Frequently Asked Questions in Psychotherapy in PTSD

It is not fully clear how humans developed emotions, but we already understand its significance for forging connections and communicating with others. Fear, in particular, has been keeping us safe from harm. It is also a normal feeling after encountering a traumatic event or loss. However, some may find it difficult to move on from the trauma even after some time, which is a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

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Post-traumatic stress disorder is mental health disorder affecting people who had experienced or witness terrifying events like death, accidents, and violence. Some people may start showing symptoms a month after the trigger; others may not display any signs until years after the trauma. These may come and go and vary in intensity, depending on what triggered the memories or fear.

The common symptoms of PTSD are intrusive memories, isolation, emotional numbness, and anxiety. This condition also affects concentration and sleeping, which significantly impacts people’s quality of life. It also has effects on relationships and work and thus needs proper care and treatment.

Fortunately, several methods can help individuals deal with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Medications can help improve its symptoms. Some drugs for PTSD are antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines, and prazosin.

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Sometimes, medication alone is not enough, and you may need to undergo therapy. Psychotherapy or talk therapy is constructive for people with PTSD. It can help them understand their condition and what they can do to control its symptoms and deal with its triggers.

There are several types of talk therapy, and your doctor will help determine what type will work best for you. Cognitive processing therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and exposure therapy are the most common methods used for people with PTSD.

Here are some frequently asked questions about different talk therapy methods for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

How effective is cognitive processing therapy?

Cognitive processing therapy effectively reduces total post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) checklist scores. CPT is useful in treating the trauma by challenging negative thoughts. This type of treatment allows for a better perspective on things that the trauma tends to cloud.

Is cognitive processing therapy evidence-based?

Yes, CPT is an evidence-based therapy. Rigorous scientific studies conducted by professionals and experts in the field have proven CPT to be effective.

Who developed cognitive processing therapy?
Dr. Patricia Resick developed cognitive processing therapy with the help of other psychologists and experts. The treatment goal is to manage PTSD for those who experienced sexual assault.

What is the best medication for PTSD?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are the recommended medications for those who have PTSD. The most effective SSRI/SNRI medications for those who have PTSD are

  • sertraline (Zoloft),
  • venlafaxine (Effexor),
  • fluoxetine (Prozac), and
  • paroxetine (Paxil).

How long is cognitive processing therapy?

Generally, CPT is done in 12 sessions, ideally in three months. This duration aims to help patients understand how to challenge and reform the unhelpful beliefs related to their trauma. The goal is for the patient to understand and have a new perspective of the traumatic event to reduce its adverse effects on the patient’s day-to-day life.

What therapy is best for trauma?

There are a lot of therapies available to overcome trauma, but the standard treatments are:

  • Pharmacotherapy: use of medications to manage the disruptive reactions caused by the trauma
  • Behavior Therapy: also known as exposure therapy, wherein you will face the same situation that caused the trauma, minus the feared consequences that arose from it.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: it is a type of therapy wherein the patient is taught to correct and change their thoughts and increase their knowledge and skills. An example of this is breathing exercises.
  • Group Therapy: therapy wherein there is a specific support group for the type of trauma encountered. It can be a peer group or a group that has a therapist leading the group.

What are stuck points?

Some thoughts obstruct us from recovering, and they are called stuck points. They are negative thoughts composed of blaming oneself for the trauma encountered, and these points are usually concise and direct.

Who needs cognitive behavioral therapy?

CBT is a beneficial therapy that treats mental health disorders, like depression, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CBT isn’t only confined to those who suffer from mental health problems. It can also be a useful tool to help those who want to learn how to manage stressful life situations in a much better way.

How do I get certified in cognitive processing therapy?

To be a certified provider in cognitive processing therapy, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Must have a professional licensure/registration as a mental health professional, with psychotherapy in the scope of practice
  2. Must have completed the CPT web, with an attached certificate of completion
  3. Must participate in a live CPT training that was held by either a treatment developer or a registered CPT Trainer
  4. Must have total participation of 20 hours in an authorized group Cognitive Processing Therapy consultation, including a discussion of own clients on the call. Or a minimum of 12 hours of supervision in an individual Cognitive Processing Therapy.
  5. Must complete preliminaries of at least four individual CPT cases or two group CPT or a combination. Must also complete (including early client success outcomes) two individual CPT treatment cases, two group CPT, or one CPT group, and one individual case.
  6. Must use at least one regulated means to evaluate the weekly progress of the PTSD symptoms with each of the above cases.
  7. Submission of case notes, PCL scores, and worksheet samples or stuck point logs are requested for evaluation.

How effective are PTSD treatments?

PTSD treatments, like CBT, are found to be highly effective, especially for patients who suffered from traumatic events. While it does not permanently cure the symptoms of PTSD, it dramatically helps with their day-to-day life. Studies show that people who go through treatment improve the skills to help individuals deal with the said condition.

Is Prolonged exposure therapy evidence-based?

Prolonged exposure is beneficial for people living with PTSD. It is the first-line treatment for those who have PTSD. It helps the person efficiently deal with memories, situations, and feelings related to trauma.

What is an impact statement in cognitive processing therapy?

Impact statements are essays written by CPT clients at the onset of treatment and are written again before the last therapy session. The clients describe how the traumatic event happened, what it meant to them, and how it affected how they viewed themselves, the people around them, and the world.

What are stuck points in cognitive processing therapy?

Sometimes, we have statements about ourselves, others, or the world that are extreme, exaggerated, and often harmful. These thoughts and ideas focus on the five themes covered in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) treatment: trust, safety, esteem, control, and intimacy. These statements or …