By Pam Willsey
Group Coaching Key Points
- Group coaching creates awareness and challenges how you think about yourself.
- Noticing the differences in yourself and others is what creates individual growth.
- Observing others’ challenges allows for deep introspection, awareness, and hope.
Earlier last summer, several women reunited for the first time in six years. These women came from different states with one shared bond—they were participants in my inaugural girls’ group. More than 25 years ago, I created a very special group for teens who had a parent with cancer. Now women in their 30s, they have blossomed into successful and independent entrepreneurs, leaders, health care workers, and thriving adults.
We reconvened the original group, and I was so excited to be a part of how this sisterhood of connection hasn’t skipped a beat. I was awestruck by the incredible bond that has remained throughout all of the years, life changes, and geographical distance between these young women. Their journeys have been quite different, and although they have all evolved as humans since they were in the teen group many years ago, the connection that they developed and have nurtured in our group has remained constant. They embraced each other and picked up where we left off a few years ago, despite being apart for so long. They’re different humans than they were in group—time and maturity have created unique paths for each of them. But the connection they developed and nurtured in our group has stayed constant.
Group Coaching and Therapy
What I have learned since that very first teen group has stayed with me. The right group can offer a safe space where we can share, listen, learn, teach, and solidify the connections that matter most. The ideal group atmosphere allows us to be open to change and growth, both independently and together.
Group settings come in all forms—camps, sports teams, or religiously affiliated settings. Our girls’ groups at Willsey Connections are similar but slightly different, as we offer an important psychoeducational aspect that includes teaching social and emotional skills. Our participants come as they are and grow together.
Connections Are the Foundation
Why do connections matter anyway?
Developing a deep connection to ourselves and others in our world is the foundation that gives our life meaning and purpose. Learning how to both build and strengthen these connections at a young age can change the course of our life. Doing self-work in a group setting expedites discovering what our limiting beliefs are, and how these beliefs may be underneath behavioral patterns that keep us from living a life that is in alignment with our most authentic self. Structured in a strategic way that creates connection before content, participants immediately feel welcome and safe to come as they are, feel whatever they feel, and share in ways that are often both vulnerable and growth-enhancing.
Not unlike camps or sports teams, our girls’ groups are ongoing and not time limited. Groups offer girls and young women a place to come back to, which ultimately helps them stay the course. Each stage of development has its challenges. In group, the girls learn how to navigate their challenges. When kids, teens, and emerging adults discover who they are and what matters most to them and why, it enables them to also discover what is theirs to do with their life. Individually, they are each a thread with their own unique color or material makeup. As a group, those individual threads are woven together, creating a strong, comfy blanket of knowledge and support that the girls can come back to again and again.
A Unique Tapestry
The original girls’ group, now grown women, have become that comfy, familiar blanket for themselves. It’s a group that continues to support and provide comfort even after so many years. Our in-person visits may be stretched out over time, but the time we spent 25 years ago and the time we invest now via Zoom, FaceTime, and our regular group chats sustain and ensure that our bond is just as strong as ever.
These connections are why I continue to offer group coaching in addition to individual sessions. My hope is that you will find your own blanket of connections that will provide you the strength, consistency, and safety you didn’t know you needed.
This blog and others available on Psychology Today.