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Co-Counselling Teacher Trainers’ Manual

John Heron

1978, revised edition 1998


  1. Possible teacher training activities
  2. Consultation on workshop design
  3. Activities for experienced teachers present
  4. Two kinds of workshop
  5. Community building

See also my:


This manual gives a resume of some of my thinking about, and experience of, facilitating training programmes, using a five-day block, for aspiring teachers of co-counselling.  Anyone involved in training co-counselling teachers is welcome to use it in any way they see fit.

I. Possible teacher training activities

The first thing I do is list on a board or sheet of paper all the different possible activities for the five-day workshop and invite the group to add anything I have omitted. My list includes the following. I give the items below in considerable detail so that the reader of this manual can use them. All this information would just be sketched in verbally when I present the list to trainees in a workshop.

1. Co-counselling sessions. Free choice, random selection by numbers drawn out of a box, or criteria of pairing agreed by the group.

2. Discharge groups. See Co-Counselling Teachers’ Manual: Basic Ingredients and Group Work.

3. Not-for-discharge groups. See Co-Counselling Teachers’ Manual: Basic Ingredients of a fundamentals workshop and Group Work.

4. Demonstration of ‘new’ techniques. The teacher explains techniques that are new to a significant number of those present, followed either by a practice mini-session, or by the demonstration of the techniques with a client or series of clients working in front of the whole group. These techniques may include: various kinds of body work, birth re-enactment, varieties of counsellor’s role in psychodrama, projected rehearsal role play, future event counselling, lean ritual, spiritual celebration, counselling on spiritual potential, regression with reverie, conscious dreaming, etc.

5. Analysis and practice of intensive or demonstration counselling. I, together with the group, compile and categorise all the different interventions which an intensive non-permissive counsellor makes. Members practise intensive counselling in small groups, receiving feedback on client cues missed. I demonstrate intensive counselling to show how rapidly it can go, how many client cues there are. The following table sets out one way of portraying client cues and counsellor interventions. Client cues are content cues and process cues. Counsellor interventions either prompt client to be active, or the counsellor is active while the client is receptive and responsive.


The client’s story: word/image/idea


The client’s energy: body/breath/sound

Client cue® What client is invited to say
Client cue® What client is invited to do



to be


Evasive talk or analytic talk

® how feeling, how being in the body

® find agenda ® critical incident 

Stated problem ® critical incident

Stated occlusion ® imagine crit. incident

Critical incident ® scan: forward or back

® earliest available memory

Critical incident ® literal description

Literal description ® psychodrama

Psychodrama ® shift level within it

Monodrama ® play internal parts 

Association ® thought ® critical incident

® follow chain of memories

® verbalize insight/re-evaluation

® positive affirmation and reprogramming 

® action planning and goal setting

Slip of tongue ® repeat, associate

Sudden aside ® repeat, associate

Self-deprecation ® contradiction 

Evasive pronoun ® first person

Evasive verb ® responsible verb

Dream ® literal description in present tene

® psychodrama

® monodrama: play all dream symbols

Lyrical cue ® Recite, hum or sing

Rapid speech, shallow tone

® slow down speech, deepen tone

Distress-charged sound on word/phrase

® repeat, increase, associate

Sudden deepening of the breath

® repeat, increase, associate

® hyperventilate

Eyes closed or evasive

® make eye contact

Distress-charged movement

® repeat, exaggerate, find sound/words

Distress-charged rigidity

® exaggerate, find sound/words

® contradict, find sound/words

Matching or mismatching ® treat alike

Chronic archaic/defensive tone of voice

® exaggerate, find its words

Chronic archaic/defensive body armour

® amplify kinaesthetic micro-cues

® stress positions 

® mobilization

® hyperventilation

® regression positions

® frozen need expressions

® spatial quadrants and polarities

Pensive cue ® verbalize thought, image 

Client cue® What practitioner says
Client cue® What practitioner does








Stated problem ® hypnosis, suggestion Psychodrama ® negative accommodation

® positive accommodation

Negative talk ® mirror with awareness

Emergence of hurt child’s story

® affirm validity of the client’s hurt, affirm their need for discharge and healing, their deserving of time, the past need for their defenses, the safety of this situation, the present redundancy of their defenses, the deep worth of their inner child, the value of this work of healing and their courage in doing it…..

Chronic archaic/defensive body armour and intermittent rigidities

® light holding, light contact/massage

® light vibration/pulsing 

® loosen muscle groups 

® light/strong pressure on tense areas

® gentle opening/extension of joints

® long leverages, psychodynamic 


® energy passes with hands, breath, eyes

Eyes evasive ® seek eye contact

6. Theory sessions. Exposition of various aspects of theory with discussion and sharing.

7. Teaching about teaching. I share with the group all of various aspects of teaching fundamentals that I find important, with discussion and sharing

8. Distress-free authority and charismatic training. Exposition of the importance of true authority and charismatic presence, with role-play exercises for members to practise it, e.g. in culture setting statements, in raising awareness about lack of consideration and discipline in a class.

9. Teacher motivation.

10. Teacher Anxieties.

Can I handle:

the aggressive intellectual critic?

someone who compulsively invalidates the method?

the very shut-down client, the chronically self-invalidating client?

interpersonal invalidation in the group?

dismissing the chronically disruptive group member?

the despairing beginner who says, “I just can’t make it work”.

the whole group shutting down?

myself when I am attacked and invalidated?

myself when I shut down in the group?

myself when I feel chronically insecure of myself as a teacher?

negative projections on to me as a teacher?

positive projections (sexual and/or other) on to me as a teacher?

demonstration counselling?

Can I expound theory clearly and will the class understand it?

Can I keep the group light and lively?

Will I be able to discharge in front of the group? And if so when and how shall I do it?

Will I be able to find light and elegant directions?

Will anyone ever discharge in my group?11. Teacher training role plays. In pairs, in small groups or with the whole group. Each person takes time to develop skill in the area of her primary teaching anxiety, taken from the above list, in a role play situation. Or I will select basic aspects of the teacher’s role for role play skills-building, with incidental discharge to deal with any upcoming distress. Sensitive feedback from peers, after each role play, is helpful, followed by one or more reruns of the role play to try out alternative strategies.

Each person in the group may take a turn as teacher, building skills in the same area of concern or, alternatively, in their own particular area of concern.

12. Teacher anxiety round. Each person takes equal time in front of the group to work in any way that seems appropriate with anxieties and fears about teaching. The contract here is that I make a lot of suggestions as counsellor, helping the teacher-client discharge on all the material associated with the idea of teaching co-counselling.

13. Teacher assessment and accreditation.

14. Fundamentals design exercise.

II. Consultation on workshop design

The second thing I do is to consult and negotiate with the group for a limited time to draw up an outline programme for the workshop, based on the above list, including any items they have added. I will take a strong line on certain things which I think should go in such as intensive counselling training, distress-free authority training, certain other training role-plays, e.g. theory exposition. I propose that this programme, once we have agreed it, is in principle open to be changed at any future time. So there can be a consultative review and forward planning session each day to keep the design flexible and sensitive to emerging needs and interests. This review can be preceded by a short self-assessment exercise in which each member checks out the extent to which her individual problems and learning goals for the workshop are being met. Another model I use is that I take responsibility for deciding the sequence of training activities drawn from the presented list, but it is open to anyone at any time to propose an alternative sequence, in which case I will sound out the group to see what the consensus is.

Presenting the list, adding to it, and negotiating a flexible programme based on it, will all be done during the first half of the first morning of the five days. Thereafter, for the remainder of the five days, we are all busy working through the programme, modifying and amending it as emerging needs and interests require.

III. Activities for experienced teachers present

If there are experienced and practising teachers in the workshop as participants then they can engage in the following exercises:

1. Fishbowl in front of would-be teachers:

2. Form in their own group, apart from would-be teachers, and brain-storm and role-play solutions to any current problems and difficulties in teaching.

3. Again form their own group, and each teacher spends thirty minutes alone, writing out what she regards as the most important practical principles in teaching fundamentals. Share individual lists with others and produce a final composite list with each item weighted according to the number of people who have it on their original list.

4. Practising teachers hot-seat. If a significant number of people in the group have attended a teacher’s classes then that teacher can take the hot seat and the first half of the allotted time receive supportive negative feedback from those people. And for the second half of the allotted time she receives validating feedback about her actual teaching.

IV. Two Kinds of Workshop

This programme is intended primarily for would-be teachers of co-counselling. I think a clear choice needs to be made between two kinds of workshops:

Both kinds of workshops, I believe, are needed, but I don’t think they should be confused with each other. If the workshop is for would-be teachers and assistant teachers, it is a very good idea for some practising teachers to attend, but the main thrust of all the exercises needs to be to train, support and encourage the would-be teachers. If the workshop is for practising teachers, then some assistant teachers can attend but again the main thrust of all the exercises needs to be on behalf of the needs of the fully fledged teachers.

V. Community Building

A teacher training programme also needs to look at the very important and closely related but distinct activity which is community-building. I would therefore include some discussion on the following:

See also: Co-Counselling Teachers’ Manual: Community building

Copyright John Heron, November 1998