2 Cognitive behavioural coaching (CBC)
The basic principle underlying CBC is that our thoughts and feelings directly influence our behaviour. Thus, if our thoughts and feelings about an event or issue are negative or self-limiting, our behaviour will be too.
Williams et al. (2014, p. 35) list the main goals of CBC as to:
- Facilitate the client in achieving their realistic goals
- Facilitate self-awareness of underlying cognitive and emotional barriers to goal attainment
- Equip the individual with more effective thinking and behavioural skills
- Build internal resources, stability and self-acceptance in order to mobilise the individual to their choice of action
- Enable the client to become their own self-coach.
Basically, the coach needs to look out for examples of ‘thinking errors’ (Yates, 2014, p. 124) and to explore whether they are reasonable assumptions on the part of the client.
One way they might do this is to ask the coachee to replace any performance interfering thoughts (PITs) with performance enhancing thoughts (PETs) whenever they come up. Over time this can be a very effective technique.
Williams et al. (2014, Table 2.2, p. 40) present a useful example of PITs and PETs, focused on the activity of making a presentation.
|Performance interfering thoughts (PITs)
|Performance enhancing thoughts (PETs)
|It’s going to go badly
|It will be at least okay
|I’m terrible at making presentations
|Some have gone well, some less well, but overall I’m reasonable at making presentations
|Visions of being unable to speak and of being laughed at
|Visions of making the presentation with a mistake or two, but overall going well
|The audience will be bored
|How do I know? I haven’t even given the presentation yet!
See if you can identify some of your own PITs and PETs in Activity 2.
Activity 2 My PITs and PETs
Think of a situation, such as a job interview or a difficult conversation, where you might have performance limiting thoughts (PITs). This could be an upcoming event or something that has happened in the past but is likely to recur. List your PITs in the left-hand column of the table below. When you’ve done that, try to convert them into thoughts that make you feel more positive about that situation (PETs), and list those on the other side of the table.
This is not a one-off exercise that will solve every problem. It requires practice, but can eventually lead to a powerful change in your feelings about an event or activity.
In her Career Counselling Handbook, Yates (2014, p. 78) provides examples of career issues where a CBC approach can be useful. For example, when clients have assumptions or fears that are not grounded in reality: ‘people like me don’t get jobs like that’ or ‘I’m rubbish at interviews’.
CBC helps clients to link their feelings, thoughts and behaviours. It provides techniques to deliberatively change those thoughts, thus leading to a change in behaviour.
In the next section, you’ll look at a framework that is popular in the workplace, and regularly used by both coaches and managers.