, there is a catch. When you let your loved ones take their frustrations out on everybody, you are not helping them. If you think that often ignoring their mean behavior towards the rest of the family will help, it will not.

As a family member, you have to allow your loved ones to experience the different levels of their emotional and mental state. It would be best if you never let them use that as an opportunity to feel entitled to everything they do. It would be best if you let them know when they are hurtful sometimes. It is okay to give your family members a break from criticisms. But if that process does not help them build up themselves and contribute to their fight against their negative voices, you need to undergo treatment, such as family therapy.

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What Can Family Therapy Do?

Experts recommend family therapy because it promises to provide everyone a safe place to talk about things that family members struggle to talk about every day. Of course, you don’t have all the time to sit around with members of the family to discuss specific issues. That is especially if you feel scared to let your opinions out. You don’t want to hurt others with your words, do you? Honestly, you do not have that setup in your regular lives where people in the house allow someone to talk without receiving any backlash. Thus, it is essential that when discussing behavioral issues among family members, you need to have a mediator to control the situation.

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It will be an excellent experience for everyone to attend a family therapy session that caters to mental health issues as well. That is because everyone will have a safe place to vent their frustrations as to what is going on with their relationship within the family. Family therapy can help in externalizing the issue. It is where instead of pointing out that it is your loved ones’ behavior that some members feel bad, you try to explain to them that their mental illness is the one causing the damage. It is like trying to put the blame onto something that shouldn’t have to be there in the first place. It is more about targeting what is causing the whole misunderstanding instead of focusing on the resulting behavior. This way, it makes your loved ones seek relief for the problem because they will start to see that it is not them that is causing others to feel bad. Instead, it is their mental illness.

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Things To Remember

Usually, when you talk to your loved ones about the changes in their behavior, it upsets them. It makes them feel that you don’t understand their situation, and things can pretty much escalate into a huge argument. It can affect your emotional and mental state at some level. When you think too much about the impact of your actions and words toward your family member, there is a tendency that you will feel guilty of either saying or not saying anything. With this, you need to consider seeking your personal therapy.

It is entirely reasonable to feel exhausted and frustrated to almost feel trapped in an unfortunate family situation. That is because of the fact that you don’t want to hurt the people you love, who are already hurting due to their mental condition. So before you make any move in either trying to confront members of the family with mental health, seek personal or family therapists’ advice.

 

 

Teletherapy During COVID-19 Pandemic

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The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in preventive measures to limit the transmission of the disease. In response to this, there has been a shift to the delivery of healthcare around the world. Public health experts are taking steps to provide service remotely to avoid further risks of the virus spreading.

For people who undergo therapy and counseling, there is a growing shift to teletherapy. Through these remote sessions, patients can still receive treatment at the comforts of their home. It is a huge transition in your therapy experience, but this adjustment can be a great help in the unforeseeable future.

As we face an uncertain future with the COVID-19 pandemic, this can be a start of a worthwhile change.

What Is Teletherapy?

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“While this can certainly vary depending on geographical location and the diversity of clients seen by a therapist, teletherapy ensures maximal privacy every time,” explains Goali Saedi Bocci, Ph.D. In teletherapy, patients and therapists utilize digital platforms where they are comfortable with. It can be through the format of audio or live video conferencing via Skype or Zoom.

Teletherapy is an effective method, especially for people who are not comfortable talking to their provider face-to-face. It can also reduce the anxiety of needing to go out at this time. Furthermore, patients can vent their worries to their provider, who can then help them develop effective coping tools.

Who Is It For?

Teletherapy offers a beneficial way to receive therapy for a range of people with different circumstances. Depending on your preference, you can undergo one-on-one sessions or join group therapy sessions. This method is helpful for mental health therapy and counseling, as well as speech and occupational therapy.

How Does Online Therapy Work?

Your provider will set a session schedule based on the suitable time that you both agreed on. Patients and health professionals work hand-in-hand in deciding which secure online platform to use. You can interact with each other in the virtual environment in various ways. As with face-to-face therapy, your provider can integrate traditional techniques to execute each session.

Tips For A Successful Transition To Teletherapy

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It can be challenging to know where to start with this shift. Thus, it can take some time before you get used to this mode of healthcare. Here are  some tips that can ease your transition and make the most out of teletherapy:

  • Reserve Space And Time For Sessions

Although this is a flexible mode of therapy, distractions can take away the essence of the session. As much as you can, set space and time to engage with the process fully. It is crucial to have a soothing environment where you can feel safe and comfortable.

  • Find The Mode Of Therapy That Works For You

Find a platform that will work for you. You can combine messaging, audio, video, or live conference depending on your preference and circumstances. Depending on what you and your therapy agreed on, you can explore a combination that works for you. Get creative with how you’ll utilize these available tools to make each session engaging.

  • Embrace The Awkwardness

Be open to feeling discomfort and awkwardness; don’t take this as a discouragement. It is normal not to feel in-synced with your provider right away. The process can be awkward at first, especially if you’re unfamiliar with communicating virtually. Also, remember that it is a different experience for different people as you use different modes and platforms.

  • Name Your Needs

Do not invalidate your response to the situations that are happening around you. For many of us, at this period, we are facing a struggle with meeting our needs physically, emotionally, and mentally. It can lead to a spiral of fearfulness and loneliness. Thus, it is essential to be extra patient on how we are taking care of ourselves at this time.

Remember, your feelings are valid, and it’s never wrong to ask for help from your therapist in organizing your thoughts. 

  • Be Open To Your Therapist

Be open to your provider about your suggestion in improving the transition. Let them know what you find a challenge and difficulty in doing. Giving them feedback is essential for both of you to figure out what doesn’t work and what needs working on. Keep your communication open and transparent.

Using Teletherapy As A Coping Tool

Virtual therapy can be a powerful tool to alleviate stress and worries in this time of isolation. As we are facing anxiety that is stronger than ever, now is the time to focus on ourselves. Don’t be afraid to try out methods that are beneficial to your mental and emotional health. If you choose to undergo teletherapy, be willing to meet your provider halfway to make it work.

Can Anxiety Be A Good Thing?

In the last 2019 memorial day event, I realized that the thing that ruins my daily mood is anxiety. I understand that it is a mental illness that requires a lot of patience and perseverance for someone to overcome. But lately, I noticed that my anxiety gave me an emotional and mental strength I never knew I had. It is why I came to the question if anxiety can be a good thing.

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Anxiety is the feeling of nervousness and worries from a forthcoming event or an uncertain outcome. There are many types of it, ranging from a social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, agoraphobia, selective mutism, PTSD, and a lot more. But despite that, there are some levels of anxiety that can help us in away. Anxiety can be motivating in some circumstances. It is sometimes what makes us get out of bed and think about our duties for the whole day. It can pump some of our adrenalin whenever there’s an immediate thing we have to do.

In some cases, it helps us manage our decisions better because we can think of things in both wrong and useful ways. Not only it stimulates the brain, but anxiety also keeps us safe. That is because the more anxious we get, the more we become aware of what is going on with our surroundings. That is why we pay attention to noise, people’s voices, and body language.

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In general, though anxiety is harmful and can cause devastation, small doses of it can help. Yes, it can be uncomfortable in some states because of the stress response. But using it to stimulate the fight-flight-freeze can activate the anterior insula. It is the brain’s function that predicts harm and makes you learn to avoid it. Thus, giving you enough time to think about your situations through.

Ways To Deal With Anxiety Due To Job Uncertainty

The entire world is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic. While we stay at home and avoid the virus, we have our battle with our thoughts. It is normal to spend long hours of your quarantine thinking about how the pandemic made our lives even more uncertain. Unfortunately, it is the things that we do not know that scare us the most.

The implementation of social distancing, quarantines, and lockdowns have introduced a new normal in society. With the forced closure of different industries, economists and financial experts warn of its devastating effects on the economy. Thus, unemployment rates have started to increase, resulting in job uncertainty.

Do we still have a job to return to? Am I the one to be laid off next? When can I reopen my business? These questions will continue to bother our minds. Unfortunately, we do not know when the pandemic will end. Until then, we have to strive and live in the new normal.

The last thing we need during this time is more reasons to be anxious. Anxiety will not only affect your state of mind and attitude but may also result in the weakening of the immune system. To avoid this, psychologists suggest several methods on how to prevent anxiety caused by job uncertainty.

“By adding even a small element of certainty in the face of overwhelming uncertainty, you can re-establish a connection with the present moment, ground yourself, and maintain a good sense of self-control and confidence,” says Natalie C. Dattilo, Ph.D.

To help you with dealing with anxiety due to job uncertainty, here are some suggestions on how you can adequately address these negative thoughts:

Be Informed

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Uncertainty is brought about by things we do not know. Thus, we can avoid this by gathering information from reputable news outlets. Asking your employer questions about your company status and your job may also help in dealing with your situation. Who knows, you might not need to be worried about your job at all.

Moreover, being equipped with the right information will also result in better preparation. Knowing what is ahead of you will help you address situations in the best possible way you can. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

Accept Uncertainty And Shift Your Attention

Uncertainties have always been present. Accepting ambiguity is not turning a blind eye to reality; it is acknowledging its existence and getting ahead by planning. While you have to work from home, make sure to finish your tasks in the best quality. Productivity will also show that you are a competent and an asset to the company, and it will reaffirm your value to your company.

The pandemic also gives us more time to do the things we have always wanted. Instead of overthinking about the uncertainties, use your energy in re-exploring your hobbies. Shifting your attention to other activities will not only remove your thoughts away from the pandemic but also from work burn-out.

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Take Control

Make Plan B, C, and D. If you foresee your company laying off people or you want to have extra income during this time, you may think of other sources of income. Because of the new normal, some opportunities are available to explore. Instead of spending your time dealing with ambiguity, be creative in thinking of ways to make money out of your old hobby or a prized recipe.

Remember, the world is not black and white. Even if there is a possibility of losing your job, many doors will open for you as long as you are ready to explore them. Taking control also applies to how you deal with your emotions and thoughts. Choose to see the situation or problem as an opportunity for you to grow and develop.

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Uncertainty will always be present in our lives. There is only so much we could control. The best way to deal with anxiety is by having the right and healthy mindset. Instead of worrying about what you do not know, pour your energy into things you can control. The world, even during these times, is full of opportunities for you.

Remember that you are not alone in this journey. You have your friends and family who are present to listen and support you. You may not have the cure to the virus, but you are definitely in control of your thoughts and actions.

The Best Way To Handle Anger

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The 2017 emotion conference emphasizes on how people should handle their anger. Though it is not that simple, there are still ways to do that. According to the speakers of the conference, managing anger is just a matter of emotional and mental health development. So how can individuals observe that?

Take Time To Think Before You Speak – One thing that people should focus on first is their thoughts. Uncontrolled anger can do a lot of damage, primarily when expressed in an outburst. So before the situation escalates into a conflict, one must take his time to collect all his thoughts before saying something.

Be Calm Before Expressing Anything – Well, frustration is an emotion that validates anger. Sometimes, expressing it can help in emotional growth. But experts suggest that when delivered incorrectly, it can move into a confrontational scenario. So to avoid that, one must stay calm. That way, he can express his concerns without the impression of hurting or trying to control others.

Pause For A While – There is no immediate resolution in controlling anger than a quick pause. Yes, not thinking or saying anything is the best way to kill the momentum of anger. It is not like a person who ignores the situation, though. It is more about taking a step back to realize the situation so one can handle it without getting angry or irritated.

Release Tension With Humor – Well, this one is not easy. When an individual is angry, he might not be able to think about good and funny stuff. However, when there is a chance to hop it in, it can defuse the tension.

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Seek Professional Help – Sometimes, anger issues are more complicated than you think. If you are having trouble controlling it, and you find yourself unable to shut it off, you might want to consider asking for professional advice.