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Making the Most of Co-Counseling

At the Nigerian National Workshop, the teaching of Barbara Love [the International Liberation Reference Person for African-Heritage People] was detailed, graphic, and concise:

  • We must remember what is true about the client, even if we’ve never met prior to the session: that she or he is inherently good, brilliant, loving, intelligent, and rational.
  • Then we listen, interestedly, remembering that a client may tell her or his story with words or action.
  • Next we identify the distress that needs to be discharged and think of many ways to contradict it.
  • We need to always remember the basic agreement—that two persons put their attention on one person. By implication, as counselors we take our mind off our own distress and keep our attention solely on the client. Because we’ve all been hurt, we may be restimulated as counselor. This is okay. We simply decide to keep our attention on the client. In the rare situation in which our feelings are so big that we are unable to counsel the client, we can tell the client that we have some feelings and may not be able to continue with that topic or with the session.
  • It’s good to ask the client for the earliest memory of whatever she or he is talking about.
  • We need to bear in mind that a distress will not go away if left alone—we have to do what is necessary for it to discharge.

The counselor-client-coach threesome worked like magic. The essence of Co-Counseling—attentive listening to the client and helping the client re-emerge—was brought to the fore. Those in the counselor role worked at being their best for the client. The “coaches” observed with rapt attention, ready to share their thoughts at the end of the session.

Onii Nwangwu-Stevenson

Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria

(Present Time 187, April 2017)

Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00