Initiating Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) in Community Settings: A Qualitative Investigation of Therapist Decision-Making

Fiona C. Thomas, Taylor Loskot, Christina Mutschler, Jessica Burdo, Jansey Lagdamen, Iris Sijercic, Jeanine E.M. Lane, Rachel E. Liebman, Erin P. Finley, Candice M. Monson, Shannon Wiltsey-Stirman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Various organizations have provided treatment guidelines intended to aid therapists in deciding how to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet evidence-based psychotherapies (EBPs) for PTSD in the community may be difficult to obtain. Although strides have been made to implement EBPs for PTSD in institutional settings such as the United States Veterans Affairs, community uptake remains low. Factors surrounding clients’ decisions to enroll in EBPs have been identified in some settings; however less is known regarding trained therapists’ decisions related to offering trauma-focused therapies or alternative treatment options. Thus, the aim of the current study was to examine therapist motivations to initiate CPT in community settings. The present study utilizes data from a larger investigation aiming to support the sustained implementation of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) in community mental health treatment settings. Enrolled therapists participated in phone interviews discussing their opinions of CPT, preferred treatments for PTSD, and process in assessing appropriate PTSD treatments for clients. Semi-structured interviews (N = 29) were transcribed and analyzed using a directed content analysis approach. Several themes emerged regarding therapists’ decision-making in selecting PTSD treatments. Therapist motivations to use EBPs for PTSD, primarily CPT, were identified at the client (e.g., perceived compatibility with client-level characteristics), therapist (e.g., time limitations), and clinic levels (e.g., leadership support). The results provide insight into the complex array of factors that affect sustainability of EBPs for PTSD in community settings and inform future dissemination of EBPs, including training efforts in community settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-150
Number of pages14
JournalAdministration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Cognitive processing therapy
  • Community mental health
  • Community providers
  • Decision-making
  • Implementation
  • Qualitative analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Health Policy
  • Phychiatric Mental Health


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