CPT Group for Trauma Survivors

If you have experienced trauma in the past, you may understandably be experiencing an increase in nightmares, intrusive memories, overuse of substances, or other trauma symptoms during these troubling times. Engaging in therapy for trauma during a pandemic might seem counterintuitive, but research suggests it can be done efficiently and effectively if done kindly and supportively using an evidence-based protocol.

For Virginia residents, I am offering an online, 8-session Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) group for trauma survivors on Monday evenings beginning October 26, 2020.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a humane, brief, research-backed, cognitive behavior therapy-based protocol to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. CPT is recommended by the Veterans Administration and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Cognitive Processing Therapy Group for Trauma Survivors

  • For residents of Virginia
  • 8 sessions via Zoom, Mondays, 5:30 – 6:45 PM EDT (EST when the time changes) beginning Monday, October 26, 2020
  • Dates of sessions: Mondays: 10/26, 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, 11/23, 11/30, 12/7, 12/14
  • Up to 6 group members; minimum of 3 members needed to hold the group
  • $45 per group session
  • Individual intake session prior to the group’s start; fee negotiable from $125 to $75
  • Health insurance is not accepted.

Many people fear treatment for trauma. They rightly worry that approaching old memories and feelings will increase their suffering. This CPT group acknowledges and addresses these legitimate concerns.

  • The purpose of CPT is to help people ease their symptoms, not activate them. It would likely be hurtful, not helpful, to retell and relive one’s own story in front of others or to hear others do the same. Therefore, the content of group discussions is focused on what people began to think about themselves, others, and the way the world works as a result of the trauma, not about what happened. Most people complete the group without knowing the specifics of another person’s traumatic experiences.
  • Recovery from trauma has been found, for most people, to require acquiring a specific set of cognitive skills sequentially and efficiently. CPT is intentionally designed to be like any task: start it, do it, finish it, move on.
  • Humans do have feelings. Some feelings are uncomfortable, even painful. However, each session features new skills to help people reassure themselves – whatever they are feeling – as they learn new ways to free themselves from the domination of trauma in their lives.
  • Engaging in the protocol with fellow group members, rather than going solo, offers synergy and support. The wild sense of isolation inherent to experiencing trauma is gentled. You, literally, are not alone. We are following in the footsteps of pioneer survivors. Here’s an article on how women in the Congo worked together using CPT in 2013.

If you are wondering about whether or not the group is a fit for you, here are suggestions for what group members might do to maximize the effectiveness of their experience:

  • Start with – and return to – self-kindness. Whenever you feel distressed, pause, give yourself a hug, acknowledge how hard all this is and ask yourself, “How can I help myself with this?”
  • Read along. A self-guided manual for CPT is being written by the protocol’s inventors. In the meantime, counselors use – and participants have the option to use – Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD: A Comprehensive ManualParticipants often skim the longer academic sections, but having the manual gives them complete power to access all explanatory materials and handouts. Participants do receive a .pdf of all handouts and do not need to purchase the manual.
  • Complete the homework. Reduction in symptoms is correlated with the extent to which group members complete CPT homework between sessions. Completing the first assignment takes an hour. Completing subsequent assignments takes 20-30 minutes per day.
  • Familiarize yourself with CPT terms and try to use them during the sessions. Here’s our CPT glossary. Here’s comprehensive background information about CPT.
  • Prepare for each session prior to arrival. When in-person sessions were possible, I created folders for each group member and displayed handouts in a buffet for quick and easy use. Since we’re online-only, here’s my attempt to orient group members to the work of each session so they know what’s ahead and the sessions run smoothly.
  • Attend. Commit to 8 sessions. And, for humanity’s sake, if you find the group to not be a fit for you, please do not ghost fellow trauma survivors. Show up for 5 minutes, bid farewell, and let others wish you well, too.

Since this group description asks you to think about your thinking, if you read the description, followed some links, and found the content meaningful, CPT may be a good fit for you. Having been taken through the protocol myself, and having guided individuals and groups through the protocol, I find it more closely resembles a class than it does traditional talk therapy sessions. If you’d like extra time to talk through the protocol or would like to engage in the full, 12-session protocol rather than this 8-session group version, individual sessions might work better for you.

If you would like to sign up, please fill out this contact form. I will use your email address to send you enrollment information through our electronic health record with a list of openings for the intake session. I will also include the CPT contract and the .pdf of CPT worksheets.

With any questions at all, please do contact me.

This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.