I offer a treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) called Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). CPT is an extensively researched protocol, with 23 randomized controlled trials (the gold standard in psychological research) showing consistent improvements in quality of life in the long-term.
Veterans Affairs in both Canada and the USA endorse CPT as an effective treatment for PTSD, as does the Canadian First Responders Mental Health Alliance.
CPT is a structured protocol of 12-15 sessions conducted weekly or twice weekly where clients with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) learn skills to help themselves going forward.
CPT aligns really well with my personal values because:
- CPT is designed around the assumption that you are strong enough to have endured PTSD and are therefore strong enough to process the impacts of the trauma
- Avoidance is a central feature of PTSD. You may be avoiding the memories, thoughts and feelings about the trauma, but also people, places and things that might remind you of the trauma. This is a natural and understandable response. However, avoidance can severely limit your life. You may be avoiding all feelings, even joy, contentment, connection and fulfillment. You may be using substances or food or overwork to avoid. The therapist using CPT gently encourages clients to approach rather than avoid their traumatic memories, feelings and beliefs in the safety of the sessions so that the client can break their patterns of avoidance in their daily lives.
- CPT involves educating clients about trauma and PTSD and their impacts, so they understand what is happening to them
- CPT promotes skill-building, so clients leave in a more empowered position. Clients are required to practice skills learned between sessions. The practice work is not time-consuming but needs to be done consistently. This consistency solidifies the skills, and builds habits for the client to take with them after the sessions have ended.
- CPT involves ongoing monitoring of PTSD and depressive symptoms using self-reporting tools that are clear and straightforward.
- CPT involves a lot of choice for clients: clients are not required to talk about the traumatic event in great depth if they chose not to. There is, however, a model that involves clients writing about the event in depth, but this is the client’s choice. Traumatic events were either enacted upon us and we had no choice or we made terrible choices that haunt us. Reclaiming measured choice is a healthy step to addressing the symptoms of PTSD.
- The focus in CPT is on healing the ways that a traumatic event has changed your beliefs about yourself, about others and about the world. The emphasis is on the meanings we create to understand what has happened, and the feelings that get buried or entangled in the meaning.
- The goal is for clients understand and accept reality rather than seeing the world through the lens of fear and avoidance or shame.