CPT lasts between 6 - 24 sessions, most typically 12. It is structured and focused, creating an extremely efficient way of treating ongoing symptoms of past trauma. This therapy is recommended to be delivered regularly for it's duration, with either once per week or twice per week appointments.
What Happens in a Session
Initial sessions are focused on gathering background information and understanding a general history of client's past and current symptoms related to their trauma. All other sessions include teaching about how trauma works and why clients may be getting stuck, reviewing assignments from the session before (yes, there is homework), practicing learned skills together and learning new skills for future practice at home. It is a protocol based therapy, providing a clear map for where treatment is heading and a helpful way to measure progress.
What is Required of Me?
CPT is a collaborative process between therapist and client, in which the client is guided through a system for re-considering their negative thoughts/stuck points about past trauma and learning how to effectively shift their perspective to a truer and more balanced one. This process can fully resolve the feelings of distress that remain as a result of past trauma and allow for new hope for the future.
Clients are given the option to either talk about what happened or not to. Retelling one's trauma story is not a necessary part of this therapy and, often may exacerbate symptoms rather than relieving them.
Progress does require the active participation of clients between sessions as they practice the learned skills.
Who is CPT Best For?
CPT is most specifically for treating PTSD and has been found to be effective for a wide variety of traumas including (but not limited to) war, experiences of first responders, rape, sexual abuse and assault and childhood abuse. Because progress is dependent on client work between sessions, CPT is best for people who are highly motivated and ready for change.
For More About CPT
Listen to "Ten Sessions" from "This American Life," in which journalist, Jamie Lowe shares her experience with CPT, including excerpts from her personal recorded therapy sessions.