DIAGNOSIS: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
TREATMENT: Cognitive Processing Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

2015 EST Status: Treatment pending re-evaluation Very strong: High-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms and functional outcomes at post-treatment and follow-up; little risk of harm; requires reasonable amount of resources; effective in non-research settings

Strong: Moderate- to high-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms OR functional outcomes; not a high risk of harm; reasonable use of resources

Weak: Low or very low-quality evidence that treatment produces clinically meaningful effects on symptoms or functional outcomes; Gains from the treatment may not warrant resources involved

Insufficient Evidence: No meta-analytic study could be identified

Insufficient Evidence: Existing meta-analyses are not of sufficient quality

Treatment pending re-evaluation

1998 EST Status: Strong Research Support Strong: Support from two well-designed studies conducted by independent investigators.

Modest: Support from one well-designed study or several adequately designed studies.

Controversial: Conflicting results, or claims regarding mechanisms are unsupported.

Strength of Research Support

Empirical Review Status
2015 Criteria
(Tolin et al. Recommendation)
Very Strong
Insufficient Evidence
Treatment pending re-evaluation
1998 Criteria
(Chambless et al. EST)

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Brief Summary

  • Basic premise: changing the content of cognitions about a trauma can impact emotional and behavioral responses to the trauma
  • Essence of therapy: Cognitive Processing Therapy, or CPT, is a cognitive therapy that focuses initially on the question of why the trauma occurred and then the effects of the trauma on the clients' beliefs about themselves, others, and the world through the use of progressive worksheets.
  • Length: approx. 12 sessions

Treatment Resources

Editors:Denise Sloan, PhD; Alexandra Greenfield, MS

Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice

Treatment Manuals / Outlines

Treatment Manuals

Training Materials and Workshops

Measures, Handouts and Worksheets

Smartphone Apps

Video Descriptions

Clinical Trials

Other Treatment Resources

  • About Face (a website available through the VA’s National Center for PTSD)