Cognitive Processing & Integration: helping emotional problems, fears, PTSD, following challenging events at 1066 Therapy
covering East Sussex, Battle, Hastings, Bexhill, Rye, Heathfield, Hailsham, Eastbourne, Crowborough, Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Ashford, Maidstone and Kent.
Some psychological symptoms and problems are underpinned and maintained by people’s limiting beliefs and unhelpful thinking styles. For some people, these unhelpful beliefs and ways of thinking have mostly arisen in response to specific conflicting or challenging events or experiences. Sometimes, people are able to recover from adverse life events naturally. This may be because they interpret them in a way which is helpful and enables them to feel powerful. At times, exposure to difficult life events can help people to build their skills and resources and learn how to effectively deal with challenges.
Most people have been exposed to some sort of adversity or trauma within their lifetime. Such events had the potential to impact upon them negatively. However, some people adapt successfully, which indicates that difficult circumstances do not always cause psychological problems. I will add that ‘adapting successfully’ doesn’t always depend solely on the individual.
Problems processing difficult experiences
Sometimes, though, we can struggle to ‘get over’ and move on from difficult experiences. These experiences can then continue to have an impact upon the way we see ourselves and the world around us. We may feel powerless or unable to face up to the experience and, thus, try to avoid thinking about it. The experience then remains unresolved and conflicting. Sometimes people interpret adverse events in a way which ties in with their existing negative beliefs. For example, they may use the experience to support an existing belief that they are ‘bad’ or ‘stupid’ or ‘powerless’. They may use the experience as an unhelpful ‘landmark’ and relate other life events, experiences and expectations back to it.
Cognitive Processing and Integration (CPI) allows people to re-visit unresolved or unhelpfully processed challenging, conflicting or traumatic experiences, in a safe and non-judgemental atmosphere, and helps them to change their limiting beliefs and ways of thinking about them. CPI is based upon psychological research evidence and established clinical practice. It brings together positive psychology, research into the Cognitive Interview, Critical Incident Debriefing, and cognitive behavioural approaches to treating those exposed to trauma. This integrative approach can help people in an effective and rapid manner.
‘Cognitive Processing and Integration’ may sound a little complicated, so what does it actually mean?
Cognitive – This refers to the fact the CPI focuses upon a person’s beliefs and ways of thinking in relation to the challenging experience.
Processing and Integrating – This refers to the fact that CPI enables people to gain clarity surrounding, and understanding of, an experience helping them to make sense of it. CPI helps people to process and integrate experiences in a helpful and empowering way, such that the experience does not continue to negatively impact upon them.
CPI basically helps people to do the following:
- Understand the beliefs and thoughts they have developed about themselves and the world around them in response to the conflicting experience(s)
- Gain a different perspective on these thoughts and beliefs and put the experience(s) into context
- Modify/change their thoughts and beliefs to helpful, empowering ones
- Build the skills and resources to move forward and thrive.
What does Cognitive Processing and Integration involve?
CPI firstly involves the person relaxing and taking their mind back to the conflicting experience(s). They are then asked to engage in ‘cognitive free association’. This basically means that they verbalise all the thoughts, beliefs, images and sensations that come to mind. Verbalising their thoughts and recollections helps them to properly process the experience. It enables them to make sense of it and put it into context. Many people gradually and naturally restructure their experience(s) throughout the CPI process. Everyone is given a safe, non-judgemental space to work through the experience.
CPI often only takes only one or two sessions to process a single, and relatively recent, traumatic or conflicting experience. I may combine CPI with Cognitive Therapy to enable people to develop further self-awareness and understanding. The best approach for every person is discussed during the initial consultation.
When could CPI help?
CPI can assist people to helpfully process and ‘get over’ a wide range of conflicting, distressing or traumatic events. These experiences may have occurred in childhood*, or they may be more recent. Some such experiences include: the death of a loved one, accidents or severe illnesses, experiences of war or conflict, mugging, physical assault, sexual assault, discrete challenging childhood experiences*, and natural disasters.
I also practise other therapy approaches which may be better for some people – everyone is different. The most effective approach for each person is discussed during the initial consultation.
Call me now on 07722783490 or 01424 772392 to book your free 30 minute initial consultation.