The main aim of a CoCo Open Space workshop is to bring together co-counsellors with shared interests and common needs so that they can co-create a meaningful and relevant Co-Counselling cooperation. A positive side effect is that even from the start of CoCo Open Space people talk about things that really matter to them. CoCo Open Space is a good way of mixing people new to co-counselling with more experienced co-counsellors.

Stages in the CoCo Open Space process

Stage 1. People identify their topic with related offers and requests

They do this in one-to-one sessions.

Stage 2. People are supported to find others with shared or complementary interests

There are various ways how this can be done. Common to all these is that people create and display Topic Poster(s) with related offers and/or requests. On these posters other participants can indicate their interests, requests and offers of support.

Depending on the local situation and the size of group one or more approaches can be used to bring people together.
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  • The Market: one group of people set up stalls with their Topic Posters while the other groups walk around and explore what is of interest to them. After some time the next group man their stalls, so that the first group can explore the other Topics as well.
  • A Topic Circle: people say their names and the topics they would like to propose. Interested people can indicate their interest in the circle.
  • A Topic Wall displaying all Topic Posters with the names of the proposers.

Finally there is the cooperative planning of small Topic Group meetings for those people who have shared or complementary interests.

Stage 3. People in a Topic group co-create a Cooperation Arrangement

A Cooperation Arrangement can be very simple, such as a one-off meeting for coffee to share experiences, sharing a table during lunch or dinner or having a co-counselling session. Also people might become buddies, form a support group for the duration of the residential or run a workshop. There are also more complex Cooperation Arrangements, like a Cooperative Inquiry group.

Two applications

One use of the CoCo Open Space approach is as the start-up of a residential workshop. Once people have created their cooperation arrangements, CoCo Open Space is formally finished. Afterwards the Topic Posters are displayed at a central place near to where people have their breaks, coffee and teas. In this way, cross-fertilisation of the various topics will happen which in turn generates new workshops and activities. 

The actual planning of the workshops, the support groups and other events during the residential takes place after CoCo Open Space.

Secondly, the CoCo Open Space approach can also be used locally for a day or weekend workshop. This is especially useful as CoCo Open Space provides the opportunity for people to find co-counselling partners and to mix co-counsellors who have been on recent Fundamentals with people who have been co-counselling for quite a while.

In order to refine a cooperation arrangement, some CoCo Open Spaces provide the opportunity to offer and request a Taster workshop of an hour or more. In these workshops, experienced co-counsellors share their experiences with working on a topic, or run a taster of the skills workshop they have on offer.