Group Coaching with Young People
One of the challenges when coaching groups, is managing all the needs and wants in the room. When working with young people this can become heightened, as the young people may not want to share the issues that they are facing.
A way to overcome this is to create a “character”.
A “character” can be created by getting one of the young people to lay on a large sheet of paper then draw around them, this outline can then be used as the focus for the group. And the group can then help the coach create the background for the “character”. This has to be managed as you want to create something that is far away enough not to be recognized as one of the young people, and yet similar enough for them to relate to it.
The group can then talk about the challenges this “character” might have and select one to work on. This is similar to the work of Augusto Boal in his Forum Theatre, where the audience follow the challenges of the main character, which are often similar to their own, and have the power to stop the action in order to give the main character choices and options of actions to take to enable them to move forward with their challenge.
Once the coach has facilitated the choice or issue to work on, the group can then begin to offer choices, and challenges. I often find that the young people, as well as offering choices, will challenge each other’s options. This is because they are exploring how the option/choice would work in their own world experience. It is important for the coach to facilitate this as a shared conversation and that all the options are written up, so that individuals are able to pick what might work for them.
The group can work on multiple challenges at a time or just one, depending on the set up of the group and the coach’s relationship with them. In the work that I do I find it useful to collect a list of issues, and tackle a few and every week while working with the group. Over time the group will get faster at exploring the options, and more sophisticated in the choices it offers. This way of working, when facilitated well, also develops the group’s ability to work as a team, listen to each other and build on each other’s opinions.
At the end of a group session, it is important to allow the individuals time to write down their thinking, I often work with journals, with each young person having their own personal journal, that is kept at the centre/school/youth club, in a locked draw. This is used to capture their thoughts on the options and choices put forward for each situation, enabling them to explore what resonates for them and what actions they might take. It also allows the young people a way to capture their thoughts for when/if they work 121 with the coach, or their youth worker/mentor or teacher.
What I have found when working in this way, is that it allows the group to talk openly about the challenges that young people face, without having to own or admit that they themselves are dealing with them. It gets all the “stuff” on the table so that the coach can facilitate the exploration of choices. I find that often the quieter members of the group find their voice and that the groups intelligence shines through, which can be remarked upon in order to give positive feedback. Not having ownership of the challenges creates a free open space, while at the same time the coach and the young people know they are exploring real life.
There maybe lots of ways to go about group coaching with young people, The Dream Tree, being one of them. However I’m sure you can see the benefits of working with the ‘Character” when group coaching young people.Filed Under Transformational Coaching
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