High Expectations in an Ongoing Class

During the past several years I've been teaching an ongoing class for experienced Co-Counselors. Everyone has been making progress in their lives. I've noticed, however, that some of us haven't been moving forward as quickly or as deliberately as we want.

I noticed that we often sabotage or slow down our re-emergence by not taking charge of our sessions. Some of us withhold important information about ourselves from our counselors. Others of us test our counselors to determine whether they are "smart enough," "safe enough," "understanding enough," to think about us. Some of us stumble upon a useful place to discharge (for example, a significant early memory) and then forget to go back and work on that memory by the time we have our next session a week later.

Some of us have become fairly skilled at showing our patterns in such a way that our counselors get confused and mistake our patterns for reality. As a result, they may hold back from counseling us in the most effective ways possible.

One week I wrote several questions on a large sheet of paper which I taped on the wall where my class is held. These are the questions (slightly modified) which I shared with my class:

  1. In what ways, and on what topics, do you want to be ruthless in your sessions as client?
  2. In what areas do you want your counselors' unrelenting good thinking about you in order to assist you in discharging and eliminating particular patterns and recordings?
  3. What repeated decisions are you now willing to make, in or out of session?
  4. How do your patterns/recordings sometimes fool your counselors? What do you want your counselors to know in order to not be confused?
  5. In what areas of your life are you ready to decide to stop procrastinating, using smoke screens, and/or making excuses?
  6. What goals do you now decide to give others full permission to push you towards? What is your true dream, what do you want most, even if you've felt too afraid, hopeless, embarrassed (or whatever) to even mention that dream in your sessions?
  7. What do you need to discharge or do differently in order to think clearly about a Co-Counselor or another person in your life?

Over the course of the class cycle, everyone had mini-sessions to think about and discharge on these questions. Each person was also counseled on the questions in front of the group. I found that people were clear, smart, and courageous in thinking about themselves outside of their distress and in answering the questions.

A scribe took notes as each person was counseled. Later I typed up the notes and gave everyone a copy. I encouraged them to read and think about the answers to the questions before they counseled with each other.

Soon after I did this work with my class, I noticed that people were discharging more deeply and counseling in more focused and useful ways. The level of counseling improved quickly, and the tone of our class changed as well.

These questions have also helped me to focus my own sessions and be more strategic both as a client and a counselor. As a counselor, I'm now willing to take more risks. As a client, I want each of my counselors to know, without them having to guess or decipher my distress, exactly what I want to be working on. I want them to know exactly where they have my full permission (and even my encouragement!) to push me ruthlessly, no matter how angry, annoyed, or disagreeable I may look.

I want to remember the truths about myself that I sometimes forget once I get in a session and have a little attention. And I want my counselors to have clear information about me - my true self and my deepest yearnings for my life and the world - so that we can truly work as a team, with two of us thinking about my re-emergence.

I've found that by doing this I take more responsibility for my re-emergence and move away from being a victim in my sessions. I'm no longer waiting to be rescued by the "perfect" counselor.

My initial step in this process was to introduce the questions to my class and provide the opportunity for discharge, decision making, thinking, and information sharing. My next step is to hold myself and others accountable to not only share the information about ourselves with our counselors but also use it to persistently guide our sessions and our lives.

Judy Brodkey
Portland, Oregon, USA

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