Outline: The Clarification and Generalization of the Fundamentals of Co-Counseling

A remarkable clarification of the fundamentals of Re-evaluation Counseling has taken place since the last World Conference.

Co-Counseling can now be clearly seen as a completely natural, spontaneous process which each human being is ready to use and, in fact, has been intuitively trying to use all of her or his life, frustrated only by certain identifiable factors in the nature of distress patterns themselves and in the functioning of oppressive cultures and societies. Observably, all human beings, in the presence of other human beings and not occupied with work or other attention demanding activities, strive continually to have another person listen to them and pay attention to them. With rare exceptions, adult human beings do not pay attention to each other or really listen to each other.

We can now state what may be called the Fundamental Theorem of Re-evaluation Counseling:

What every human being intuitively attempts to do in the presence of another human being, that is, be paid attention to and listened to in the expectation that discharge will occur and the human will become free from distress, will work, if the humans will just take turns.

Why do not human beings spontaneously take turns so that the intuitive process can work?

In October of 1982 we assembled a special workshop of experienced Co-Counselors which we called a "Counseling With Supervision" Workshop. Our goal was to attempt to determine why the usual level of counseling, even of experienced Co-Counselors, was so far below the level of the theory and of the occasional brilliant, very effective session sometimes seen in demonstrations at workshops. With the use of video cameras we examined in detail how the persons in the counselors' roles performed.

We discovered the universal existence, in every counselor, of an "ancient habit-pattern" of keeping attention on his or her own distresses all the time, even when he or she had overtly promised to give attention to the client and the client's distresses instead. The habit had apparently begun in an attempt to have the distresses ready to be recounted if a second person ever listened and had become a pattern through the accumulation of frustration and other distress over the failure of other people to respond with the needed attention.

This explained why people, in the ordinary course of their lives, rarely if ever pay attention to or listen well to another person and why the spontaneous recovery process is everywhere frustrated. It also explained why the level of counseling in the RC Communities had remained so low, since the Counselor, in the grip of the "ancient habit" had often or usually (and unawarely) kept his or her attention on his or her own distresses even though he or she had committed himself or herself to putting his or her attention on the client.

Having located the source of the problem, the next step was to find a remedy. We have, so far, found one technique that works, however slowly and ponderously. This is to decide, over and over again, to end the "ancient habit" and to replace it with an attitude or posture of keeping one's attention on interesting and profitable matters including the present scene and, when a counselor, on the client and the client's distresses and the client's re-emergence. Such iteration and re-iteration, such deciding and re-deciding, seems to work well, producing discharge and changes in counseling effectiveness, whether done as client in a session, while having a turn in a group, or even when done by oneself.

The revelation of the "ancient habit-pattern" has also helped us come to grips with another puzzling phenomenon. This was the annoying tendency of many members of the RC Communities to claim the role of "client" without agreement from the people around them and to rehearse their distresses or even begin to discharge in many inappropriate circumstances. These bad manners can now be seen to spring from a combination of the "ancient habit pattern" and a certain confused permissiveness we had introduced into our Communities in an effort to provide safety for people to recover their abilities to discharge and make a start on re-emergence. The solution is to require that one receives permission from someone who is willing to act as a counselor at that time before one assumes the role of a client, either as dramatizer or discharger. If we can make this the standard of good manners within the RC Communities I think the problem will begin to disappear.

Help in discharging is not everything that the client needs from the counselor. There are situations in which the client needs other kinds of intervention, other kinds of thinking. Ninety-five percent of what the client needs from the counselor, however, is exactly assistance in discharging.

We are now able to say, with great clarity and conciseness, exactly what the counselor (the second person) needs to do in order for the client (the first person) to be able to discharge.

The counselor needs to do three things:

1. Pay enough attention to the client to see clearly what the distresses are.
2. Think of all possible ways of contradicting that distress.
3. Contradict the distress sufficiently. The client will always discharge.

These three are easy to read but have proven in practice to be difficult for a counselor to remember, possibly because of their anti-pattern content. They need to be memorized by rote so that they can be repeated accurately in the midst of any restimulation or confusion.

Effective contradiction of the client's distress almost always will require more than contradictory words. A good counselor will need to recover his or her flexibility in the use of tone of voice, facial expression, and posture.

As a general ambience, contradictory to almost every distress, the effective counselor will tend to turn toward every client attitudes of appreciation, delight, high expectations, commitment, confidence, respect, and love. With these as a background, the specific contradiction of the specific distress will tend to be even more effective.

We now have a conjecture, and some confirmation, that the most effective contradiction to any distress is to take attention completely away from it. This will be discussed with the "frontier" questions of our theory.

Harvey Jackins

Last modified: 2016-12-20 06:43:20-08