What is Life Coaching and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
There isn’t any agreed definition of life coaching. However, there have been some key elements identified in coaching and these are-
A partnership between the coach and the client
A process designed to help you as a client to maximize your potential
A collaboration in which you are helped to clarify what you want to achieve and to generate your own solutions and strategies to help move towards those solutions
Coaching focuses on achieving results and is about looking forward
It is also a pragmatic type of support encouraging positive actions, the ability to learn from experience and the capacity to build on success
A good coach inspires and motivates and helps you to create positive and realistic change
Listening and understanding to what it is you want
Helping you to explore different options for how you might get to where you want
Assisting you in assessing and setting realistic goals
Acting as a sounding board and motivating source to help you carry through actions and review and assess progress
Although both techniques work very well individually they are also very powerful when used together.
My form of life coaching incorporates additional CBT Techniques to help you deal with negative thoughts, stresses and anxieties and to overcome or manage mental and emotional blocks or difficulties.
This gives your work with me added value which is not present with many other life coaches.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. CBT is a talking therapy. It has been proved to help treat a wide range of emotional and physical health conditions in adults, young people, and children. CBT looks at how we think about a situation and how this affects the way we act. In turn, our actions can affect how we think and feel. The therapist and client work together in changing the client’s behaviors, or their thinking patterns, or both of these.
Everyone can benefit from CBT. CBT provides a set of techniques used by therapists which are particularly effective in helping people who are experiencing stress, anxiety, negative thoughts, challenging emotions and who are experiencing low self-esteem. There are also CBT techniques for teaching assertiveness.
There isn’t just one thing which constitutes CBT and practitioners of CBT may differ in their preference for individual techniques within the CBT umbrella. Usually, however, coaches or counsellors who use CBT techniques share in their approach the following basic elements which are common to most CBT practitioners:
A recognition that the way we think influences the way we feel, the way we act and the choices we make in life, career and relationships – for example if your mind is continually filled with negative ‘self talk’ you are likely to feel bad and this in turn may impede your ability to make practical choices in life and to meet your own needs in a reasonable way
A commitment to using practical techniques which help you to analyse and deal with problematic thinking patterns that are causing you emotional difficulties or affecting your ability to move forward in life
A fundamental belief in realistic approaches and actions. CBT is not about simply replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts. It is about helping you to achieve a balanced and constructive approach to life and to the problems or dilemmas that you encounter in life.
The CBT techniques element of my coaching are designed to help you to think and act in a more balanced way. The life coaching element helps you to explore and compare options, decide on goals to pursue and make positive choices and action plans.
Despite the word ‘therapy’ being in the name ‘cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT techniques are in many respects very different from traditional psychoanalytical methods of therapy or counselling – the two people that are seen as the founders of CBT, Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck, both formulated their ideas because of disenchantment with aspects of the psychoanalytical approach and came up instead with practical, helpful, effective methods.
My coaching sessions work by focusing on those aspects of your behaviour or thought patterns that are most problematic for you and identifying ways in which you can adjust them or deal with them to help you progress in the areas where you want change. A simple example of a technique that might be used in coaching sessions to help you is the famous ABC Model invented by Albert Elllis (one of the founders of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)). Using this model you might be asked in a therapy session (or in a ‘homework’ exercises following a session) to reflect on an issue that you find is a repeated problem for you in the following way:
A – Activating Event Describe what the typical situation is in which the problem arises
B – Beliefs Note down your thoughts, beliefs and feelings which the situation triggers
C – Consequences Describe how you then typically act and how you then feel.
I will then explore with you what your options are at each stage for breaking the negative cycle. I will discuss with you:
Actions that may help prevent the problem situation arising again
Things you can say to yourself or do when negative thoughts arise to help put them in perspective or approach them rationally and positively
Actions you can take to break away from negative thoughts and feelings or deal with them differently
What you can do afterwards to help you feel better about the consequences.
I encourage you to practise any potentially helpful approaches outside of coaching sessions and then report back at the next coaching session.