Can CCI co-counselling be learned on line?

This is a gathering together of ideas on this issue. If anyone wants anything altered or added, please email the ideas to John Talbut, jtatdpets [dot] uk(link sends e-mail). The intention is to summarize each idea here and not to be an overall summary or a discussion.

The word “present” is used here to mean physically present in the same location. “We” are individual CCI co-counsellors.

This is not about whether useful work can be done by co-counselling on line, or by telephone. This is about the status of people who have learned co-counselling on line in relation to having present sessions and taking part in present CCI events.

By its nature CCI has no and cannot therefore have any mechanism for making decisions that are binding on all CCI co-counsellors. The only ones who can make decisions are individuals and it may come about that most CCI co-counsellors accept a particular position.

The issue

Can CCI co-counselling be learned partly or wholly on line?

Background

Some trainers are used to facilitating training on line and believe that this can be done partly or wholly for a CCI core training.

During the COVID-19 lockdown it has not been possible to bring people together to be present for training.

The Re-evaluation Counseling community (RC) offer on line classes to learn co-counselling.

The requirement for 40 hours training comes from RC. However there has been more or less agreement within CCI that this is a minimum length of training required.

The gatekeeper of the learning process in CCI has been the core training trainer. That person holds some responsibility towards other co-counsellors. The trainers, at present, decide, with the participant and in the light of information from other participants, co-facilitators and helpers, whether they are ready to be a CCI co-counsellor. Other CCI co-counsellors may give information to trainers about the perceived competence of former trainees.

In co-counselling I always make a judgement about whether the person in front of me will be useful to me and whether they will be able to use what I offer them.

Points

Presence may be a critically important component of co-counselling. Much of healing can be seen as a process of re-parenting. The presence of someone giving their undivided attention and not judging or trying to tell the other what to do may be a strong contradiction to having had parents who were in some way absent or critical. This may be key to bringing up feelings associated with childhood that can then be worked on, particularly through discharge.

On line work may reproduce a distant parent and so may be less conducive to bringing up early material. It may also feel more comfortable because it avoids triggering these feelings.

On line there are difficulties around looking at the screen or looking at the camera. Also the output can be somewhat jerky. In addition the participants are only seeing what the other person’s camera is pointing at, usually just their face. If the client moves around they may go completely off screen. All these mean that a lot of body language is not being conveyed.

Online training and co-counselling can enable people who are isolated, e.g. geographically, to participate in co-counselling. For all participants there is less effort, less expenditure, less time involved in participating in or organizing online activities compared with present ones.

Some on line facilities such as video or presentation programmes can facilitate the learning of cognitive information however these can also be used in present training.

Present events have more sense of occasion, perhaps partly because of the greater resource they consume.

It may be easier to bring people into co-counselling who have become used to on line social networking or other online activities.

The threshold for interest may be lower among people (and there may be many) who may like the idea of co-counselling but feel afraid to try it.

Learning CCI co-counselling may be nearly all affective learning, i.e. learning to feel different. In other words learning to feel comfortable with giving and receiving free attention, feeling able to maintain a balance of attention, feeling all right with discharge and feeling all right about taking charge of our own work. These can only be learned experientially. The cognitive information about co-counselling can all be read in manuals and on line.

The knowledge that another human is walking alongside me is significant, for learning. Written material can be better conveyed by the presence of a trainer in addition to the written word.

A trainer who is present can observe trainees during group activities and sessions in the same space as well as having sessions with them individually. This way they can get a good sense of whether they are “getting it”.

The opportunities for participants to be together outside of training sessions, e.g. at meal times, gives opportunities to practice and monitor whether participants have understood and are observing confidentiality.

Any techniques that need touch cannot be practised on line.

The knowledge that another human being is with me in the best way they can be under the circumstances, can be very beneficial. If I am blind for instance I an still obtain benefit from another human with helpful intent.

A hybrid model in which participants experience presence as well as online connection may provide an excellent opportunity for direct experiential comparison between the two modes and consequent understanding of the advantages of either. Facilitators who bear this specifically in mind may perhaps enable three stage learning by participants – overcoming initial misgivings, working in Present Time mode and (for some) regressive work. These stages have often been evident in present classes.

Possible ways forward

We stick to a 40 hour present training by a CCI co-counsellor as a requirement. Anyone who has done any other sort of training would still need to do this.

Some form of transitional training involving less that 40 hours of present training. A similar challenge exists in proving a transition for RC co-counsellors and in considering the position of cocos who did a class a very long tie ago.

We have a network of on line co-counsellors whose training was fully on line and who only co-counsel on line. They would still need to do the present training to do present co-counselling. Present co-counsellors could have on line sessions with on line co-counsellors.

We accept blended core trainings with some on line and a minimum (how much?) of present training.

Organizers take into account if they accept co-counsellors whose training was on line how to integrate them into the event.

We clarify or add to the minimum requirements as set out in “A Definition of CCI” that a person has to satisfy in order to be a CCI co-counsellor.

In addition to the current questions (“when and with whom was your core training?) organizers might in addition ask questions about whether the training was present, on line or mixed and how frequently the person co-counsels currently.

From a technical point of view, co-counsellors may wish to seek software modifications that can improve the online experience so that we are not constrained by what is currently available.

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