Tuesday, February 14, 2012


by Lundy B.

At co-counseling class last night, our theme was learning to ask for help,. Here are some of the points we touched on:

• We live in a society that places a high value on self-reliance, and promotes the idea that we shouldn’t need anyone, that we should be capable of doing things all by ourselves. So we have to struggle against that conditioning,.

• Many people are eager to help. It therefore can be a gift to another person to allow them to help us.

• People are especially willing to help if the following things are true: 1) We are appreciative of the help we are given, not taking it for granted; 2) We use the help to make things happen in our lives that need to happen (in other words, we move forward and take steps, so the person doesn’t feel like we keep asking for help with the same things over and over again); and 3) We give back on other days, so that the people helping us feel that the help is mutual and rewarding and exchange is kept somewhat equal over time.

• Let’s do some examining of what comes up for us regarding asking for help, including feelings we have, perhaps from our earlier experiences in life, that make it hard to ask for help. (And we did a little of this exploring together in the class.)

I then encouraged people in the class to pay attention over the coming days and weeks to places in our lives where we need more help, whether logistically (concrete help doing things) or emotionally (love and support from friends and co-counselors). And let’s work on asking for more help where we need it.

We agreed in the class that self-reliance – being able to do what needs to be done without help, especially when reliable help just isn’t available – is a great strength and skill to have. But we want to work toward not having to fall back on self-reliance as often as we do currently.

Some of the counseling techniques we worked on tonight included:

• Reflecting reality – by telling the client what we believe to be true about her, to help counter the impact of negative voices

• Using physical movement – asking the client to try using her body in the session in ways that could help her feel her power and release distress

• Encouraging the client’s laughter and working on ways to move more into that laughter

There is much more to say about these techniques, but we got a start.

After class, I got to thinking about applying the night’s theme to myself as the teacher, and thought about ways I might ask for more help regarding the class. Specifically, I would benefit from getting a volunteer before each class to come 15 or 20 minutes early and give me a co-counseling turn, to help me feel clear and supported as I go into teaching the class. So I’m going to practice what I preach and reach out for help in that way.

On a slightly different theme, I decided that I’m going to encourage people to take turns writing a couple of paragraphs for this blog after each class. Writing is a powerful process, and often a loaded one, so I think it makes sense to all be sharing the risks and rewards that are involved. And that way we all get the benefits of hearing each other's thoughts in writing.