Are you feeling lost or stuck and want to make positive long-lasting changes in your life?
The women who come to see me often feel overwhelmed, anxious, lost, stuck in a rut or are experiencing debilitating symptoms of the menopause and are unsure how to find a way forward. This ultimately has a negative impact on their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
I help these women by guiding, supporting and motivating them to create positive, long-lasting changes, so they can live a healthier and happier life. Together, we go on a journey of self-discovery, where they create goal-focused solutions enabling them to unlock positive outcomes and enhance their overall sense of wellbeing. We achieve this by using tools and techniques based on the basic principles of CBT and positive psychology’s model of wellbeing.
How can CBT coaching help you to enhance your overall sense of wellbeing?
CBT and its effectiveness
Over the years, CBT has been scientifically researched. This means that all the components of CBT have been tested by researchers to determine whether they are effective. More recent studies have shown that CBT is also effective at reducing symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes and anxiety. The good news is that, with guidance and support from your coach, you can apply the principles of CBT at home in your own time.
Pros and cons of CBT
Some of the advantages of CBT include:
- CBT is an easy process to follow with guidance and support from a professional.
- CBT is goal and action-orientated, providing focus for creating positive, long-lasting changes.
- CBT can be completed in a relatively short period of time compared with other therapies.
- CBT teaches you useful and practical skills that can be used in everyday life, even after coaching sessions have finished.
CBT has been scientifically proven to be effective, but it may not be successful or suitable for everyone.
Some of the disadvantages of CBT to consider include:
- You need to commit yourself to the process to get the most from it.
- Completing the journal between sessions can take up a fair amount of your time.
- CBT focuses on the person’s capacity to change themselves and does not address wider problems, such as family dynamics.
- CBT only addresses current problems – it does not address the possible underlying root causes, such as an unhappy childhood.
Remember, what works for some will not work for others, but it’s good to try different things to establish what works for you.
Basic principles of CBT
CBT concentrates on the connections between thought patterns, emotional state and physical sensations. It guides people to objectively evaluate how to think about themselves, other people and events in their lives. This helps to strengthen the neural connections that lead to positive thinking and behaviour. This is done by recognising and combating negative patterns that reduce stress and anxiety. It’s a cognitive workout – like having a personal trainer for the mind!
Learning CBT skills
CBT involves learning new skills that teach you new ways of thinking and behaving, which can help you gain control over how you live your life. This is achieved by focusing on what you are struggling with now, rather than dwelling on past events. It can be helpful to understand why previous issues are having an impact on you now, but this is not always enough to help you manage how you think and behave in the present moment.
The CBT triangle
CBT helps you learn how to change your thoughts (cognitions) and your actions (behaviours), which is why it is called cognitive behavioural therapy. This is important because, in any given situation, you will have thoughts and feelings about it and behave in a certain way. These thoughts, feelings and actions all interact with and influence each other. The best way to understand this is to think about them as a triangle.
For example, maybe you are prone to procrastination:
It’s your thoughts and not the situation, people or events around you that create your feelings. In other words, if you get to know your thoughts and change the way you think, you can change the way you feel, which will help you to alter the way you behave. Getting to know your thoughts, emotions and the impact they have on your behaviour will help you to feel more in control of your life. This will enable you to increase your resilience by being better able to cope with the multiple demands on your time and future challenges.
We have on average up to 60,000 thoughts a day. Up to 80% of these thoughts will be negative. If you notice that some of your thoughts are negative, that’s OK! Not all negative thoughts are bad – they keep us alert and help us to survive. However, lots of negative thoughts are useless. They create imaginary drama in our mind. But don’t be disheartened – it’s possible to break that pattern of negative thinking and achieve a more positive outlook.
Overcoming negative thoughts
Once you recognise your negative thinking patterns, you can start to take back control. You can do this by challenging them. When you have a negative thought, question if it is true or whether it is a story you have created based on past experiences and strongly held beliefs. For example, imagine a situation where you are walking down the street and you see a dog. You might think that the dog will bite you, you expect to feel afraid, so you run away or avoid the dog.
However, if we imagine that you have a friend who is not afraid of dogs and likes them very much, your friend’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour might be very different.
To reduce your fear of dogs, you can either:
Change your behaviour
By using exposure, you could gradually approach dogs, rather than avoid them. Over time, your fear of dogs would be reduced and you would probably learn that not all dogs bite. Exposure is one of the best tools at your disposal to face your fears and manage your anxiety in the long run.
Change your thoughts
You might also change the triangle if you were able to challenge the thought that all dogs bite. For example, you might tell yourself that if all dogs were vicious and bit people, no one would have them as pets. When we feel anxious, our thinking tends to be overly negative, because it is completely focused on danger and threat – we don’t always see the whole picture.
The importance of journalling
Journalling is a key component of CBT. The journal gives you prompts in the form of activities and daily exercises to help you practise CBT skills in between each session. If you practise them every day, they will become part of your daily routine. The good news is that the more you use your CBT skills, the easier it gets and the better you will become at managing your emotional response to life’s challenges.
CBT is a collaborative process designed to maintain structure and focus for you. This is achieved by you identifying goals with the guidance and support of your coach. This helps you to clarify what you truly want, rather than what you think you want. CBT goal-setting helps you to be more productive because it highlights the possibility of change – the goals make insurmountable problems appear more manageable by increasing your ability to overcome them.
What to expect long-term
Your coach is there to help you to understand your patterns of thinking and how this is having an impact on your behaviour. However, it is not supposed to be a life-long process. Instead, you are learning to become your own CBT life coach. Once you have learned new skills, had a chance to master them and experienced positive changes in your life, it will be time for you to leave coaching and continue using the skills you have acquired in your own time.
CBT and positive psychologies model of wellbeing
Look out for my next blog on positive psychologies model of wellbeing and find out how this step-by-step journey can take you from a place of negativity through to positive long-lasting action. It will enable you to create goal-focused solutions, so you can live and embrace a healthier, happier life.