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September 17-23

Adding Co-Counseling to Existing Relationships

(From an Open Questions Evening at the Connecticut, USA, Teachers’ and Leaders’ Workshop, May 2000)

Question: How do you add counseling to existing relationships?

Tim Jackins: You have to be thoughtful about adding counseling to other relationships, even though it isn’t the same as adding other relationships to the Co-Counseling relationship. It’s an interesting area that people sometimes don’t think clearly about ahead of time.

If you’re not thoughtful, you may simply be trying to make people be clients so that they will work on the distresses that irritate you. That’s not a good perspective, and they will know that’s your perspective right from the beginning. Also, some of us turn counselor when we actually need to be client. “I’m having trouble; clearly you need to be client.” Of course, at that point, we are usually not in shape to be very good counselors.

You can teach people in your life to Co-Counsel even though they never have a session except with you for the first couple of years. It won’t work well to depend on them as your main counselors, but you can use them as emergency back-up counselors, when they’re there and willing. By using them as your counselors, they can see that there are two roles in this. They get to play an important and powerful role in it as well as being helped by it.

Though counseling can work to some extent without the other person ever knowing what’s happening, it doesn’t work well long-term unless people agree to it. It works best when two people agree that they’re going to take on their struggles using these tools. You want to try to set up the conditions in which—whoever it is, whatever they’re stuck in, and whatever relationship you have with them—they make an agreement to use counseling in this way. Then you have to be thoughtful and careful about it. Besides counseling, you have another relationship that’s important. When things get difficult you don’t want to abandon that relationship and try to counsel them unless you have agreement about it. You don’t want to turn away from the existing relationship just because it’s difficult.

Adding counseling to a relationship is wonderful if you are thoughtful about it.

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