When you think about coaching, you might picture someone on the sidelines instructing players during a game. Or maybe you envision a life coach offering guidance and support to help people achieve their goals. In either case, a coach’s role is to help people succeed.
Behavioral coaching is similar, in that it’s goal oriented. However, the focus is on helping people change their thoughts and behavior to improve their mental wellness. Working with a coach can be a great way to build the self-awareness and skills needed to do this.
Curious if coaching is right for you? Keep reading to learn more about coaching at AbleTo. And, how to get the most out of it.
What is behavioral coaching?
Behavioral coaching helps people define their goals and learn the skills they need to overcome challenges. And it’s totally customizable. That means coaching can help you make changes in pretty much any area of your life.
Some people use behavioral coaching alongside therapy. Others work solely with a coach. Either way, coaching can help you take action in parts of your life where you might feel “stuck.”
“People are seeking new and innovative ways to achieve their mental health goals,” says Chenel Mann, MA, BCC, Manager of Coaching Clinical Program Development at AbleTo. “Coaching can be a valuable tool for learning new skills and strategies that can help.”
AbleTo’s coaching program is grounded in a practice called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is one of the most studied forms of therapy. It helps you understand the relationship between your thoughts, emotions, and actions so you can start to change the unhelpful ones.
Coaches aren’t licensed in the same way therapists are. Instead, all AbleTo coaches are required to have completed rigorous and specialized training grounded in CBT and Motivational Interviewing. Motivational Interviewing is another evidence-based approach to behavior change. All AbleTo coaches are also taught coaching techniques grounded in science.
How is behavioral coaching different from therapy?
Therapy and coaching can both drive personal growth. But they have some important differences. A therapist uses psychological techniques to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. Therapy is most helpful for people facing challenges, like anxiety disorders and depression, that significantly interfere with day-to-day functioning.
People with mental health diagnoses can work with a coach. But coaching isn’t meant to diagnose or treat mental health disorders. Instead, it’s about making progress toward your mental health goals by learning how to change your behaviors. “Coaches focus on helping you stay motivated so you can make the changes you need to thrive in different areas of your life,” says Mann.
How does AbleTo behavioral coaching work?
With AbleTo, you’ll be assigned a caring coach who can help you meet your goals. You’ll work 1-on-1 via phone or video over the course of 8 sessions.
AbleTo’s coaching program is based in CBT. But it’s also tailored to your needs. During your program, your coach will teach you coping skills that can help you strengthen your mental wellness. Between sessions, you’re encouraged to practice your new skills using self-guided digital activities.
What are the benefits of behavioral coaching?
Life is full of obstacles. And they can be hard to manage on your own. The great thing about behavioral coaching is that it can help support you through a wide range of challenges. These challenges include:
- Relationship problems
- Work issues
- Mild anxiety
- Mild depression
- Life transitions
Not sure what your needs are? Your coach can help you define your goals. Then, together, you’ll work through how best to achieve them. If new problems come up, your coach can help you tweak your skillset to overcome them.
Why is AbleTo’s behavioral coaching program 8 sessions long?
AbleTo’s coaching program is grounded in CBT. And research shows CBT can provide lasting change within 8 weeks. Time-bound programs can also make mental health and coaching programs more affordable.
Also, we know life is busy. If you’re meeting your goals, you should be able to use your time for other things.
What happens after graduating from the coaching program? What if I need more support?
Our goal is to help you learn the skills you need within 8 weeks. But if you could benefit from additional coaching, you may be able to extend your program depending on your insurance plan.
Additionally, if there’s a separate problem you’d like to address, you may be able to enroll in another 8-week program.
How can I know if behavioral coaching is right for me?
If you’re having trouble hitting your mental wellness goals, behavioral coaching could be a good fit for you. AbleTo coaching, specifically, might be right for you if you’re looking for a convenient and affordable digital program.
You can start coaching if you have a mental health diagnosis. But it’s important to keep in mind that coaching isn’t a substitute for therapy. In some cases, it can be helpful to participate in therapy along with coaching. Or, you could use coaching as a way to keep learning new behavioral skills after you complete therapy.
How much does AbleTo’s behavioral coaching cost?
AbleTo is a benefit offered to people through their employer or health plan. Because of this, most people pay $0 for coaching. There may be co-pays, depending on your coverage. Contact your benefit provider for more information.
What to expect from behavioral coaching at AbleTo
Every coaching relationship is unique. But there are a few things about coaching that are true across the board.
You might feel overwhelmed at first — and that’s OK
It can be difficult to think about all the changes you want to make in your life. Remember: Your coach is there to guide you through the process. Over time, you’ll learn the tools you need to meet your goals. And, you’ll have all the support you need along the way.
Coaching isn’t over when the session ends
During a coaching session, you’ll learn valuable techniques for changing your behavior. But your daily life is the place you’ll practice these new skills. “We encourage participants to pursue their goals using the skills they learned in sessions,” says Mann.
You’ll grow. But growth takes time.
AbleTo coaching is based on evidence-informed principles that help people change. But long-lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. Give yourself time (and plenty of grace) to try out the new skills you’re learning. If you hit a roadblock, your coach will be there to help you figure it all out. Even if that means trying out a new approach.
How to get the most out of behavioral coaching
Coaches are specially trained to help you change your behavior so you can meet your goals. But you’ll also need to do your part to succeed.
Be open to the process
An open mindset is one of your best assets in coaching. “Coaches have so much to offer when it comes to helping you overcome whatever’s in the way of your personal growth,” says Mann. “It’s helpful if you go in with an open mindset and willingness to connect.”
Be honest with yourself and your coach
Honesty is the best policy in coaching. While being open to try new things is important, some approaches may not work for you. And that’s OK. Tell your coach if you’re not quite understanding or liking a certain technique, suggests Mann. That way, your coach can better help you grow in a way that makes sense for you.
If you need more help, ask
Coaching is designed to support you in learning behaviors that help you meet goals. If you’re struggling with mental health challenges that are impacting your day-to-day life, you may benefit from therapy. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but it’s important to be up front if you need more support. AbleTo coaches are also trained to recognize mental health concerns. In either case, they can refer you to a therapist so you can get the support you need.
Practice, practice, practice
Your session is just the first step. Your real life is where you’ll actually practice the skills your coach teaches you. It’s really important to practice your new skills between sessions,” says Mann. “It will help you continue to apply them through any ups and downs,” says Mann.
Taking the next step
We get it: If you’re feeling stuck, asking for help can feel vulnerable. And thinking about having to make changes can feel daunting.
But you won’t know if coaching can help you unless you give it a try. “You might be surprised by how much you can grow,” says Mann. “Even after just 1 or 2 sessions.”
Ready to start feeling better?
By Ashley Abramson
Ashley Abramson is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, WI.
Clinically reviewed by Sarah Dolling, LPC, Clinical Content Producer at AbleTo.
Photo by YakobchukOlena/Adobe Stock. Individuals in photographs do not represent AbleTo participants.