Coaching works best when the client is relaxed and attentive to both the conversation and to themselves. Hot stone coaching has been proposed as a means of heightening the client’s attention to their inner world and their general mindfulness. Unlike normal coaching, where the client and coach sit opposite to each other, in hot stone coaching the coach sits to the side of the client, while the client lies face down, or behind their head, if the client is lying face up, so there is no eye contact. This separation is claimed to enhance the purity of the coaching conversation and the feeling of trust between coach and client. The client may be fully clothed or with the top half of their body exposed.

Practitioners of hot stone coaching insist that the stones are an important part of the process. A typical set of stones will range from relatively large to quite small. Usually they are highly polished and contain fossils – it is claimed that the incorporation of former living creatures enhances the “connection” between coach and client, although no mechanism has been suggested as to how this might work. Stones are placed at strategic places, broadly equivalent to acupuncture points. The size of stone selected is in accordance with the importance of the organ it covers. Two stones of different chakras are usually used on the forehead, one to denote intellect, the other emotion. These again may vary in size, with the smallest stones commonly used for people from purchasing departments, bank managers and Uber drivers.

Although this approach is relatively new, some empirical evidence has been gathered as to its efficacy. One case study has found that hot stone coaching has a statistically significant impact in curing stupidity. It should be noted that the stones in this case were heated to more than 90 degrees Centigrade. Another study, in which the clients were all politicians, used a control group (8 clients, 8 controls) and found no significant differences between the two groups. The researchers in this study suggest that dermatological density may have had a mediating effect here.

Enthusiasts for hot stone coaching maintain that there are eight key guiding principles to effective, client-centred practice. These are:

  • Timelessness – it is important that the client feels you have all the time in the world for them and that they are released from the pressures of time
  • Inquisitiveness – coach and client allow the conversation to find its own path, in the knowledge that this path will lead them back to the goal in its own time and manner
  • Happiness – the coach promotes spiritual healing in the client through their own “inner smiles”. In Thailand, from where hot stone coaching appears to derive, the language recognises 13 different types of smile.
  • Stillness – the absence of movement promotes mental and physical relaxation
  • Love – the coach communicates in both verbal and non-verbal ways the fact that they care about the client and their aspirations
  • Life flow – the sense of communion between mind and body
  • Unconditional positive regard – the essential Rogerian position
  • Belief – in the process and in the client’s ability to find their own way, if they can relax sufficiently

No doubt at some point someone will come up with a suitable acronym for these qualities.

Please note the date – 1st April 2017

© David Clutterbuck, 2017


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