happily with your feelings
If only that could be possible! One of the difficulties you may have
in accepting yourself is in dealing with your feelings, especially when
they are strong emotions, such as rage, despair, shame, grief, guilt
or anger. People are anxious to keep such emotions under control, because
failing to do so feels humiliating and unpleasant. What will other
people think of me? , This is not me. People
will discover who I really am. For all these reasons people will
generally try to hide most of their feelings. However in situations
such as having lost a loved one, or dealing with stressful relationships
or work that is too demanding, this control of feelings can collapse
and the emotions burst out. People fear this breakdown of control.
However, when you are in an environment where you feel safe, valued
and cared for (physically and emotionally), sooner or later you will
feel free to express yourself emotionally. When this happens, you will
find that you feel better and a lot clearer while getting in better
touch with your own inner truth. There is nothing new or startling about
this. When young children who havent yet learnt to hold in their
feelings are allowed to cry or yell until they have fully expressed
their hurt or anger, they are then able to go off and play quite happily.
This release or catharsis is known in Co-Counselling as "discharge",
and it has positive and beneficial effects, such as a feeling of relief,
having more clarity and experiencing more zest for life.
Very painful emotions cannot and do not need to be discharged all at
once. To avoid getting drowned in them and losing control, you, as client,
learn to choose at what depth and at what pace you want to deal with
your emotions. You also learn "to be kind to yourself" as part of this
process, so that unpleasant feelings such as guilt and shame can be
comfortably dealt with.
Co-Counselling does much more than help to mop up distress, by allowing
you to search for and confront its root causes. The principle is simple:
past painful experiences have conditioned us to respond in set ways
("patterns", in Co-Counselling terms), and these old hurts still influence
our present behaviour. Such patterns restrict our choices when we meet
new situations, and prevent us from feeling free to act in the most
appropriate or creative way. Patterns can be responsible for our difficulties
in dealing with current problems, particularly those where we cannot
easily understand the reason for the difficulty. We can all gain access
to more of our potential by exploring and then releasing the suppressed
feelings that make us behave in patterned ways.
Inevitably, releasing suppressed feelings involves coming into contact
with them again. However, Co-Counselling is not about digging up old
memories for the sake of it: rather, in order to relegate them to the
dustbin of history, it is necessary first to regain access to them.
Another way of preventing future distress is changing negative basic
beliefs about yourself. For instance, if you believe that you are unlovable,
you can discharge your distress about feeling unloved again and again,
without any change in the underlying feeling or belief. Changing this
basic belief into a more positive one such as I am loveable reduces
distress in the long term, and creates more love.
How does it
In Co-Counselling people usually work in pairs taking equal time to
be "counsellor" and "client" in turn. This exchange is called having
a session. You can have a session with any Co-Counsellor at any
time that suits both of you. A session can last an hour each way, or
five minutes. You can have them anywhere: up a mountain, in a room,
in your home, over the telephone. This distinguishes it from other types
of counselling and therapy. Another difference is that you as the client
are in charge of your part of the session, while the counsellor is there
for support. Then you swap roles. Thus Co-Counselling is firstly a training
in being a client. The more you understand how it is to be a client
yourself, the better you will intuit how you, in the counsellor role,
can provide good support for your client.
Co-Counselling allows you to meet other Co-Counsellors in the Scottish
and international network of people who have satisfactorily completed
the "Fundamentals" training course. In the network everybody is free
to choose their level of involvement in the sessions, groups or workshops
In your local area you can create your own personal support network
by finding out whom you like to have sessions with - face to face or
over the telephone - and whom you would like to join in support groups.
How do I learn?
The basic training is a 40-hour course in the Fundamentals of Co-Counselling.
Usually these courses run over three weekends or 9 weekdays.
The learning group consists of a maximum of eight people plus either
two teachers or one teacher with the support of an experienced Co-Counsellor.
These small groups enable intensive, experiential learning with plenty
of attention for each individual.
The course starts by setting up a safe and supportive environment. Safety
in the group and in the Co-Counselling sessions is guaranteed by confidentiality.
Your feelings, your truth and the way in which you express yourself
are important and will be treated confidentially.
To support your learning you will receive hand-outs and a Co-Counselling
manual during the Fundamentals.
What will I learn?
In the Fundamentals you learn both client and counsellor roles. No
two courses will be exactly the same, but they are similar enough to
allow you to work with any other trained Co-Counsellor anywhere in the
Learning Co-Counselling is first about learning how to be a "client",
how to get most out of your client time. As a client, you learn how
to work with your feelings rather than discussing or suppressing them.
You discover how to release feelings that you have held in from past
experiences, so that you can come to terms with them.
You also learn how to break through set behaviour patterns and to respond
creatively to challenging situations. You will learn how to discard
old and worn out "shoulds" and "oughts". Behaviour patterns and basic
beliefs that block your well being are explored, often on the basis
of current or immediate issues rather than digging for "deep" material.
As counsellor you learn how to be present for your client by giving
full attention and safe support, while respecting the clients
sense of self direction. You may only be required to listen in a focused
and non-judgmental way.
Another part of the counsellor job can be to offer suggestions ("interventions")
to your client. These interventions function mainly as reminders
or encouragement focused on ways of working with which the client is
already familiar. Your experience as client helps here: the better you
understand how counselling skills and techniques work for you as client,
the better you are able to give suggestions to your client as counsellor.
In the outside world it is quite common for one person to try to control
the behaviour of another. To prevent controlling patterns from slipping
into the client-counsellor relationship, the counsellor's role in Co-Counselling
is generally restricted to making neutral interventions. In addition,
the nature of control patterns, how they work, and how to avoid them,
is taught during the Fundamentals.
To provide Co-Counsellors with the opportunity to have quick access
to sessions, an introduction to Telephone Co-Counselling is part of
Who is it for?
Co-Counselling is a powerful tool for personal growth. It is effective
for most people.
It's for you, if:
- you want to make changes in your life to realise your potential,
increase your life skills with the support of other people
- you are willing to "open up" and to explore what is going on inside
- you want to have access to a support network
You may not be ready for Co-Counselling if:
- you are unable to give your undivided attention to another person,
for example because you need a lot of attention yourself
- you need alcohol or mind-affecting medicines to the extent that
you are not able to attend workshops and sessions sober and free of
- you are only prepared to observe other people but not willing to
open up and participate fully in the learning process.
If you do not yet feel ready for Co-Counselling, you have the alternative
of having one-way sessions with an experienced Co-Counselling teacher.
Most of this counselling will be based on Co-Counselling theory, so
that you get used to what is involved in Co-Counselling.
it train me to be a counsellor?
Because in Co-Counselling the client is in charge of his or her own
sessions, Co-Counselling does not train you to take responsibility as
counsellor for another person. This contrasts with one-way counselling
or therapy in which the client is generally not assumed to have client
skills or to be in charge of the session. That is why Co-Counselling
does not offer any formal qualifications or credentials for your ability
as a counsellor.
However, Co-Counselling can give you useful expertise and enable you
to be a better one-way counsellor. Your listening skills will be enhanced
and you will have a clearer and more sympathetic understanding of other
peoples behaviour in everyday life.
In addition, Co-Counselling offers valuable support for people whose
work involves dealing with people, for example as counsellor, manager,
leader or teacher. It provides an opportunity to off load distress and
to explore issues such as "Why did I do that?", "What does this event
tell me about myself?", "Why do I feel inadequate when...?" or "Why
do I dislike doing X and how can I deal with it better?".
After the Fundamentals
When you have completed the Fundamentals training course,
you will already know several Co-Counsellors, and have had sessions
with them. You can arrange further sessions, either one-to-one or in
small groups, with this group of people, or you can seek out others.
An excellent way of doing this is to join a local Co-Counselling
network.You will then receive a Newsletter, which contains information
about workshops and articles about Co-Counselling. It contains also
an address list of Co-Counsellors and often a section listing Co-Counsellors
who are prepared to have telephone sessions if they have time available.
You can attend Open Co-Counselling Days, which are full- or half-day
workshop where Co-Counsellors come together to have sessions either
in pairs or in small groups. These occasions offer opportunities to
meet other Co-Counsellors and to potentially find a more permanent Co-Counselling
You may want to attend Further Skills Workshops, taught by experienced
Co-Counsellors or Co-Counselling teachers. Some of them focus on developing
more Co-Counselling skills as such, like Working on an Issue that
feels too big. Some are related to specific themes such as 'Inner
child work', 'Sexuality and Tantra', 'Assertiveness', 'Loss & Bereavement'.
Residential Workshops have flexible programs offered by participants.
There also are support groups, celebrations and discharge, good food,
walking in the countryside, dancing and singing, and so on. Residential
workshops usually have organised child minding with paid crèche
You will also have the opportunity to attend other UK and International
After having built up more confidence in your client and counselling
skills you may want to start a support group or join an existing