The Role of Cognitive Processing Therapy in Treating Post Traumatic Cognitions and Symptoms Associated with Military Sexual Trauma




Vera, Kristie Marie

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BACKGROUND: Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is psychological trauma that results from sexual assault while in the military service. One common anxiety disorder following MST is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Negative cognitions about the event, the self, and the world are hypothesized to be associated with the onset and persistence of PTSD.

SUBJECTS: The participant data for this study was taken from a larger study that examined the effectiveness of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for treating Military Sexual Trauma-related (MST) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The sample consisted of 76 participants, 63 female veterans and 13 male veterans.

METHOD: Participants were randomized into two groups who received either CPT or PCT. The participants were assessed at baseline using the CAPS, PCL, BDI-II and PTCI. They participated in 12 therapy sessions and were assessed using the same measures at post-treatment, 2, 4, and 6-month follow-ups.

RESULTS: The current study provides preliminary evidence that the number of negative cognitions is decreased over time in both CPT and PCT interventions for veterans with PTSD related to MST. Also, that the decrease in number of negative cognitions is positively related with decreased PTSD and depressions symptoms.

DISCUSSION: These findings are important because they support the idea that negative cognitions contribute to PTSD and depression symptoms, while also providing evidence that CPT and PCT are effective in reducing negative cognitions.