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.


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.


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.


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.

Top 4 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Online Therapy

With the availability of the latest innovations, everything has become within reach for many people. For example, anyone can already get access to an online therapist by simply visiting a website or using a phone application. For this to work, all that is required is for both the patient and therapist to find a stable Internet connection. Both of them can already talk and discuss through the online medium.  


Continue reading “Top 4 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Online Therapy”

Top 4 Ways On How To Support A Loved One Undergoing Therapy

There is no perfect relationship in this world. No matter how much you make an effort to reach a certain level of perfection in your marriage, you just could not do it. Imperfections are part of every relationship, and this is something you need to accept during the early stages of your union. One of the many challenges that may come your way is finding out that your partner needs to go through therapy.


Continue reading “Top 4 Ways On How To Support A Loved One Undergoing Therapy”

Therapy And Confidentiality

One of the major concerns of people about undergoing therapy is the confidentiality of the sessions. Many individuals are wondering whether their therapists are allowed to discuss what happens during their meetings, whether it is made online or through personal interaction. Fortunately, the answer to this question is in the negative. If you want to learn more about the consequences of this confidentiality requirement for all therapists in the US, be sure to read the rest of this article.



Continue reading “Therapy And Confidentiality”

Self-Harming: How REBT Can Provide Relief



You’ll never predict people who self-harm. Some may seem ordinary, jolly on the outside, and happy with their lives. There are no traces in their “personality” that they harbor such ill feelings for themselves and self-harm, while others are more prominent in showing their symptoms. Honestly, it is just so sad.

The questions here are: Can self-harming lead to suicidal thoughts, and is it because of the situation or the person’s mental health state?

Continue reading “Self-Harming: How REBT Can Provide Relief”

REBT On Recovering Drug Addicts


With studies and scientific approaches on drug addiction treatment evolving, there are various ways to combat the dependency which promises success. REBT or Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is one of those approaches. Combined with sheer will and determination, an ex-drug addict can achieve permanent sobriety through REBT and live a healthy drug-free life.

Continue reading “REBT On Recovering Drug Addicts”

Is Marriage Counseling Effective? 

There is a debate as to whether or not marriage counseling is effective. Some individuals claim that it cannot save any marital union at all. On the other hand, some people also say that this mode of counseling has helped them reunite with the ones they love. Because of different views, many couples are having difficulty in determining if marriage counseling or therapy is something that they could try.  


Continue reading “Is Marriage Counseling Effective? “

What Are The Things You Must Know Before Seeing A Marriage Counselor?

Is your marriage experiencing too much turmoil? Are you having difficulty in saving the relationship? Do you still want to try again and make things work? If you answered yes to all these inquiries, then consider yourself lucky because there are still many solutions to your problem. Luckily, you can still go through marriage counseling or couples therapy. Before engaging the services of a counselor, these are the things that you must know first:


Continue reading “What Are The Things You Must Know Before Seeing A Marriage Counselor?”

Small Things You Can Do For Self-Acceptance

In an ideal world, when you ask someone if they like themselves, they immediately answer with a resounding “yes.” But sadly, a lot of us have not come to be proud or accepting of who we are. Self-acceptance is tough for many people.


But there are ways to jumpstart our quest toward accepting ourselves. Here are some of them.

Allow Yourself To Rest

In today’s age, people always seem to be on the go. Because of this trend, we tend to feel guilty when we’re not productive. This type of thinking can often lead to burnout.

What you can do is to accept the fact that you also have to rest. Allow yourself to sleep, hang out with friends, read a book, play video games, or whatever relaxes you. Remind yourself that you don’t have to be doing something useful all the time. “Sleep can restore your mind and body. The immune system repairs itself and the brain rests and recharges while you sleep. Without enough sleep, you can’t function at your best.” A piece of advice from Dr. Aaron Kaplan, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist.

Accept Compliments

One thing we all tend to have difficulty with is accepting compliments. We often downplay our achievements and strengths, shrugging or laughing off whatever praise people give us.

Next time someone compliments you, let “thank you” be the first words out of your mouth. It won’t be boastful when you accept praise for hard work. Give yourself the credit you deserve by learning to take a compliment and by giving yourself one as well.

Believe In Positivity

“The sensation of pressure doesn’t have to be negative—it can be a positive challenge and motivating.” Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D. said. Although cliché and sometimes hard to believe in, positive quotes can help with self-acceptance. Focus on things that help you feel good about yourself. Leave yourself a note with a compliment, subscribe to daily inspirational messages, and hang posters of affirmations. These things will keep negative thoughts away.

However, this doesn’t mean that you have to stay positive all the time. Always trying to be happy can also be stressful. It’s only right for us to feel and experience other emotions. Positivity reminds us that there are good times after the bad.

Accept Your Mistakes

Self-acceptance isn’t only about agreeing to the good. Learning to love yourself includes recognizing your mistakes. Recognize that there are people you have hurt, you’ve made some bad choices in life, and you’ve let opportunities slip by you. These faults are part of who you are, but they do not define you. Learn to embrace them as part of your being and then forgive yourself for them.


Be Careful With Self-Criticism

To some degree, self-criticism is a helpful practice that allows us to recognize our faults and thus correct them. It helps us grow as an individual in our personal and professional lives. However, our inner critic can sometimes be unnecessarily harsh. For many of us, we are our worst enemy.

For this reason, we have to be careful with self-criticism. Our thoughts can sometimes be cognitive distortions. Examples are magnifying mistakes, minimizing achievements, and being swayed by emotions instead of reason. Try to stay rational and be gentle with the things you tell yourself. If you wouldn’t say it to the people you love, then you probably shouldn’t say it to yourself.

With self-love comes self-acceptance. “Self-love is important to living well. It influences who you pick for a mate, the image you project at work, and how you cope with the problems in your life.”  Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D. said. To do so means to be kind and compassionate toward yourself. Allow time for rest and fun, receive compliments with grace, and let positivity in and block out the negative. Be careful when it comes to self-criticism all while recognizing past mistakes and forgiving yourself for them. With these practices, you’ll be able to confidently show the world that you’ve accepted yourself for who you are.