Co-Counseling Israeli Style an Interview

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Co-Counseling Israeli Style - an Interview

The following interview was conducted by your OPENINGS Editor after having met with Avi Butavia and Janice Wasser of the DROR Community of Israel.  Avi was trained in Re-Evaluation Counseling (RC) 30 years ago and has been a practitioner ever since.  Ten years ago he was "invited" to leave RC but found the co-counseling process so valuable that he helped to establish an independent network in Israel.  The name of the network is DROR which translates to Liberation.  Avi is based in Jerusalem. Janice, who is American born, has been living in Tel Aviv for 17 years.  She was trained in co-counseling in 1998, just when Dror made the split from RC. As a result of my participation in a workshop entitled Co-Counseling Israeli Style presented by Avi and Janice, I came away with an appreciation of the bold work done by the workers/clients and a recognition of significant differences in style, theirs being more counselor-directed reminiscent of the RC style.  The following interview reflects the views of Avi and Janice. 


 A=Avi, J=Janice, E=Editor


EWhat is your role in the Israeli Community?

A. I carry a central role in the leadership of Dror, although recently I withdrew from serving on the administrative council. I teach fundamentals in Jerusalem as well as in three prisons in the central region of the country. I hold various support groups for Dror members in Jerusalem, Nazareth and Tel Aviv. Over the years I have developed theories on human behavior and have recently set up a web site providing information to the lay community.


E.  Were you surprised by anything you saw at the CCI-USA? 

  • In co-counseling methods?

  • In the community's operation and function?

A. I was very impressed by the smooth and efficient operation of the CCI-USA workshop. It was great to see the organizers handling all the tasks with such grace and to see the participants so eager to pitch in and help out. There was a strong sense of the collective at work, and this also helped newcomers feel welcome and right at home. It was a serious workshop in the sense that people were serious about the work, but they also knew how to have fun.


EHow are your co-counseling methods different from CCI-USA?

 A. In Israel, our workshops have been focused on co-counseling only. I see that CCI is more open to other types of theory for self-awareness and growth.


E.  What will you take from the CCI-USA workshop?

 A. From my experience with CCI in Europe and the U.S., I have brought back some useful and creative ideas which have been very well received by the Dror Community. First, the concept of having a workshop where many people can offer topics for work in groups. Our workshops in the past were led by one facilitator with an assistant based on a particular theme, practicing co-counseling only. We have had our fourth national workshop with the CCI format, and we plan to do many more. Also we are adopting the use of the contract when starting a session. This helps to define the role of the co-worker in the session.


(Second interview on next page)

E.  What is your role in the Israeli Community?

 J. I am serving a third term on the administrative council. We are 5 members who meet every month to discuss Dror activities – promotion and scheduling, and to answer any requests made by Dror members. The council elections take place once a year at our national workshop. I have created our first web site and am in the process of translating the content from Hebrew into English. I am active in promoting Dror inside and outside of Israel. I assist Avi in several support groups (Arab-Jewish group, parenting classes, etc.) and I assist in fundamentals classes (in prison and in the community).


E.  Were you surprised by anything you saw at the CCI-USA? 

  • In co-counseling methods?

  • In the community's operation and function?

J. The most striking aspect of the CCI-USA workshop was the generous, warm and welcoming spirit we felt from everyone! I really liked how people responded to our work – even though they acknowledged that it was different, they were very curious and open to explore the differences. There were not ashamed or afraid to inquire. This was very refreshing.
E.  How are your co-counseling methods similar to CCI-USA?

J. What I believe we share is the basic orientation in co-counseling theory that we all are responsible for what's happening in our lives and in the session. That we, as human beings, are good and loving and that we have our own answers to the questions we struggle with. The worker (client) is always in charge in his/her session. Confidentiality is essential regarding content of sessions and respecting physical boundaries (i.e. asking permission to hug).
E.  How are your co-counseling methods different from CCI-USA?

J. In Dror, I see that the co-worker (counselor) is more active in working with the client to identify the distress and offer contradictions or directions for discharge. We all agree that free, loving, care and aware attention is paramount – which is taught to all students of Dror. Only those co-workers that have much experience working in sessions are encouraged to use interventions. What I found interesting at CCI-USA was that everyone I did sessions with, including in the support groups, asked for interventions, even though I was told that the Dror role of co-worker is different.

  1. What will you take from the CCI-USA workshop?

J. I've come away with a wonderful feeling of a positive connection with the hope of many more gatherings where we can grow our communities together.


E.  Was there a particular experience at the CCI-USA workshop that had special meaning for you?  What was that experience and how did it impact you?

J.There were so many. I participated in several workshops – gender differences with Marc and Hillary, money, class and patterns with Gaia, and Avi's two workshops to name a few. I arrived at some interesting assessments and was able to address some core patterns and see them in a different light – isn't that what co-counseling is all about? I saw that when I have sessions with men, they serve as triggers for me. I discovered that growing up in what I felt was lower middle class made me very conscious of what others had, and that I struggled with that as a child and felt guilty for wanting more than what I had. Besides the workshops, I was impressed with the concept of the auction to raise money for the community – also with the magnets and the cookbook. Dror members are ready to adopt the auction idea.

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