There was an overall increase in happiness across all life areas for the group except in the life area of children, which showed a slight decrease to by 0.2 (Figure 2). This decrease can be attributed to one participant, Kathy, who was the only person with a negative change in this life area. The change was substantial at negative 3.5 data points and may have resulted from a specific family incident occurring around the time the survey was being carried out. Kathy’s survey was not carried out at the same time as the other participants. She was unable to attend the final session and the survey was conducted during a follow up telephone conversation a week later.
Desired long term change and the actual change that occurred to participants happiness levels over the eight weeks of the pilot program are shown in Figure 2. On average participants were looking for a long term increase in happiness of 3.7 rating points and in only eight weeks their average happiness increased by 1.2 rating points. These results show that group coaching can have an overall positive impact on participant’s whole life happiness.
Participants came to the group feeling overwhelmed with day-day life. As can be seen in Figures 1 and 2 they were searching for balance, searching for happiness in many areas of their lives. They came because they were searching for something (some of them desperately) that would help with this feeling of overwhelm. They wanted to improve their lives in many areas. They hadn’t known what they needed and if, in fact, there was anything to be found – this is how I felt before I found coaching and it is the way many of my clients feel. When asked in the first session “What motivated you to register for the program?” a number of the participants commented that the letter (Appendix 1) really spoke to them. They could relate to how I had felt lost and not know what was next for me, they instantly wanted to be a part of the pilot to find their own way. This took enormous courage for them to step so far out of their comfort zone and speaks to the need in coaching to create a safe environment – creating a safe space began well before the participants entered the room. Group coaching has given the participants the time and space to reflect on their lives, to truly analyse what is most important to them. This reflection has helped them let go of expectations (internal and external) and allowed them to begin to construct their lives in a unique way that best suits their values and goals.
By providing a safe, supportive space for clients in a group coaching context and encouraging sharing, participants became empowered to alter the way they looked at their life. Through discussions and reflections in the group, participants were able to alter their perspective and acknowledge that they are in control of their our own future and that it is possible to move consciously toward a future they each imagine for themselves. Participants very much enjoyed the sense of accountability within the group that came from verbally committing to actions each week. The group created a powerful environment for change that allowed participants to shift from feeling inadequate about what they were unable to achieve, to feeling very happy about what they were able to achieve. This perspective shift supports Lichter et.al. (1980) who stated that happiness depends not so much on objective life circumstances, as on the way these circumstances are interpreted and evaluated.
The results show that group coaching can have an overall positive impact on participant’s whole life happiness. The largest improvement was around ‘Personal growth and learning’, which went up by an average of 3.8 rating points for the group. This was one area where every participant experienced an improvement and was an area particularly targeted for improvement by participants (figure 2). Despite the area of work / career being identified as equally important, the progress over the 8 weeks in this area was only 1.3 data points. This is understandable as experiencing personal growth and learning was the first step and has provided the foundation for participants. A number of participants commented that they now feel in a better place to look at what their true desires are with regard to work / career having now established what is really important to them. They feel like they have taken their first few steps on their journey.