John Heron 1974, 1979, third and revised edition 1998
History and Organisation.
Basic Principles of Method
Present Time Techniques
Control Loosening Techniques
Basic Working Techniques
Celebration and Empowerment
Starting a Session
Finishing a Session
Counsellor's Tool Kit
Some More Techniques
Compact Co-Counselling Manual
Follow Up and Community Building
This manual is offered as an aide-memoire only. It is given to participants
in basic training courses in co-counselling, and it presupposes experience
of such a course.
Co-counselling is a method of personal development through mutual support
for persons of all ages and both sexes including, with suitable modifications,
children. It is not for those who are too emotionally distressed to give
attention to a fellow human on a reciprocal basis. It is a tool for living
for those who are already managing their lives acceptably by conventional
standards, but wish significantly to enhance their sense of personal identity
and personal effectiveness. It is part of a continuing education for living
which affirms the peer principle.
My formulation of the theory on which the practice of co-counselling
rests is as follows. All persons are differentially stressed by virtue
of their immersion in the human condition which has at least the following
sources of stress: the separation trauma of birth and death; the tension
between physical survival and personal development; the relative inscrutability
or apparent meaninglessness of many phenomena; the intractability of matter;
the inherent instability of unprogrammed and probably unlimited human potential;
the presence of other stressed humans.
On the one hand such stressors can be enabling, providing the shock
of awakening that promotes personal development and cultural achievement.
On the other hand they can be overwhelming and disabling so that personal
and interpersonal behaviour becomes distorted and persons interfere with
each other, either unawarely or deliberately and maliciously. There are
thus two sources of distress: the primary source in the human condition,
the secondary and derivative source in the interference of other people.
The latter is what co-counselling is most obviously and immediately concerned
Human infants have remarkable though undeveloped capacities for love
, understanding and choice but lack the information, skill and experience
with which to actualise them. They await wise and loving education, but
are also highly vulnerable to interference by others - the blocking, frustration,
rejection or neglect of their deep human potential. The result of such
interference is a line of distress in the mind-body, the emotional pain
of grief, fear, anger, shame or embarrassment, together with correlated
physical, often muscular tension. The effect of such distress is to suspend
the effective response of human capacities - of love, understanding and
choice - so that the child is left with an undiscriminating recording of
the traumatic interfering interaction, including the child's own maladaptive
response. These distress recordings can become ingrained and extensive
through cumulative repetition of interference from parental and other sources.
There is invariably a double interference, firstly with the deep human
potential, and secondly with the child's attempt to find a way of dealing
with the pain of this through catharsis: hence the double negative message
- "Your human capacities are no good, and the pain you feel at their suppression
is no good".
In our emotionally repressive society, distress recordings acquire a
dynamic functional autonomy, often unidentified and unacknowledge They
are the source of unaware, compulsive, maladaptive and rigid behaviour
patterns, Some of these patterns are periodic, triggered by particular
types of situation that significantly resemble the early interference situations:
for example, when rational behaviour breaks down in the presence of someone
seen as an authority figure. Others are endemic or chronic, a persistent
distorted way of feeling and thinking and doing that infects behaviour
in a wide range of situations: for example, a chronic self-deprecatory
attitude. Here the trigger is being in the world at all - which has become
associated with a deeply ingrained distress recording.
When triggered in later life, the distress recording unawarely plays
itself out., either the child's end or the parent's end of the recording
being reproduced in behaviour and attitude, depending upon the situation.
Or both may be reproduced at the same time as in a chronic internal pattern
of self-condemnation. Typical recordings, which can combine and interact
in various ways, are those of:
Such patterns may be acted out, in interactions with other people; or they
may be acted in, in internal transactions within the self. In either case
they are, for the adult, maladaptive. For the child they have some survival
value - the trauma and pain become encoded as a ritual distortion that
at least enables the person to continue on without total breakdown and
disruption. But they restrict and constrain a mature, flexible and innovative
response to changing circumstances in the adult.
The victim: the compulsion to be trampled on and abused, to give power
away, to feel worthless.
The oppressor: the compulsion to dominate, to control, to manipulate, to
denigrate and despise.
The rebel: the compulsion to oppose authority figures, to resist and fight
the established system
The rescuer: the compulsion to be responsible for, to solve others' problems
for them, to take on their burdens.
Co-counselling theory also holds that catharsis is a way of releasing
distress from the mind-body. Keeping some attention in the place of the
aware adult in present time, the client in co-counselling reaches down
into the hidden place of the hurt child, honours and experiences the pain,
and releases it:
This is a healing of the hidden painful memories, a reintegration of the
occluded past. The effects of sustained catharsis are:
Grief in tears and sobbing,
Fear in trembling,
Anger in loud sound and storming movement,
Certain core or primal pains in screaming,
False shame and embarrassment in laughter.
The person can thus live more creatively and awarely in response to what
is going on now.
Spontaneous insight: the traumatic past is seen in a new light, re-evaluated,
perceived with a truly discriminating awareness for the first time. Its
connection with current distortions is understood in a way that illuminates.
The break-up of patterns, of rigid distorted behaviour and attitude: the
tension of contained distress that sustains them has been released.
The liberation of frozen needs and capacities: love is freed from its distorted
childhood fixation, intelligence can function flexibly instead of in a
stereotypic and dogmatic way, choice is released from the illusion of powerlessness.
Finally, the way of regression, catharsis and reintegration of the distressed
past is complemented and indeed consummated by the way of celebration -
the joyful affirmation of felt strengths, of experiences and projects that
are worthwhile, enjoyable and creatively rewarding.
Co-counselling is a two-way process among peers, each taking a turn
as client and counsellor (or worker and helper). It typically involves
a two-hour session with each person taking an hour in each role. Client
and counsellor exercise appropriate skills, acquired on a basic training
course of at least 40 hours, with on-going groups, intensive workshops
and advanced workshops for systematic follow-up.
Co-counselling is not simply client-centred, it is client-directed.
The client is the person who is taking her turn, working on the way of
regression and catharsis, and the way of celebration and affirmation. The
basic techniques are primarily for the client to work with on herself,
with the aware supportive attention of the counsellor. This is particularly
important in the early stages so that the client does not become strongly
dependent on counsellor interventions.
The counsellor does not interpret, analyse, criticise or advise on problems,
but only acts within a contract indicated by the client. This contract
may ask for non-verbal attention only; for occasional interventions when
it seems to the counsellor that the client is missing her own cues, is
getting lost in her own defenses; or, at a later stage when the counsellor
has acquired the requisite skill, for interventions which work intensively
with client cues and which focus in on areas of primary material. The counsellor's
interventions are always in the form of a practical suggestion about what
the client may say or do. The rationale of the suggestion is not verbalized;
and the client is in principle free to reject the intervention.
On the way of regression and catharsis, the client is trained to take
charge of the discharge process by always keeping a focus of attention
in the place of the aware, mature adult outside the distress of the child
within, and to work with accessible and available distress, with what is
on top. This ensures that the healing of the memories occurs in a relatively
undisruptive way, in a sequence and at a pace which the client can readily
handle. The client works not only upon childhood experiences but also on
more recent and present relationships, both personal and professional,
and also on future expectations and on political and institutional tensions.
Some of the introductory techniques the client uses, and which the counsellor
recommends when she intervenes, are:
Many other techniques are used, and co-counselling at its various stages
of development can accommodate the four primary ways of managing catharsis:
active imagination, passive imagination, active body work and passive body
work. Transpersonal co-counselling is an important development for working
on the repression of, and for transforming one’s being by, the sublime
and archetypal; and for addressing some of the primary sources of tension
in the human condition, mentioned in the theory section above. Fundamental
throughout is the validation, affirmation and celebration of the inalienable
worth of humans and their capacities.
Literal, evocative description of early events, rather than analytic talk
Repetition of words and phrases that carry an emotional charge or loading.
Association: catching emergent thoughts, images, memories, insights that
Psychodrama: becoming oneself in the early scene and expressing directly
the negative or positive feelings that were suppressed at the time;
Contradiction: verbally and non-verbally putting energy in the opposite
direction to the constraints of the negative self-image.
History and Organisation.
Co-counselling was developed out of other sources by Harvey Jackins
in Seattle, USA in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Under his auspices it spread
through the USA and Europe in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and thereafter
to other parts of the world. Networks of co-counsellors were organized
under the title of Re-evaluation Counselling Communities. This organization
early on became theoretically rigid and internally authoritarian. In 1974
Co-counselling International was formed as an alternative network. It federates
entirely independent communities of co-counsellors in several countries.
These communities develop their own decision-making procedures consonant
with the peer principle, and their own approach to the training, assessment
and accreditation of teachers of the method. International workshops are
held regularly in the USA, Europe and New Zealand.
Co-counselling as a practice primarily occurs in people's own homes
on the basis of one-to-one informal arrangements. The purpose of a network
or community is to provide up-to-date address lists of trained co-counsellors,
and to provide a continuous programme of groups and workshops for follow-up,
group support, intensive co-counselling, refresher course advanced training,
teacher training and social change activity.
Basic Principles of Method
Role of client The client is in charge, is self-directed, decides
what to work on, how to work on it, how long to work on it. It is her time.
She is free to accept or reject the counsellor's suggestions. She is concerned
with the liberation of her own potential. Her working options include,
She deals with what's on top, with what she can handle and needs to work
on at the time, with whatever combination of methods seems to her appropriate.
Discharge of past distress followed by spontaneous insight.
Creative thinking and problem-solving.
Goal-setting and action-planning.
Extending the reach of awareness.
Role of counsellor Each partner takes a turn as both counsellor
Free attention All available attention that is not:
The counsellor gives supportive, expectant free attention; she is present
for the client.
She does not interpret, analyze, criticize, give advice, etc.
She has a contract to intervene when the client appears to have lost her
way, to be blocking, to be ‘in pattern’, to be missing her own cues. This
is a normal contract (see below).
Her interventions are in the form of suggestions about what the client
may say or do, based on verbal and non-verbal cues and a tentative mental
guess about what is going on in the client.
Contracts The client needs to make it clear at the start of a session
what kind of contract she wants.
Distracted by events in the environment .
Sucked into / swamped by internal distress. Free attention is the facilitating
energy of awareness. Giving free attention is an intense activity, a fundamental
validation of the person to whom it is given.
Discharge Facility in discharge of past distress is one of the early
goals of the client. Discharge sooner or later elicits spontaneous insight,
fresh recall, a reappraisal of the area being worked on. It is to be distinguished
from dramatization or pseudo-discharge, which is to act out distress without
discharging it (e.g. pseudo-grief or pseudo-anger).
Free attention contract The counsellor gives free attention only.
Normal contract The counsellor intervenes when the client appears
to have lost her way, to be blocking, to be ‘in pattern’, to be missing
her own cues. There is a co-operative balance between client self-direction
and counsellor suggestions. Occasional interventions.
Intensive contract The counsellor works intensively with client
cues, making as many interventions as seem necessary to enable her to deepen
and sustain her process. This may include leading a client in working areas
being omitted or avoided. Frequent interventions.
Balance of attention The client can only discharge when she has
enough free attention outside the distress and when her attention is balanced
between the distress material within and what her free attention is engaged
with outside it, such as the supportive presence of the counsellor, the
technique she is currently using.
Present Time Techniques
These techniques are for you as client (1) to get your attention out,
to release your free attention, at the start of a session, so that you
may have attention available for maintaining a balance of attention when
working; (2) to restore your free attention if you get shut down in the
middle of your session; (3) to bring you back fully into present time after
working on past events.
Good news Relate your current good news, what is going well in your
life at present, what agreeable events have occurred.
Present description Describe the immediate environment, give a literal
account of what you can see and hear and touch around you. Describe your
counsellor, give a literal description of the appearance of your counsellor.
Future promise Relate what you are looking forward to doing over
the next few days.
Simple pleasures Relate any simple pleasures of your life that come
to mind; or your favourite colours, smells, tastes, sounds, textures, etc.
Micro upsets Describe very trivial little upsets you have had recently.
Reverse calculation Say the eight times table backwards: 8x12 is…8x11
Movement Move around slowly in the environment, noticing changes
of view and perspective. Or move in an agile way, leaping, jumping, dancing,
Change the environment Rearrange items on the table, on a shelf,
in the room
There and now
Describe in imagination the scene beyond your visual field. Then expand
this to describe more and more of the planet.
Describe what you imagine is going on in a particular place you know well
Out of the body view Describe yourself now from a position outside
Control Loosening Techniques
To loosen up embarrassment and the denial and repression barriers:
Facial expression Describe in detail your last meal, exercising
all the muscles on the face in every possible direction.
Gesture Describe a house and garden of your childhood, with elaborate
gestures at shoulder height and above.
Tone of voice Express your present state of mind and feeling in
glossolalia (jabbertalk), or have a conversation with your counsellor in
Act into laughter Sustain a loud, very vigorous artificial laugh.
Act into fear Stand, press your finger-tips lightly but firmly into
your counsellor's back and tremble all over (hands, arms, shoulder, head,
neck, jaw and knees), hyperventilate, let some sound out.
Act into anger Kneel in front of your counsellor, pound the air
with your fists beside his head, and yell ‘No’ very loud into his eyes.
Or the same on a cushion on the floor.
Mad dog Shake an imagined mad dog vigorously off your left leg and
yell. Repeat with your right leg.
Body shake Shake each limb, then head and trunk.
Rapid breath Breathe in and out very quickly saying ‘Oh’ on the
Basic Working Techniques
These are for you as client to use in a self-directed way to dislodge
control patterns and to facilitate discharge of stored distress and tension,
and subsequent release of insight.
Literal description Describe and evoke the sensory texture of a
traumatic event, the sights, sounds, smells, behaviours, the exact dialogue
used. Don't analyze the event, but be literal and detailed; and repeat
Repetition Repeat several times words and phrases that contain a
hint of distress, some charge of emotion. Try repeating them louder, exaggerating
the posture or gesture that accompanies them.
Amplification Exaggerate and repeat any sudden distress-charged
movements of hands, arms, feet, legs, plevis, head and neck. Find the sound
that goes with the amplified movement, then the words. Who are you saying
them to, and about what? For tight, rigid body postures, exaggerate them
extremely, find the sound that goes with this, then the words, then develop
the psychodrama. Or use body-rigidity contradiction (see below).
Psychodrama Play yourself in an early traumatic scene. Let the counsellor
be the other person in that scene. Say, and repeat to her several times,
things that you never said at the time, but which express and help discharge
the distressful feelings. Combine with acting into.
Acting into Act into fear or anger, when appropriate, during repetition
and when saying things in a psychodrama. This means simulating vigorously,
and purely physically, the movements and sounds of fear or anger discharge.
It often helps the real discharge come through, and sometimes it may be
different from the acted emotion.
Free association Let deeper levels of your mind work spontaneously.
Catch the thought Verbalize any idea or image that suddenly presents
itself during literal description, repetition, role-play, acting into,
etc, and work with it, using any of the basic working techniques, as appropriate.
Re-evaluation Verbalize any insights, new connections, thoughts
or images that present themselves after discharge. Give them voice or work
Move around the pile Follow associations from event to event around
the pile of distress to find an emotionally charged memory, the working
area for your session.
Start with what's on top Relax, take up the attention of your counsellor
and wait until what is on top presents itself whether thought, feeling,
memory or whatever. Then work on it, or move around the pile.
Silent free association Relax, take up the attention of your counsellor
in silence and allow the stream of consciousness to flow freely without
control or interference, notice the whirlpool patterns, compulsive flows,
restrictions and blockages in it.
Spoken free association Relax, take up the attention of your counsellor
and start talking quickly, loudly and non-stop, without control or censorship.
Conscious dreaming Relax, take up your counsellor's attention, close
your eyes, imagine a meadow of free attention and describe it. Then imagine
a house of patterns on the edge of meadow. Invite a pattern out into the
meadow, describe it, ask it what its message is, use this as a basis for
a direction for working.
Phantasize occluded material For operations under general anaesthetic,
buried traumatic memories, imagine/phantasize what happened and work on
the content of phantasy as if it were a memory.
Phantasize on recall Let your imagination go on actual events and
work on the content of the phantasy interwoven with reality.
Contradiction Outwit your control-patterns of self-deprecation by
saying and doing things that contradict the pattern, by putting energy
or attention in the opposite direction. This releases discharge of the
underlying distress. The art of the light direction. You use this when
you feel put down, or when you find yourself putting yourself down in some
major or minor way.
Full self-appreciation You affirm yourself in every way, contradicting
any hint of self-invalidation in:
What you say.
Your tone of voice.
Your facial expression.
Your gesture and posture.
Partial contradiction What you say is self-deprecating, but your
tone of voice, facial expression, gesture and posture are entirely positive.
Double negative You strongly exaggerate, in a theatrical way, the
negativity in every way: in what you say, in your tone of voice, in you
facial expression, and in your gesture and posture.
Body-rigidity contradiction For shallow, restricted, taut breathing,
use hyperventilation, with increasing sound on the outbreath. For rigid
gestures and body postures, contradict them with wide open, freeing up
gestures and postures. Find the sound that goes with these, then the words,
and thence into a psychodrama.
Contradiction about the other You can use positive, affirmative
statements that contradict the negative feelings and thoughts about someone
you are counselling on. This will often release discharge of the emotional
distress associated with that person.
Direction-holding A direction is a well-aimed statement or word
that releases discharge on a chronic pattern. To hold a direction is to
work by repeating the statement or word, in order to release discharge.
The repetition of the direction levers off the pattern and lets the discharge
out. This is for the more experienced client, but beginners need to start
building up the skill. Direction-holding deals with a great chunk of congealed
history and distress. It is complementary to working on particular memories.
Scanning You choose one major category of distress experience and
one by one scan the memories that come to mind within that category. You
briefly sketch in each memory and move on to the next. The idea is to loosen
up a whole chain of linked experience, and thereby any primary underlying
traumatic events that holds it in place. Here are some options:
Scan forwards in time from the earliest available memory.
Scan backwards in time from the present.
Choose a very general category, such as food, sex, money, religion or relationship,
and scan the painful memories that arise within it.
Choose a specific negative category, such as times you have been rejected,
missed opportunities, etc.
Identification check You do this when co-counselling for the first
time with anyone, in order to find out whether there are any unconscious
projections at work. There are four steps:
Co.: Who do I remind you of?
Cl.: Mr. X
Co.: How am I like Mr. X?
Co.: What is left unsaid from
you to Mr. X? Cl: (speaks to Mr. X)
Co.: How am I not like Mr. X?
You can also use this whenever any irrational irritation or negative
feeling arises between co-counsellors. Thus A is irritated by B's habit
of doing Z, so B says to A: Who does my doing Z remind you of? Then B takes
A through the last two steps.
Counsel on blocks in counselling Always counsel on blocks in a session,
that is, when you are stuck as client. Work on being stuck, for example,
Calling up fear You may need to yell, shout, scream, call out and
hyperventilate to pull up fear and start the fear discharge. You need to
relax immediately after the shout, to let the fear roll off. Try the finger-tip
grip: dig the tips of your fingers firmly but lightly into small of counsellor's
back to help the fear discharge.
Night-dreams Work on night-dreams exactly as you do on real-life
events, i.e. use literal description, repetition, psychodrama, acting into,
etc. Or try monodrama, which means you speak as each of the different key
images in the dream.
Playing the other end of the distress recording The client may sometimes
find it helpful to start work on a distressful incident by role-playing
the behaviour of the person who hurt her.
Celebration and Empowerment
These are techniques for celebrating and exercising your personal
strengthsand powers. They affirm and manifest the real you, the empowered
person, in charge of self-creation, social change and ministry to the planet.
They consummate discharge techniques and manifest the potential released
by healing the memories. They also go beyond the healing, affirming strengths
you have had for years, and potentials never blocked yet still uncovered.
They can be used in part of, or for the whole of, a session. It is quite
a good idea to use them for the last part of a discharge session as a way
coming back into present time and into the fulness of your personhood.
Here are a few suggestions:
Starting a Session
Celebration Affirm your presence in the world, your potent embodied
and embedded relationship with other presences in the world. Celebrate
your personal power, your capacities, developed abilities, achievements.
Celebrate your passionate engagement with people and places, your interests,
interactions, friendships, intimacies. And so on.
Openness Affirm your openness to wider reaches of being which embrace
this world, and to the immanent, interior depths within you. See transpersonal
Creative thinking Think aloud on the frontiers of your thinking
on any topic which fascinates and engages you.
Problem solving Address a challenging issue which confronts you,
with the excellence of your resourceful intelligence.
Project_the future Boldly imagine and express positive possibilities
for yourself amd the world in 5, 10, or 15 years’ time. Imagine extraordinary
possibilities for the world in 200, 500 or 1000 years’ time.
Life-style analysis Creatively consider the various domains and
social roles in your life, the relations between them, envision potentially
fruitful developments and changes, then set some realizable goals and plan
relevant actions to achieve them.
As client, make clear the kind of contract you want. Then your working
options, among many others, include:
Identification check (with a new partner).
Start with what's on top and free associate around the pile of memories
to find the charged working area for that session.
Unfinished business from a previous session, etc.
Finishing a Session
As client, this means you are coming back into present time.
End the work by verbalizing the insights you have gained.
Affirm a positive direction for future living.
Do some goal-setting and action-planning.
Celebrate yourself, your capacities and powers.
Use any of the present-time techniques.
Counsellor's Tool Kit
For the person whose turn it is to be counsellor.
Some More Techniques
Free attention Give supportive, sustained, expectant, totally aware
and alert free attention, always wider and deeper than the content of your
Remember the distinction between the person and the pattern: it
is the basic rationale of giving free attention.
Clarify the contract If your client forgets to specify the contract,
prompt her to state clearly what kind of a contract she wants.
Identification-check Remember to remind a new client bout this.
Interventions On a normal or intensive contract, make practical
prompts, based on client cues, about what your client may say or do to
All the following items presuppose there is a normal or intensive contract
Client cues Work with cues your client provides: slips of the tongue,
sudden phrases that show a hint of discharge, negative statements that
need contradiction, distress-charged body cues, and so on.
Accept your client's rejection of your suggestion. Don’t be attached
to your interventions.
Always interrupt a pattern Always intervene with a suggestion when
your client is talking or behaving compulsively, in pattern.
Interrupt premature closure Clients often tend to avoid further
discharge in some area by coming out too soon. With a normal or intensive
contract, encourage your client to open up the area again with more description,
repetition, psychodrama, acting-into, etc.
Help gear change Be alert to cues that suggest your client's need
to change from literal description to a psychodrama, from the discharge
of anger to the discharge of fear, from grief to anger, etc., and intervene
to help the change.
Validation of your client Affirm your client, when appropriate,
during discharge (thus you may say ‘You really are loved’ while she is
discharging on rejection); by touching/holding/supporting during discharge;
by verbal encouragements; at the end of the session.
Interrupt withdrawal from fear Client unaccustomed to fear-discharge
may curl up, withdraw, run away; so reach out and hold them supportively,
Light techniques to switch levels Be a master of light directions
to help the client switch to a lighter level of discharge when her attention
gets sunk, swamped by too much distress.
Mimicry Take over the client's control pattern in facial expression,
tone of voice, gesture, posture, in what she says. This is very effective
tool if it is used while giving totally supportive free attention.
Counterpartal psychodrama Play negative figures that client is discharging
on, and use triggering phrases, facial expression, tone of voice, gesture.
Look for bodily rigidities Encourage your client to contradict them.
Watch for dramatization Allow for some dramatization since it may
lead into discharge, but interrupt persistent dramatization by suggesting
a phrase or an action that gets authentic discharge going.
Help your client back Remember to bring the client to insight gathering,
positive directions, and to present time at the end of the session.
For you as client to use when you have a good grasp of basic working
techniques and can discharge freely.
Take charge now You assume you are distress-free now and give a
non-stop account of how you will take charge of your life in all respects
and transform it. This may lead to copious discharge.
Non-verbal Work for a whole session or part of a session using non-verbal
directions: sounds, gesture, posture, gaze, moving to and from your counsellor.
No speech is used. Contradict the control patterns built into your normal
use of speech by working without speech.
Body contact Work standing or kneeling in your counsellor’s arms
or kneeling with head and shoulders lowered on her lap.
Bad parent - good parent When you are in touch with deep infantile
rage, kill the bad parent (attack a cushion, etc.) with blows and cries
while your counsellor acts out the parent dying with cries and moans, falling
about, etc. When the parent is dead, the counsellor becomes the good (ideal)
parent, holding you, giving love and support, while you express positive
feelings to the good parent.
Regression positions Assume infantile positions, e.g. lie on you
back, knees in the air (as if in your cot); suck your thumb; play peeka-boo
with your counsellor; suck your mother’s breast (your counsellor's elbow);
act into infantile screaming and rage (lie on your back, kicking and screaming).
And so on.
Primal When well into early material, hyperventilate, act into screaming
(e.g. cry out for Mummy/Daddy), let full autonomic discharge occur with
fine trembling, ‘streaming’, primal cries; let it continue until it works
itself out; give space for the flow of insight afterwards.
Birth work When in touch with natal material, as for example in
a foetal position feeling pressures or tensions in your head, neck shoulders,
buttocks, etc. invite your counsellor to externalize these pressures with
cushions, then allow the feelings behind the tensions to surface and discharge.
Allow plenty of space for rest, and hyperventilation to contradict controls
on deeply occluded material. Training in client and counsellor skills is
recommended and available in workshops on birth re-enactment.
This is a form of celebration and empowerment whose primary purpose
is stated in the first item below. The other secondary and supportive,
discharge-oriented purposes presuppose some facility with discharge and
a grasp of the basic working techniques.
To celebrate and expressively manifest you as a spiritual presence in a
unitive relation with other presences in our wold. A transpersonal expression
is a declaration like ‘I am open to Being’, ‘I feel the presence of the
whole’, ‘I manifest divine life’, ‘I am a galactic citizen’, ‘I abide in
the free attention of the universe’, but it is in your words, in your terms,
in language that awakens you to your spiritual identity. Explore the declarations
standing, with fulness of voice, posture and gestures.
To discharge the fear that walls off wider forms of awareness.
To discharge the embarrassment and fear that.hides your spiritual identity
from other people.
To discharge the grief, fear and anger laid in by religious oppression
To release primary distress, the tensions of the human condition.
Compact Co-Counselling Manual
There are three ways in which the client can work:
The Way of Celebration
The Way of Regression and Catharsis
Verbal celebration of you in relation in your world.
Expressive celebration in movement, in song, in various forms of art.
Scanning incidents of a certain type.
Working on a particular traumatic incident by a combination of: literal
description; repetition; amplification; association; psychodrama; acting
Verbalising insights that accompany and follow discharge.
Choosing to let X come up
Work with what's now on top, then work by association down the pile.
Focus on recent good experiences until work comes relentlessly into relief.
Enter reverie, relaxation: let work float up.
Meditate: let work emerge.
Symbolic daydream: see what emerges.
Active body work: hyperventilate, vocalize, shake/loosen/ thrash, do self-massage
heavy or light. See what is released.
Passive body work: have counsellor use pressure points, work on tense muscle,
use light or heavy massage. See what is released.
Basic Polarities in the Client's Work
Problem-solving by creative thinking.
Cultivating awareness of emergent goals.
Goal-setting, short-term and long-term.
Action-planning for specific goals.
Going the way of celebration or the way of regression and catharsis.
If going the way of regression and catharsis then choosing to work on a
known X or choosing to let an unknown X, whatever it may be, come up.
Working on a particular incident or on a pattern (i.e. a whole lump of
Working in a light way with light discharge to get attention up and out,
or work in a deeper way for heavier discharge, when there is ample attention
to sustain it.
Going by the route of imagery (memory, imagination) or by body work. Four
routes to catharsis: active imagination, passive imagination, active body
work, passive body work.
Follow Up and Community Building
Confidentiality What you as client work on in a session or group
is confidential to that session or group.
Sexual attraction between those who first meet as co-counsellors.
Make it verbally explicit, counsel on it and discharge on it, rather than
act on it.
Reaching out Who may need attention and a session but be too distressed
and shutdown to ask?
Possible activities for a local community
Intensive co-counselling workshops.
Rotating client marathons.
Specialist workshops: transpersonal, couples, families, sex, creativity,
Community counselling centres.
Co-counselling International is a federation of independent co-counselling
communities worldwide, with international workshops held reguarly in the
USA, Europe and New Zealand.