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3 Who’s in the Hot Seat?

On a related note to the last post, I have been wondering what became of the “Hot Seat” group therapy developed by Bill Sands and the inmate Ezra Kingsley. From what I read it sounds pretty effective – its sort of honesty therapy. In The Seventh Step, Sands describes it as the invention of lifer inmate Ezra Kingsley: each member of the group takes a turn in the ‘hot seat’, and talks about their efforts. The other members ‘rip the sheet off’ the speaker, pointing out ways in which he isn’t being honest with himself. This strikes me as pretty strong stuff, and I could see how it would be effective therapy.

The only links I’ve found online that reference the program are this one in Canada:
and a publication from around 1966:

It seems to me like effective help for convicts is just an extremely important area – not only for the convicts themselves, but for communities and even state budgets.


  1. Greetings,
    We are a substance abuse facility contracted with the Florida Dept. Of Corrections. We operate a Therapeutic Community and have just come out of a “tighthouse”. One of the inmate leaders requested we institute a “hot seat” group during Anger Management class once per week. In an effort to instruct my staff in a procedure to conduct such a group, I did a Google search. Not much luck other than the above referenced Canadian group.

  2. Golda says:

    Hm – you might try the original books by Bill Sands,My Shadow Ran Fast and The Seventh Step. I believe the latter book is where the method is somewhat detailed. One of the keys was having a respected person run the groups, in his case it was a ‘lifer’ inmate who the others highly respected.

    I would be very interested to learn what you try and how it works.

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