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Spreading the Thinking

We just finished a 'brainstorm counseling' evening. This idea originated with Mary Ni, who used it in her fundamentals classes. This is how it works:

Take the time available and divide it among those present. If you have a large group, split up into smaller groups. Six people per group works well. Each person takes a turn. The optimal time seems to be about thirteen minutes, though as little as eight minutes apiece works. Choose numbers to determine in what order to take turns. Each person's time is split up into three parts:

  1. Clienting: the client picks a counselor and they sit together in front of the group. The client has a turn for two minutes, usually without much direction needed from the counselor.
  2. Brainstorming: it's up to each member of the group to suggest a direction he or she would give to the client (you can do more than one round). Have someone take notes for the client so that he or she has a list of directions to take home to use in future sessions. The client listens to each of the directions and then decides which of them he or she thinks would be the most useful.
  3. The client then uses that direction for the rest of his or her turn.

This procedure demystifies the counseling process and lays it all out there in plain sight. For people newer to RC, it's good for showing there's not just one direction that's going to work for a person, that there are many possibilities, many angles from which to approach a distress.

As a client, it's a great opportunity to notice concretely that a roomful of people are actively thinking well about you. That in itself is a big contradiction for most people. Also, there is a tangible list to refer to. (The directions that best contradict chronic patterns are often the easiest to forget.)

For fundamentals teachers and support group leaders, it's a great way to get a break from providing all the counseling. Also, it helps to take that mystique off of being a leader or teacher. Having the group hear where a leader struggles, and then think well about him or her, is kind of like what happens in a 'counsel the leader' format.

As counselors, it's a great way to expand our repertoire of counseling directions and review some of the methods and theory.

For members of the Community, it's been a good chance to connect with each other and hook up with other counselors, often on the basis of directions given in these sessions.

It has been lots of fun and highly energizing. I look forward to doing it every month.

Cornelia Cho
Atlanta, Georgia,

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00