Past and Present Focus in CBT Therapy
Although CBT is a therapy that predominantly focuses time, effort, change, and attention on the things that are creating an experience in the present day. CBT does not just stop there. CBT also recognises that our past has a huge influence on who we are in present day. How we think and how we behave. For a therapist to disregard or ignore this fact when treating a patient is a kind of professional negligence. For a client or patient to be blind to this fact is also extremely unhelpful and often a barrier to their recovery.
Our minds are a creation of every experience we’ve had in the past good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant, nice not nice, wanted not wanted. The way that you think, the things you believe about yourself, about other people and the world and life itself are a direct consequence of the past creating and shaping the mind you have right now in the present day.
Many behaviours that we do in the present day whether it is to protect yourself, whether it is to fix something about ourselves that we believe is wrong, or whether it’s just to compensate for some perceived inadequacy or failure inside of us. All have their roots in the past and past experiences. Other more easily recognised behaviours ie Avoidance behaviours, safety behaviours, OCD behaviours. addiction behaviours eating behaviours all stem from the past.
BF Skinner the renowned Behaviourist famously said “Man is a product of his past experiences.” Although his quote adds weight to the fact that CBT Therapy should consider the past when working with clients. However what Skinner said is not actually correct. Your mind is in fact the creation of your past experiences not you. This is a very important distinction.
So I hope that’s helpful? I just want to spend a little bit of time to explain the difference between the focus of past and present when it comes to CBT Therapy I wish you well.