Group and Team Coaching : The secret life of groups book cover
2nd Edition

Group and Team Coaching
The secret life of groups

ISBN 9781138923584
Published May 12, 2016 by Routledge
304 Pages

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Book Description

Group and Team Coaching offers a new perspective on the ‘secret life of groups’, the subconscious and non-verbal processes through which people learn and communicate in groups and teams. Updated with new research and including a wealth of vignettes and case studies, it will be essential reading for coaches who work with groups and teams as well as leaders commissioning coaching; the second edition features new guidance for leaders and managers, an updated introduction and new expanded practical sections on working with teams, working on the phone, and supervising and being supervised.

The author uses key concepts from psychology, group analysis and systems theory as well as her own extensive experience to give practical advice, including:

  • The invisible processes of group dynamics
  • Pitfalls of team coaching and how to avoid them
  • How to design coaching interventions
  • Common dilemmas
  • Ethics and supervision.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: what is group coaching?  2. Learning, holding and exchange  3. Looking deeper: the secret life of groups  4. Eight group factors influencing learning and change  5. Understanding organizations, groups and teams: systems and complexity thinking  6. Team coaching  7. Learning group coaching  8. Supervision groups  8a. Supervising in groups  8b. The art of being supervised  9. Strategies for tackling problem behaviour  10. Teams and groups that do not work: understanding and tackling dysfunctional patterns  11. Managing beginnings, middles and endings: boundaries of the group  

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Christine Thornton is a group analyst and coach who has provided consultation to individuals, teams and organisations for over 25 years. She holds an MSc in Psychology, is a Full Member of the Institute of Group Analysis and an Invited Honorary Member of the Association for Professional Executive Coaches and Supervisors and the Association of Coaching Supervisors. Christine is Convenor of the Institute of Group Analysis’ training in organisational work, Reflective Practice in Organisations.


‘Christine’s book has made an important contribution; she brings together three important root strands of this field and valuably integrates them: analytic groups, human systems and Action Learning…Christine also provides thoughtful guidance to practitioners about traps to be avoided and sage advice for how best to use tools and what tool are best suited to different presenting issues and situations. She shows us how being a group or team coach requires not only a thorough training to develop the discipline needed to practice the art and craft of group and team coaching, but also a life time’s personal development and reflective practice to develop the holding presence combined with the humility to step back and enable the team or group to do their own work.’ - Peter Hawkins, from the foreword

Praise for the first edition of Group and Team Coaching:

‘A very lucid, clear and pragmatic exposition what groups are for, how they function, how they malfunction and how they can be worked with much more competently...indispensable to leaders, managers and psychology professionals.’ - Gerhard Wilke, Ashridge Business School & Hon. Fellow I.A.G.P.

‘As team coaching becomes more widely used, this book provides invaluable insights into the complexities and unconscious processes in groups which coaches need to understand. . Christine Thornton shares theory in a very accessible way, and gives practical pointers to help coaches work at a deeper level and more effectively.’ - Gill Smith, Chair, Association for Coaching UK

"She strikes a nice balance between what informs group coaching – the bedrock, if you will – and practical, real-world examples from her twenty-five years’ experience in the field. The Coaching profession needs a book like this." Katherine Tulpa, Chair of Association for Coaching [Global], from the foreword

‘Ms Thornton has written a sophisticated, cogent book targeting the burgeoning world of group and team coaching. She integrates group analytic and systems theories into the fundamental components of this new profession as well as provides functional tools for working with teams and groups…Thornton’s scholarly work establishes a benchmark text in the budding world of group and team coaching.’ - International Journal of Group Psychotherapy

‘Breaking down complex systems and group analytic theory into understandable parts of a whole…permeating Thornton’s approach to coaching is the science and psychodynamics of how we learn….a real celebration of group analysis.’ - Group Analysis

‘The author says she "set out to write a book that would share some new understandings of group and team life in organisations", and "if the book encourages group and team coaches to question and reflect more on what they find in their work, it will have achieved its purpose". The author’s wealth of experience ensures that this is achieved.’ - The Coaching Psychologist

‘I found Group and Team Coaching: The Essential Guide refreshing in its honesty and willingness to confront the often unconscious "dark side" of group and organizational experience that so frequently interferes with task achievement…a recommended and refreshing work especially for social workers who manage teams, divisions, and organizations.’ - Social Work with Groups