Finding New Enjoyment in a Co-Counseling Class

I have just completed my "year-long" mixed ongoing and fundamentals class. I had been all set to teach an ongoing group, but then several of my friends called and asked me if they could please take my Co-Counseling class. That, to me, is the very best kind of recruit, but it meant thinking about the class differently. So I decided to try a mixed group, and to try to teach in a very organic way. I took issues from the members as they arose around our overall theme of getting our lives just right for ourselves, and slid the fundamentals theory in sideways, as it were. (I am generally a teacher who editorializes and teaches from what's happening at the moment, more than from prepared outlines, anyway.)

There was another challenge built into this class as well. During this past school year I have had to travel a lot, and it has meant being away for a week at a time. But even when I was gone, the group went on meeting. I am pleased with how I organized the class to deal creatively with my absences. I proposed to my assistant and to the other experienced members of the class that I would not charge a class fee for the weeks I was away, but that I wanted them to cooperate in teaching the classes together, and that they could cover as much of the fundamentals theory as they thought important. This generally worked well. Sometimes they worked as a group, and other times one or another person took on more responsibility. My last-class evaluations indicated that the people who were beginners were not sure if they had covered all the fundamentals, but that they felt like solid Co-Counselors and were deeply connected to our large (fifteen- to seventeen-member) group. I think these are the more essential "pieces" of learning Co-Counseling, as even when you present a carefully developed set of theory classes, people may not be able to take it all in.

Two of the beginners did not continue through all twenty-four weeks because of schedule problems. (This was an afternoon class, and it just didn't work out for them vis-a-vis their work.) And one woman found the level of emotional work too scary for now, which I think is a real possibility for some beginners. On the other hand, I believe that a group in which there are plenty of experienced, relaxed folks to help the new ones along and model the process is probably much easier for most newcomers; not everyone is fumbling along "in the dark" so much. All in all, I am pleased with my experiment. Next time I think I will make sure beginners have an outline of what is covered in most fundamentals classes, and then we can check it every so often to see what they think they have not yet gotten.

Caroline Balderston Perry
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00