by Susan S.
Have you ever had a friend who never opened up to you about herself? She might have been a wonderful listener and might have been very supportive, but did you really feel close to her? Walking a one-way street is a lost and lonely path.
Co-counseling is the opposite. The premise of co-counseling is making sure to split time equally, to share the load and to become partners in life’s journey.
I didn't understand the map at first. When I began learning about co-counseling, I thought if one person were having a very tough time, then we shouldn't split time that night but instead should let one person take all the time. Clearly the person in the client role needed to talk more that day.
But what we were told about co-counseling is that the troubled person would actually benefit from being in the counselor role as well. In other words, healing doesn't only take place when it’s your turn to talk. It takes place the entire time.
When you switch roles, when you know that you have been a guide on another's path to healing, your scars fade, too. Besides just sharing in each other’s struggles, when you help someone, you feel good about yourself. It’s why people find volunteer work so rewarding. And each co-counseling session can bring that feeling. At the same time, you have someone volunteering to help you, too.
When I first experienced this, I couldn't believe how much better I felt while playing the counselor role. I felt a human connection that I've not had in traditional therapy or with friends who remained very private. I felt valued. I belonged. The two-way street took me exactly where I needed to go.