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Wendy Buckingham / Creator, Life Coaching Professionally
Creating targeted life coaching groups as well as offering one-on-one coaching is a an opportunity to build a vibrant and diversified practice with programs that are affordable to all.
Life coaching groups of clients, whether in person or online has a lot going for it as a coaching niche for both the client and the coach.
It's a great way to leverage your time and be able to offer an affordable option to those clients on a tight budget. It can also be a lot of fun as the group dynamic develops!
When facilitating a group life coaching session you are there to act as a sounding board, reflector and adviser and to hold the members of the group accountable for their intentions and actions.
This type of coaching may not follow the strict definitions of life coaching but it is an accepted and viable way of effectively serving more than one client at a time and a great coaching specialty to develop.
The group can be a random collection of clients, or a team looking to consolidate and plan an outcome.
It can also be a group of people in a specific industry with similar interests and goals.
You can charge a lot less to each member of a team or group, yet in a one hour group session still make a lot more than you would coaching one person for a single session.
And there is always the possibility that someone in the group will 'upgrade' to one -on-one coaching!
Life coaching groups can be made up by people with a similar background or interest to address relevant issues. This interest might be based around a career, professional or industry theme.
The coach sets the context and format for the session and the members of the group contribute the subject matter. As one person raises an issue, another will have a question or a suggestion.
For example, a group of health care professionals may meet with the coach once a month and share the handling of issues on a predetermined agenda.
And again although it is not strictly life coaching, those issues such as relationship, communication and confidence will invariably come up and the coach can guide the participants to solutions as well as making sure there is no bullying or telling rather than advising.
Your background can also help with your credibility in coaching special interest groups.
For instance, if you had a background in accounting, you would be well qualified to coach a group of accountants. Mentor coaching of new coaches is often done very successfully in groups as well.
Some possible niches for group work that you could explore are:
In this model, the coach puts
together a group of clients, either new or existing, and they meet for a series of sessions. The members of the group may be a team, such as a sports team, or be completely unrelated. I have more on becoming a Team Building Coach on the linked page.
The first group life coaching session usually begins with the coach facilitating the
goal setting process
for each person. Sometimes this may even have been established with individuals by phone or email before the event to speed up the process.
Subsequent sessions feature 'checking in' on progress and handling any issues. All group members will probably become active in the process, giving input, perspective and group support.
You don't need to meet face to face with your group. Remote coaching allows you to broaden your group base to those who you cannot get together with face to face.
I once ran a remote group to mentor new coaches who lived interstate or in another country by telephone . It was successful and hugely rewarding. I've also run my Goals Clinics this way.
If you want to run your group sessions by telephone rather than Zoom or Skype, check Google for companies that still offer telephoning conferencing.
The rules and tips for remote coaching by phone (or Zoom and Skype with no cameras) are pretty much the same as for face to face though the traffic control can be a little more challenging as you can't see who wants to speak next.
So you need to have a list in front of you of who is on the line and make sure everybody gets a chance to contribute.
It's also important to acknowledge each person as they come online so everybody knows who is there. Also asking people to say their name before they speak and to use their mute button when they are not talking is good remote group etiquette.
On this page I have lots more information and tips on mastering remote phone and online life coaching with an individual client.
It may sound obvious but I've been in a group where the leader plunges straight without allowing for introductions. Get each participant to introduce themselves and say what they are hoping to achieve from participating in the group and note it down.
If the life coaching group is drawn from strangers (and often even if they know each other) they may have to develop trust over a couple of sessions before any of the real issues are going to emerge.
You need to be able to strongly facilitate the sessions so that everybody has the opportunity to participate - not just the talkative. Allow enough time and space to deal with a particular participant's pressing issue, while making sure no-one hogs all the attention!
In your first group session establish firm guidelines about punctuality, confidentiality, permission to give feedback, and how feedback is to be delivered. Inappropriate input from one member of the group to another is something to be watched out for and controlled.
Whilst group life coaching is ideal for checking progress on goals or publicly stated action steps, it can sometimes be difficult if one on one caching to explore a deeper issue that comes up for the participant is needed.
When this happens you may decide to offer a brief private conversation to deal with the issue away from the group and, if appropriate, give the participant the opportunity to convert to one-on-one coaching.
A couple of weeks after the last session do a follow up phone call or email to see how each participant is going. Make it personal mentioning something you remember about them. This is great PR and can even lead to more coaching.