Coaching is not a one-size-fits-all experience.
Like cars, coaching programs come in an assortment of different makes and models. The “type” of coaching offered by a coach depends on a multitude of variables that influence how a coaching program is designed - the coach’s approach, the needs of the participants, access to technology, desired price point, and scheduling, to name just a few.
One popular approach is something called group coaching, in which a coach takes a group of people with a shared interest or focus of development through a coaching program or workshop designed around one specific topic. This is a common coaching approach for people who have ADHD. Typically, group coaching combines pure coaching, which is based on the participant’s agenda, with teaching, which is presented as a workshop with potential strategies and tactics. ADHD experts Edward Hallowell and John Ratey discuss the benefits of working in a group in their book, Driven to Distraction, writing:
“…a group can supply a tremendous amount of energy. Groups can be like reservoirs of fuel where members can fill up each week.”
How Group Coaching Works
The logistics of group coaching can vary – sometimes groups meet weekly, and sometimes they meet monthly. Sometimes, group coaching is done virtually online or through the phone, and sometimes, it’s conducted in-person with every group member present in the room. The overarching concepts of group coaching, however, always remain constant:
The heart of the group coaching experience is the shared learning experience it offers participants. As a unit, group members go through the coaching program together from start to finish. That means each group member is present to witness the growth and development of everyone else in the group and have their own growth and development witnessed by the other group members. This leads to a built-in support system for the duration of the group coaching program. Group members offer each other thoughts, potential solutions, or simply encouragement. And help each other feel connected. Hallowell and Ratey write, “Many people with ADD have trouble finding a place where they feel connected, part of something larger than self. Although people with ADD tend to be outgoing and gregarious, they can also harbor strong feelings of isolation, loneliness, and disconnectedness… Groups can provide a sense of belonging, a sense of connectedness.”
The shared learning environment can also bring more accountability for group members than one-on-one or individual coaching. This accountability factor is one of the most important for people with ADHD in a group coaching setting. When you’re reporting your progress back to a group of people whom you’ve grown to trust and admire, it really motivates you to do the work!
The shared learning environment is a central tenet to group coaching, but it doesn’t mean everyone is working on the same thing. A group coaching program does not involve group goals. Though the topic of the group coaching program may focus on one area, like managing ADHD in the workplace, that does not mean everyone is working toward the same results. As they would in individual coaching, each group member sets his or her own goals for their coaching. It is up to each person to identify his or her own areas of development and work with the coach and the rest of the group to construct a plan of action that meets his or her own needs.
Just like there aren’t group goals, a group coaching program does not mean that group members work together outside of the coaching sessions. Rather, participants in a group coaching program come together on a set schedule for coaching sessions, facilitated by the coach. But, each group member works independently to achieve his or her goals outside of the coaching sessions.
The Role of the Coach
Similar to individual coaching, the coach’s role in a group coaching program is to partner with group members in a thought-provoking and creative process focused on inquiry and exploration. This process is designed to support everyone as they make changes, develop goals, make connections and insights, and take action toward where they want to be. In ADHD group coaching, the coach will also augment the coaching process with a focus on ADHD – deepening the groups’ understanding of ADHD and how to manage it more effectively.
Unlike individual coaching, the coach can make use of the shared learning experience to enhance coaching. The group coaching environment allows individuals to share their own experiences and perspectives, which can serve as learning opportunities for the rest of the group. Likewise, group members can engage in discussions with one another about certain concepts they may be struggling with. Of course, it is the coach’s responsibility to facilitate these discussions and ensure that the conversations don’t become unhelpful or unsolicited.
Is Group Coaching Right for You?
The decision to participate in a group coaching program is a personal one. Group coaching feels like a perfect fit for some people, while individual coaching might be better for others. Or, it may depend on a number of other variables such as how much time a person has to devote to coaching, or someone’s financial situation, and even what he or she wants to work on. Sometimes, you can do both – participating in the powerful, shared learning environment of the group and partnering with the coach in a more targeted, individualized coaching program.