the way of unexpressed truth

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I have pulled together the paragraphs which show my version of client talk as an unfolding of a story of immediate truth to another person, in a direct communication which is richer and more effective the more that contact is maintained.

ways of working

There are several ways you can work in co-counselling. John Heron defined 3 basic ways: the way of regression and catharsis-insight; the way of celebration and the way of action. The first is the way being taught for most of the Fundamentals of Co-Counselling course. I teach it as “truth-telling”, or the way of unexpressed truth. I see it as recalling the truth of your experience, your perceptions of events, your personal highlights, your actions and their consequences. and the conclusions you drew from events. In the session you are “bearing witness” to your personal truths. These are not absolute truths, but the truth that has not yet been told and needs to be told for your own health and well-being.

The skills need time to acquire through constant practice and review. They also develop through deepening and extension, one building on others. This is why it takes most of the course.

the way of unexpressed truth

In my view, there are two main styles of working, each of which may be used freely in any one session (as indeed may any of the others!). Firstly, it is existential, following a line of truth, as it emerges from within you, spontaneous and uninhibited. It is as if there is a higher aspect in you, (John called it “the Guru within” - I will use the term “Inner Guide”) watchful, listening, even compassionate and certainly permissive, but also containing. The method is largely “associative” to use the language of co-counselling. Your truth is emergent. It arises and you tell it to your partner. The other main style is to use a variety of mini-structures to assist your process. At all times, do your best to remain in contact with your listener, to whom you are telling your story, your companion on your journey.

hierarchy of elements

truth-telling time

My version of the best way to approach your session of work as a client can be summed up as being true to yourself, telling your truth and using techniques to help you reveal more of the truth. It is an active and creative form of meditation in which you pay attention to what is going on your mind, tell the story of what is being revealed to you as you witness yourself and creatively participate in your meditation by following the story as it comes. Techniques can help to dwell a little and open a little more of the story you have to tell. It amounts to being spontaneous in communicating what is arising as it arises - directly to your companion.

all communication channels are open

Remember you are communicating your truth in all channels available, not just in words. You have a voice which can make pure sound as well as words. You have eyes which will show your truth to your partner, often very clearly indeed, even in silence as your experience of your truth deepens. You have a body which will move in gestures, which may be very vigorous when you really make your point. Though you will often be seated to tell your story, you may need to stand, to move to express your feelings with your arms and legs. You may even wish to dance your story.

growth and survival: defences are OK

Remember there are two potentially conflicting processes at work. You wish to reveal yourself to yourself. You have it in you to do this, a sort of high injunction or imperative to learn from your experience. You also have an automatic guard on feeling too much pain, a caution or stop on opening the gates to pain. It is a necessary survival mechanism. It takes many forms. Be patient with yourself: pay attention, allow and tell.

tell your story as far as...

Tell your story as it unfolds, as much as you can. Tell about it getting difficult to tell. Tell about it not being right to tell (this person, this time, this place, not ever....). Reveal the story of being cautious or fearful of what you might find, or how you might feel if you told a bit more. Always affirm your right to stop, draw breath, review the story so far, take stock and gain strength. Never take your defences by storm. You also have a right to silence. Listen to your own need - follow your own pace. You have a right to be you, as you are now.

techniques in their place

So the strategy I commend has a hierarchy of elements: meditate, tell the truth as it emerges for you, and use techniques as levers or keys to open the door a little more. Witness who you are and be who you are. Proclaim it. Bear witness to your truth. You will find love in this way. Living your deepest truth is the application of this in life. It is an aspect of what I call "The Path of Consciousness".

working techniques and practice

The following are input at different times as experience of mini-sessions grows and precede practice and related homework (in an ongoing course).

notice the clues you show

In your story are clues. The story unfolds, sometimes clearly, sometimes in fragments. When it flows, keep the sense of witness. Is this the full truth? Is there more? Tell it. As each new aspect comes into awareness, tell it, be it. Images, sounds, thoughts, body sensations and feelings are all parts of your story. They may be remembered or created. Sometimes we emphasise some parts and don't notice or ignore others. These elements need teasing to awareness and telling. This is where techniques come in.

eye contact 1

Tell your story to your partner. Look into his or her eyes as much as you can. Though it often seems easier to think whilst looking away, and you may do this to some extent, get into the habit of maintaining eye contact. It may take time, so don’t force it. Remember, your partner is able to show you that he or she is staying with you, is persistent, available, supportive and encouraging. You can receive this and use it to help you move down the track towards the core of your story today.

eye contact 2

You may find it difficult to keep eye contact, to keep telling your partner as directly as this about yourself. An important option is to use this as a sign that you may not be ready to go on. Stop and explore not wanting to face your partner fully. It is perfectly reasonable in our culture, to experience confusion, embarrassment, fear, suspicion, or indeed any feeling, slight or strong, when looking directly at another. The mirror is a strong one. All sorts of thoughts may cross your mind as you “stare” and as you break contact. Be prepared to make this the subject of your session. Focus on the “here and now” thoughts and feelings. Share them, however embarrassing. If the thought is “too embarrassing”, say so, What would happen if you told it? Talk about that. Be prepared for the laughter of embarrassment. This is a very fruitful line and just might keep you busy for a few sessions!!

eye contact 3

There are three further very important points about eye contact. Firstly, counsellors should always offer it, irrespective of whether it is returned. Always have the eye contact there when partner returns it. Gaze upon your fellow traveller. Secondly, I have found that what I say and how deeply (and subtly) I work changes greatly as I look at or turn away from my counsellor. I commend you monitor this effect and return your gaze (contradicting the embarrassment). I believe that work is more authentic and less liable to self-limitation with full eye-contact. Thirdly, the work of Wilhelm Reich and his successors suggests very strongly that most of the “energy of discharge” is released through the eyes. Another way of saying this is that the full depth of the experience is communicated with full eye contact, as your partner encompasses your pain and draws you on with a soul-anchor to help you to centre. Do allow yourself to be alone without contact or have physical contact with your partner for a while, if you must, then return your gaze and tell what’s left to tell, or retell it now you have remade contact.

co-counselling session

Try 30 minutes each way. As talker use the 3 level model: meditate, tell your truth and use techniques to support the telling. Remember the guidance on telling: tell what you can; if you find it getting difficult, tell the story of that. If you are not sure if you should tell, explore that. If you don't want to say, say that. If you don't want to say that even, stay silent, go back to the meditation, wait for what is next to say. Trust what comes up! Use eye contact or avoidance in the same way. Use all the basic working techniques etc.

checklist for sessions: clients

In my checklist, I add the following.


Do you hesitate about what to tell or tell it all freely as it comes? When you select out, do you reflect on your willingness to disclose or do you dismiss something as trivial, irrelevant or unimportant?


Are you maintaining eye-contact and working with the feelings generated in the eye-contact as you tell your story to another person, your companion for the session?

For counsellors I add:


Do you maintain eye-contact as invitation and not as demand, intrusion, or confrontation? Are you listening to the story for the sense of rightness and completeness or of hesitation, or incompleteness? Are you accepting that your partner is telling her truth as she knows it as best as she can?

ways of working

In my summary of ways of working I add the following.

the way of truth

Always pay attention to what is going on, what is emerging inside you. Speak it, in words, sounds and actions.

be spontaneous

Allow your truth. Honour it. Pay attention to any dissonance between what you are expressing and the truth which is emerging for you. Tell your partner your truth as another human being, to their face. Show yourself to their eyes. Speak about any difficulty, embarrassment or shame in doing this, in speaking your truth.


Return to a quiet place if you feel lost. Focus on your breath. Breathe deeply and relax.

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