By Dr. Jackie Kantor

What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD affects how you think, feel, and act. PTSD can show up differently for people but one commonality is the impact on thoughts about yourself and others. Do you find yourself having thoughts such as, “I can’t trust myself or anyone else,” “I’m damaged because of what happened,” “I need to be in control at all times,” “everywhere outside of my home is dangerous?”. These thoughts can make it hard to relax, sleep, focus, create new relationships or strengthen current ones, feel confident in yourself, stay present, and so much more.

PTSD can make relationships, working, school, and just living day-to-day very challenging. Previous things, like going to the grocery store or opening up to a friend, may feel next to impossible. If you struggle with thoughts similar to these, you may benefit from Cognitive Processing Therapy.

Breaking Down the Process: How does Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) help PTSD?

CPT is a form of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for adolescents and adults that helps you change your thoughts to be more realistic and helpful so that your world can open up and you can get back to doing what feels meaningful to you. Research shows that CPT works because you are changing your thoughts, which can be accomplished without ever sharing specifics about a traumatic event. So, what does CPT for PTSD look like?

CPT takes about 12 individual therapy sessions and involves writing as a key component. CPT starts with an education phase about PTSD and the model behind this treatment. The end goal of CPT is for you to become your own cognitive therapist!

After the education phase, you begin looking at how you are talking to yourself and how these thoughts influence how you feel and act. Then, you start challenging your unrealistic and unhelpful thoughts to make them more realistic and helpful for you. YOU are the one who gets to determine which of your thoughts are helpful and realistic—not your friends, siblings, parents, or even your therapist.

By changing your thoughts, your feelings and behaviors will also shift in a positive direction. For example, you may notice a decrease in feelings of guilt and shame, and an increase in socializing at parties and confidently contributing during work meetings. Like learning anything new, CPT requires repetition, and this is why you will be asked to do assignments outside of therapy sessions. CPT uses handouts and worksheets to help you identify more balanced thoughts, and are an excellent reference post-therapy.


Remember, you can overcome PTSD. CPT is a researched-backed treatment, offering a pathway to PTSD recovery. By targeting your thought patterns, you become empowered to take control and shift your self-perceptions and beliefs to become positive. CPT serves as a tool for anyone ready to confront their negative thought patterns and embrace a brighter future.

Are you experiencing PTSD? Vivid Psychology Group specializes in posttraumatic stress disorder and is ready to help you return to a happier, confident version of yourself. Talk to a team member today to get started.

Exposure Therapy