What is a Co-Coping "Self-care session"?

A Self-care session involves two people:

  • one person is central, determines what happens to take care of him- or herself, and thus has the role of "worker";
  • the other person has the role of "co-worker". S/he does not have to do anything except to pay attention to the worker and show open acceptance of his/her work during the session.
  • After an agreed time they change roles. The person who had the "co-worker" role now receives as a "worker" the same amount of time and attention as the first person had before.

Self-care recipes. To take good care of him- or herself, the worker can - as in cooking - apply Self-care recipes in whole or in part. These recipes may also contain suggestions as to what the worker might ask the co-worker to say or do. The co-worker can agree to the request but has the right to refuse.

Confidentiality. After the session, the co-worker will not refer to its contentt, even to the worker him/herself, without permission of the worker. Also, the information shared is never passed on to third parties. This allows the worker to talk freely during the session and feel free to try new things.

How does a "Self-care session" differ from a conversation?

Conversations can make an important contribution to your daily life. But when it comes to Self-care, the quality of attention of your co-worker is crucially important.

During a Self-care session it is only about your subject or theme.
Within your session the co-worker is an attentive witness who does not intervene without being asked to.
This is quite unusual in daily life. If you need to pause to find your own words, the other person may respond by telling their own story, which might be connected to your story or be on a different topic.

In your session you can draw attention to anything you want.
Your session topic does not have to be understandable or interesting for your co-worker. Also, you usually don't have to worry about what your co-worker thinks about your session topic. As a result, you give yourself permission and space to explore what is really important to you.
In everyday conversations, people more or less tune in to one other about what they can and cannot talk about. An important feature of Self-care sessions is that you do not have to worry about coordination with the other person, but can concentrate on things that you find important at that moment. Looking inside, talking to your body is not something you usually do when talking to someone else.

You can explore in alternative ways what is going on inside you or what is important to you now.
You don't necessarily have to do that with words; it is also possible with non-verbal sounds or body movements. You don't even have to use your co-worker's mother tongue. After all, the co-worker does not have to understand you.

You can decide for yourself what you want to hear from your co-worker.
Normally the co-worker remains outside the content of the Self-care session. Some Self-care recipes contain questions designed to elicit relevant and supportive responses from the co-worker. It is worth noting that at any time you can stop your co-worker answering.
In a normal conversation people can give you unsolicited advice, which can be well-intentioned.  It can also contain the expectation that you take the advice. People can also give feedback or criticism which they see as honest, but which you do not find helpful. Or worse, you start to feel bad about yourself.

Self-care sessions also offer an extra opportunity to the co-worker
Because as a co-worker in a Self-care session your main role is to show open attention, you get the chance to experience the worker’s individuality, without having to respond to it in any way.
In daily conversations, there is usually no time or opportunity for that.

In brief
A Self-care session can provide you with a good place to take look after yourself.