Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a cognitive-behavioral therapy (treatment that focuses on thoughts and feelings) for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and related conditions. PTSD can develop when an individual experiences a traumatic event such as physical and sexual abuse or assault, accidents, threats, military combat, or being a witness to violence or death. CPT focuses on the connections between thoughts, feelings, behavior and bodily sensations.

CPT provides a way to understand why recovery from traumatic events is difficult and how symptoms of PTSD affect daily life. The focus is on identifying how traumatic experiences change thoughts and beliefs, and how thoughts influence current feelings and behaviors. An important part of the treatment is addressing ways of thinking that might keep individuals “stuck” and get in the way of recovery from symptoms of PTSD and other problems.

Last reviewed: 2023

Intended Outcomes:

Intended outcomes for CPT:
  • Improve understanding of PTSD
  • Reduce distress about memories of the trauma
  • Decrease emotional numbing (i.e., difficulty feeling feelings) and avoidance of trauma reminders
  • Reduce feelings of being tense or “on edge”
  • Decrease depression, anxiety, guilt or shame
  • Improve day-to-day living

Continuum of Care:

Topic Areas:
Anxiety, Behavioral Health/Mental Health, Depression, Trauma

Adult (25+), Teen/Adolescent (13-18), Young Adult (19-24)

Geographic Locations:
Rural, Urban

Delivery Settings:
Community-Based, Congregate Care Facility

Cultural Considerations:
A balanced amount of the research involved diverse populations

Individuals experiencing symptoms of PTSD

Licensed Mental Health Professional, CPT Provider Status


Is Training Required?
Yes, see developer info

Who can provide the required training?
Developers of Cognitive Processing Therapy

Program Costs (materials, training, etc.):
Yes, refer to program website

Program/Practice Website:

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research:

Stefanie T. LoSavio, Robert A. Murphy, and Patricia A. Resick. (2021). Treatment Outcomes for Adolescents Versus Adults Receiving Cognitive Processing Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder During Community Training

Chard, K. (2005). An evaluation of Cognitive Processing Therapy for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder related to childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 73(5), 965-971.

Resick, P. A., Galovski, T. A., Uhlmansiek, M. O., Scher, C. D., Clum, G. A., & Young-Xu, Y. (2008). A randomized clinical trial to dismantle components of Cognitive Processing Therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in female victims of interpersonal violence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76, 243-258.

Butollo, W., Karl, R., Konig, J., & Rosner, R. (2016). A randomized controlled trial of Dialogical Exposure Therapy versus Cognitive Processing Therapy for adult outpatients suffering from PTSD after Type I trauma in adulthood. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 85(1), 16-26.

Resick, P. A., Wachen, J. S., Dondanville, K. A., Pruiksma, K. E., Yarvis, J. S., Peterson, A. L., Mintz, J., & the STRONG STAR Consortium. (2017). Effect of group vs. individual cognitive processing therapy in active-duty military seeking treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 74, 28-36.

Additional Sources:

Well-Supported by Research

WV Rating:
Well-Supported by Research
»WV Ratings Info

Rationale for Rating:

Articles reviewed showed evidence of positive outcomes for adolescent and adult population. Research included meta-analyses and several peer-reviewed randomized controlled trials for adolescents and young adults.

Contraindications or Concerns:
None identified

Other Registries/Ratings

The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare:
Well-Supported by Research Evidence

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development:
Not On Registry

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness:
Not On Registry

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Programs Guide:
Effective - One study

Washington State Institute for Public Policy:
Not On Registry