If you know that you want to invest in coaching (and, as a result, yourself) this year, but you’re not sure whether you want to try group coaching or individual coaching, you’ve come to the right place.
While both group and individual coaching are designed to facilitate the achievement of your goals and foster personal and professional growth, they differ in structure, dynamics, and potential benefits. Here’s everything you need to know to help you determine the most suitable option for your unique wants and needs.
What is Group Coaching?
In a group coaching setting, a coach works with multiple individuals at the same time, in a shared setting. Participating individuals can learn from the coach and their fellow participants, gleaning wisdom and insight from others’ experiences.
In a group coaching session, it’s not just the coach talking to or at the participants. Instead, participants often work together on coach-led tasks or activities, learning from one another and providing support, motivation, and accountability.
According to Arootah Coach Program Manager, Debbie Chueh, “In group coaching, the tapestry of shared accountability weaves a strong fabric of commitment, where each thread — each member — pulls together to create a pattern of collective progress and success. Every member becomes a pivotal part of each other’s journey, learnings, and triumphs.”
Group coaching provides a social setting to gain motivation and guidance toward your goals. It also provides an excellent networking opportunity (particularly if the other participants are part of your same industry) and it’s typically more affordable than individualized, one-on-one coaching.
Many participants find that they gain just as much insight and strategies for their individual growth in group coaching as they do when participating in individual coaching. Plus, after the group coaching sessions are over, many go on to form lasting relationships with their fellow participants, providing long-term accountability and similar benefits.
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What is Individual Coaching?
In contrast, individual coaching takes a one-on-one approach. Sessions are held in a private setting with just your coach, much like a session with a therapist or other healthcare professional. Thanks to this privacy, individuals can dig deep into their personal goals and areas for improvement and identify specific reasons why they may be struggling to meet certain goals. Additionally, because you’re working one-on-one with the coach, they can tailor strategies to your precise needs, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach that might be presented in a group coaching setting.
Due to all the above, individual coaching can be more comfortable for some, as well as faster, in terms of seeing results and growth.
Which Coaching Method is Right for You?
Both styles of coaching come with their benefits, and which is right for you will depend on your individual needs.
According to Health Coach Elaine Moen, “Individual coaching holds the individual accountable, while group coaching inspires the individual. Both are supportive in their growth, but the individual coaching method holds more personal space for the person’s questions, and group coaching creates more of a group outside-of-the-box support.”
So, do you…
Thrive in collaborative environments and social settings?
Want to learn from diverse perspectives?
Want to network and find a community?
Have budget constraints?
Feel unsure about coaching?
If so, then group coaching may be a better fit for you than individual coaching. Group coaching is an excellent option for those who like to collaborate as they solve problems, and who crave diverse perspectives that can provide more ideas and insight than a single coach alone could provide. Additionally, if you gain energy from social settings, you may get more out of the group coaching experience.
As mentioned, group coaching, particularly when the group consists of individuals in your industry or similar roles, also offers a unique networking opportunity. You will be connected to like-minded individuals who also want to better themselves, and the relationships you form will last long after the coaching sessions end.
Additionally, group coaching is often more affordable than individual coaching, and, lastly, if you are still unsure about coaching, group coaching can be a nice starting point, allowing you to affordably get a taste of what coaching offers, without dedicating time and money to one-on-one, individual coaching.
But, do you…
Want personal care and individualized attention?
Prefer privacy when addressing issues?
Need to schedule sessions for odd times or around an unpredictable work schedule?
Want to see progress as quickly as possible?
Want individual accountability?
If so, then you may prefer individual coaching rather than group coaching. Working with an individual coach, one-on-one, allows the coach to really focus on just your goals and any hindrances to those goals, and then tailor their advice and strategies to specifically help you meet those goals. This one-on-one approach can result in greater progress, faster. Additionally, if you suspect you have more sensitive or personal issues standing in the way of you meeting your goals, you may prefer the privacy of a one-on-one setting.
Likewise, when attending group coaching sessions, you do not have a say in when the sessions are held. They are typically scheduled as the coach is available, and those who can attend do so. In contrast, one-on-one sessions are scheduled according to your and the coach’s joint availability, and many coaches will allow you to schedule sessions flexibly, on different days of the week or at odd times, to fit your busy life and work needs.
Lastly, while group coaching does provide an elevated level of accountability, you may find that one-on-one coaching provides even more accountability, as a singular person will be checking up on you every session, specifically asking you if you are working toward your goals and, if not, why that is.
The Bottom Line
Group coaching and individual coaching each offer unique advantages. The collaborative nature of group coaching fosters networking opportunities and collective learning, whereas individual coaching offers a more personalized approach, ensuring privacy and customization to meet your specific needs. The choice between the two should be guided by your personal preferences, objectives, and the results you wish to achieve.