I came to Co Counselling in 2004. Back then I was, on the outside, a well functioning effective person. I was self employed, managing the assets of a farm, (fences, buildings, roads etc), managing large reforestation projects and removing dangerous trees from mainly five and ten acre holdings all to a high standard. I was genuinely cheerful in my work and I enjoyed it to the extent that I would play with different work ideas in my off work time. It was a wonderful outlet for my creativity, and my clients appreciated that.
On the inside, however, I was lonely and was unable to make the initial link into a meaningful relationship. I was drinking much more beer than was acceptable to me, and while I had this wonderful and fulfilling work life, I had practically no private life. When I was not working, I simply existed until the next session of work.
A wonderful friend whom I met through a dating site happened to be a Co Counsellor. She kept the pressure on me for a whole year to get me to attend a Co Counselling training. I shied away from the first available course but she managed me into the next one. What a gift of life that was. Truly, it was a gift of Life.
At the five-day workshop, called a Basics Training, I became reacquainted with my feelings. On the third day, I experienced real emotions and was able to release years of pent up stuff. This left me somewhat exhausted but also immensely relieved. I felt quiet and content, probably for first time in my whole adult life. By the end of the workshop, I had changed from being a true “lone wolf” to finding my connection to humanity. In this group of people I found my “tribe”, and in this tribe amazing things unfolded.
I practised sessioning, the way the teachers taught in the workshop, at least once a fortnight, mostly once a week, for eighteen months. I almost stopped at eighteen months because nothing seemed to be happening, then just as I was getting to this place of frustration an amazing shift occurred and I realised just how potent regular Co Counselling really was.
Soon after that, I had the great good fortune to be invited to be a team member supporting the next Basics training and in that workshop, in a sharing circle, I stood up and claimed “my right to be partnered in this realm”. The felt experience of that was beyond anything I had ever felt previously, and I cannot find the words to describe that experience. More was yet to come!
I continued weekly sessions for about ten weeks after that Basics training, then did a pre-planned intensive Co Counselling cycle involving meeting with another Co Counsellor once a week for a twelve-hour, co created, experiential time together. I focused my work on “my right to be partnered in this realm”. Two or three weeks after that cycle of personal work, I met my present partner. We have now been together for almost eight years.
Co Counselling is taught in an experiential workshop so that we practise and experience the training. To intellectualise Co Counselling is to understand it just as you can understand from a book exactly how a car works, but if you never practise driving the car you cannot drive the car. If I did not practise Co Counselling, I would not have had that experience.
I do not hold Co Counselling up as the best modality for personal growth. I hold practise up as the only way towards personal growth. I can read all the spiritual books I like and all the self-help and personal growth and development books I like, but until I move the knowledge out of my head and into my being, using action (practise), I will not experience real changes in my life. There are so many wonderful modalities from which to choose. Almost all of them work, there are some charlatans no doubt, but the mainstream modalities have adherents who are growing abundantly. Those people have taken on those modalities as their practise.
To me, Co Counselling is not about fixing me; it is about polishing this normally functioning person to step beyond the mundane everyday existence towards whatever my potential might be. So far, this has comprised ever-deepening experiences of Self in ways I could not have imagined before I started Co Counselling.
Practising Co Counselling grows my awareness of Self and Others. At my Basics training I gained Self awareness of my emotional feelings. Through the practise of Co Counselling I have become aware of my lower four chakras (Root to Heart) and the energies that run through my body; I have become aware of Love as an energy. I have become more aware of others. For me, the most significant other that this works with is my partner. Awareness from both sides has built our relationship. As I shared above, I met her two or three weeks after a very intense series of co-created sessions about being in relationship. Without that work, I am sure she would not have given me a second glance! However, the real work of being in relationship started when this relationship started. More Co Counselling sessions as well as a small number of professional counselling sessions ensued.
Awareness builds into presence and an experience of being in the moment, what Eckhart Tolle calls “Being in the Now”. Being in the Counsellor role in a Co Counselling session and practicing being fully aware as the counsellor builds our ability to be fully present to this other person. As our experience of being present to another person grows, we find that all that exists in a session is this other person and whatever it is they bring to this moment. As we sit in the moment with what they bring the experience of the Now is manifest. With practise it becomes possible to “Be in the Now” when we wish. A skill I now use in my Professional Counselling practice. I promise, from personal experience, this is an amazing and life-enhancing way to be.
For me, Co Counselling is so much more than what I have shared so far. I have more self-confidence, I stand more fully in my personal power, I access heart wisdom with growing regularity and my spiritual path seems to unfold ahead of me in ways I could not have foreseen.
Co Counselling is not for everyone. If you can set your stuff aside to listen to someone else for, say, 20 minutes. If you have a sense of being responsible for the outcomes in your life, and if you are, for the most part, functioning in a way that is pleasing to you, then Co Counselling is probably a modality that will change your life in wonderful ways, just as it has for me.
This essay was written by Douglas Warren. Douglas is a New Zealand member of Co Counselling International who at time of writing is an apprentice Co Counselling teacher with 10 years experience in the Co Counselling community. Douglas is also a professional counsellor, group facilitator and personal/professional development teacher.