Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC)

What is Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC)

CBC is based on the premise that ‘the way you think about events, profoundly influences the way that you feel about them’ (Neenan, 2008).  The CBC approach is a systems or integrative approach combining the use of techniques and frameworks based around cognitive, behavioural, imaginal and problem-solving elements.  The aim of the CBC outcome is to enable clients to achieve realistic goals.

Regardless of life circumstances or levels of seniority within an organisation we all will, are or have experienced periods of ‘stuck-ness’ in our private and professional lives. Throughout these periods, without external help and support (i.e. coach or even a therapist), overcoming them can be an unachievable challenge.

A key part of CBC coaching practice is to be a trusted companion who helps you to express, experience, understand, re-frame and move forwards in a realistic way to overcome the challenges you may be facing.


There are lots of Coaching Models written about in the literature, and these are clearly important as a practical guide to support clients.  However, I also believe that coaching in this manner is an innately human, person-centred activity.

How long have you known about CBC?

I have been blessed throughout my life to have used CB coaching and therapy and it helped me to  transform my outlook on life by enabling me to gain a high level of insight at to what effects my emotional state of being and has enabled me to approach the world with strength and positivity, even when there is little clarity.  This is something that I might not have been able to claim beforehand, but there is no shame in needing help. We are all human.

Engaging with therapy taught me a lot.  First and foremost, it is not for the feint hearted. It is not easy when done properly and if you are not committed to ‘doing the hard work’ then to be honest my view is that it is a waste of time.  Scott Peck’s book the Road Less Travelled is a really good place to start if you want to understand more about this.

I have also studied and gained experience of the use of these techniques in practice to great effect.  The centrepiece of CBC practice is the ABCDE model of identifying psychological blocks and their removal, based around 10 questions and I have adapted my practice in line with the coaching and mentoring process as outlines in the sections below, including the use of Humour and Playfulness in the process which is very effective.  My co-written journal article will be published later this year (2021) under the authors Turner and Norris explores the theory and practice of its application in coaching.

So, to answer the question, for me this has been a life-long journey and it continues to be a firm commitment to myself and to others to whom I offer support**

**It is important to understand that coaching is not a medical or clinical practice in the way that psychiatry, psychotherapy, and counselling/therapy is.  Therefore, it is very important that you think carefully about your own mental wellbeing.  It is a fine line sometimes, but a coach should not try to coach someone who is really in need of psychiatric help and I am an experienced coach and mentor, not a therapist.

Key elements of CBC

Establish balance around what is internal and what is external to themselves -  Understanding spheres of influence and control, using techniques such as imagining, visualising through metaphor and re-framing to enable clients to move forwards in a more realistic manner towards a goal.

Understand emotional anchors – through techniques like Past, Present and Future, enabling clients to relate where they are anchored emotionally and how this affects their mood, perspective, and ability to engage effectively with their challenges.  And use of the ABCDE model for CBC to help you engage with the problems in a different more constructive way.

Develop skills in Playfulness and Humour – whilst this is not strictly part of the toolset in traditional CBC, I have co-researched and developed (soon to be published) an academic journal article on the practical applications of playfulness and humour in coaching practice.  Whilst always client led, the positive neurological and physiological effects of humour are proven to be key to the experience of the development of co-created ‘serious humour’ in the CBC process.  This research and results from practice shows that humour when used for serious purposes can have a significantly positive impact to the coaching process as well as the outcomes of the coaching assignment.

Reframe and move forwards – When is the last time someone challenged you with a powerful question? Perception can be altered using the techniques embedded in CBC, externalising, and observing differently is a powerful way to allow clients to change perspective on a problem and engage in a more systemic approach to life.

Benefits and outcomes

Some of the best outcomes for me have been clients who are stuck when they arrive and through the coaching process make significant and brave changes to move forwards and change their lives achieving greater work life balance.  The process is always client led and by working together it is possible to create a ‘coaching safe space’ which unlocks people ability to explore and re-frame problems, find confidence and re-engage on a more balanced footing.  This is the fundamental concept behind Elnor’s Corner.


If you are interested to find out more please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Ref: Neenan, M (2008) From Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to Cognitive Behaviour Coaching (CBC)