PTSD Cognitive Process Theory in Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

In this study, patients were adults suffering from PTSD that had been referred after three months of PTSD symptoms. These patients were not combat soldiers, and had been referred after either a non-sexual assault or a motor vehicle accident. The patients were between 17 and 60 years old and did not have other psychological problems. Eighty-four individuals made it through the primary assessment through the follow-up meeting. Individuals were randomly assigned to a treatment, although an equilibrium in regards to gender and trauma was maintained. The patients' progress was measured through the CAPS assessment, an interview that assesses the PTSD symptoms according to the DSM -- IV regulations. Secondary measures, including the Beck Depression Inventory, Impact of Event Scale, Catastrophic Cognitions Questionnaire, and State-Trait Anxiety inventory were used. Patients were exposed to either Imaginal Exposure, in Vivo Exposure, Imaginal Exposure with in Vivo Exposure, or Imaginal Exposure with in Vivo Exposure and Cognitive Process Therapies. The researchers found that combining the two treatments with Cognitive Process "resulted in greater treatment effects for both PTSD and depressive symptoms than did exposure alone" (Bryant et. Al. 2008, p. 701). The authors conclude that they may have received these results because Cognitive Process Therapy is intended to correct "maladaptive thoughts." If the researchers had a way to measure simply the correcting of such thoughts, they contend the experiment would be more adequate.

In the third piece of scholarship, researchers intended to dismantle the view that Cognitive Process Therapy was better than other therapies for PTSD sufferers. In this study, the researchers chose only women who had been involved in interpersonal violence situations to participate. The women were not only referred from assistance agencies, but were also recruited via flyers and other forms of advertisement. One hundred and sixty-two women were chosen from a total of 526 assessed. Of those 162, 13 would be unable to complete the first steps. The intent to treat population for the study included 150 women. The researchers were able to gather a rather accurate random sample -- consisting of women who had no "significant differences" in demographic groups other than income (Resick et al. 2008, p.245). Patients were measured using both standardized interviews and self-report scales. The interviews and scales were determined to assess, among other things, symptoms of trauma, depression, a person's shame, and "trauma-related beliefs" (Resick et al. 2008, p. 248). Patients were randomly assigned into groups using Cognitive Process Theory including its accessories of other types of therapies, Cognitive Therapy Only, and Written Accounts Therapy. The researchers found that those in all three groups improved in PTSD symptoms and depression, while those in the Cognitive Therapy Only group improved to a greater extent then those in the Written Accounts treatment (Resick et al. 2008).


The wealth of information regarding PTSD and its various treatments is varied if not conclusive. A variety of treatments exist, and scholarship has not yet proven Cognitive Process Theory to be any better than many other traditional therapies. Similarly, scholarship has not proven the theory to be any worse. In some cases, however. Cognitive Process Theory was shown to better certain specific groups of people, or to be an asset when other types of treatment were also given. This research suggests that Cognitive Process Theory, while not the ultimate solution to PTSD, is still beneficial in reconciling the disease.

Although the current scholarship on the issue seems to suggest that Cognitive Process Theory is, indeed, a legitimate theory for dealing with PTSD, further research must be done to determine exactly how Cognitive Process Theory helps. It has been stipulated that this type of therapy be most adept at dealing with restructuring belief systems to a positive, pre-trauma state. In order to best assess the treatment, one must find a way of testing it against other theories that attempt to deal with the personal belief systems of patients. Further more, increased testing regarding the disorder and certain types of trauma groups, along with other disorders, will help to determine just what situations call for this therapy.


Barlow, David H. (YEAR). Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders Third Edition.


Bryant, Richard a. et al. (2008). A Randomized Controlled Trial of Exposure

Therapy and Cognitive Restructuring for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. 76(4), p. 695-703.

Kaysen, Debra. (2005). Cognitive Process Therapy for Acute Stress Disorder

Resulting From Anti-Gay Assault. 12(3), p. 278-289.

Resick, Patricia a. et al. (2008). Randomized Clinical Trial to Dismantle Components of Cognitive Processing Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Victims of nterpersonal Violence. 76(2),…

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