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Cognitive Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Anke Ehlers

24 Jan 2024


Cognitive therapy is rooted in the idea that clients' symptoms, emotions, and behaviour are understandable, arising from perceptions they hold of themselves and the world and what they make of these perceptions. CT-PTSD is a trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy (TF-CBT), recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a treatment for PTSD (NICE, 2018) and international treatment guidelines (APA, 2017; ISTSS, 2019). A key part of this treatment to change the meanings of the worst moments of trauma in memory and work on triggers of reexperiencing.

The event will be equivalent to 5.1/2hrs of CPD.


This workshop builds on Ehlers and Clark’s (2000) cognitive model of PTSD. This model suggests that people with PTSD perceive a serious internal or external current threat that has two sources; excessively negative appraisals (personal meanings) of the trauma and/or its aftermath; characteristics of trauma memories that lead to re-experiencing symptoms. The problem is maintained by cognitive strategies (such as thought suppression, rumination, safety-seeking behaviours) that are intended to reduce the perceived current threat, but actually maintain the problem by preventing change in the appraisals and trauma memory. The workshop will describe how to deliver core interventions of CT-PTSD, including updating memories, trigger discrimination and behavioural experiments, and present video illustrations.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the session, attendees will be able to:

1. Use Ehlers and Clark’s cognitive model to understand PTSD and develop an individual formulation for patients
2. Identify ways of accessing and changing threatening meanings of trauma in PTSD
3. Identify ways of integrating changed meanings into trauma memories.
4. Identify ways of changing responses to triggers of reexperiencing.
5. Identify ways of adapting procedures to working remotely.

Training Modalities

This workshop will include didactic teaching and videos with some experiential elements and Q&A.

Key References

Ehlers, A. & Clark, D.M. (2000). A cognitive model of posttraumatic stress disorder, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38 319-345.

Ehlers, A., & Wild, J. (2020). Cognitive therapy for PTSD. In L. F. Bufka, C. V. Wright, & R. W. Halfond (Eds.), Casebook to the APA Clinical Practice Guideline for the treatment of PTSD (p.91-121). American Psychological Association.

Murray, H., Wild, J., Warnock-Parkes, E., Kerr, A., Thew, G., Grey, N., Clark, D.M. & Ehlers, A. (2020). Cognitive therapy for PTSD following critical illness and intensive care unit admission. The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, DOI:

Wild, J., Warnock-Parkes, E., Murray, H., Kerr, A., Thew, G., Grey, N., Clark, D.M. & Ehlers, A. (2020). Treating posttraumatic stress disorder remotely with Cognitive Therapy for PTSD. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 11:1, 1785818 doi: 10.1080/20008198.2020.1785818

About the presenter

Anke Ehlers is Professor of Experimental Psychopathology and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Professor Ehlers is Co-Director of the Oxford Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma.

The cognitive therapy programme for PTSD developed by her group has been shown to be highly acceptable to patients and very effective. It has been successfully disseminated to provide effective treatment services for victims of the bombings in Omagh and London, and to National Health Service clinics.
Current research projects investigate whether the treatment can be delivered more efficiently, and what the mechanisms of treatment are.

Professor Ehlers is also a Fellow of the British Academy, The Academy of Medical Sciences, the Association for Psychological Science, and an elected Member of German National Academy of Scientists Leopoldina and the Academia Europaea, and a recipient of the 2022 ISTSS Lifetime Achievement Award.

Who should attend

CBT practitioners who treat people with PTSD including IAPT High Intensity Therapists.

Low Intensity clinical contact hours survey - BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group

Please click below if you are interested in contributing to the survey.


The BACP Low Intensity SIG are interested in the impact of clinical contact hours on Low Intensity/Wellbeing Practitioner wellbeing. This questionnaire contains six multi-choice questions and a free text box for you to share your experiences. The answers to these questions will help the BABCP SIG plan how to meet CPD topics and other developments within the SIG.  The SIG hope to produce a write up of the answers to this questionnaire to be shared with SIG members and to be used in training.

View Survey

This FREE conference is for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners working in Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression services and is brought to you by Bespoke Mental Health in collaboration with the NHS England Talking Therapies National PWP Leads Network

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