Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in a coaching setting

Coaching aims to bring out the best in us in order to help us attain our desired goals

Coaches provide support, structure and encouragement to help individuals fulfil their potential, make the most of their lives, and move forward in the areas which they want to change–for example in their relationships, careers, fitness/sport, work-life balance or self-confidence.
By observation, listening and questioning, coaches explore with clients their situation, values and beliefs. They work with clients to find ways in which they might achieve their aims and help them to set appropriate goals. By remaining supportive and non-judgmental, life coaches encourage clients to maintain motivation and commitment and to find ways of overcoming barriers and setbacks. They may challenge assumptions through constructive feedback, but do not tell clients what to do; their main aim is to empower clients to take control of their life by finding answers for themselves.

Some of the common reasons to ask for a life coach support are:

  • lack of motivation and passion

  • underperformance

  • indecisiveness

  •  life goals recession

  •  career changes


    tackling particularly the issues with procrastination, self-confidence , employment & career,  mourning, burnout & stress, crisis, fear, relationship Issues.

In many cases a life coach  is required as a motivator and advisor when the person is in a transition phase and needs support.

Generally speaking, a life coach is the one, who helps you identify and change those areas of your life which you find unfulfilling or unsatisfactory.

Cognitive Behavioral Coaching  applies the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in a coaching setting

Cognitive Behavioral Coaching is an approach to Life Coaching  that based on adaptation of the techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to coaching, applying it in a non-therapeutic way to the problems of everyday life to enable individuals to define and  reach their goals. 

CBT-based coaching is a goal-directed and a time limited way, focused on the present. It is a non therapeutic approach dealing with non-clinical problems and challenges.

CBT–Cognitive behavioral therapy–is a set of psychotherapeutic interventions aimed at helping individuals understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviours.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  is derived from the clinical models of cognitive therapy developed by Aaron Beck (1976) and rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) developed by Albert Ellis (1962).

CBT is commonly used to treat a wide range of disorders including phobias, addiction, depression and anxiety, and has a good evidence base on its efficiency.

CBT is usually focused on helping people deal with a very specific problem. During the course of treatment, you learn how to identify and change destructive thought patterns that negatively influence your behaviour. The fundamental concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a central role in our behaviour.

Cognitive Behavioral Coaching (CBC) applies the techniques of CBT in a non-therapeutic way to the problems of everyday life, enabling individuals to define and reach their goals. So, CBC shouldn’t be mixed with counseling, as it is proactive, focused on a goal and used on a non-clinical population.

CBC and CBT are similar but CBC focuses on achieving personal and professional fulfilment, not an understanding of psychological disturbance, a core component of CBT (Neenan, 2009). Irrational beliefs that are inconsistent with reality can lead to unhealthy results for individuals and their relationships as well as undermining their pursuit of personally meaningful goals (Neenan & Dryden, 1999). All coaching interventions involve understanding the client’s beliefs to some degree, however, a CBC gives coaches a deep understanding of how people develop self-limiting beliefs and maintain them despite evidence to the contrary (Neenan, 2008).

CBC focuses on achieving personal and professional fulfilment and works by first assessing the areas of life you want to change:
– Personal and professional – mainly associated with achievement, low self-esteem, fear of failure, low job satisfaction, no praise, approval, validation;
– Societal and cultural, where stereotypes are used as the norm and correlate with distorted values.

The approach has been found to enhance:

  • goal-striving,

  • well-being,

  • resilience,

  • emotional management,

  • sales performance,

  • ‘significant’ personal and professional value,

  • core self evaluation

The main aims of using CBT in a coaching setting are:
– acknowledging barriers that prevent change,
– clarifying your goals,
– working on potential obstacles,
– and equipping you with the tools to fulfil your aims.

CBC posits goal attainment is best achieved by understanding the reciprocal relationships between the individual’s thoughts, feelings, behaviours and environment.




”There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – W. Shakespeare





Beck, A. (1976). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders.

Ellis, A. (1962). Reason and emotion in psychotherapy.

Grant, A & Greene, J. (2004). Solution-Focused Coaching: Managing People in A Complex World.

Neenan, M. (2008). From cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) to cognitive behaviour coaching (CBC).

Neenan, M., & Dryden, W. (1999). Rational emotive behaviour therapy: Advances in theory and practice.

Neenan, M. (2009). Using Socratic questioning in coaching. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

Palmer, S., & Szymanska, K. (2008). Cognitive behavioural coaching: An integrative approach








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