We face many challenges in day-to-day lives. These include stress, lack of confidence, loss of purpose, poor communication, etc.
These can limit an individual’s perception of self. Negative thinking leads to negative emotions. Negative emotions may further lead to negative behavior.
This is where cognitive behavioural coaching (CBC) is used. Cognitive behavioural coaching uses the mantra- Change your thoughts and change your life!. Such coaching helps one to achieve content by ironing out the negative thoughts. It helps clients to gain a broader perspective of the root cause of their difficulty.
The coach and client work together to identify hurdles in the client’s path. CBC uses techniques that help an individual to identify and challenge self-defeating thoughts.
I know that you are looking for answers to various questions.
What does cognitive behavioural coaching include?
What are the advantages of CBC?
How does a CBC coach work?
Don’t worry! By the end of this article, you will get all your answers and much more.
First, let’s have a look at the prime aim of Cognitive behavioural coaching.
What is the aim of cognitive behavioural coaching?
CBC aims at developing productive thoughts and associated behaviors. CBC aims at strengthening the ways an individual thinks. This makes it easier to achieve one’s goals.
Difference between Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Cognitive-behavioural coaching
Both Cognitive behavioural therapy and Cognitive-behavioural coaching are collaborative.
Let’s elaborate on both the concepts and understand the difference between them.
What is Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive – This word refers to everything that goes into one’s mind. This includes dreams, thought, memories and attention.
Behavior – Everything that you do and how you do it.
Therapy – Systematic approach to fight a problem or illness.
CBC takes into consideration that emotions and thoughts influence one’s behavior. For instance, a person who thinks more about airplane crashes may avoid traveling by air.
The prime aim of CBT is to teach people that:
One cannot take control of each aspect of the world around them. What he/she can take control of is how to deal with the environment.
CBT works to understand the relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. CBT is the cure for a wide range of disorders. This includes anxiety, depression, etc.
In CBT, individuals learn how to avoid negative thoughts that give rise to wrong behavior. If you want to know more, read this article on How does CBT works?
CBT in coaching
As the name suggests CBT is most associated with ‘therapy’. But one can use the techniques applied in different areas. One such area is the area of coaching.
Cognitive behavioural coaching applies the techniques of CBT in a non-therapeutic way. It is now common to see established cognitive behavioural approaches in coaching. CBT works best in the ‘therapy’ room as well as ‘business’ coaching.
CBT in coaching help individuals to:
- Achieve their potential and reach the goal
- Enhance problem-solving abilities, self-worth, and motivation
- Promote new thoughts and behaviors till the time they become habits
- Achieve independence from the coach by teaching them to ‘coach themselves’
What is the difference between CBT and CBC?
Both CBT and CBC are educational and outcome-oriented. The difference lies in their models- Therapy vs Coaching.
Coaching focuses on the present to change the future. It does not dwell in the past, unlike therapy. Coaches do not focus on healing emotions. They don’t explore pathology to understand the problems of the clients.
Coaches look at the client in the ‘here and now’. They use the techniques of ‘powerful questioning’. This supports the self-discovery of the client.
The below example clarifies the difference between CBT and CBC.
Suppose you are a cognitive behavioural coach. A client comes to you and narrates that he has a problem with his boss. Now you as a coach would not delve into how his boss may remind him of his parent.
Rather, you would discover what outcomes he wants to achieve. Then you would identify what actions must help in achieving them. Thereafter, you will act as his accountability partner and track the steps.
Thus, CBT dives more into emotions and the past. Whereas, CBC is more outcome-oriented. It focuses on the present with a view of the future.
What are the principles behind Cognitive Behavioural Coaching?
Focusing on solutions
Cognitive behavioural coaching focuses on the future and solutions to your client’s challenges. It helps the clients to challenge limiting beliefs and behaviors. This enables them to move into situations that they may not have dared to enter before.
CBC uses a three-stage process to help the clients achieve their goals.
Analyzing the current situation- What’s happening?
Setting goals- What does the client want to happen?
Strategies and action plan- What does the client need to do to achieve the goals?
Thinking about thinking
When clients think about the way they think, they become observers of themselves. This makes the clients learn the impact of their thoughts. They understand how their thoughts impact their emotions. This, in turn, impacts their behavior.
Putting thoughts into perspectives
Sometimes people develop twisted views of themselves and situations. Cognitive behavioural coaching investigates whether the views have the backing of evidence or not. A Cognitive behavioural coach brings the unconscious and unnoticeable thoughts in front of the clients.
Also, the coach helps the client with:
- Developing emotions that are healthy enough to motivate clients.
- Developing reality. Helping the clients to stop imagining outcomes for which no evidence exists.
- Identifying and blocking negative thoughts.
- Observing thinking errors which may make the situation worse.
- Shifting thinking patterns to stimulate behavioural change.
Understanding the mind-body connection
Neuroscience explains that our thoughts affect many aspects of our bodies. This includes:
- Immune system
- Blood flow
- Breathing functioning
When individuals are in stress, their body becomes more rigid. Butterflies in the stomach and sweating hands are other impacts. Whereas enthusiastic thoughts relax one’s mind. There are certain techniques Cognitive behavioural coaching uses to manage psychological changes in an individual. These include:
- Breathing exercises
- Walking and running
- Tai chi and yoga
Harnessing the mind-body connection can lead one to live a healthy and happy life.
Self-acceptance is important for self-confidence and self-esteem. Many people criticize themselves for their mistakes without appreciating the good points.
Cognitive behavioural coaching involves coaching the clients for self-acceptance. This includes.
- Accepting that all humans have strengths and weaknesses.
- Realizing that mistakes are part of lives and it doesn’t make one stupid.
- Taking responsibility for oneself. Working on ideal behaviors that one wishes to adopt.
- Understanding that none gets loved and approved of by everyone.
- Focusing on one’s strengths and eliminating weaknesses.
Here are 8 ways to develop self-acceptance.
Developing excellence not perfection
Cognitive behavioural coaching says that perfectionism is unattainable. Expecting perfect outcomes all the time is irrational and unrealistic. This can happen only in one’s dreams. However, this belief can cause great stress.
Cognitive behavioural coaching coaches an individual to analyze his/her expectations. It aims at unearthing thoughts such as:
- One should be more efficient.
- Others should give one more priority etc.
Understanding the process from thoughts to feelings to behaviors
Our thoughts have an immediate impact on our emotional state.
Suppose you are a CBC coach.
You have a client who is a salesperson. He hates making cold calls. Now, every time he makes a call, he would be anxious. But if he thinks that this call can win him a commission, he would feel excited to make the call.
Cognitive behavioural coaching helps clients to make them aware of their thinking. It acts as a torch to some of their thoughts that they have yet not noticed. It helps individuals to differentiate between rational and irrational thoughts.
Process of Cognitive Behavioral Coaching- ABCDE model
The ABCDE model helps a Cognitive behavioural coach to work with the clients systematically. It includes identifying the clients’ thoughts and analyzing their impact on clients’ behavior.
Let’s understand the ABCDE model of Cognitive behavioural coaching in detail.
A- Activity Event
E- Exchanging the thought
The Cognitive behavioural coaching process starts by understanding the event that triggered negative emotions. This is an important step to understand after-effects. Recognizing the issues can be difficult for the coach. The Cognitive behavioural coaching coach may have to use a delicate touch to encourage the discussion.
Beliefs help someone in responding to the activity event. A CB coach must understand the clients’ underlying beliefs. Only then he/she can identify the reason behind their thinking pattern and actions.
This includes identifying the logical surroundings and the cause. The coach also determines whether the beliefs are practical or irrational. Cognitive behavioural coaching involves removing beliefs that are pessimistic and limiting.
These are the consequences of one’s belief system on their actions. Our emotional and psychological thoughts give rise to relative actions and outcomes.
A very nice example is public speaking.
If one fears that he will give a terrible speech, it indeed happens. The lack of confidence fails an individual because of self-created pressure.
Now the stage comes of challenging the beliefs. The coach approaches and repairs the destructive belief system of the client.
There are three disputes that one may make up with their beliefs.
Empirical – What is the basis of the beliefs?
Functional – Are the beliefs driving me towards the goals?
Logical – Do the beliefs make sense?
Exchanging the thought
The CB coach exchanges a limiting belief/thought with one which is more supportive of the goal.
Cognitive Behavioural Coaching Techniques
There are various CBC techniques that coaches apply in their coaching process.
Restructuring Cognitive distortions
At some point, each one of us distorts the truth in some or the other way.
Did someone someday gave you an abrupt stern response that made you think- “What did I do?” or “Why is she mad at me”. Later you realized that it was nothing to do with you. Turns out that she had a terrible morning and so was in stress.
Cognitive distortions are inaccurate thoughts that color our perceptions. These enforce negative thinking patterns. These can appear in many forms. Some of them include:
Filtering refers to dwelling only on the negatives of a situation. In such cases, a person filters out all the positive thoughts to consider only the negatives.
All or nothing
This is also called a black and white mindset. This means either achieving a task in its full form or not at all. For example, if one doesn’t have time for a full workout, he doesn’t exercise. Such a mindset emphasizes right and wrong with no grey areas.
Jumping to conclusions
This emphasizes jumping to the conclusion without any solid evidence.
People who have this kind of distortion keep blaming others for their actions and feelings. Such people never take accountability for their actions and decisions.
Always being right
People who fall into this distortion believe that they are always right. They can’t afford to be wrong. For them being right is more important than others’ feelings. Such people also face difficulty in admitting that they are wrong.
CBC applies the techniques of restructuring cognitive distortions. A CB coach applies strategies that help individuals with distortions to change. The coach allows clients to examine their thoughts and behaviors. He/She brings these distortions into the clients’ notice. Thereafter the coach builds an action plan to restructure such distortions.
Some people maximize the negatives or cut the positives to a great extent. Cognitive restructuring helps individuals to respond to their distortions well.
A client may consider that she is a bad person because she smoked an unplanned cigarette.
A cognitive behavioural coach can guide her on how to challenge and restructure her thoughts. Such restructuring takes place by changing the focus and meaning. The technique results in the client understanding that she is not a bad person. She only made an unhelpful decision to smoke.
Reframing events with a positive slant helps in diminishing negative beliefs.
Validity Testing asks for evidence from individuals to prove their negative thoughts. Let’s understand this through an example.
Maria has recently given birth to a baby. She is facing postpartum depression which many new mothers face shortly after childbirth. Maria believes that she is a bad mother. She thinks that she isn’t active and attentive to her child.
The CB coach asks Maria to prove that she is a bad mother. In the process, all her negative thoughts get normalize. She starts realizing that she isn’t a bad mother but she is facing the same struggles which every mother faces. This revives Maria’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
Exposure and Response Prevention
This technique works for people who suffer from OCD- Obsessive-compulsive disorder. This exposes an individual to anything which elicits a compelling behavior. Thereafter, it asks him/her to do his/her best to refrain from the behavior.
This technique helps in treating anxiety and panic. This involves exposure to bodily sensations to elicit responses. The aim is to activate any unhelpful beliefs associated with the sensations. The coach keeps the sensations intact without distractions. The aim is to imbibe new learnings that can override the previous beliefs. This helps the clients realize that symptoms of panic are not painful. Although they may be uncomfortable.
Progressive Muscle relaxation and relaxed breathing
Progressive muscle relaxation means relaxing one muscle group until the whole body relaxes. It is helpful to calm nerves and for soothing an unfocused mind.
Regulating and calming one’s breath through relaxed breathing helps a lot. This leads an individual to think from a balanced mind. This further helps the individual to make rational and balanced decisions.
This technique helps a person to identify his/her thought patterns. This way a person can gather his/her thoughts and mood. A CBC journal can include the time of the thought, its source, intensity, reaction, etc.
In this way, the individual gets a chance to change, adapt or cope up with thoughts and relative reactions.
Here are some journaling ideas for self-development and discovery.
What a Cognitive Behavioural coach must know?
Fixing the target audience should be your first step
As a cognitive-behavioural coach, your first step should be fixing your target audience. You can choose to coach people who are facing problems in relationships. Otherwise, people facing career transitions or hurdles at workplaces can be your choice.
You can also fix your target audience based on the area in which you want to apply CBC. It can be dealing with oppression, anxiety, depression, COD, etc.
Develop your coaching style
Many therapists and coaches are applying Cognitive Behavioural techniques. You may make yourself aware of their strategies and working mythology. Still, in the end, develop a personalized coaching style. You must choose the best coaching style to have an edge over others.
Plan your coaching session
You must know how to conduct effective coaching sessions. Plan the session structure and measure that you will take to build rapport with clients. Make sure that you are engaging the clients during the session. Include action steps and tasks.
Identifying the clients’ goals
Identify what results do the client desire from your coaching program. Move from problems to solutions. Build a solid action plan to enable the client to undergo a positive change. Ensure that the change facilitates the achievement of the goal.
Challenge clients’ unconstructive thoughts
Use the CBC techniques above to challenge the unconstructive thoughts of your clients. Coach the clients to manage their expectations. Make them understand that life doesn’t always go the way they want. Make the clients ralize that logical people can be illogical. Coach them to overcome the negative thoughts and prepare them for success.
Manage setbacks and obstacles
As a coach, you may have to deal with tough clients. Your clients may not always follow through. You must prepare yourself to deal with such clients. There can be unpredictable events.
Ensure that you have a plan B ready if A fails. Here are some ways to deal with difficult coaching clients.
Building confidence and accountability
Overcoming negative emotions and restructuring thoughts can be difficult. As a coach, your prime responsibility is to boost the confidence of your coachee. Become a great motivational speaker for your clients. Encourage them to develop habits and positivity. Teach them to take full accountability of their thoughts, emotions, and actions.
CBC questioning methods
Ask questions to your clients that may open up options for them.
For instance, a client of yours may feel overburdened with her work. She may fear to say the same to her boss. You can ask her the following questions:
- Is this belief logical?
- Do you have any evidence for…?
- Are you taking things too much on a personal level?
- What worst can happen?
- How will a close colleague of your approach such a situation?
- How else you can think of dealing with this situation?
- How will alternative thinking affect the outcome?
You can also have a look at these powerful coaching questions to add to this list.