There is now strong evidence that the vast majority of offenders are driven into crime and deviancy by two factors – age and low self-control. This makes the case for coaching high-risk clients to use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) skills a strong one. The use of Cognitive Coaching is the third element in our Practice Model. Once a collaborative and working rapport has been established through relationship-building strategies and initial assessment has taken place, there is a safe container in which to help clients explore some of the mechanics of their thinking, feeling and attitudes. This is the perfect time to introduce Cognitive Coaching techniques to help clients increase self-awareness and behavior change around issues such as problem-solving, repetitive thought patterns, attitude, social skills and other learned roadblocks to forward movement.
How often do you wonder about incorporating more of this kind of coaching in your supervision sessions? Maybe you want more skill development in that area, or you feel you know what you’re doing but don’t have the time to go there during your supervision sessions. So the question would be how to bring more of this kind of coaching into your client/offender interactions…
An opportunity to really make a difference
Not only is Cognitive Coaching an excellent skill to use with clients who have low self-control, this is a place where the practitioner acting can be the intervention and contribute in a unique way. No one holds a stronger position to understand the criminogenic needs, underlying motives and dysfunctional thinking of clients than you, the agent who is seeing them in one-on-one sessions and groups.
In fact, what we are learning from practice models like STICS, EPICS, COMBINES, STARR, IBIS, etc, is that not only can clients be trained in Cognitive Coaching skills within the scope of an individual or group session, but practitioners can simultaneously use Motivational Interviewing to help clients find their intrinsic motivation for practicing and using newly-learned Cognitive Coaching skills. Using your unique position as a practitioner developing a close working relationship with a client, you can weave Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Coaching into a powerful one-two approach that helps clients not only access new skills, but follow through with true motivation to implement them for behavior change.
Cognitive Coaching techniques need guided practice over time, with skill rehearsal during supervision sessions so that you can give feedback as to what is working and what clients can do differently. In addition we know that a lot of these skills require scaffolding where higher-level skills are built on top of foundational skills. As a resource to identify techniques that you would like to bring into your sessions, you can download the coaching guides attached at the end of this article. And please don’t hesitate to let us know how it’s going or contact us with thoughts or questions!
Click Practice-Model to read more about Cognitive Coaching and the other Practice Model elements in our full academic “Practice Model” paper.
Or continue reading HERE about the second component: Ongoing Assessment in the previous edition of our newsletter.
And here are links to our free downloadable Cognitive Coaching guides:
(Click or right-click on the link and the corresponding guide will automatically download to your computer in Word doc format. Check wherever your computer automatically stores downloads.)
Plus, look for “Change/Case Planning” (Part V of our Practice Model series) next.