Let’s take a closer look at adapting cognitive behavioral techniques to the workplace. It is clear that Cognitive Behavioral Coaching (CBC) has its roots in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). But while CBT is usually focused on healing, CBC has a goal of performance and achievement. CBT is trying to change a negative thought process or behavior, while CBC is trying to improve communication or streamline a project. That is not to say that individual healing is not sometimes what is necessary for organizational improvement.

Perhaps the best reasons that this therapeutic framework is suited to business are that it is short-term, focused, and goal oriented. Also, CBT’s intention is to relieve the symptoms of mental health issues rather than obsess on their causes. There is little benefit in playing the ‘blame game’ if it doesn’t move anything forward. The process is to examine how information is perceived and how that makes the patient feel physically and emotionally.

CBT is based on the belief that our observations, thoughts, feelings, reactions, and behaviors are all inter-related. It functions on the idea that our outlook can be changed and improved by identifying and changing negative perceptions and thought processes, even if our external situation is unchanged. CBT uncovers dysfunctional assumptions and automatic thoughts that limit a person’s ability to behave in positive or constructive ways.

This framework presents an excellent overlay for change management in a business context. CBC aligns with current business models and accepted theories about motivation, goal setting, and self-regulation. It also promotes improved problem solving and brainstorming skills.

Cognitive Behavioral Coaching (CBC) is:

  • Short term
  • Goal oriented
  • Practical
  • Structured

Life’s Onion and Cognitive Behavioral Coaching

Life’s Onion is an excellent companion for applying cognitive behavioral coaching techniques to a workplace or business process. The tool embodies and encourages the strongest elements of CBT: it promotes short-term, focused, and goal oriented examination. Life’s Onion can identify weaknesses, improve processes, and uncover co-worker misconceptions. Peel an onion on communication or team guidelines, conflict resolution, or use it like a simplified Kanban board to visualize workflow at the beginning of a project or start-up.

Consider this CASE STUDY on the value of workplace CBC from Gladeana McMahon at Cognitive Behavioural Coaching

A Junior Partner in a well-established firm of solicitors worked long hours but avoided meeting clients wherever possible. She had attended networking and client management courses and while she could quote the theory chapter and verse, she never managed to apply it. She was not bringing in new business and was failing to meet her targets in relation to her billable hours.

Her organization being concerned about her lack of performance was considering whether she would be asked to leave but decided to offer her executive coaching. She soon realized that her problem was down to the lack of confidence she had in herself. Subsequently, her six, ninety minute confidence coaching sessions were used to identify her self-defeating thoughts replacing these with a more effective and self-enhancing way of thinking as well as developing and trying out new behaviors.

Once she knew what to do and how to improve and maintain her confidence her situation changed dramatically. Her employers were delighted as she was not only meeting targets but exceeding these by 10% on a monthly basis.

At the end of the program, she stated “I wish I had known this stuff years ago as it would have made my life easier and I would have been far more successful than I have been.” The Senior Partner also said, “You wouldn’t know it was the same person, she’s gone from an uncertain future with us to someone we really value”. She was still working as hard as Junior partners do but not only had her performance increased she was conserving all the energy she previously was losing due to her lack of a confident mindset and effective thinking skills.

More at: http://www.cognitivebehaviouralcoachingworks.com/the-relevance-of-cbc-in-the-small-business-world/

Interpretation of Silence 

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience when you communicate with a client or co-worker, or even a friend, and don’t hear back from them right away. After what we would consider a reasonable turn-around time, based on our own communication style, we begin to interpret what their lack of reply could mean. It’s amazing how often those thoughts will take on a negative tint: that person is angry, they are not interested in the project, they think your work is sub-standard. Usually, when we do get a reply we discover that the cause for delay was far more neutral – the person was out of the office, not feeling well, under a tight deadline, etc…. and often had nothing to do with us. These are the types of situations that highlight the overlap of CBC and CBT. Consider this similar example from The Royal College of Psychiatrists.

You have had a bad day, feel fed up, and so go out shopping. As you walk down the road, someone you know walks by and apparently ignores you.

Unhelpful thoughts such as ‘they ignored me – they don’t like me’ result in you feeling low and rejected. You get stomach cramps, feel sick and decide to go home and avoid the person.

Helpful thoughts such as ‘they look a bit wrapped up in themselves, I wonder if there’s something wrong?’ mean that your emotional reaction is concern for the person. Rather than having negative feelings, you get in touch with them to make sure they are ok.

CBT tells us that when we’re feeling low we’re more likely to jump to unhelpful conclusions. We are encouraged to think and behave differently to improve how we feel.

It is clear that there is benefit to be derived from CBC and a further exploration of its applications in organizational and personal development contexts. Further support can be found in this excellent research article courtesy of UK Firm Ascent Coaching & Training.

Due to its success in the therapeutic field, many coaches have started to utilise a cognitive behavioural approach to coaching (Palmer & Gyllensten, 2008), (Sparrow, 2006). The most popular adapted psychotherapeutic approach used by coaches was the adaptation of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to develop Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC) (Palmer & Gyllensten, 2008). It has been estimated that up to 70% of coaches use a CBC approach as either their sole approach to coaching or as one of their major approaches (Sparrow, 2006).

Cognitive behavioural coaching is a fusion of cognitive behavioural therapy, rational emotive therapy, solution focused approaches, goal setting theory and social cognitive theory (Palmer & Szymanska, 2008). CBC is goal focused, time-limited and focused in the present. It is a non-therapeutic approach dealing with non-clinical problems and challenges. CBC premises that individuals may have inadequate problem-solving skills or may not apply skills they have in a contextually appropriate manner, and that their thoughts, emotions and behaviours are key to understanding their perception of problems and situations (Palmer & Szymanska, 2008). Whilst CBC might use some CBT techniques where relevant, for example, the Thoughts Record Form, it also uses specific coaching techniques including the ‘miracle question’ and the ‘rocking chair exercise’ (Clutterbuck & Megginson, 2009; Karas & Spada, 2009)

Cognitive behavioural coaching and change, goals, self- regulation and motivation

The process of coaching is essentially about helping individuals regulate and direct their personal intrapersonal resources to better achieve their goals and the changes they are seeking (Grant, 2006). Change is a process of goal directed self-regulation involving goal setting, developing and implementing action plans, performing and evaluating performance. On the basis of this feedback actions are continued, changed or improved for future performance (Grant, 2006). The goals driving this process of change are internal representations of our desired states (Austin & Vancouver, 1996). They are complex cognitive structures, for example there are outcomes goals, approach goals, avoidance goals, proximal goals, distal goals, learning goals and performance goals. Goals are intrinsically linked to our values and have been described as tangible, specific manifestations of our values (Locke & Latham, 2002).

Self-regulation and motivation are critical components of goal attainment. Individuals are more likely to be better motivated to achieve goals they feel engagement with, feel are important, believe are attainable and congruent with their core beliefs and values (Locke, 1996; Sheldon, 2002). A key issue in conceptualising and developing self-concordant goals is the coachee’s ability to realistically appraise their needs and behaviour patterns and to understand their core values and beliefs (Sheldon, 2002). This ability to self reflect and objectively assess thoughts and behaviours is not common in those presenting for coaching (Grant, 2006).

More at: http://ascentcat.com/what-is-cognitive-behavioural-coaching/