Cognitive Processing Therapy

No one in their right mind would compare the self-centered existence of addicts and alcoholics to the battlefield heroics of military veterans, but the two groups do share a similar after effect: trauma.

Specifically, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – and the same therapy endorsed by the U.S. military to help veterans of overseas conflicts heal from their psychic wounds has been modified by therapists at Cornerstone of Recovery to assist recovering alcoholics and addicts to do the same. The Center for Deployment Psychology, in fact, trained the Cornerstone staff members who specialize in CPT, also known as Cognitive Processing Therapy.

Officially, it’s defined as “a cognitive-behavioral therapy (treatment that focuses on thoughts and feelings for PTSD and related conditions.” It “provides a way to understand why recovery from traumatic events is difficult and how symptoms of PTSD affect daily life. The focus is on identifying how traumatic experiences change thoughts and beliefs, and how thoughts influence current feelings and behaviors.”

Addiction and PTSD, our clinical staff members have found, often go hand in hand.

“Treating trauma is foundational for helping addiction, because avoidance is a primary strategy for coping with trauma, and alcohol and drugs are the ways our patients employ that strategy,” says Steve Smith, one of Cornerstone’s CPT specialists.

When patients are first delivered to Assessment and Orientation, they fill out a number of questionnaires, including one that specifically addresses past physical, sexual and emotional abuses. Because of the specific nature of that intake paperwork, a client’s treatment trajectory is then plotted by Cornerstone’s clinical staff, and those who show signs of PTSD are introduced to CPT. Over the course of both individual and group sessions, they begin the process of assigning meaning to traumatic events that haven’t been properly stored in the brain’s long-term memory.

The first step is for patients to write out an impact statement in which they examine the five ways in which the trauma has affected their lives: safety, relationships/intimacy, trust, power/control and esteem. From that statement, therapists assist each patient in determining the “stuck points” – ways in which the trauma has been irregularly processed by the brain. Usually, it’s a combination of self-assimilation, in which they assign an inordinate amount of blame to themselves for events that are often beyond their control, and over-accommodation, in which the role of specific individuals in the trauma are assigned to larger population groups – for example, a victim of a sexual assault might develop trust issues with all men because of it.

Through this process, Cornerstone’s counselors guide patients through the process of identifying the roots of the traumatic experiences and the emotions associated with it. The goal is an eventual breakthrough – an opening of the floodgates, so that the pain and grief so long denied or repressed can flow freely. On the other side of that is healing, and while the thought of embracing anything that might lead to sadness or pain might seem counterintuitive, it’s actually a sign that the memories are being stored in their proper place and that the afflicted are no longer trapped in the cycle of reliving the trauma over and over again.

“Their sense of power and control over the incident changes, and it puts it into perspective,” says Joanna Mansur, one of Cornerstone’s therapists and Director of Family Services.

And when it’s done in a group environment, it’s incredibly cathartic and liberating: Patients who hid or denied their trauma for so long see that they’re not alone, and the feedback, support and solidarity they receive from peers on the same healing path serves to lift them up, carrying them beyond the grief and show them that there is indeed life on the other side.

“We let them know that the group is a safe place, a confidential place, and that they’re not alone,” Smith says. “We show them that there’s nothing we can’t handle together, and that they can feel safe here to handle it.

“If you experience trauma and develop PTSD, it doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with you. It just means that an emotional circuit breaker has been tripped, and CPT is the way in which we get the system turned back on.”

Alcohol & Drug Addiction Treatment Services

The Path To Recovery Starts At Cornerstone

Medical Detoxification can be a critical time in a patient’s journey toward recovery because the symptoms of withdrawal can be difficult to manage and potentially life-threatening. A team of certified, competent and caring professionals work together to ensure that we provide the best medical care for our patients. The Medical Director prescribes detox medications to keep the patient safe and reasonably comfortable.

While receiving detoxification medications, patients also attend psychoeducational groups and experiential activities. However, detox patients are also given sufficient opportunity to relax and allow their bodies to begin the healing process. Patients on a detox protocol are monitored 24 hours a day and the typical length of detoxification is 3 to 5 days and may be longer depending on the severity of the patient’s withdrawal symptoms.

This unit is designed to support our patients as they enter treatment and begin to invest in their community of peers. An extensive battery of assessments is performed to identify the patient’s bio-psycho-social-spiritual strengths, needs, and barriers to recovery (such as chronic pain, dual diagnosis, trauma, or other co-occurring disorders). This comprehensive assessment process provides our medical and clinical teams with much of the information they need to build a treatment plan that is individualized for each patient.

Our NON-NARCOTIC PAIN MANAGEMENT PROGRAM offers solutions that eliminate and or reduce the dependence on medications to treat pain and improve treatment outcomes. We are able to reduce pain and improve the recovery process. We offer sound information and teach skills that the patient can use to improve coping, relaxation, mindfulness, nutrition, and much more. Some of the modalities we use are Reiki, Rubenfeld Synergy, Acupressure, Mindful Stretching, and Addiction Free Pain Management Education.

We believe healing occurs through direct experience. Experiential activities amplify the traditional therapeutic
modalities that are part of our milieu. Fitness, Meditation, Relaxation Therapy, Yoga, Spirituality Groups, Ropes Course, Mindfulness, Art Therapy, Drumming Circles, and community outings are some components of experiential healing at Cornerstone. Patients who participate in experiential therapies report reductions

Family Therapy is an integral part of all of the clinical programs at Cornerstone. Early on in the treatment process, we conduct a Family Questionnaire which allows family members and close personal friends to have input that impacts the patients treatment plan. When appropriate, there are Family Therapy sessions throughout the treatment process. These sessions are designed to work through relationship issues, enhance communication, educate the family about the disease of addiction and provide them with emotional support while their loved one is in treatment. Through this support, the family will gain knowledge about the treatment process and how they may be unknowingly supporting the addiction through co-dependent and enabling behaviors.

Family members will learn about how to engage in personal growth and change through various 12 step programs, so that the family can heal together trough the recovery process. Cornerstone requires that each patient complete Family Fundamentals, an intensive three-day family program designed to provide intensive education, group therapy, family therapy, 12 step meeting experience, and an opportunity to repair the damage caused by active addiction. Family members are strongly encouraged to attend the Family Fundamentals program along with the patient. Cornerstone also has a weekly family education group for family members and an ongoing support group for parents of young adults who are struggling with addiction or who have recently entered recovery

The Continuous Care Program upholds Cornerstone of Recovery’s treatment philosophy that chemical dependency is a chronic incurable disease that requires the consistent and continued attention of each patient for a lifetime. Recent scientific studies of the disease process have determined that full remission from active addiction does not occur until an individual has experienced at least 18 months of continuous sobriety, long after most intensive treatment programs have concluded.

In response to this knowledge, the Continuous Care Program provides services for a period of at least 18 months following treatment, to ensure that each patient has the opportunity for professional support throughout the early stages of their recovery. During this time, patients are encouraged to practice the skills and tools they learned and developed in treatment as they find their way back
into their home, work, and social environments. They are able to talk with Recovery Coaches and therapeutically
process the ups and downs they experience in sobriety. Active participation in the Continuous Care Program is vital in establishing a lifelong, solid recovery plan.

The Support Living Facility (SLF) provides a safe environment for patients to continue to learn and practice self-management and interpersonal relationship skills while solidifying their recovery program. It can take several months for individuals to become comfortable enough in their recovery to successfully move away from the environment where they got sober. The SLF Program allows men and women to experience some of the freedoms they will experience after treatment while they are supported by thier peers, staff, and a sober environment. Staff monitors the community through regular contact, group therapy, spirituality groups, relapse prevention groups, drug screens, and random checks of the living quarters. Eventually, the patient is allowed to retrieve their cell phone, to leave the premises, operate a vehicle and obtain employment. The minimum length of stay is 2 months (while the individual concurrently is in the IOP Program). Patients often choose to stay in SLF longer while they continue to build their recovery network and become more comfortable with the life changes they’ve made.Typical length of stay varies from 2 to 6 months, depending on the patient’s clinical needs.


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