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Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that has been designed to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related symptoms. CPT is a structured, time-limited psychotherapy that typically consists of 12 weekly sessions. The goal of CPT is to help individuals learn to evaluate and change the negative, unhelpful thoughts and beliefs they have developed following a traumatic event.

Research over the past decade has shown that CPT is an effective treatment for PTSD. For instance, a randomized controlled trial conducted by Resick et al. (2015) found that CPT was significantly more effective than supportive counseling in reducing PTSD symptoms in female survivors of sexual assault. Similarly, a meta-analysis by Imel et al. (2013) found that CPT was associated with large reductions in PTSD symptoms, with effects lasting up to two years post-treatment.

During each session of CPT, the therapist follows a detailed, standardized protocol that includes reviewing the patient's progress, providing education about PTSD and the cognitive model, and practicing cognitive skills through in-session exercises and homework assignments. In addition to cognitive restructuring, CPT may also incorporate components of exposure therapy, such as imaginal exposure, in which patients are asked to imagine their trauma and describe their thoughts and feelings.

By teaching individuals how to challenge and modify their negative thoughts, CPT can help alleviate symptoms of PTSD and related conditions. The structured nature of the therapy and the inclusion of homework assignments can enhance the effectiveness of the treatment and lead to long-lasting improvements in mental health outcomes.

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