is a peer process where people take equal times helping each other.
As long as the consultant (helper) is sincerely interested in helping
the client, in a way the client can accept, then many methods will
The rest of the note gives
some suggestions for a basic structure and method that will work in
most cases. It may be particularly helpful for people who are
starting to learn and use coconsulting. Reviewing what works and
learning from experience are built into the process, so simply doing
coconsulting will help you do it better and better.
Before you start
Agree a time to meet, how
long for, the vehicle (face to face, phone etc.) and where.
Remind each other of the
“rules”. Have equal time and take turns, keep attention on the
client's concerns, confidentiality, use an acceptable method of
Decide who will go first.
Now you know what to do
and what to expect.
pay attention to the client, look interested, don't listen to your
own inner chatter, remember your job is almost always to help your
client progress not to solve the problem for
the person, remember that the client is doing her or his best,
however it may appear.
The clearer you are
about your role, the easier and the more effective it will be.
can be helpful to occasionally
summarise what you have heard and play it back to the client in your
own words. Check you have got it right.
This helps the client
know she or he has been heard and to clarify if necessary.
Stages of a session
warmly to the client's story. Notice everything, their energy,
contradictions, assumptions, posture, tone of voice. Don't
This helps the client
feel supported, valued and heard. This may be enough to help them
find a solution.
questions that help the client think more broadly or deeply about
the issue or see it from a different point of view.
This will help the
client develop new insights
“What have you concluded?” and listen to the response. Then ask
“What do you need now?”
The answers might be
“More listening” or “Nothing, I know what to do”. So listen
some more or go straight to reviewing the session, below. The client
may say “A solution!” If s(he) does.
Ask “What is your
best idea now about a way forward?”
The client will own an
idea they created so will want to act on it.
the client seems stuck, say, “Would you like an idea or two from
me?” If you get a “yes”, offer your ideas, gently.
Be careful, make it
clear that it is entirely the client's decision about what to do. You
won't be the least upset if they think your ideas are absurd. Offer
your ideas tentatively so it is easy for the client to reject or
build on them.
We often know what to
do. The critical step is deciding
to do it. If your client says “I'll try to...” or “I
might....”, it's worth asking her or him to rephrase it to “I've
review the session.
“What are the one or two things you will take away from this
session, what was good about it, if we did it again what could we do
to make it better?”
The first question
gives you an idea of the value you added, the last two help you learn
from what works and possibly how to do it even better. They will help
you get better and better at delivering coconsulting.
Be open and honest about your thoughts, feelings, wants
and experiences. Take a calculated risk of trusting the consultant
and the process.
more open you can be the easier it will be for the consultant to be
there for you and be truly helpful.
Be assertive with the consultant. Say what you want,
explicitly. If you don't feel listened to, say so. If some questions
help, or don't, say so. Remember this is your time for you.
you do this, you are more likely to get what you want and your
consultant will learn too.
fun with this. You don't have
to talk about “problems”. It's remarkably rewarding to use your
time to celebrate, even show off, about something you've done you
are proud of.
will learn more about why it was so good, what you did to make it so
good, and you'll be inspired to do it again!