Time Projection in Stoicism and CBT

Time projection can be an easy way to use cognitive therapy at home

I began practicing as a psychotherapist in the mid-1990s. I studied many different approaches. I used to train other therapists and became known as a psychological “techniques guy” because I was fascinated by the variety of psychological strategies and tactics we can learn.

You’ll find psychological techniques in books on psychotherapy, as well as in self-help books and even spiritual and philosophical classics. Each individual technique can be classified in different ways. For instance, is it broadly visual, meditative, cognitive, verbal, written, or behavioral in nature? Some are quite complex. Others are surprisingly easy to learn, and work pretty reliably — they often provide “easy wins” for therapists.

I’ll let you in on a trade secret. Most experienced psychotherapists know that one such easy win is what we call “time projection”. That’s the terminology used by early cognitive-behavioral therapists, although you’ll find similar techniques in lots of other types of books. Time projection is a vague term that refers to using your imagination to shift your perspective as if you’re in the future or the past. There many different ways of doing this. Some work better than others. Let me give you my favorite example…

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