Frequently Asked Questions About Peer Coaching Groups

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Peer Coaching Groups (PCGs)

    We assume that you have already read the information on the page Start
    a Virtual Support Group to Help With Stresses of COVID-19
    . The information
    on that page would answer all of the typical questions about planning and operating
    a support group. However, the following questions still tend to get asked. The
    phrases “support group” and “peer coaching group” (PCG)
    are used interchangeably.

    About the PCG Process

    Who Are the “Peers” in PCGs?
    How Are the PCGs So Good at Helping Members to Support
    Each Other?
    How Can People Feel Safe and Accepted in PCGs?
    Are PCG’s Really Just Therapy Sessions?
    Don’t I Have to Be a Therapist to Do a Support Group?
    How is the PCG Process Evaluated?

    About Membership

    Where Can I Get Members for My PCG?
    I Want to Join a PCG. Can You Help Me?
    How Can a Person Know If They’ll Be a Suitable PCG
    Member?

    About Facilitating

    What Do I Do When I Facilitate?
    Where Can I Learn Even More About Facilitating PCGs?

    About Coaching

    How Do I Know What Priority to Get Coached On?
    What is “Coaching” in Each Meeting?
    What Are Some Coaching Approaches (or Models) to Use in
    PCGs?

    How Do I Know What Kind of Help to Give a Member?
    What If a Member Finishes Their Time Slot Early?
    What is “Successful” Coaching?
    How Do I Know What Actions to Take Between Meetings?

    About Modifying the PCG Process

    How Much Can I Modify the Process?
    How Can I Modify the PCG to Suit My Culture?
    How Do Members Do Virtual PCGs?

    About Using Materials and Getting Help

    Can I Use Your Materials in My Group?
    Where Can I Get Help?


    Who Are the “Peers” in PCGs?

    All members are “peers” in that they come together as equals to support
    every member’s progress during the group’s meetings. Thus, in a PCG intended
    as a support group, you could have a senior executive from one company with
    a secretary from another company — and they’d still be peers in the group.

    How Are the PCGs So Good at Helping Members
    to Support Each Other?

    Support means more than letting people express their feelings — and affirming
    and validating them, as well. It also means helping people to perceive their
    situations differently and to act on those situations. PCGs are great
    for helping people to do all of that. In PCGs around the world over the past
    two decades, members often report that networking and support are the two biggest
    outcomes that they are getting from each other.

    How Can People Feel Safe and Accepted
    in PCGs?

    All of the members in the PCG have something in common — they all understand
    each other’s situation. Members also share biographies and introductions with
    each other. The ground rules (that are asserted at the beginning and end of
    each meeting) ensure confidentiality, that all opinions are honored and that
    members can respectfully disagree with each other.

    However, the most powerful experience of safety and acceptance for each member
    is when he or she is getting help from other members in each meeting. Help is
    in the form of nonjudgmental feedback, advice and thoughtful questions, as well
    as contacting each other between meetings.
    How
    to Facilitate Support Groups

    Are PCGs Really Just Therapy Sessions?

    No. PCGs are focused on each member’s current priority in life or work, and
    about what he or she can realistically do about it before the next group meeting.
    Unlike therapies, PCGs are not focused on continuing to analyze each member’s
    past in order to address a strong, recurring emotional and/or mental problem
    that has had a significant and adverse effect on the member’s life. (Note that
    some approaches to therapy, for example, Carl Roger’s self-directed therapy,
    would seem somewhat similar to the approach used in support groups.)

    Don’t I Have to Be a Therapist
    to Do a Support Group?

    No. There is a large number of support groups started by the members themselves.
    Many of the topics correspond to the vast range of medical maladies that many
    people experience around the world. In those groups, members help each other
    by doing what many people do with their friends: they listen, they affirm, they
    encourage and they empower.

    How is the PCG Process Evaluated?

    Near the end of group meeting, each member shares out loud, a rating of the
    quality of that meeting from “1” (very low) to “5” (very
    high), and what he or she could have done during that meeting in order to improve
    that meeting. Also, more comprehensive
    evaluations
    can be done half-way through the number of meetings and shortly
    after the last meeting.


    Where Can I Get Members for My PCG?

    There are millions of people concerned about the virus and many of them have
    concerns like
    these
    . To recruit two to four people for your group, you could reach out
    to your friends, neighbors, members of organizations that you belong to, contacts
    in your social media groups and contacts in your email. Give them the Web address
    of this page Help
    Each Other Deal With COVID-19 Impacts
    and ask them to read the “Introduction.”
    It concisely explains the need for support groups and how they could be so very
    helpful.

    I Want to Join a PCG. Can You Help
    Me?

    At this point, we are not equipped to manage a waiting list of facilitators
    and potential group members, and then to begin matching them together. Thus,
    we are counting on people to self-organize their own groups now. (If you’ve
    got ideas, we’d love to hear them.)

    How Can a Person Know If They’ll
    Be a Suitable PCG Member?

    If a person isn’t sure whether they would be comfortable in a PCG process,
    then read this article and decide:
    Member
    Suitability Assessment for Peer Coaching Groups
    (Word document)


    What Do I Do When I Facilitate?

    The specific tasks of the facilitator are itemized in the section “Facilitation
    Tasks” in the Quick Reference. There are even more specific talking
    points in facilitating through a Quick Reference in the document:
    How
    to Facilitate Support Groups

    Where Can I Learn Even More About
    Facilitating PCGs?

    In addition to the tasks in the section “What does the facilitator do?”
    in the Circles Quick Reference, the facilitator could review the guidelines
    in the following document:
    Advanced
    Techniques in Facilitating Peer Coaching Groups

    That document is about when to intervene, what to do if the process is not
    working for some members, how to deal with conflict, how to address problems
    in attendance and participation, how to remove and add members, and how to deal
    with strong emotions.


    How Do I Know What Priority to Get Coached
    On?

    Choose whatever priority is most important to you now. You are the expert at
    what is most important to you. Do not worry about how small or large in scope
    that the priority is. Your priority can change from one meeting to another.

    What is “Coaching”
    in Each Meeting?

    Coaching is the nature of the help that members use to help each other in their
    meetings, whether it is advice, brainstorming or thoughtful questions. NOTE:
    There are strong feelings, especially among practitioners in the profession
    of personal and professional coaching, that coaching is only the asking of thoughtful
    questions. Thus, they might strongly disagree with the above definition of coaching.
    However, the goal of PCGs for support is to be helpful to each member according
    to their nature and current needs in their meetings.

    What Are Some Coaching Approaches (or Models)
    to Use in PCGs?

    There is a vast number of coaching models available to practitioners today.
    Many of them pertain primarily to one-on-one coaching formats. However, in a
    group format like PCGs, there are several people coaching concurrently and their
    time is limited for all of them together. Thus, it is often best to use models
    that are simple and straightforward to use in a group.

    Two examples are “Head, Heart, Hands,” meaning to ask questions about
    what the member thinks and then feels, but then always what he or she will do
    (for example, with the hands). Another example is “Caring, Curious and
    Concise,” meaning that all questions should come from a place of caring
    and curiosity regarding the member who is currently getting coached in a meeting.
    Also, because of the tight time frame in a meeting, all questions should be
    posed concisely to the member.

    How Do I Know What Kind of Help to Give a Member?

    You might ask the member who is currently getting help during the “Coaching
    Time Slots” part in the meeting. For example, ask “What kind of help
    would be most useful to you now? Advice? Materials? Questions? Brainstorming?”

    What If a Member Finishes Their Time Slot Early?

    Each time slot should include the member’s selecting at least one realistic
    action to take before the next meeting. If a member believes that he or she
    has finished the coaching because an action was selected already, then the member
    should get coached on how that action could occur. The coaching should continue
    until all of the member’s allotted time has been used.

    What is “Successful” Coaching?

    A member is doing successful coaching if he or she is continually attending
    to the member who is currently getting helped. Successful coaching does not
    mean that the member’s priority or problem has been successfully solved.”

    How Do I Know What Actions to Take Between
    Meetings?

    The actions that you take (as a result of the help that you get from other
    group members) is up to you to select. However, it should be an action that
    is realistic to accomplish before the next meeting.


    How Much Can I Modify the Process?

    You can modify the process to suit the nature of needs of your members. However,
    you should always retain 1) individual time for each member to get coached in
    each meeting, 2) verifying that each member’s actions from the coaching are
    indeed realistic, and 3) an evaluation activity in each meeting that requires
    each member to rate (out loud) the quality of each meeting.

    How Can I Modify the PCG to Suit My Culture?

    If you believe that your members would benefit from having the PCG process
    adapted to a particular culture. then use the guidelines in this article:
    Acculturating
    Groups

    How Do Members Do Virtual PCGs?

    See the section Select
    Which Virtual Technologies to Use.


    Can I Use Your Materials in My Group?

    All of the resources marked with the Creative Commons terms on the bottom can
    be freely shared.

    Where Can I Get Help?

    See Sources
    of Help

    (In order of above photos, courtesy of Pixabay, Prateek and Tembella Bohle on Pexels.htm)


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