At present, there are many treatments available for various mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related trauma-induced conditions. Some may be pharmacological, but patients may not want to deal with the side effects or the need to rely on medicines, especially if they are also dealing with a substance abuse issue along with their existing mental problems. So, there are drug-free approaches that rely on psychological analysis and personal insights. One such treatment that has been found to be effective for PTSD and other related disorders is cognitive processing therapy.
Cognitive processing therapy helps patients face the cause of their disorder in such a way that they no longer feel threatened and can train themselves to recognise when they may become distressed and to avoid responding negatively. There have been a number of studies conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of this form of therapy, and overall, the consensus is that cognitive processing therapy does produce positive results for patients suffering from PTSD.
What is Cognitive Processing Therapy?
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy that was developed to help people manage distress, negative thoughts, and behaviours that stem from a traumatic experience. Through a series of guided sessions, patients work with therapists to better understand how their traumas have impacted their memories and thoughts. These thoughts and memories may trigger deep-seated fears and avoidance behaviours. CPT provides patients with the tools and capacity to accept and minimise such fears so that they can regain control over their lives.
While other forms of therapy are more traditional intervention models, cognitive processing therapy focuses on collaboration and empowerment for patients and their support systems. This includes psychoeducational techniques, whereby patients are taught about their conditions in general, along with being encouraged to discuss their specific symptoms and experiences. With this knowledge, it is believed that patients will gain a greater understanding of their condition, which will ultimately help them overcome the obstacles created by the trauma.
Cognitive Processing Therapy and PTSD
Fundamentally, cognitive processing therapy works on a person’s thinking because it is believed to be what controls their feelings. With PTSD or other trauma disorders, a traumatic event, which includes being a direct participant in or a witness to another’s trauma, impacts a person’s life. Memories or thoughts of the event can trigger a range of responses, from nightmares and anxiety to panic attacks and substance abuse. Compounding these negative experiences is a patient’s exposure to negative reactions from others, such as ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘get over it.’ This further perpetuates a cycle of negative thoughts, which lead to negative feelings and responses. Rather than seeking positive coping mechanisms, they may withdraw further into depression, substance abuse, or other unhelpful behaviours.
Trauma sufferers can allow this negativity to become hardwired into their thoughts and behaviours. Furthermore, they may find it difficult to express their feelings or even discuss the traumas at the heart of their issues, especially once they develop beliefs that have mired them in this cycle. Cognitive processing therapy endeavours to break down these patterns under a trained professional’s care, helping them process the memories and thoughts in a healthier, less destructive manner.
What Happens During Cognitive Processing Therapy?
Cognitive processing therapy is structured, usually with about 12 sessions of approximately an hour over a few months. During these sessions, therapists will work with patients, either in a group environment or one-on-one. They would begin with educational sessions, where the patients learn about trauma and PTSD, often as it relates to their own symptoms and manifestations. Then they would identify and understand how their thoughts and feelings trigger their responses. This could occur as the patient shares detailed descriptions of the underlying event, working through memories and responses to them. With this knowledge, patients can then learn how to challenge negative thoughts and beliefs triggered by these memories and how to modify and adapt these thoughts and beliefs to improve their outlook and quality of life.
Completing writing assignments outside of therapy sessions is part of the process. They are designed to help patients process what is discussed during the sessions while they articulate and explore their traumas and triggers. Major themes covered include issues of safety, trust, control, power, self-esteem, and intimacy.
The Cabin & Cognitive Processing Therapy
The Cabin understands that addictions or dependency can be linked to underlying mental health issues, including depression and PTSD. Cognitive processing therapy is among the many treatments we offer to help patients who are suffering from PTSD or related disorders. During our admissions process, we will evaluate each patient’s individual issues and needs and determine if cognitive processing therapy should be considered as part of their treatment programme. Our staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So if you, or a loved one, needs help in overcoming an addiction or trauma, contact us to get help now.
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