The power of collective wisdom, shared learning, and supportive collaboration while working toward a shared aim is at the heart of group coaching.
By bringing together a small, diverse group of individuals under the facilitation of a professional coach, group coaching offers a unique platform for growth and development. The synergy within the group fosters learning, motivation, and goal attainment, making group coaching an invaluable tool in personal and professional development.
For practitioners, group coaching provides a unique opportunity to impact more people and scale your business.
As many successful coaches and therapists have demonstrated, group coaching can be a valuable service to offer in addition to 1:1 work. Some professionals even choose to focus primarily on working with groups, once they have learned how to effectively deliver a structured program.
If you’re interested in utilizing group coaching in your practice, we’ll explain everything you need to know in this article.
We’ll explain what is group coaching. How it can benefit your clients. Some popular group coaching topics. And how practitioners can start offering this useful and profitable service.
Along the way, we’ll also explore how a software platform like Quenza can take many of the headaches out of delivering a group coaching program.
Keep reading to find out more. Or if you want to try out Quenza right away, you can sign up today for a full-access 1-month trial for only $1.
A Powerful Paradigm
Many people think of coaching and therapy as primarily individual pursuits. But group coaching is a well-established model of practice that has been around for just about as long as psychotherapy.
While its popularity has fluctuated throughout history, group coaching has stuck around for one simple reason—it works.
Decades of research prove that group coaching and group therapy are effective across a wide range of areas, such as helping people to:
- Improve their health and manage medical conditions
- Work through relationship issues and learn healthier ways of relating to others
- Develop new skills, whether related to work, emotions, habits, or something else
- Build new habits and make positive lifestyle changes
- Better understand and manage emotions and mental health issues
Many practitioners avoid running groups, wondering, “Is group coaching effective?” But as you can see from the above, it certainly is. And, it’s very likely you are already working with clients who could benefit from group coaching.
How Does Group Coaching Work?
The strategy of group coaching is built upon the foundations of peer learning and shared experiences, transforming a group of individuals into a robust network of change agents.
Its potency lies in the richness of different perspectives brought to the table, enabling the participants to learn not only from the coach but also from each other.
Research shows that group coaching participants often experience:
- Increased confidence
- Improved self-awareness
- Higher levels of motivation
These are all fundamental to acquiring new skills and knowledge that directly contribute to an individual’s professional growth and personal well-being.
The dynamic of a group can amplify these benefits, as individuals learn from the experiences and insights of others, leading to a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the areas of focus.
A Framework for Effective Group Coaching
Facilitating a group coaching session is an art that requires both meticulous planning and a flexible approach. In group coaching, the practitioner plays a pivotal role in fostering an environment of trust, openness, and mutual respect.
Below is an outline of a suggested process for how to conduct group coaching sessions. Where relevant, we’ll link to some of the exercises from Quenza, so you can see just how easy it makes running a successful in-person or online group coaching program.
There are a few more moving parts to group coaching compared to individual work, so it’s always a good idea to spend adequate time on preparation before a session.
While it’s tempting to shortcut this step, keep in mind that you will be working with 3, 5, 10 or even more clients per session. So it’s definitely not overkill to spend 30-60 minutes in preparation for each group session.
The preparation stage involves defining the purpose and objectives of the group coaching session. The coach must also establish and communicate the rules of engagement to all participants. Plus, you’ll need to assemble relevant resources and materials.
Quenza has a library of 250+ evidence-based Expansions and Activities, which makes it super easy to send out resources to group members.
For example, if you wanted to share mindfulness coaching resources with your group, with the click of a button, you could share an exercise like our Mindful Walking activity.
To form a group, it’s important to carefully select participants to ensure a harmonious mix of diverse perspectives and shared goals.
Remember, the goal is for participants to learn from each other. So the composition of the group significantly influences the dynamics and outcomes of the coaching sessions.
Most coaches use some form of intake questionnaire or screening tool to choose participants. This not only gives you a good idea of the needs, goals, and desires of potential group members. It also helps to screen out anyone who may not be a good fit (e.g., someone with a history of trauma who might be triggered by materials covered in the group).
Whatever type of group coaching program you’re running, Quenza has an intake form that you can use.
Here’s a snippet from our Dietary Coaching Intake Form, which you can access right now by signing up today for a full-access 1-month trial for only $1.
The coach’s role during the sessions is to:
- Facilitate dialogue
- Challenge assumptions
- Provide insights
- Ensure everyone’s participation.
A successful group coaching session is characterized by an open exchange of ideas, where every participant feels heard and valued.
It’s worth noting that if you’re new to delivering group coaching, it’s going to feel awkward for a while. Therapists and coaches often struggle with worrying if they’re speaking too much, not enough, or engaging each participant sufficiently.
Rather than keep second-guessing yourself, be sure to review and reflect regularly.
This is a crucial step where the coach encourages participants to reflect on their learning and progress. Also, coaches should reflect on their own performance after the session, preferably through regular professional supervision.
There are 2 stages where feedback can be gathered:
- After each session. Whether it’s through a questionnaire or just asking, “How did everyone find the session today?” You should always seek some kind of feedback after each session. This ensures that you get onto any problems with group dynamics or participant experience early before they can become a bigger issue. Be sure to use this feedback to shape future sessions, with the goal of a continual process of improvement and adaptation.
- At the end of a group. Post-group feedback is crucial to gauge how effective your group actually was and whether any major changes need to be made. This final feedback should be in writing and preferably anonymous. While this can be a little confronting for the practitioner, it’s important to get an honest account of your performance as a coach and the participant’s overall satisfaction. Otherwise, you risk continuing with a program that isn’t effective and is resulting in disgruntled customers.
Rather than designing your own coaching forms, you can use the ready-made templates in Quenza. Here’s a snippet from our standard Session Feedback Form that you can use as is, or customize to suit your specific needs.
Group Coaching Techniques
There are various group coaching techniques that a practitioner can employ to encourage learning, engagement, and progress among participants. Some of the most impactful are:
The coach helps each participant to define clear, achievable goals. This provides a focus for the coaching sessions and gives participants a tangible target to aim for.
By demonstrating active listening, the coach creates an environment where participants feel valued and understood. This fosters trust and encourages participants to share more openly.
The coach uses open-ended, thought-provoking to stimulate discussion and deepen participants’ understanding of the topic at hand. For some examples, check out these 43 powerful life coaching questions to ask your clients.
Targeted, proven exercises and activities can be utilized to teach group members practical skills and help them to gain new insights. Our Expansion on Increasing a Growth Mindset Through Writing is an example of an outcome-based exercise.
After getting an introduction to the concept.
Participants work through activities based on a 6-stage reflective cycle. These can be done together in a group, stopping for members to give feedback along the way. It can also be assigned as a homework exercise, then discussed in a subsequent session.
Engaging Group Coaching Topics
Choosing the right topics for group coaching sessions is crucial to their success. The topics should be relevant to the participants’ goals and should also facilitate learning and development.
Examples of popular topics include:
- Leadership development
- Effective communication
- Healthy relationships
- Emotional intelligence
- Positive mental health
- Work-life balance
- Strategic planning
- Empowerment coaching
- Stress management
The choice of topics can also be tailored to specific groups. For instance, a group of new managers might benefit from sessions on team dynamics and leadership, while a group of students could focus on time management and study techniques.
Some of the most effective group coaching programs distinguish themselves through a combination of comprehensive resources, experienced coaches, and a supportive learning environment.
High-quality programs offer a structured approach to group coaching, often backed by research and field-tested methods. They also offer flexibility to cater to the specific needs of different groups.
Due to the sheer number of group coaching programs available today, it’s impossible to single out any as the “best” in each category. This is because as the prevalence of online group coaching has increased, “best” is now defined as the program that’s most suited to an individual’s specific needs.
For example, when deciding which group coaching program to purchase, individuals typically consider factors like:
- Session times
- Group sizes
- Personality and background of the facilitator
- Social proof (e.g., online reviews and testimonials)
- Online or in-person
As a coach, you must understand these factors. Because to effectively market your course, you’ll need to match its design to your intended target market.
For example, if you’re designing a group to help moms start an online business, factors like session times, duration, and price may be important. While if your target market is helping busy CEOs improve relationships and develop better work-life balance, price may not be as much of an issue, but the credentials of the facilitator would be important.
Success in group coaching can often be traced back to a few key practices:
This involves setting clear expectations right from the start about the goals of the coaching sessions, the roles and responsibilities of participants, and the rules of engagement.
If any communication issues arise in the group, it’s best to deal with them swiftly, to avoid conflict arising.
Every participant should be encouraged to contribute to discussions and share their insights and experiences. This not only enhances the learning experience, it also builds a strong sense of community within the group.
With more reserved group members, you might need to prompt them to share and participate. Just be sure to do this gently, remembering that some people may feel anxious in a group setting (you might like to share some anxiety worksheets with these clients).
Participants should be encouraged to keep an open mind, be willing to challenge their assumptions, and be open to new ideas and perspectives.
Peer learning is one of the most powerful components of group coaching. So while it is your job to facilitate, just be sure to always leave enough space for group members to participate.
A sense of safety and trust is critical in group coaching. Therefore, it’s essential client confidentiality is maintained, and that what’s discussed in the group stays within the group.
Confidentiality should be discussed before beginning the group and at regular intervals throughout. Many coaches choose to give a reminder about confidentiality before every session, just to ensure this important ground rule doesn’t get overlooked.
In today’s digital age, consumers expect a digital component for all group coaching programs.
Even if you’re running an in-person group, many of the inclusions below are now considered standard:
- An online community
- Digital resources
- Secure messaging with facilitators
- Homework exercises and therapy worksheets
While you can piece together a solution for the above by using social media platforms and e-mail, you can greatly improve your value proposition by using a comprehensive digital group coaching platform, like Quenza.
Quenza is a digital platform that’s purpose-built to help coaches and therapists increase engagement, scale their practices, and provide automated care.
In addition to the core features of an Expansions library, electronic notes, activity builder, results tracking tools, and secure chat, Quenza also has a comprehensive group coaching platform, called Quenza Groups.
With our group coaching platform, you can seamlessly organize a cohort of group participants.
Use our comprehensive list of expansions to send activities and exercises.
Then evaluate every aspect of your group’s performance.
And the best part is, a subscription to Quenza Groups doesn’t cost you anything more than our standard coaching and counseling platform.
You can get the entire Quenza experience today, by signing up for a full-access 1-month trial for only $1.
Group coaching has successfully been used for decades, in everything from self-help to health coaching to social and emotional skills development.
By leveraging the collective wisdom and shared experiences of peers, group coaching stands out as a powerful strategy for healing and growth. The connections the members make also promote longer-lasting change through ongoing peer coaching and support.
With careful planning and the right techniques, group coaching sessions can drive significant progress toward participants’ goals. And by fostering an open, supportive environment, the coach can unlock the transformative potential of group coaching.
Coaching groups of people is also a great addition to any coach or therapist’s repertoire. It allows you to impact more people, scale your business, and increase your income.
However, as group coaching has grown in popularity, the standard expected by consumers has also risen. People looking for group coaching today expect a slick online experience, utilizing a variety of digital tools, comprehensive resources, and interactive communication techniques.
To run a successful group coaching program, it’s essential to choose a software partner who can help you deliver on your promises to your clients and reduce your time spent on administration. Designed specifically with coaching in mind, Quenza Groups will have you up and running your own groups in no time, all from the one intuitive, easy-to-use digital coaching platform.
- ^ Ezhumalai, S., Muralidhar, D., Dhanasekarapandian, R., & Nikketha, B. S. (2018). Group interventions. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 60(4), S514–S521.
- ^ Rosendahl, J., Alldredge, C. T., Burlingame, G. M., & Strauss, B. (2021). Recent Developments in Group Psychotherapy Research. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 74(2), 52–59.
- ^ Britton, J. J. (2010). Effective Group Coaching: Tried and Tested Tools and Resources for Optimum Group Coaching Skills. Mississauga, Ont.: J. Wiley.