An Exciting New Counseling Approach

Reflecting on the counseling approach which involves the client repeatedly asking "Why do you love me, counselor?" has opened a whole new vista of actual counseling with attention away from distress. No distress is alluded to in the client's question, or in the very occasional answers which the counselor may make. It has also become plain in practice that it is the question that provides the discharge, not the answers from the counselor (which in many circumstances never take place if the client is encouraged to pursue her or his own thoughts as he or she discharges).

The best explanation for this that I have been able to formulate is that the picture that each of us evolves of our relationship to other intelligent humans (probably resulting from our inspection of our own natures as we develop pre-natally) is an expectation of being the object of love and affection from all other intelligences. What happened at birth (or sometimes before) in the usual (in this oppressive society) "routine" treatment of newborns (and almost systematically afterwards) installed hurts. These hurts quickly became chronic. With the repeated reinforcement of these, I think that almost all of us have lived in deep chronic patterns of not believing we are loved the rest of our lives to date.

We certainly have made mighty efforts to regain touch with that lost concept of universally available affection. To try to regain touch with it, we have relied on fantasies, tried "falling in love," used the stirrings of sexual feelings (whether brought on prematurely by sexual abuse when children or by "normal" development during adolescence), read romantic literature, or pursued any other possible source. Many of us have become "stuck" in the pursuit of any of these substitute channels that seemed to offer hope of access to the universal affection that we longed for. The illusions and disappointments that followed have reinforced the barrier.

I think what happens with the simple repeated question is that the wording of the question, "Why do you love me, Counselor?", leads the client to assume that the counselor loves him or loves her before the client's patterns have become alerted and erected barriers against such an assumption. What happens then is that the barrier between the reality that we have so passionately longed for and our intelligence turns out to be not a "heavy wall of stone" but a thin (albeit tough) film which is pierced by the assumption in the question that the counselor does love us. This contact with reality can lead immediately to heavy discharge which can continue with encouragement for a long, long time. (I do not know of anyone who has continued to use this technique with an aware counselor who has ever "'run out of" discharge.)

SOMETHING SIMILAR, BUT DIFFERENT

The new approach I want to tell you about is somewhat reminiscent of this "repeated question" success. I think it can be explained and understood in a somewhat similar way.

I think that all of us developed an expectation (as we grew pre-natally) that we would enjoy closeness with other intelligences as part of the normal living of an entity such as ourselves. (This has certainly been occasionally reinforced by the presence of a twin sharing our pre-natal environment with us.) This expectation was cruelly denied, too, by the circumstances attending the usual birth procedures and the ridiculous, inhuman separation and calloused treatment given us by the people attending our births. Medical examinations, "periodic" feeding, lack of touch, isolation, interference with the crucially-necessary discharge of the hurts incurred during birth, and other factors, tended to make these hurts, too, a basis for a very heavy and rapidly-deepening chronic pattern.

I will describe elsewhere and some other time the details of how this new counseling approach or "'technique" came to fight. Essentially the process consists of having the client say to me (or, hopefully, to any other counselor, using that other counselor's name), "You and me, Harvey," repeating the phrase a number of times and telling me the thoughts that come to mind. Discharge almost always begins at once. I have been able to encourage it to start where it is slow by asking the client to add the words, "completely close" to the "you and me, Harvey," and to deepen the discharge after a few minutes by adding the word, "forever," so that the repeated thought (and sometimes repeatedly-voiced phrase) is "you and me, Harvey, completely close, forever."

I have at this point been trying it for about three months, mostly on the phone, with people scattered around the world in different Communities (also at two workshops and in person with a few people I work with locally). The amount and kind of discharge varies from client to client, but it is usually very substantial and can include heavy sobbing, shaking, laughing, and deep, deep yawns. (I have not been "tantrumed" at yet, but I am sure that it is possible that will occur.)

People in general express great relief at the session. They often volunteer that they have "longed" for such a relationship with me. They describe a feeling of general relaxation, both physical and emotional, taking place. They seem to sense the results of the session as a profound experience.

IT AFFECTS THE COUNSELOR, TOO

This counseling approach is unusual in my experience in the sense that it has an effect upon me, the counselor, very similar to the effect it has upon the client. Apparently "sharing" and "closeness" are necessarily two-way experiences. I am finding my own thinking about the availability of closeness changing as rapidly as the apparent changes in the thinking of my clients.

Some of the clients have said (as my clients have often done in the past after successful sessions with me), "This works because I'm doing it with you, Harvey." They say, "I've always wanted to feel close to you. You've been very important to me for a long while, although you haven't seemed able to realize it." At this point, I do not argue with the people who say this. Perhaps I have played a better role with many people than I have been able to credit because of my own heavy chronic patterns of rejection and isolation. I am trying to believe these things they say and accept them as useful contradictions to the negative chronic attitudes that I had acquired from early rejections, political persecution, physical beatings, etc.

However, I do not think this works only with me as a counselor. I do not think that this approach works only with me or will only work with me. (In fact, now, in June 1994, I have already heard from a hundred other counselors for whom this approach is working elegantly.)

I think there is a general desire of everybody to be close to every other human being. I think that for the counselor to offer this phrase with his or her own name in it, is a reassurance (which he or she can quickly add to) that this closeness is available with this counselor. I frequently attempt to relaxedly reassure my clients that this is the closeness that I want with them, remind them of the "completely close" and "forever" parts of the phrase (which they sometimes tend to leave off), and I offer a formal agreement that we will be completely close in the future. Sometimes I offer a handshake to "seal the bargain."

When I have worked with the same client more than once, the contact sometimes seems to become faded between sessions. It may take several repetitions of the phrases before meaningful contact is reestablished and discharge begins again. The effect, however, seems to be cumulative from session to session once the contact is restored.

Work on this approach is, of course, only just beginning, but what is happening seems exciting enough and rewarding enough for me to spread the word immediately and urge people to begin to use this regularly.

Harvey Jackins

 


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