• Walthea Patterson

Benefits of Cognitive Behavioural Coaching

Cognitive Behavioural Coaching is coaching using techniques developed from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It is evidence-based coaching, and since 2001 supporting evidence has shown that its benefits include reducing stress, perfectionism and self-handicapping as well as enhancing resilience, performance and self-management. Change the way you think and you can change the way you feel and act. Common self-management issues include procrastination, assertiveness and difficulty making decisions. A Cognitive Behavioural Coach can help their client to deal with each of these challenges.


Procrastination

Procrastination is perhaps one of the most common self-management issues. We all try to put off things we don’t want to do to some degree or another. The Cognitive Behavioural Coach will spend time probing the client to discover what is behind their procrastination, whether it’s driven by perfectionism, an inability to set reasonable boundaries or if performing the activity doesn’t feel as though it has purpose or meaning. The techniques the coach employs will depend on the underlying reason for the procrastination. As an example, changing a person’s language about how they approach starting a task they would rather postpone can help them to get started. Instead of thinking about the spreadsheet that they have to update, a coach might encourage the client to start thinking of the task as something they choose to do. Procrastination can have plenty of unwanted consequences from poor team performance and stress to affecting workplace and personal relationships. Giving a person tools to use to deal with their own procrastinating behaviour will have positive benefits in other areas of their life also.


Assertiveness/Communication skills

While Elton John sings that “Sorry seems to be the hardest word,” for some people it springs more easily to the lips than “no.” Learning to assert oneself is an important communication skill for many areas of life. For those who find standing up for themselves in work difficult, Cognitive Behavioural Coaching can offer them a chance to develop the language they need to deal with unreasonable demands. As with procrastination the coach would explore some of the underlying reasons for this, and the situations in which this arises – for example the client might find it difficult to assert his/herself with a senior colleague but easier to do so with peers. The client would be encouraged to notice some of the times when they had difficulty asserting his/herself and the consequences that this had. Lack of assertion may be linked to a fear of rejection or desire to be liked by others. A coach would help their client to develop ways of appropriately asserting themselves and recording any positive or negative outcomes from this new behaviour. In the workplace lack of assertiveness can lead an employee to take on an unreasonable workload, or to accept the bullying behaviour of a colleague.


Difficulty making decisions

Many people find it difficult to make decisions about important choices and when making changes in life. Decision-making requires mental energy and clarity. When facing a big change such as whether to leave a job, or relocate, whether to take a risk or not take any action, it is natural to feel uncomfortable. However, if the feelings of discomfort or fear prevents one from making necessary changes, it can lead to a life of sentences beginning with “if only.” Often the reaction to making decisions under those circumstances can be to go to one of two extremes – paralysing indecisiveness or overdecisiveness. Indecisiveness can manifest itself as over-analysing, seeking more and more data to delay decision-making. At the other end of the spectrum the person can act too quickly, making decisions impulsively without conducting sufficient due diligence.

Decision-making is really a form of problem-solving. If a client comes to a cognitive behavioural coach for help overcoming difficulties around decision-making, the coach will help them to recognise their thinking about weighing risks worth taking against discomfort about making decisions. Once the client is aware of their decision-making style, the coach will act as a catalyst for the client experimenting with new approaches to making decisions. Working with a coach can allow the person facing change to build resilience so that even if their decision doesn’t work out as anticipated they can bounce back from any disappointment and move on more quickly.


Wider benefits

These are just a few examples of how working with a Cognitive Behavioural Coach can be of benefit. When you consider the stress that a person dealing with these difficulties carries around, and the effect this has at work and at home, it is like ripples on the surface of a pond. Improving the situation for one person can improve the environment for everyone else. The ultimate goal of cognitive behavioural coaching is that the client, over time, develops the self-reflective skills to become their own coach, monitoring and adapting their behaviour. Doing this can have very tangible benefits for the rest of their life.

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