It is important to point out that the group coaching was not the only issue affecting participant’s perception of happiness over this 8-week period. As part of the pilot program evaluation participants were asked what they attributed these changes to. The majority attributed a good deal of positive change to the program. Negative change was usually an external factor. One interesting exception to this was Kathy, who made the comment that increasing her personal growth and learning through the program had contributed to her anxiety and discomfort with where she is at the moment. This is understandable as she is quite lost and very much in ‘victim’ mode. This highlights our responsibility as coaches to recognise this process and ensure appropriate support is in place to assist our clients. Facilitating new awareness in our clients can create anxiety and discomfort, but this is part of the process of growth and the first step in our clients creating the lives they want.
It was interesting to note that the participants who are shown to not have any overall movement in level of happiness, are the participants at each end of the spectrum. Tanya came to group coaching already very self-aware and had been working on herself for many years. Kathy was at the other extreme, coming to the group in crisis. The other participants, who experienced the most improvement in happiness, came to the group wanting to change and with the capacity to do so.
Getting participant to rate their happiness in the post program questionnaire prior to showing them the figures they had written previously worked well. Kim and Lisa particularly were very surprised to find how low they had scored themselves at the beginning of the program, and felt that the program had really changed their lives. Lisa, when asked “does the change in happiness from before and after the program make sense?”. Said “(it has) blown me away, big, noticeable differences in the areas I focused on. Small commitments each week and it paid off and has improved other areas as a result”. This reinforced the need to undertake some type of quantitative analysis. It is often difficult for our clients to remember how they felt months ago and therefore difficult to track progress unless steps are taken to record information at important milestones during the coaching process.
I would like Gandhi’s quote “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” I observed this to be the true. Kim’s comment in our first session together stands out “I feel like I am two different people – the one I am to everyone else and the other one who is inside…” As we progressed through the program I witnessed an alignment of these different aspects of the participants. Gandhi was right; once these aspects of self are aligned we have the confidence to do and say what we think and therefore be in harmony with our true selves and happiness is ours.
The pilot group coaching program that I have developed has been shown to increase parents’ whole life happiness. Offering a group coaching program as part of my business is very worthwhile and allows people more choice in the way they would like to engage with coaching.
Undertaking this research project has been enormously beneficial for my development as a coach. I have learnt many things about both coaching and about myself as a coach, these include;
- Group coaching can improve whole life happiness of participants primarily through empowering them to alter the way they look at their own lives and helping them feel in control of it.
- As coaches we can help our clients to optimise their happiness by encouraging their self-acceptance and the alignment of their inner and outer selves.
- Everyone can benefit from coaching. It is not the speed or magnitude of the increase in happiness that is necessarily important. Each change is only relevant to each client. Change is subjective. Any increase in happiness is a good thing.
- The magnitude of change in happiness depends on where participants are on their own personal journey of self-discovery.
- The process of change is all about movement, taking small sometimes almost imperceptible steps, in the direction the client wishes to go and accepting that sometimes there will be steps backward.
- It is important to recognise that sometimes our clients will slip back into old patterns of behaviour. They may experience fear, doubt and anxiety about the future and feel as if they have failed. It is a key part of our role as coaches to hold their vision of the future for them and to help them see that these backward steps are all part of the process.
- Without embracing vulnerability and taking that brave first step into the unknown– change cannot happen – for anyone.
Australian Family Trends No. 1 Published by Australian Institute of Family Studies, April 2013, 9 pp.
Parents working out work
Dr Jennifer Baxter
The rise of 'Motherism’ – prejudice against stay-at-home mums
John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/children_shealth/10391131/The-rise-of-Motherism-prejudice-against-stay-at-home-mums.html
Britton, Jennifer J.
Effective Group Coaching – Tired and tested Tools and Resources for Optimum Group Coaching Results
John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Helliwell, J. et. al.
World Happiness Report 2013
Edited by John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs
Sustainable Development Solutions Network
International Coach Academy – Coaching Campus
The Wheel of Life is a Great Tool To Help Clients Take Stronger Action
Lichter, S. et. al.
Shelley Lichter, Karen Haye, and Richard Kammann
Increasing Happiness Through Cognitive Retraining
New Zealand Psycologist, 1980, 9, 57-64
Overwhelmed – Work, love and play when no one has the time