Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My First Co-Counseling Session After the Level One Training

by Susan S.

During the co-counseling workshop with Lundy Bancroft, I had the opportunity to schedule a telephone session with one of the participants. When I left the workshop, it was a great feeling to know that we'd be connecting a few days later, and could follow up and help each other. But it was also nerve-wracking to know that now I'd be on my own applying the counseling techniques that we had learned. Would I be able to do it? Would I say the wrong thing? Would I be able to tell her what was bothering me?

I needn't have worried. She patiently listened to my grief over the death of my father, but it was different than any conversation I've ever had with a friend. I wasn't interrupted. I wasn't given advice. I wasn't told to "get over it" or to "let him go." Instead, I was given validation and complete attention. My opinions and feelings mattered, and I was allowed and even encouraged to cry. It was more than I had even hoped for.

We hung up the phone to take a break between sessions, and I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. The sadness wasn't gone, but it was now manageable -- and, more importantly, it was now shared. I wasn't alone. And she wasn't alone.

When I called her back, I let her know how much better I felt and how much I appreciated her for listening without judgment. "I feel better, too," she said. "And I really liked knowing that I'd get a call from you later." And we switched roles and I played counselor while she played the role of client. I listened carefully and also tried to show her that I heard her and understood. By the end of the call, we had each other laughing.

I couldn't be happier about the exchange, and I look forward to our next scheduled call. The experience was far more than a therapy session, and far more supportive than a talk with a friend. Co-counseling is therapy and companionship in one. And, as co-counseling teaches, how can true healing occur without both?

1 comment:

  1. I too attended the co-counseling training and I agree with Susie re: the first phone session with a fellow participant. One thing we didn't do was take a phone break in between switching roles. I like that idea and will do that in the future. We both seemed to feel better about things when we finished and will co-counsel again together soon. We have sessions with others scheduled so decided to not try doing one again together this coming week. Speaking just for myself,I feel so much better talking with someone that i know truly understands because she has "been there, done that" and that I know is non-judgemental of my struggles. Even tho we are miles apart geographically, it feels like we could be right next door. Being able to keep in touch via email helps me too, since that is a good way to do follow up. Often when i would leave the counseling center, i had questions that had to wait sometimes a month or more. I am so grateful to Lundy for doing this and to all the amazing women who have chosen to share this work. It gives me so much hope for the future of our children and grandchildren who will benefit greatly. Blessings to all !!