How co-counselling works

CCI Co-counselling session peer-to-peer therapy self-esteemA co-counselling session is based on two people getting together and each taking turns to be counsellor and then client (or client and then counsellor). They choose how long the session is to last, and they both have equal time in the two roles. No money is exchanged. They have both learned the same set of techniques on the foundation course, and know what to expect from their counsellor.

Example session

  • John and Dave decide to have a session together.
  • They meet up at a time and place decided by themselves.
  • They decide to spend an hour together, and split this time equally between them.
  • For half an hour, John is the ‘client’ and Dave is the ‘counsellor’. During this period John is working on issues that he decides on. He is using the session exactly as he chooses in ways that he learned on the course. Meanwhile, Dave supports John by listening, generally giving John his attention, and sometimes coming in with prompts or suggestions (called ‘interventions’) that he learned on the course that they both did.
  • After John’s session they swap roles: Dave is ‘client’ and John is ‘counsellor’.
  • When they’re both finished they go their separate ways.

Group co-counselling (optional)

Co-counselling can often take place in a group, where everyone is client for an equal length of time. Doing co-counselling in a group can be a particularly powerful way of getting to ‘below the surface’ to the feelings and senses that need working on. If you have never done this kind of emotional work in a group this may sound daunting at first. The co-counselling culture and framework helps you with this: there is no obligation to do anything you don’t feel inclined or ready to do – ‘the client is in charge’…


Note that you don’t have to do any work in a group if you don’t want to, and that co-counselling is originally conceived as a pair-work activity.

List of techniques (‘interventions’)

The following list of interventions taught on the course is not be self-explanatory, but it may give you a gist of things, or whet your appetite. The interventions are a combination of verbal work (talking – using words etc) and non-verbal work – sound, posture, body movements and feelings etc. The individual chooses what interventions are useful for them i.e. each person is completely free to develop their own way of using co-counselling techniques.

  • Celebration
  • Free attention
  • What’s the thought?
  • Cues; verbal and non-verbal mirroring
  • Psychodrama: role-play and reverse role play
  • Attention switching (coming back to present time)
  • Scanning and Literal description
  • Repetition, contradiction and exaggeration
  • Unfinished business
  • Work with cushions
  • Non-verbal work
  • Sentence completion
  • Identity check
  • Direction holding and Celebration into discharge
  • Patterns: Victim / persecutor / rescuer / distant position
  • Client patterns and Counsellor patterns
  • Balance of attention
  • Client patterns
  • Counsellor patterns
  • Re-evaluation
  • Target practice and goal setting
  • Appreciations, constructive feedback
  • Acting into emotions (mad, sad, glad and bad)
  • What’s left unsaid?