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CBT Techniques


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AWAKE from Anxiety




CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT, otherwise known as cognitive behavioural therapy or cognitive behavioural coaching, is a model used by counsellors and life coaches which is particularly effective in helping people who are experiencing stress, anxiety or negative thoughts. It is also commonly recommended as a successful method for helping people suffering from depression or other low mental states.

The cognitive part of this method relates to your thoughts and feelings (your cognitions). The method rests on the view that the thoughts that are going through your head are likely to influence your actions and feelings.

It helps you to look at options for you to begin to change your thought patterns if they are causing you problems and also at ways of behaving which will help you to think and feel more constructively.

If you find yourself commonly thinking self critical thoughts or judging yourself (or others) in extreme ways it may well be that you would benefit from cognitive behavioural coaching.

Cognitive behavioural coaching is helpful in helping you to identify if there are particular patterns of thinking that you allow to imbalance your perceptions and create negative feelings. For example you might come to realise that you have a tendency to:

A coach trained in cognitive behavioural techniques will help you to identify these thought patterns and find ways of substituting more realistic and constructive ways of thinking.

One technique that you can use to counter negative thoughts is to make a note of what is going through your mind and then create a balancing statement. Thus for example you might note the following thought and then create a balancing statement such as that listed:

Negative Thought

Balancing Statement

I arrived 10 minutes late. I am hopeless. I can never get to work on time.

On this occasion I arrived 10 minutes late. Punctuality is not my strong point but I am going to work on it to try to improve, by practical measures such as setting my alarm clock 10 minutes earlier in the morning.


In the example given, the balancing statement does not seek to pretend that there is no difficulty or that you are perfect – after all, who is – but it seeks to help you put things in perspective and come up with positive realistic actions to try out to improve your situation.

Negative self critical thoughts quite often contain words such as “never” or “should” which are either extreme or else moralistic in their self condemnation. Balancing statements aim to moderate these elements in a realistic way to help you achieve a more balanced approach to yourself, to others and to life.

One technique that you can use if you do find yourself frequently being self critical is to draw up a list of ‘affirmations’ – a list of your positive qualities and experiences – and read it through on a daily basis or at times when you are feeling low, to remind yourself of the positive aspects that you may tend to forget. If you are unable to think of positive qualities immediately then you can ask trusted friends what they like about you or think are your positive qualities or achievements and use these as a starting point. This technique can be helpful if you are experiencing low self esteem.

Cognitive behavioural coaching is a practical and very useful model for helping you change your mindset and view situations in a constructive way. It is a model I have frequently used with very positive results with clients and research evidence demonstrates that it is effective.

Perhaps the most famous format used by CBT therapists and life coaches for analsying thoughts, behaviour and actions is the ABC model. You can find a brief description of this at: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy's ABC Model.


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