How does Ashley approach life coaching? What is her "philosophy"? What does "cognitive behavioral" mean?
In my “Who I Am” section, I describe several approaches and disciplines I utilize for life coaching: a cognitive behavioral approach, motivational interviewing, positive psychology, mindfulness, and neuroscience. So what are these things?! Each of these has basic assumptions and backgrounds of research which provide different lenses, information, and strategies for life coaching. Although I pull from other theories and research, too, these are the backbone.
A cognitive behavioral approach to life coaching borrows much from cognitive therapy (CT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) (which are technically separate therapies; however, for simplicity, I will use cognitive behavioral therapy as an inclusive term to refer to both CT and CBT). Utilizing a cognitive-behavioral approach as a foundation for life coaching has many advantages based on the assumptions and research of CBT; this approach yields measurable change. Outlined below are the assumptions that define the cognitive-behavioral approach:
1.) Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors: Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (TFB's) are interconnected and affect each other. Physiological states also influence TFB's, and TFB's influence physiological states. Understanding the connections among TFB’s and using them to one’s advantage is critical to creating lasting change.
2.) Focused: CBT and a cognitive behavioral approach to life coaching both focus on specific issues. This is not to say that life coaching must focus on the negative, but that is focuses on addressing specific targets. People are more successful when systematically working toward a goal with objectives, strategies, and tools. This aspect of a cognitive behavioral approach is similar to the GROW coaching model.
3.) Short-term: A cognitive behavioral approach to life coaching shares the short-term nature of CBT; CBT generally lasts less than a year. The goal is not to create a dependence on the professional; life coaching is about empowerment! Life coaching is not about eating time, but valuing time while moving forward.
4.) Relationship of Equals: CBT views the helping relationship as one comprised of two equals, which carries over to a cognitive behavioral approach to life coaching. The client and helper collaboratively identify the client's goals and work together to achieve them. There is no power differential or dependence; a cognitive behavioral approach to life coaching is empowering. This aspect of a cognitive behavioral approach is similar to Co-Active Coaching.
5.) Present Focus: CBT is present-focused. Although there are times when it is necessary to see how certain beliefs or behaviors developed by what was learned in the past, the focus of CBT is the here and now; the same is true with a cognitive behavioral approach to life coaching. Change happens in the present.
6.) We Learn: A cognitive behavioral approach, similar to CBT, assumes that we are not born with certain thought patterns or behaviors, but they have been learned. Since they have been learned, they can be “unlearned.” More accurately, new, more adaptive, replacement behaviors and thought patterns can be learned instead.
7.) Relationship Is Key: As in CBT, life coaching is dependent on a safe, trusting relationship between the client and helper. A secure, authentic, healthy, and constructive relationship is the gatekeeper to effective life coaching.
Ashley Belsinger, M.S.