A gentle introduction to cocounselling

A gentle introduction to cocounselling

What is cocounselling?

Cocounselling” is a process in which two people exchange time and attention to help each other think more clearly and act more powerfully.

The theory and practice have evolved over the last sixty years. It started by observing what helped people grow but without any preconceptions. It is now the most straightforward and most profound approach to improving human functioning that I know.

We start with the assumption that people are fundamentally good, creative and effective. We sometimes have difficulties when we are hurting or something reminds us of when this happened. It is hard to think when you are in the grip of painful emotion.

The natural mechanisms for releasing painful emotions (talking, laughing, sweating, shaking, storming, crying, and yawning) were available to young people. During and after this, the person re-evaluates their experience and can think more clearly and act more powerfully.

Unfortunately, people around us often inhibit the natural process because they mistake the release of emotion (the healing of the hurt) for the distress itself. (Big boys don’t cry etc.).

Cocounselling offers a systematic way for people to use and recover natural emotional release processes. Then we are freer of our internalised conditioning and can be more flexible and be more in charge of our own lives.

Cocounselling practice

The core of cocounselling practice is the session. The counsellor listens, pays attention, and encourages the other person  (the client) to express their thoughts and feelings.

The subject matter can be anything that the client chooses. At the end of the client’s time, you swap roles. With increased experience and confidence in each other, the process works better and better.

How do you learn it?

The best way is by experiencing it in a safe environment. The experience of being listened to profoundly without interruption is so rare and valuable that one good session leaves a person permanently interested in repeating the experience.

A gentle introduction to cocounselling

The best way to learn about cocounselling is to have a session as a client and give a session as a counsellor. We will use some simple cocounselling methods to help create a supportive and trusting atmosphere.

We will have mini-sessions (five minutes each way) to give you some experience quickly in both roles. Then I would like to do a demonstration with a brave volunteer! (No, I won’t twist anyone’s arm. Cocounselling is a caring process that always respects the client’s right to choose what to do.)

We will discuss the process (how the session went, what worked etc.) but not the content  (what the client raised). The content belongs to the client.

Then you will have a longer go with each other, and you will learn about what works by experience. We will talk about what worked and why and deal with any difficulties.

Sharing appreciation is an excellent way to end the session.


The purpose of this event is to introduce a powerful and life-enhancing tool gently. You will get more out of it if you come along to give help and attention and learn some skills and theory. Don’t come expecting to get instant help with something you have been struggling with for twenty years. Cocounselling is not magic, and I am not a magician.

More information

The reevaluation counselling site is a good source. Coconsulting is one way to use these ideas in an organisation.

Comment from a participant

Nick’s gentle style belies a depth of knowledge and experience. When I first met Nick, he took a group of strangers in a cold room and soon had us feeling safe enough to take significant positive risks. Since then, I have found Nick generous with both insight and materials – he’s an excellent resource.

Resli Costabell

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick