Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Note: The Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) program is currently under re-review due to the availability of new research evidence. The Scientific Rating has been removed until it can be established based on the new research evidence.

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Scientific Rating:
Not determined at this time
See scale of 1-5
Child Welfare System Relevance Level:
See descriptions of 3 levels

About This Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is in the process of being rated by the CEBC in the area of: Trauma Treatment (Adult).

Target Population: Adults who have experienced a traumatic event and are currently suffering from the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or meet criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD

Brief Description

CPT was originally developed for use with rape and crime victims, but it is used with a variety of trauma populations, including both military and civilian samples. CPT focuses on identifying and challenging maladaptive beliefs that develop about, and as a result of, the traumatic event. The therapist helps the client to identify problem areas (i.e., stuck points) in their thinking about the traumatic event, which have impeded their recovery. Therapists then use Socratic dialogue, a form of questioning that encourages clients to examine and evaluate their own beliefs rather than being told in a directive way, to help clients challenge their stuck points. Throughout the treatment, worksheets and Socratic dialogue are used to help clients replace maladaptive beliefs with more balanced alternative statements. CPT can be delivered individually or in a group format. There is another form of CPT called CPT-C which does not include a written account of the traumatic event.

Program Goals:

The goals of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) are:

  • Increase understanding of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how it affects life
  • Accept the reality of the traumatic event
  • Feel emotions about the traumatic event and reduce avoidance
  • Develop balanced and realistic beliefs about the event, oneself, others, and the world
  • Decrease the emotions that emanate from maladaptive beliefs about the event (e.g., guilt, shame, anger)
  • Decrease symptoms of PTSD and depression
  • Improve day-to-day living

Contact Information

Name: Patricia A. Resick, PhD, ABPP
Agency/Affiliation: Duke University

Date Research Evidence Compiled: July 2015 (currently being reviewed)

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: April 2016

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: June 2013