Making RC Accessible to Young People

This is the third of three articles about moving Goal 21 forward in Re-evaluation Counseling. Goal 2 is “that the Re-evaluation Counseling Community put new and increased efforts into making Re-evaluation Counseling and the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities accessible to young people.”

In the first article, I focused on the basics of young people’s oppression and some first steps for allies.2 In the second, I focused on what is currently going on3 in young people’s work in RC and what has worked well.4 In this article I will focus on where I want us to move to make RC more accessible to young people.

Many people are discharging about and acting against young people’s oppression and making RC accessible to the young people with whom they have relationships. Goal 2 has helped move this forward. However, most RC Communities have not yet fully taken on5 young people’s work. There is more to do to make our Communities places that are good for young people, and everyone.

TRANSITIONING FROM FAMILY WORK TO TWO-WAY COUNSELLING

Many Communities that have strong family work6 struggle when the young people are ready to learn two-way counselling. Allies get restimulated about their own preteen and teen years and struggle to think about these young people in a different way than they have thought about younger young people. This has to do with7 the severe isolation many people experienced in their teen years because of how young people’s oppression targets teenagers. It’s important that adults discharge on their teen years so that they can have good, relaxed attention for young people making the transition to two-way counselling.

Something I’ve seen work well is to expose young people just a bit to two-way counselling—for example, in an optional class at a family workshop, or at a playday,8 or in a weekly or monthly class for young people who are making the transition. The goal is for the young people to try out9 two-way counselling and connect with each other. At the beginning this is often more about fun and connection than heavy discharge. It works best when the adults have discharged any urgency they feel about young people doing RC and can let them make the transition at their own pace. It also works well for the young people to continue doing elements of family work, such as playing and special time.10

It is important for young people to have an ally (or a couple of them) during the transition to two-way counselling. A useful ally maintains contact with them, respects them, is interested in their thinking, hangs out11 and plays with them, and isn’t urgent that they discharge or lead in RC. It also helps if a parent can hang in there with them12 through the transition and do the things mentioned above. (The non-parent ally can help them get a picture of RC that is not through the lens of their parent’s distresses.) A project is starting that will pair up transitioning young people with allies. For more information, please contact Shelley Friedman at shelley.friedman@gmail.com.

YOUNG PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T GROW UP WITH RC

There are not enough raised-with-RC young people to build the big RC young people’s liberation movement that we want. We need to reach out to young people, particularly teenagers, who didn’t have RC at an early age. This can have its challenges. These young people may not have the full support of their parents (for paying for RC events, driving them places, giving them sessions when things get hard, and so on). We need to think of creative ways to tackle the challenges and do everything we can to make RC accessible to these young people. (If you need help in the form of Outreach funds for a project with young people, please talk to your Reference Person or contact me.) Because these young people often don’t have a parent who is supporting them in their RC endeavours, it is extra important that they have a committed ally who will counsel them, help them figure out logistical challenges, and show them respect and love no matter what.

If you are an adult, teaching young people RC can be wonderful for you. Young people can be some of your best counsellors. You will need to think of it as a long-term project for your own re-emergence (not view it in a patterned saving-young-people kind of way).

YOUNG PEOPLE TARGETED BY RACISM, GENOCIDE, AND CLASSISM

We need to be thoughtful about how racism, genocide, and classism have affected young people. To have a strong young people’s liberation movement and strong RC Communities, we need to find more ways to build relationships with young people who have been targeted by these oppressions and make our local Communities and young people’s work go well for them. We need to put extra resource into thinking about them and developing them as leaders. We need to talk openly about these oppressions and whenever possible get the thinking and leadership of the young people who have been targeted by them. Those of us not in these oppressed groups need to discharge on racism, genocide, and classism and particularly on the way they combine with young people’s oppression. Getting to discharge on these oppressions and having these young people in our lives and our RC Communities will be very good for all of our lives and re-emergence.

YOUNG PEOPLE MAKING LIFE TRANSITIONS

Young people in RC need people keeping track of them and thinking about them when they make transitions, such as moving away from home or changing RC Communities. Several years ago Tim Jackins noticed that when young people would move away from home (often to go to college) and try to navigate a new RC Community and many other new things, they would often become disconnected from RC. He created the “Transition Project” to help with this problem. Young people going through a transition are assigned an ally who commits to being in contact with them at least once a month. The ally can Co-Counsel with them and help them figure out how to get connected to their new RC Community (if there is one). Sometimes the young people pick someone from their home Community, or new Community, and then the person is asked if he or she wants to play this ally role. Alternatively, an ally (from a list of allies who have volunteered) and a young person get matched up, sometimes without knowing each other beforehand. Allies can participate in a conference call led by Jenny Sazama, the International Liberation Reference Person for Allies to Young People, and be in contact with her if they need help figuring something out. There have been many successes with this project. At the same time, many young people and allies still don’t know about it, so please spread the word!13 If you would like to participate, know someone who would, or know a young person in RC who is going through a transition, please contact Megan Lynes at meganlynes@gmail.com. (For more details about the project, see "Keeping in Contact with Young People" in this Present Time.)

COMMITTED ALLIES

Whenever young people are struggling to be in RC, it makes a big difference to have an ally (or several) who is in regular contact with and committed to them. The ally can be their parent or not. He or she needs to respect their mind and follow their thinking, be persistent in their direction,14 and above all show that he or she cares about them. Allies don’t have to be perfect. They just need to care about young people, keep having sessions about what gets in their way of being an effective ally, and care about eliminating young people’s oppression.

GOAL 2 AS A COMMUNITY PROJECT

In addition to all the above, it’s important that the RC Community as a whole continue making RC accessible to young people. This means actively challenging young people’s oppression and its effect on our Communities. Local Community events (classes, workshops, support groups, and so on) need to become more accessible to young people, and young people’s work needs to be made a central project. All adults need to be discharging about their years as a young person, and at least a few adults in each Community need to take on making their Community accessible to young people. A start is to have a small group of committed allies who can hang out with young people at RC events, counsel them when things get hard, and ward off any weird oppressor material15 coming at them from adults. Events might need to be set up differently—for example, with more play, more hanging-out time, and young people suggesting topic groups and picking first when people choose Co-Counsellors. At first adults may feel awkward or have difficulty with this, but it will be great for them to discharge these feelings, from when they were young, and move toward being more fully alive.

I would like someone to take the lead at every workshop in creating a group for discharging about young people’s oppression. I’d like every RC teacher to talk about young people’s oppression in his or her fundamentals or ongoing class. Because our most chronic patterns, including those from oppression, were first put on us as young people, working on young people’s oppression is a fast track to every individual’s and every group’s liberation. Here are some possible questions to start this work:

• What was your life like as a baby, child, and teenager?

• What was good about being a young person, and what was hard?

• What were your relationships like with adults? What were your relationships like with other young people?

• What feelings of discouragement, isolation, powerlessness, or being stupid are leftover for you from young people’s oppression?

• What would you have to discharge to live a big, fun, powerful, connected life?

• What oppressor feelings do you have toward young people (wanting them to be quiet and well behaved, thinking you know better, and so on)?

• Where does it get restimulating to give young people the attention and respect you didn’t get as a young person?

• In what ways do you want young people to like you, be hopeful for you, and so on?

It can be hard to know where members of my constituency are. I’d like to hear about any young people you know—both individuals and groups—who are currently, or want to be, doing two-way counselling. Please send me an e-mail at: marikathleenp@yahoo.ca.

Mari Piggott
International Liberation Reference
Person for Young People
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


1 A goal adopted by the 2001 World Conference of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities and reaffirmed by subsequent World Conferences
2 See “Young People and RC,” on page 49 of the July 2014 Present Time.
3 “Going on” means happening.
4 See “Young People’s Work in RC,” on page 36 of the October 2014 Present Time.
5 “Taken on” means embraced and undertaken.
6 Family work is the application of Re-evaluation Counseling to the particular situations of young people, and families with young children. It entails young people and adults (both parents and allies) interacting in ways that allow the young people to show and be themselves and not be dominated by the adults.
7 “Has to do with” means is related to.
8 A “playday” is a several-hour workshop that includes time for children to do whatever safe activities they want to do, with the encouragement and appreciation of the adults present, and to discharge if they wish. It also includes discharge time for the adults.
9 “Try out” means experiment with.
10 Special time is an activity, developed in RC family work, during which an adult puts a young person in full charge of their mutual relationship, as far as the young person can think. For a specific period of time, the adult lets the young person know that he or she is willing to do anything the young person wants to do. The adult focuses his or her entire attention on the young person and follows his or her lead, whether the young person tells, or simply shows, the adult what she or he wants to do.
11 “Hangs out” means spends relaxed, unstructured time.
12 “Hang in there with them” means stay in supportive contact with them.
13 “Spread the word” means tell people about it.
14 “Persistent in their direction” means persistent in reaching for them.
15 “Material” means distress patterns.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00