Co-Counselling International - Guidelines

D. Sargent, Sargent, T., and Heron, J., Co-Counselling International - Guidelines, 1974.

CoCoInfo Tags: 

  • CCI

Co-Counselling International is an international federation of Co-Counsellors and Co-Counselling communities.


Its purpose is to facilitate interaction of Co-Counselling communities by:

  • Sharing address lists of Co-Counsellors and enabling people to co-counsel when abroad or away from home in their own country.
  • Holding national and international federation workshops for Co-Counselling and for sharing developments in theory and method.
  • Publishing an international newsletter and such other publications as are necessary.
  • Maintaining archives of all material relevant to the history and development of Co-Counselling.
  • Holding a general C.C.I. business meeting and communicating the results to the contact persons, those present and the newsletter.

Shared Principles of Method

  • Co-Counselling is a two-way process among peers, each taking a turn as client and as counsellor, each exercising appropriate skills.
  • The client is self-directed.
  • The counsellor does not criticise, interpret or advise, and acts within a contract indicated by the client.
  • The Co-Counsellor affirms the value of discharge.


Shared Principle of Community

  • Co-Counsellors associate in a supportive community.
  • Each community develops its own organisational structure.
  • The reflection of the peer principle by the organisational structure is affirmed.

Federation Continuity Persons

The federation has Continuity Persons, consisting of the Financial Co-ordinators, the Communication Co-ordinators and six persons to fill three year terms. Two terms become vacant each year.

The federation Continuity Persons select members and conduct the business of Co-Counselling International by whatever means will establish the consensus of the group and will ensure that it reflects the peer principle.

Financial Co-ordinators:
The Financial Co-ordinator will be selected by the Continuity Persons for a three year term and are responsible for taking care of payment of bills, budget and accounting.

Communications Co-ordinators:
The Communications Co-ordinators will be selected by the Continuity Persons for a three year term and are responsible for communications between groups and individuals who are members of Co-Counselling International, publications, announcements and news letters.

Membership Guidelines

Membership of Co-Counselling International is open to all individual Co-Counsellors and Co-Counselling communities who accept these guidelines.

Membership is obtained by writing to the CCI Continuity Persons, requesting membership and supplying the following details:

A. A statement that the person or community is aware of and accepts the CCI guidelines, as published (in this Newsletter).

B. Details as appropriate to individual or community.

  1. For individual Co-Counsellors: Name, address, Co-Counselling experience (including details of how you learned to cocounsel.)
  2. For communities of Co-Counsellors:

a. The name by which the community is known.

b. A list of the titles and responsibilities of the roles within the community which carry responsibility to the community. (A minimum of two such roles, filled at any one time by different people are required to distinguish a community from a class or an informal group.)

c. The name and address of someone willing to act as CCI Contact person. This will be published (in the Newsletter) and the person will be responsible for liaising with the CCI Continuity Persons and the Newsletter Editors.

A Definition of Co-Counselling International - CCI

J. Heron, A Definition of Co-Counselling International - CCI, One to One, 1996.

CoCoInfo Tags: 

  • CCI
  • Session
  • Client In Charge
  • Session Contracts
  • Peerness

CCI is a planet-wide association of individuals and local networks committed to affirm a core discipline of co-counselling while encouraging, on an international and co-operative basis, the advancement of sound theory, effective practice, network development and planetary transformation. Local networks of co-counsellors within CCI are independent, self-governing peer organisations, exploring ways of being effective social structures while avoiding all forms of authoritarian control. Any person and network is a member of CCI if :

  1. they understand and apply the principles of co-counselling given below
  2. they have had at least 40 hours training from a member of CCI
  3. they grasp, in theory and practice, the ideas of pattern, discharge and re-evaluation

The Principles of Co-Counselling

  1. Co-counselling is usually practised in pairs with one person working, the client, one person facilitating, the counsellor, then they reverse these roles. In every session each person spends the same time in the role of both client and counsellor. A session is usually on the same occasion, although sometimes people may take turns as client and counsellor on different occasions.
  2. When co-counsellors work in groups of three or more, members take an equal time as client, each client either choosing one other person as counsellor, or working in a self-directing way with the silent, supportive attention of the group. For certain purposes, the client may request co-operative interventions by two or more counsellors.
  3. The client is in charge of their session in at least seven ways:
    1. trusting and following the living process of liberation emerging within
    2. choosing at the start of the session one of three contracts given in no. 9 below
    3. choosing within the first two contracts what to work on and how
    4. being free to change the contract during their session
    5. having a right to accept or disregard interventions made by the counsellor
    6. being responsible for keeping a balance of attention
    7. being responsible for working in a way that does not harm themselves, the counsellor, other people, or the environment
  4. The client's work is their own deep process. It may include, but is not restricted to:
    1. discharge and re-evaluation on personal distress and cultural oppression
    2. celebration of personal strengths
    3. creative thinking at the frontiers of personal belief
    4. visualising future personal and cultural states for goal-setting and action-planning
    5. extending consciousness into transpersonal states

    CCI takes the view that the first of these is a secure foundation for the other four.

  5. The role of the counsellor is to:
    1. give full, supportive attention to the client at all times
    2. intervene in accordance with the contract chosen by the client
    3. inform the client about time at the end of the session and whenever the client requests
    4. end the session immediately if the client becomes irresponsibly harmful to themselves, the counsellor, other people, or the environment
  6. The counsellor's intervention is a behaviour that facilitates the client's work. It may be verbal, and/or nonverbal through eye contact, facial expression, gesture, posture or touch.
  7. A verbal intervention is a practical suggestion about what the client may say or do as a way of enhancing their working process within the session. It is not a stated interpretation or analysis and does not give advice. It is not driven by counsellor distress and is not harmful or invasive. It liberates client autonomy and self-esteem.
  8. The main use of nonverbal interventions is to give sustained, supportive and distress-free attention: being present for the client in a way that affirms and enables full emergence. This use is the foundation of all three contracts given below. Nonverbal interventions can also be used to elaborate verbal interventions; or to work on their own in conveying a practical suggestion; or, in the case of touch, to release discharge through appropriate kinds of pressure, applied movement or massage.
  9. The contract which the client chooses at the start of the session is an agreement about time, and primarily about the range and type of intervention the counsellor will make. The three kinds of contract are:
    Free attention
    The counsellor makes no verbal interventions and only uses nonverbal interventions to give sustained, supportive attention. The client is entirely self-directing in managing their own working process.
    The counsellor is alert to what the client misses and makes some interventions of either kind to facilitate and enhance what the client is working on. There is a co-operative balance between client self-direction and counsellor suggestions.
    The counsellor makes as many interventions as seem necessary to enable the client to deepen and sustain their process, hold a direction, interrupt a pattern and liberate discharge. This may include leading a client in working areas being omitted or avoided. The counsellor may take a sensitive, finely-tuned and sustained directive role.
  10. Counsellors have a right to interrupt a client's session if they are too heavily restimulated by what the client is working on and so cannot sustain effective attention. If, when they explain this to the client, the client continues to work in the same way, then they have a right to withdraw completely from the session.
  11. Whatever a client works on in a session is confidential. The counsellor, or others giving attention in a group, do not refer to it in any way in any context, unless the client has given them explicit, specific permission to do so. It is, however, to be taken into account, where relevant, by the counsellor in future sessions with the same client.