Cognitive processing therapy can be an extremely effective intervention for veterans and service members who feel stuck in their deep-seated beliefs around a traumatic experience. By gently planting seeds, by opening the door, clinicians, like Dr. Klassen, can help people take the first steps to change their self-narrative and move through that doorway towards less suffering and more healing.
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In cognitive processing therapy, when we’re working with veterans that do have these pretty deep-seated beliefs about, you know, their role in the trauma or the trauma being their fault somehow. I think it can be effective to take this approach of we are just here to plant seeds. You know, because in my experience, you know, CPT practioners can get a little over-zealous and kind of, almost it’s like you’re trying to argue a veteran out of their way of seeing the situation. Let me tell you, that does not work and often backfires. So, I think just being patient and saying we’re here to plant seeds. And also, you know, letting a person know and just putting it on the table, like the way you see this event has resulted in suffering for you, and possibly your family, and it doesn’t have to be that way. We can look at it differently. It’s more about opening the door and letting someone walk through it, rather than giving them the correct answer.
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Brian Klassen, Ph.D., is the Associate Clinical Director for The Road Home Program: The National Center of Excellence for Veterans and Their Families at Rush University in Chicago, Illinois. Brian spent his formative years training at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, completing rotations in chronic pain management, residential substance use disorder treatment, and PTSD. Brian has special expertise in providing front-line treatments for PTSD, including Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy.