|| Open Co-Counselling days run in different formats: sometimes
they are on an afternoon or evening, but more often they take a whole day.
Also there are Open Double Days: Co-Counsellors visit either on the Saturday
or the Sunday with the option of staying overnight.
This is the structure of an Open Day. All these things will be explained
on the following pages.
- people come in and have a drink,
- opening circlewith or without mini-sessions, bodywork or culture
- a round of 'needs, wants & offers' where people decide what
they want to do
- sessions,one-to-one, in a group or workshops
- closing circle, sometimes with positive feedback to the host or
- Quite often there is a shared meal.
Superficially an Open Day may appear to consist merely of
Co-Counselling with or without a shared lunch. However, an Open Day serves
many more purposes.
For new Co-Counsellors it provides an opportunity to meet a variety of
Co-Counsellors. This is important for:
- having sessions with more experienced Co-Counsellors
- learning from other Co-Counsellors who use their sessions differently
and who display different styles of counselling
- finding potential partners for future one-to-one sessions
- gaining the experience of working in different sized groups
- getting to know more Co-Counsellors
For 'older' Co-Counsellors it serves purposes other than
just having one-to-one sessions:
- meeting new faces other than the regular partner or support group
- picking-up Co-Counselling again and meeting potential partners after
having had a spell without Co-Counselling
- working in a group and setting up groups for particular purposes.
Open Co-Counselling Days are especially good for this
- trying out workshops by Co-Counsellors who want to develop their facilitating
- socialising, meeting old friends and having fun
From the Network point of view Open Co-Counselling Days
support the development of Co-Counselling skills and maintain and extend
the Co-Counselling network fabric.
Why have a manual for Open Co-Counselling Days
The aim of this manual is to enable Co-Counsellors to feel
happy about hosting an Open Day while making use of other people's experience.
Why Open Co-Counselling Days need to be 'well' organised
Open Days are important because they provide a space where new Co-Counsellors
can meet potential partners for sessions. Open Co-Counselling Days encourage
people to develop their skills and can inspire people into new areas of
life and Co-Counselling. They also support the social fabric of the Co-Counselling
If Open Co-Counselling Days are well organised, Co-Counsellors
will experience them as worthwhile spending their time on. In the longer
run they will feel it is a valuable contribution to organise one themselves.
It doesn't make sense to expect Co-Counsellors to host an Open Day, if
they themselves and other people have not had good experiences of them.
Mark Twain to his
I'm sorry my letter is so long
I didn't have time to write a shorter one."
You too are able to host one!
Hosting an Open Day is actually quite simple. And the nice
thing is that you don't need to do everything! It is possible to delegate
most of the tasks to volunteers, and see supporting them as your only
job. Don't forget, Co-Counsellors are autonomous folk: they're able to
look after themselves and will often lend a hand, if asked.
Suggestions for making it a success
1. Trust the co-operative spirit of Co-Counsellors
Hosting an Open Day doesn't mean you are responsible for its success!
You only provide the conditions; it is up to the Co-Counsellors to get
the best out of the day. And in 99% of the cases they will do just that.
They will generously offer you all the support you need.....if you ask
If, as sometimes happens, something goes wrong or you get distressed,
share this with the group, ask for attention or for specific support.
2. Have a support person
This can't be underlined enough. Just knowing there's someone there in
the group especially to support you, is often enough in itself. In addition,
doing the preparation together can help you to become clearer, and your
support person may come up with some good suggestions. If a problem arises,
two heads are better than one. And if this is not enough, what about having
a session? For more details about what support you can ask for, see 'Organising
your own support'.
3. Prepare yourself & your checklists beforehand
This manual is designed to help you with good preparation. The chapter
on 'Topics' covers the different aspects of the Open Co-Counselling Day,
while the chapter on 'Check Lists' enables you to make your own check
4. Be aware of the Time Keeping
You are not expected as Open Co-Counselling Day host to offer a programme.
But time keeping is a different thing, especially when everybody knows
everybody. People tend to talk and to extend the coffee time and the shared
lunch: there is a big chance that nobody keeps an eye on the time as everybody
expects somebody else to do the convening.
Time keeping could be a job for your support person, or be delegated to
somebody else. But make sure that it happens....
Before hosting an Open Day yourself, you could try the following
ways of building your confidence:
- offer support to somebody who is hosting an Open Day
- when attending other Open Co-Counselling Days, take careful note of
what goes on and what you think makes the day a success.
- offer to facilitate part of an Open Day
- talk to people who have done it and share any misgivings. Remember
that an Open Day is run by Co-Counsellors and that everything will get
sorted out anyway
Organising your own Support
What support you can ask for
You can ask your support person
- to act as a sounding board
- to talk the day through with you.
Quite often it is when you hear yourself speak, that you know what
you are thinking.
- about the programme
- about what you want to learn from your facilitation?
- about which points you want positive feedback on afterwards
- to take over some of your jobs:
- welcoming new people
- collecting the money & checking the subscriptions
- time keeping and inviting people to come to the opening circle
- doing (a part of) the facilitation
- to support you during your facilitation
Who is doing the facilitation?
The person hosting the Open Co-Counselling Day may leave the facilitation
of the different parts of the day to other people. You can ask for this
at the Open Day itself, but for more peace of mind, it would be better
to organise this beforehand
Before closing circle: Positive Feedback about your hosting the Open
Ask for a round of celebrations about how you hosted the Open Day. This
round will be more effective if people are specific, or accompany their
general appreciations with examples.
Ask your support person to initiate this feed-back circle and to write
the celebrations down, as there is a chance you may forget them. Later
on you can use this list in a session to reflect on the good things and
to let them sink in.
Not only is this round good for you, but also other people can hear what
it takes to be a good Open Co-Counselling Day facilitator.
Where can you find support?
Go through the address list and ask anyone you think would
be appropriate. This is just like asking for telephone sessions. If they
don't think they can do it, ask somebody else.
Hosting the Open Co-Counselling Day
Your house is OK
What really counts is that people have the opportunity to
have sessions and to meet each other. How they get on with each other,
however, is not your job. You provide the opportunities; it is up to the
Co-Counsellors to pick them up.
It's not necessary to bother about the cleanness or tidiness of your house.
If people don't like it at first glance, it provides them with an opportunity
to work on it. Thus, clean and tidy your house if you feel like it and
feel better by doing it; or if don't , have a session on how it feels
to have other people seeing your house as it is......
Other people in the house?
No problem, as long as they consent to your having an Open Day. It can
be helpful to inform them what they can expect in terms of noise.
The visiting Co-Counsellors need to be informed that there are other non
Co-Counselling people in the house and which rooms are not accessible
attention to new Co-Counsellors!
Have you ever observed what happens when Co-Counsellors
arrive? Each Co-Counsellor goes straight to the kitchen to drop off the
shared lunch while hugging and greeting the Co-Counsellors they feel pleased
to see again.
Not so for new Co-Counsellors, either those fresh from the Fundamentals
or those recently moved to Scotland. For them taking up Co-Counselling
and doing the Fundamentals may have been a big step. Turning up at an
Open Day is another big step and they may not know anyone at all. Quite
often the sad fact is, however, that they are left on their own, as everybody
else is busy with greeting their old mates or providing drinks and finishing
the last preparations for the Open Day. Though this is understandable,
it can feel unwelcoming and can create an in-crowd atmosphere.
What can be done to welcome and integrate new Co-Counsellors?
- Appoint a specific Co-Counsellor (e.g. your support person) to take
the job of welcoming and introducing them, including telling them how
the day will go
- have a clear 'culture setting', (see page 10) explaining what the
structure of the day is
- organise a small welcoming ceremony
- in the opening circle ask the new Co-Counsellors if they would like
a buddy for the day
- when pairing up for (mini-) sessions, let the new people have first
choice of partner
Sometimes 15 to 20 Co-Counsellors arrive which may be too
many for one-to-one sessions in the rooms available. Quite often they
want to work in groups and that is just what is on offer at Open Co-Counselling
However, not all Co-Counsellors are used to working in a group or know
how to instruct a group to their greatest benefit. It could be worthwhile
to run a workshop on 'Getting the most out of working in a group', especially
when there are several new Co-Counsellors. If you don't want to facilitate
this, ask somebody else to do it.
One of the high-points of the day. The key importance of
this shared lunch is the sharing, not only of food - regularly a culinary
surprise -, but of minds. This contributes enormously to weaving or maintaining
the network fabric.
Although Co-Counsellors are famous for their improvising talents, you
can support the shared lunch by providing plates, cutlery, cups, a place
where people can heat up their food.
You can keep up the East-Coast of Scotland tradition by making soup, as
the vegetarian soup on Open Co-Counselling Days has become proverbial.
The fee for the day
In the East-Coast the fee for the Open Co-Counselling Day for many years
has been £2. Unwaged Co-Counsellors pay £1. People who attend
for only half a day pay half.
Open Double Days cost double.
Half of the money goes to the Open Day host for providing the house, soup,
drinks (teas and coffees) and tissues. The other half goes to the Co-Counselling
Checking subscriptions for a Co-Counselling Newsletter
The Open Days have proved to be an excellent opportunity to collect subscriptions!
People dosee the announcements in the Co-Counselling newsletters,
but this doesn't always result in them paying (or cancelling).
Facilitating the group process
The more new Co-Counsellors there are, the more important
this part, as generally during the culture setting the general structure
of the day will be clarified.
The shorter the 'culture setting', the more effective it will be.
Several topics can be addressed:
- the timetable for the day
- what you expect from people using your house and where the rooms for
sessions are situated
- how late-comers will be accommodated
- the fee for the day & the subscriptions for Co-Counselling newsletter
- a buddy for new Co-Counsellors
'Needs, Wants & Offers'
During 'Needs, Wants & Offers' the group comes to a
decision about what is going to happen during the morning, afternoon or
There are two stages:
- first everybody gets a turn to state what they want or have to offer,
while the facilitator listens or makes notes. This rarely leads to conflicting
wishes, but it does happen
consequently the facilitator makes proposals in an attempt
to try and accommodate everybody's wants
You as facilitator may find it difficult to hear all the
information, to take it in and to produce proposals. Being prepared can
make a difference.
make 'Needs, Wants & Offers' a success
- stress that everybody state what they need independently of what
- have pencil and paper ready to make short notes of what people want,
if it helps you
- ask that nobody leaves the room before a satisfactory solution has
been found, unless an alternative agreement is reached
- give a summary of what people want
- ask people who have agreed to work with each other, to stand or sit
together, so that everybody can see who is free to choose from
- if you don't feel like facilitating this, ask somebody else with experience
with 'Needs, Wants & Offers' to do it
Co-Counsellors who feel rusty
Sometimes Co-Counsellors use Open Co-Counselling Days to
resume Co-Counselling and to meet potential Co-Counselling partners. Also
other Co-Counsellors may feel rusty. At present there isn't an approach
to this, but an awareness of this is, in itself, a step forward. If you
have any suggestions, let me know.
On cancelling the Open Co-Counselling Day
In the former East of Scotland Community it was agreed never
to cancel an Open Day. This is my recommendation: even when only one Co-Counsellor
turns up, have at least one (big) session. Or when you can't be a host,
ask somebody else to take over. This policy creates trust in Open Co-Counselling
The worst thing is cancelling an Open Day without telling the people who
have announced their attendance. Next time people may not bother to go
to an Open Day hosted by you or lose their trust in Open Co-Counselling
How can you make this manual a success?
By sending your feedback
To: JanPieter Hoogma
32-A Inverleith Place
Edinburgh EH3 5QB
Phone: ...44(0)131-551 6146
If you send in this manual with your suggestions for
improvement you will receive the latest version.
Constructive and positive feedback came from:
Anne Denniss, Andy Johnson, Sheila Lochrie, Jim Hill, Mary McCann, Teresa
Tinklin & Virginia Holt.
Suggestions for feedback
1. Positive feedback
What is good about this manual?
How was it supportive to you?
2. Any suggestion that can lead to improvement
How can it be improved? Suggesting sentences, graphics or illustrations.
Any other suggestion is welcome.
3. Test my Success Criteria
I have written this manual with the following 'Success Criteria' in mind:
- As simple as possible, as complex as necessary
Which information is superfluous?
Do the topics in this manual cover all aspects and varieties of Open
Can you find the information you need quickly?
- Easy to read
Is the manual easily readable and are the illustrations clarifying?
Does it cater for people with reading difficulties, like dyslexia
or ageing eyes?
Does this manual support you in the organisation of an Open Day?
If this manual doesn't meet these standards, can you inform
me about the specifics of this so that adjustments can be made?
this manual to other Co-Counsellors
This will have the effect of having Open Co-Counselling Days that not
only results in well organised workshops, but also are fun and pleasure
for the host and facilitators.
Paying for this manual
This manual is Shareware, not Freeware
Shareware is a distribution method, used in the computer software world.
The Shareware system makes fitting your needs easier, because you can
evaluate this manual before you buy. Shareware has the ultimate money-back
guarantee -- if you don't use the product, you don't pay for it.
You may make as many copies of this manual as you like for the purpose
However, if you decide to use this manual for hosting an Open Co-Counselling
Day or similar Co-Counselling event, you are required to pay £2.00
for each copy you are going to use. If you prefer a hard copy send me
£2.50 (+ £1 p&p).
Click here for my address.
As this manual is SHAREWARE, you are encouraged to give copies to other
Co-Counsellors for evaluation purposes only.
This section contains a series of suggestions
to put on your own list. As the points on this list come from several
people, each of whom has their own preferences, some suggestions will
fit you, others not. If you put new items on these lists, please let me
know, so I can improve this section.
week or more before
- ask a Co-Counsellor to be your support person
- make a checklist for yourself
- put instructions on paper on how to get to your house by car, bus
or on foot
- ensure that you have the membership subscription checklist
- make a list of those who phone you to say they're coming, and ask
them whether they can give lifts if necessary.
- In the Good&Newsletter they are requested to announce their attendance,
so that the organiser will have a rough idea of how many Co-Counsellors
can be expected
- inform the other people who live in the house that an Open Day will
- go shopping, if necessary:
- teas, coffee and milk
- some extra bread
- ingredients for soup
- prepare the house:
- ensure that the rooms are ready for Co-Counselling:
- tissues + rubbish bins
- labels on doors telling which rooms can be used for sessions
- If possible clear some space in the fridge for food brought in
to be shared
- make soup, vegetarian if possible
- if you cancel the Open Co-Counselling Day for whatever reason,
inform all the people who announced their intention to attend!
The day itself
Before people arrive
- enjoy yourself!
- check the rooms for usability, tissues and rubbish bins if available
- pull out chairs around the dining table
- coffee making materials
- dishes etc. for lunch
- get paper and pen ready for
- making notes during 'Needs, wants & offers'
- your celebrations to be written down at the end
- people arrive between 10-10.30 in the morning
- offer new Co-Counsellors a drink,
or get someone to make them feel welcome
- find out who has not arrived yet
decide whether to wait for them or not
- opening circles usually start at 10.30
inform everybody that the opening circle will start at a certain time
- round of names
if there are many new faces, have some name games
- opening round such as 'good & new',
ask for a volunteer to facilitate this
- day-buddies for new Co-Counsellors
which means some stretching and awakening physical exercises.
introduce one yourself or ask other people to facilitate this
- mini-sessions (they improve the quality of 'Needs, Wants & Offers')
- suggest that new people work with somebody they don't know yet
- suggest that nobody leaves the room before everybody has found
- for yourself: 'how are things going so far?
- other Co-Counsellors may want to work on:
- 'What's on top?'
- 'What would you like to get out of the day?'
- how does the group want to accommodate late-comers?
- Who opens door for them?
- Propose that they wait until sessions are finished
- explain what you expect from people using your house
- noise and neighbours
- other people living in the house
- other wishes
- which rooms can be used for sessions
- where to go for walks and sessions outdoors
- the money
- fee for the day
- subscriptions for Co-Counselling newsletter
- ask for somebody to deal with the money
- if you don't feel like facilitating this, ask somebody else to do
- have pencil and paper ready to make short notes of what people want
- ask your support person to make notes as well
- be clear about your own needs and wants
- stress that everybody states what they need independently
of what other people already have stated
- give a summary of what people want, including the perceived conflicting
- be clear about what is required of tidying and central warming up
- remind everyone to look after themselves
- be clear when the afternoon session will start.
- Warn people 10 minutes before the start of the Afternoon session
- Ask for positive feedback about your facilitation
- ask somebody to write down the positive feedback on your hosting
of the Open Day. Also share what youfelt was good about the
way you did your job
- The closing circle itself
- has everybody paid?
- ask for help with tidying up !
You could have (telephone) sessions:
Re-read this manual
- to process what happened and to get rid of left-over restimulations
- to read your list of positive feedback and to acknowledge what was
good about your facilitation
- Re-reading the manual can serve several purposes:
- it can help you to reflect on what happened
- and it can raise your awareness of missing areas and suggestions
- Remember to send your feedback to me, JanPieter Hoogma.
Click here for my address or here
for the feedback form.
- if applicable send the network part of the fees to the Network Treasurer
- if applicable send the subscriptions to the Co-Counselling newsletter
- send the payment for the use of this manual to me. Click here
for more info.
I hope you have had a wonderful experience
hosting the Co-Counselling Open Day!
Copyright 1996-1998 © JanPieter