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How To Ethically Run A Group Trauma Coaching Program

January 12, 20238 min read

Are you ready to take your trauma coaching to the next level and start a group program? Awesome! Scaling your business is exciting, and I'm here to share some tips on how to structure your program for success.

The Structure of Your Group Program

If you've been having success in your 1:1 trauma coaching and you feel confident that your process of helping people heal trauma is reliable, consistent, and successful, then you are ready to scale into a group coaching program. How I like to structure my group programs is by starting with my outcome. What outcome I want for the group will dictate what kind of structure to create. For example, if I want to help a group of women overcome their sisterhood wound, perhaps I'll run a 6-week group program with no more than 10 people so that they can feel safe and contained in the group as we explore the trauma around emotionally connecting with women. Or maybe I want to help folks who have spent years in talk therapy and who still struggle with anxiety to get out of their heads and into their bodies. In this case, I may run a larger program with pre-recorded training modules that everyone will go through and a group coaching component where they can come on getting personalized coaching from me in a group setting. I think it's important to keep the destination in mind whenever structuring any program, to get your clients from point A to B in the most efficient and effective way.

The Confidentiality of the Group Members

It may or may not go without saying, but many folks who are healing from trauma will not want to show up on video on Zoom, may not want to have their name identified in a group setting, or may not want to be recorded.

Each person has their individual reasons... but it's important to respect confidentiality and be very clear and upfront about these things with your group members:

1. Will calls be recorded, and how will they be shared?

2. Will they be required to have a video on?

3. Will they have the option to watch and not participate?

4. Will there be an opportunity for them to submit questions in advance so that they can review a replay later?

Here are a few different ways I have protected the confidentiality of groups in the past:

Example 1:

I gathered a group of 5 women who were healing from Hashimoto's autoimmune disease to come to my house and meet every other week and share and grow in their physical, emotional, and spiritual journeys. I began with an application form asking them if they consented to participating in a group and maintaining confidentiality of the other group members. At our first session, I shared the group expectations and rules and made sure everyone understood

Example 2:

I held a 4 week group program on embodied trauma healing and explained how the videos would be recorded and shared and gave students the option to be off video for the sessions and submit their questions in writing during or before the call.

Example 3:

I held a 6 week group program transforming trauma into open-hearted expression, and I required all participants to be on video. It was part of the agreement up front to be in the program, and some opted out of the program because of that. I made it clear that the reason to be on camera was to promote a feeling of safety for all the members of the group. It was very powerful.

The main thing when considering confidentiality in a group program is being up front and getting the consent of everyone who is considering joining.

The Integrity of the Group Program

Integrity is the quality of being honest and upholding moral principles. My integrity means everything to me. As I have built my trauma coaching business, I have had many trials and errors in finding what works and what doesn't for different groups and types of trauma survivors. There have been times where I have had to ask members to leave a group, give refunds, and apologize for not being more clear in the guidelines up front. Having high integrity doesn't mean you never make mistakes. I've made plenty. Having high integrity means you apologize when you mess up, and attempt to make it right. 

When it comes to working with trauma survivors, here are some things I do to maintain the integrity of my work:

  1. I never work with individuals who are actively in crisis. I define "crisis" as struggling to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, housing, or physical safety. This includes people who may have their basic needs met but are in a domestic violence situation. In that case, their safety is not something I can ensure and I won't work with anyone who is actively experiencing abuse. They are better served by a crisis counselor or local healthcare provider.

  2. I offer a 100% satisfaction refund. This is different than a 100% guarantee. I cannot guarantee anyone's results, because I cannot force anyone to do that work. My satisfaction guarantee means that if a client shows up for the full program, does the work, and is not satisfied with their results, they can request a refund. (I have never had anyone request a refund in this case).

  3. I pre-screen all applicants to my group programs to identify if they are willing and able to work through their triggers in a group setting. This is not for everyone, and it's important to pre-qualify people so they don't get into the group program and decide they don't want to face their triggers and heal Some people just aren't ready to do this.

Tips to Increase Client Success Stories in Your Group Program

I've covered ways to maintain confidentiality and integrity in your group trauma programs, but how can you ensure your clients walk away as your biggest success stories? 

Tip #1: Be their cheerleader You have to believe in their healing as much as, if not more than they do! You're on the other side of your darkest days, right? (I hope so!) So you need to radiate light to your group members and confidently cheer them on through facing their shadows and past pain so they don't keep repeating the negative cycles they've inherited. 

Tip #2: Lovingly call them out and invite them to go deeper People in group programs have an easier time of no-showing and hiding versus in a one on one container. This happened a lot in my early days of running group programs, and I would let these people off the hook, because my fear was that if I confronted them, they would be mad, drop out, or ask for a refund. But you know what, these people signed up because they want to HEAL and getting scared and triggered is part of the deal when you decide to make a change. It just is. So I realized that I wasn't serving ANYBODY by letting them off the hook. I started lovingly contacting anyone who no-showed for a session or class afterwards saying, "Hey we missed you on the call tonight -- what's up? How can I help you get through this?" and I have found this to be an incredibly transformative piece of my client's success. Firstly, they realize they are not just a number to me. That I care. And secondly, they realize they are unconsciously going back into a trigger and it's time to stop hiding from it. I usually hop on a quick call with folks who are going into triggers to support them through it and then they start showing up for themselves in a totally new way. 

Tip #3: Ask for testimonials up front! I've had many times of running programs in the hopes people will give me testimonials at the end. What ends up happening is we get to the end of the program and they get scared of coming on camera and sharing their story. This can hurt your business because testimonials are the proof that your work is good! So what I have found works best is to let your group members know you are looking for testimonials at the end of the program and that it is not required but that their testimonial could be the reason someone else takes the leap into healing and overcoming their trauma. Just knowing that YOUR STORY could inspire someone else to heal is what it takes some people to get over their fear of speaking about their success. A testimonial is not only for prospective clients to step into their healing journey, but for your current clients to CELEBRATE how far they've come. Often when we've experienced trauma we don't want to celebrate because we're afraid if we do, it will somehow all be taken away. 

These are some of the ways you can ensure your clients have big success and I hope you start to implement them today in your group programs! If you'd like to learn how to scale your trauma coaching business so you can increase your impact and your income, I invite you to book a strategy session with me below and we'll create your personal roadmap to get there!


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Evelyn Hale

CEO and Founder of Inner Light Healing LLC

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