Cognitive behavioral counselling (CBT) focuses on helping individuals to understand the ways they think, how those ways of thinking affect their moods, their behaviour, and even their bodies. Until quite recently there has not been much effort or focus on teaching people about emotions, and how they affect almost everything we do, whether we know it or not.
One of the first steps in this type of counselling is to help people increase their awareness of how emotions and thinking styles are working well for them, and how they might be getting in the way. You may have wondered why you keep making the same bad choices. You may have wondered why others seem to be more successful than you, even though you recognize that you have skills as good as theirs. CBT is a process by which you can figure out how your habits of thinking, and habits of reacting emotionally, may or may not benefit you in this moment. We all learn many different things in growing up, and sometimes hold onto rules that were useful in our childhoods, but that are no longer useful. It is only possible to change and improve, if you first recognize what you’re doing that is not particularly helpful.
CBT then, having uncovered the not so useful thinking style, helps you to change it for something that works better. It is not a process that delves for long periods of time into your history, although it is useful to understand that in a limited way. CBT is about building skill sets that are different from habitual, unhelpful reactions, and learning to take thoughtful action.