6 tips on using meditation and mindfulness with private or 1:1 clients

Are you keen to coach clients, 1:1, using meditation and mindfulness to supercharge their growth, development, and goal achievement? Here are some valuable tips from our ACMM Coaching Team that might help boost your confidence and service offerings.

Working 1:1 with people is a great way to tailor meditation training to address an individual’s unique circumstances, needs and goals. It’s also a great opportunity to investigate underlying patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that may be causing distress or the desire for change, and to specifically help clients apply and integrate meditation techniques and understanding into daily life.

Working 1:1 in a professional capacity with clients can be daunting at first and especially as you build confidence in your ability and expertise, while guiding meditation for one person can take some adjusting to and maintaining boundaries of time and focus can be challenging. You have to stretch out of your comfort zone whenever you try something new and taking on the responsibility of being an ‘expert’ to coach others requires you stretch to the best of your ability to honour that responsibility, for the highest good of the client.

Meditation and mindfulness can be used in counselling, coaching and mentoring

Sure enough, with practice you can build confidence and as your experience grows so to can your level of support for clients. It’s important along the way to be kind and supportive of yourself. Celebrate and fully absorb your wins more than you dwell on any perceived mistakes. You either win or you learn is a great attitude, and it’s good to be grateful when things don’t work out as you hoped or planned as these experiences provide you with powerful opportunities to learn, grow and improve.

I’ve seen some amazing results using meditation with 1:1 clients. While we know meditation is often easier and deeper in groups, for an individual to have a specific meditation tailored to their intention is incredibly powerful and I am constantly amazed at the power of the mind and our ability to use that power to deliberately shape ourselves and our life as we choose.

Whether you are already using meditation in 1:1 coaching situations, or wish to do so, learning from others’ experience can be a great help. As such, I asked our amazing ACMM Coaching Team for their top tips on using meditation with 1:1 clients. While there is an endless list of possible tips, based on our combined 31 years of 1:1 coaching experience, here are our 6 top tips on using meditation with 1:1 clients.

1. Get to know your client, their needs, preferences, and objectives.

Getting to know your client is the crucial first step in tailoring your coaching services to best suit their needs, preferences, and goals. You don’t, for example, want to go down a spiritual path when they are not that way inclined.

Find out what your client is looking for from the sessions and why they have come to you and to meditation coaching. Using a pre-session intake or new client form is a great way to get to know your clients and enquire as to their:

  • needs and why they want meditation coaching
  • what challenges they are currently facing in their life
  • what goals they have and what outcomes they hope to achieve from meditation coaching and practice
  • what previous experience they’ve had with meditation and mindfulness and what has worked well
  • whether they have any mental or physical health concerns or conditions you should be aware of (e.g., severe anxiety, allergies etc).

You might use a combination of multiple choice and open text questions in your new client form to gather more information, keeping it short and simple, and ideally requesting this be returned 24-48 hours prior to your session to give you time to prepare.

It can be helpful to ask about previous meditation experiences and any techniques your client has previously found valuable to enable you to begin with what works. Exploring further into their experiences with the techniques they’ve tried and what outcomes they experienced can help you gain further clarity in what practices might best suit each individual, and what new techniques you might introduce them to.

Meditation and mindfulness can be tailored to meet all needs

“Find out what your clients have done in the past and what they did or didn’t like. This way you can build on what they like with gentle introductions of new techniques.”

Susie McPhie, ACMM Coach

You might also go through their responses with them in your first session, spending time discussing and clarifying their specific needs and objectives and seeking deeper insight into what they are hoping to gain from the sessions. This will assist you to better support each client.

Lastly, as you get to know your clients, let go of expectations and pre-conceived ideas about them and be willing to try different practices and approaches. Often our preconceived ideas about what will or won’t work may be wrong, and we can never predict what seeds will grow down the track for our clients.

“With one of my male clients, I had to let go of my expectations of what he wanted and needed. It has taken 2-3yrs, but he has finally started to meditate outside our weekly sessions, only short ones but that is perfect! And he is starting to journal every day, something I never expected him to be open to.”

Leanne Russell, ACMM Coach

2. Be organised, practical and responsive: yes, be it all!

Plan your sessions. Do any necessary research and create a general structure of how you would like the session to run. Explain to your client what they can expect each time they come, and how they can take the techniques home with them to use. Keep track of the time and look after the boundaries to ensure you cover all the essential elements. Ensuring you are in control of and lead the session is beneficial for both yourself and your client.

From the information you gathered in 1) above, you might explore a range of practices, subject to the client needs, to find what works best for them. And then allow a deepening into those best-suited practices to help the client build a meditation habit and experience the difference practice can make.

A guided grounding and body connection meditation at the start of a session can help clients swap hats from their busy day to be more present and centred for the coaching. This can help your client shift from doing to being, as well as gain clarity around what they would like to explore or achieve in the session(s).

Allow plenty of time for discussion and sharing and be adaptable to the needs and circumstances of each individual client. For example, you might break a longer meditation into two or three shorter exercises, such as grounding, body connection etc for a beginner or someone with high anxiety or trauma. Or you might guide a standing or open-eyed meditation if the client is struggling to stay awake. Responding to how the client is feeling and adjusting your plan in real time is a very supportive approach.

Ensure your sessions are benefitting the client by seeking feedback and make gradual adjustments and improvements in response, as you go. You might consider creating a handout or recap email with relevant instructions and reminders to send to the client after the session.

“Be open to receiving feedback – your client may need different things each session depending on how they’re feeling or what they’re going through. Listening to feedback is key to being able to meet them where they’re at. You can do this by asking them how they felt about the last session before you begin or asking them at the end of the session how their experience was and if there is anything else they may value to feel supported.”

Sammy Wynn, ACMM Coach

Take time to create a space that supports your clients needs and goals

3. Set the space

Ensure the space is conducive, whether it be online, in person, or outside. Adjust the lighting e.g., to low or soft levels, consider including aromas such as lavender for calm, minimise distractions, and make the space as quiet as possible. This may assist the meditative process and provides an example as to how your client can re-create a conducive environment in their own space.

Using short mindfulness practices throughout the session can help your client maintain a conducive mental space during coaching, assisting clients to slow down, become aware of their current experience and cultivate deeper levels of insight around the messages their body is sending them.

4. Listen

It was mentioned previously, but it’s worth repeating: Listen! Use your active and reflective listening skills to really listen and respond to client feedback and sharing. This is so important and helps your client build trust in you and your coaching.

“Validate your client’s experiences and support them to connect with their own internal wisdom within meditation. In this way their own experience supports them to see how they are their own best guide and teacher and can sustain their journey from within.”

Tim James, ACMM Coach

5. Give takeaways

Handouts, recap emails, homework challenges and recordings can all be really helpful for the client to take away key guidance for consideration and integration, and thus adds a lot of value to your service.

Clients can continue to grow their own meditation practice at home

“I love to gift my clients tailored pre-recorded meditation and mindfulness practices that I believe will support their journey. This gives a level of support in between sessions.” 

Lauren Howe, ACMM Coach

6. Be available for follow up if needed

Another high-value addition to your coaching services is being available for a follow up check in post-session if the client feels it is necessary.

“For more mentally vulnerable clients, and as a Mental Health First Aider, I personally offer to be available for any questions that may arise if they are practicing at home that they may feel uncomfortable with, via text or short call.”

Lucinda Lane, ACMM Coach

Have you started coaching 1:1 clients? Is this something you would like to do? Leave us a comment, ask a question, or share your tips in the comments! We’d love to hear from you

Author – ACMM Coach, Jen Hill

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