The paper provides an analysis of the case of Bonita with the focus on the coach’s work and his use of the best practices and cognitive coaching techniques. While working with Bonita, the coach adapts the strategies and practices that are usually known as the “best” ones. The effectiveness of the coaching session depends on the coach’s use of strategies appropriate to address the client’s needs. In his work, the coach uses traditional cognitive coaching techniques such as the identification of mental models, the reframing of mental models, and the adaptation of the health thoughts to improve the client’s interaction and behavior.
Keywords: coaching, best practices, cognitive coaching, mental models
Coaching is important in order to help employees cope with the situation when they face problems and conflicts in the workplace, change responsibilities, or plan further professional growth. Nevertheless, the success of coaching depends on the practices and methods utilized by the coach (Good, Yeganeh, & Yeganeh, 2013). The cognitive coaching that is used to address Bonita’s problems in the concrete case is often viewed as an effective method, and it needs to be discussed in detail in this paper. Although cognitive coaching is often associated with observable changes in the persons’ behaviors and high achievements in the professional sphere, this strategy has both pros and cons, and the effects depend on the coach’s professionalism and appropriateness of using the method in the concrete situation.
The Best Practices
The best practices that are available to coaches in their practice include building the effective relationship and rapport, setting goals and objectives, building the awareness, increasing motivation, developing the plan of actions, challenging or provoking reactions, monitoring changes and achievements, the use of assessments, and providing the feedback (Bono, Purvanova, Towler, & Peterson, 2009; Ladegard & Gjerde, 2014). While working with the case of Bonita, the coach utilized not all of the mentioned practices because the use of all practices is expected during several coaching sessions oriented to changing the client’s behavior. Therefore, the coach focused on using the practices that were effective in the concrete situation. First, it was important to build rapport with Bonita because she is ready to work with a friendly and supportive coach. Building rapport was a challenging task, and then, it was possible to focus on Bonita’s awareness of her problem in communication with Ken.
The coach asked Bonita questions depending on her reactions and previous answers while motivating her to find a way to address the problem (Stober & Grant, 2006, p. 122). Thus, the coach challenged the client’s thinking and provoked certain reactions. It is possible to note that the coach followed a certain scenario while providing his questions to stimulate Bonita’s discussion of the problem. The coach also provided the feedback to Bonita’s concerns and words in order to point at her thoughts, interpretations, and demonstrate the alternative ways to address the issue (Passmore & Fillery-Travis, 2011). Still, the format of the session did not allow the coach to implement such practices as the use of assessments because the coach could evaluate changes in Bonita’s thinking and actions only after the session, referring to her words about successes.
The Analysis of the Client and Coach’s Behaviors
During the session, the coach proposed Bonita to use alternative reactions to the daily situations and conversations with Ken that made her feel uncomfortable. Understanding that Bonita worries much about her impossibility to build effective communication with some of her colleagues, the coach chose a strategy of demonstrating how the woman can cope with the most undesirable situations in this case. From this point, Bonita needed to become aware of her typical reactions to the colleagues’ words and activities and fears regarding her confidence, the ability to confront, and self-control. The coach effectively challenged Bonita’s thinking and reframed the woman’s interpretation of her communication skills and leadership abilities while accentuating the necessity of using new communication strategies that are not as fearful as Bonita could think (Stober & Grant, 2006, p. 124).
The coach also proposed testing her new way of thinking, self-control, and reactions in communication with Ken. Although the techniques used by the coach were effective to help Bonita change her typical mode of thinking, the woman tried to avoid accepting the coach’s explanations to her usual behaviors, and it seems that Bonita did not believe much in the effectiveness of recommendations. From the perspective of the client, Bonita is inclined to overgeneralize her failures in communication and exaggerate her concerns while making her unable to control her reactions and communicate effectively, and she can confront not only colleagues but also the coach. It was a difficult task for the coach to overcome Bonita’s attempts to justify her behavior and avoid the proper discussion of the problem.
Cognitive Coaching Techniques: Pros and Cons
While working with Bonita, the coach actively used the cognitive coaching techniques such as the formation of the client’s understanding of mental models, the analysis of mental models, focusing on “automatic” and realistic thoughts in Bonita, the identification of the dominant themes, and the adaptation of Bonita’s realistic thoughts. During the conversation, the coach helped Bonita recognize what mental models she has and follows while acting and interpreting her interactions in the workplace. Some of the unhealthy or ineffective mental models were identified, and Bonita’s attention was drawn to the interpretations and assumptions that she usually makes because of her mental models (Stober & Grant, 2006, p. 125).
The coach also focused on Bonita’s “automatic” thoughts with the purpose to change them with realistic thoughts about the events and their consequences. It was important for Bonita to reframe her thoughts regarding Ken’s attitudes and perceptions of Bonita. Therefore, after identifying ineffective mental patterns, the coach proposed Bonita to change them with alternative models and more effective thoughts to reflect not the client’s unrealistic interpretations, but real situations. The pros of cognitive coaching are in the possibility to improve the person’s way of thinking while changing ineffective mental patterns and thoughts with more appropriate ones (Wasylyshyn, Shorey, & Chaffin, 2012). As a result, a person can achieve higher professional goals and improve leadership qualities. However, the cons are in the fact that mental models and “automatic” thoughts are developing in the persons’ minds for the years, and it is a difficult task to persuade the client to change them without a significant confrontation.
The analysis of the approaches used by the coach during the session with Bonita indicates that the use of the best practices and the application of cognitive coaching techniques can lead to positive results. However, the usage of cognitive coaching is a challenging task in situations when the client is not ready to follow the coach’s recommendations. It is possible to state that cognitive coaching can be even the painful experience for the client, but the results are most effective because the person changes the whole approach to perceiving and interpreting the world.
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