Cognitive-behavioral therapy, sometimes known as CBT, is one of the most widely used forms of mental health counseling. The theory of cognitive-behavioral therapy is that we are not infallible. The universe is teeming with countless causes and consequences, and people are just as capable of making poor decisions as they are of making good ones. By understanding these consequences, and learning how to respond accordingly, people learn to more effectively manage and control their stressors.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy was first developed in the United States in the fifties and sixties by psychologists Michael Neuner and Richard Bandler. It was primarily intended to help patients manage their own stress, which many American sufferers are burdened with today. Cognitive therapy seeks to teach patients how to alter their responses to stressors so that they can better control their own feelings. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also known as mnemonics, as it is based on the idea that our own reactions to stressful situations are reflected in distorted, negative memories.
The goal of cognitive-behavioral coaching, therefore, is to uncover those memories and break the vicious cycle that produces them. This process helps patients to understand that they do not have to let stress take control. Once a client has realized that they do have the ability to change their responses to stressors, they begin to gain a sense of control over their own health and well-being. Cognitive-behavioral therapy provides individuals with the tools to change harmful behaviors, but it does so by first helping them to recognize and understand where they are failing themselves. This kind of therapy is meant to address both physical and mental aspects of stress and health problems and is highly effective.
The effectiveness of this method is due in large part to its focus on problem-solving, rather than mere emotion. A coach will guide you through the process of problem-solving, laying out a clear action plan for completing each task before you move on to the next. A good coach will use humor along the way, but more importantly, he or she will provide you with clear and realistic expectations regarding the results of your actions.
When people feel helpless, angry, or depressed, they are less likely to take the necessary action to solve their problems. Because CBT is an emotional exercise, it helps people deal with their emotions instead of suppressing or ignoring them. Some people may have difficulty facing their emotions and may retreat from getting help. It is important, then, for coaches to be open and honest with their clients about the limitations of CBT, as some clients may react negatively to being “sold” on a particular emotion, such as being happy. That is why it is important for coaches to explain to their clients that, no matter how much they may be feeling a particular emotion, it is impossible to create a situation that offers both happiness and harmony.
An essential component of cognitive-behavioral coaching is the idea of disarming unhelpful thoughts. One common mistake of coaches is that they keep telling their clients to stop thinking certain thoughts or phrases; for example, the coach may say to a client, “If you tell yourself that you’re not important enough to talk about, you’ll stop.” This is a form of invalidation because although a client’s belief may be that he or she is not important enough to talk about, this particular statement sends a message to the client that he or she is not worthy of getting help because of that belief. Another common mistake is for coaches to encourage their clients’ beliefs about themselves and others, rather than guiding them towards healthier and more accurate self-talk. As a result, clients continue to create unhelpful thoughts and can even carry those thoughts over into other areas of their lives, such as their relationships with friends, family, and co-workers.
Cognitive-behavioral coaching also helps clients to identify negative behaviors and to replace them with healthier ones. CBT (or cognitive behavioral therapy) differs from other forms of therapy in that it does not center on only one aspect of the client’s life but on many aspects of his or her life at once. This kind of counseling helps the client to realize his or her unwanted behaviors and then helps to redirect the thought process to one that is more supportive and appropriate. For instance, when a client is thinking that he is worthless and insignificant, a therapist might ask him or her to replace that thought with the statement, “I’m an important person.”
A strong evidence-based approach is at the core of cognitive-behavioral coaching. The goal of this method is to use the results from the sessions to help the clients make better choices and modify those choices when necessary. For instance, a client who is a heavy smoker but wants to quit may follow the therapist’s recommendations to quit smoking but they may also start smoking again. The goal of treatment is to help the clients prevent making these types of mistakes in the future and to help them take control over their lives.