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Cognitive Therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) focuses on changing how you think about and cope with your trauma. CT-PTSD shines a light on actions you do that result in tough emotions, how you might be overestimating the level of danger in a situation and other symptoms of PTSD.


CT-PTSD helps you develop a more balanced perspective on your trauma and unlearn negative coping mechanisms. CT-PTSD guides you through the memories of your trauma to help you understand that your trauma is no longer a threat. Memories of your trauma become less distressing. This will likely reduce PTSD symptoms.

Other results from CT-PTSD treatment can include:

  • You may feel calmer when you remember your trauma
  • You may feel more emotionally alive
  • You may feel less on-edge and reactive to those you love

Parts of this therapy are like two other highly recommended options: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Trauma and Prolonged Exposure Therapy.

What to expect

With your service provider’s guidance, you will learn to talk about your trauma. The hardest parts of your trauma will be identified as “hot spots.” Together with your service provider, you will identify your thoughts and conclusions about these hot spots.

You will learn to identify what triggers these hot spots and how to break the connection between your memory and its trigger. This helps you to see your trauma as something rooted firmly in the past, not in the present.

An important part of this process will be to monitor changes in yourself and how these changes make you feel.

CT-PTSD is offered as individual or group therapy. Groups are usually six to 10 people. Current research says that individual CT-PTSD therapy offers the greatest benefits.

The conversation you have about your trauma will be guided by your service provider, who will ensure that these conversations are manageable for you.

Your service provider might use creative mediums, such as writing, to give you an outlet to express your experience. This is something you can speak to your service provider about.

The first session usually takes 90 minutes. Each subsequent session lasts about 60 minutes. With weekly sessions, CT-PTSD usually lasts about 12 weeks. More sessions could help if you have experienced multiple traumas.

Your service provider may give you worksheets or writing assignments. You will also practice doing some of the things you avoided since your trauma happened. Generally, the more time you spend practicing what you’ve learned, the more you will get out of your experience with CT-PTSD.

Talking about trauma-related memories and completing challenging activities can be uncomfortable. These feelings don’t tend to last very long. Most people feel better as they continue with CT-PTSD.

Most people find that the benefits outweigh any initial discomfort.