humanistic psychology
Co-counselling is about doing, about sharing, healing and power. Its original ideas however stems from academic humanistic psychology, mixed with ideas from cognitive-behavioural therapy, positve psychology and other approaches


'The fact is that people are good, Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and their behaviour.'
Abraham Maslow

'The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.'
'The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.'
Carl Rogers

Co-counselling International in the UK was started by John Heron in the mid-Seventies. He was part of

the  humanistic school of psychology. Humanistic psychology also includes well known people such as AbrahamMaslow of hierarchy of need fame and Carl Rogers, famous as a counsellor.

International in the UK was started by John Heron in the mid-Seventies. He was part of the humanistic school of psychology. Humanistic Psychology also includes well known people such as Abraham Maslow of hierarchy of need fame and Carl Rogers, famous as a counsellor.

People are basically OK
Humanistic psychology became popular in the 1970s but its roots go back to the 1950s and before. It developed at a time when the two main schools of psychology both had a limited view of human beings e.g .Freud and Behavorism. Psychologists up to this point had tended to focus on learning about people in terms of problems e.g. mental illness. Humanistic psychology on the other hand was interested in people who were successful, rounded human beings. What could be learnt from them? As a result it takes a much more positive view of men and women. It believes they have the potential to be loving, lovable, co-operative and smart if their basic needs are met. These needs are physical, emotional and social.

People can run their own lives
Humanistic psychology has not only influenced therapy but how businesses, schools and government organisations are run. Many are now less hierarchical and give everyone involved in them more chance to influence how they are run. Co-counselling takes this to its natural conclusion by

  1. Making the counsellor and client equal by swapping roles
  2. Having no leaders at events but instead creating structures and support mechanisms to allow everyone to participate and fantastic things to happen

Ordinary Ectasy
If you want to read more about humanistic psychology and to a lesser extent co-counselling try 'Ordinary Ectasy' by John Rowan. The third edition was published by Routledge in 2001. Not always an easy read at times but it does give a good overview.

A simpler to understand book but no less powerful for that is 'The Mind Gynasium' by Denis Postle. It was originally published by Gaia Books in 1989.

'In Our Own Hands' is another good introduction. It is by Sheila Ernst and Lucy Goodison and published by The Women's Press.

However, despite these books and the many manuals about CCI, the book that for me captures the spirit of co-counselling the best is 'When Nietzsche Wept.' This is by Irvin D. Yallom and is set in Nineteenth Century Vienna long before CCI was formed. It is a fictional acccount of an imaginary series of meetings between the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and doctor Josef Breuer.

The theories they share about human nature reminded me of co-counselling, as did many of the techniques they developed. Most of all the book evoked in me a sense of remembered wonder and excitement at the power of sharing, discovery and growth possible in a safe environment. I felt like I was reliving my initial
co-counselling training or other following workshops.

You can get all four books on Amazon.

CBT and Positive Psychology
Although the values of co-counselling are from humanistic psychology many of it's techniques are borrowed from other approaches. Cognitative-behavourial therapy (CBT) is very popular within the British health service, partly because its effectiveness is well researched. Positive psychology is another relatively new approach which is becoming popular. Co-counselling borrows or echoes all of these approaches. In practice it helps

  • Look at the past to see how it still impacts on your life
  • Live in the present 
  • Make new plans for the future

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