This is how to truly listen and importantly, be heard.

Its official name is Co-Counseling. We simply call it active listening.


Look and listen. pic: Christin Hume

It’s innate for us to want to feel heard, really heard by others. And for them to feel heard by us.

Co-Counseling is a wonderful tool to use to listen and in turn be heard. It’s a system of self-discovery and personal growth, an ongoing  ‘how to do life’ training in emotional competence.

The basic idea is that if I am given time and compassionate attention (rather than questions and advice) I will be able to explore whatever is blocking me or hurts me or prevents me from realising my potential. It’s actually really simple.

The Co-Counselling approach provides the opportunity for me to give that sort of attention to others and to use it to work on myself, so I spend equal time in each role, listening and being heard.

Talking things through with friends, partners, family or colleagues is a key mental health strategy and it’s the healthiest way most of us will sort ourselves out when we have a problem or just simply need to feel like someone is listening.

The idea is this: Sit with one other. Agree on a time period for each to share, uninterrupted. Start with 2 or 3 minutes each. As the first person is sharing, try to keep eye contact the entire. This is key, Don’t say anything, make any noises like Mmhm’s etc or even move your head in agreeance or otherwise. Simply sit, watch and listen until they’ve finished. Remember, your role as the listener is simply to listen and to try very hard not to bring yourself into their story. It’s not about you when they are sharing.

After one person shares, the listener then (and not before) feeds back to them what they heard. It doesn’t have to be verbatim. The idea is to show the person sharing that you truly heard them. The listener asks if they’ve heard this correctly. If yes, and the sharer feels heard as a result, then the roles are swapped and you simply start again.

There is a powerful effect that comes from having someone there just for you, supportively accepting and giving you their attention. It’s a different way of being with another: it’s not a social or dependent connection, but a consistent, supportive ‘being there’ for another person without expectations or external obligations.

These sessions with another don’t replace your normal social interactions, they are an addition. When you arrange to meet with another in this way, you’re agreeing to be there for each in a very special way.

Normal friend relationships, because of their shared agendas and closeness, sometimes do not give us the kind of space we need to address certain issues and know we’ve been really heard. By avoiding an everyday type of relationship, we can create a new kind of space for each other. It’s been found over many years of practice that it’s the most productive way to support personal growth.

Using the Co-counseling approach to listening and sharing, many people find that with practice they develop more assertiveness, self-esteem, compassion, energy and interpersonal skills.

It is without fail, a valuable experience that will enhance your life.

Edited (by Seated Massage) article ‘What is Co-counseling’ from CoCo info.