Advanced Counseling Is Becoming Simplified Counseling

The newer techniques of Co-Counseling continue to suggest simplifications of the process.

I recently spent some time with a counseling leader without any previously prepared agenda. She had arrived on time for a meeting of leaders when the others were all delayed by transportation difficulties. When we had greeted each other and I had invited her to "bring me up to date" about her life, she enthusiastically told me of her two-year-old grandson. He, she said, loved her deeply. Whenever they met she said he would rush toward her calling out her name happily and hugging her enthusiastically. As she told me this she began to laugh freely.

I remembered some of our experiences using the Reality Agreement, times when clients had kept discharging for a long time without any overt intervention from the counselor. This happened after they had made an agreement to think from, and answer questions from, the viewpoint of actual reality as distinct from the pseudo-reality of patterns and distress. Her grandson's love for her seemed a clear expression of reality.

I asked her grandson's name. She told me. I asked if she would try leaning back with her eyes closed, and if she would agree to silently think to herself her grandson's name every time she stopped discharging. She agreed.

What followed was two and a half hours of excellent and easy spontaneous discharge. She laughed steadily for twenty minutes, paused for a few seconds, cried freely for ten minutes, was quiet for perhaps thirty seconds, laughed for a long spell, was quiet and looked thoughtful for a minute, then yawned ten or twelve times.

For about two and a half hours she discharged steadily with no overt communication between us, although I am sure she took it for granted that I was still there. When another leader arrived for the last hour, I asked the client to stick with what she was doing. I gave the new arrival a quick, low-voiced explanation of what had been going on. The client continued to discharge, switching occasionally from one type of discharge to another, until the other leaders arrived. At that point I asked her to end the session so we could start the planned meeting.

I was very impressed as I watched this session. The thought kept coming to me that "this is the way counseling is supposed to work."

It seemed like the best functioning of Reality Agreement counseling. Apparently, to think of her grandchild's name was to remind her of actual reality enough to contradict whatever distress came to mind as she cliented. It seemed as if her intelligence was handing up for discharge exactly the distresses that could be processed in that situation with the resources available there.

I have since thought of this experience as a possible window into more efficient re-emergence for all of us to use.

I have set up similar situations with other clients and have usually had success. The (to me) amazing eagerness of people to use the "You and Me, Counselor" for heavy discharge has led me to ask some people to use that phrase as their "reality reminder." Most clients who have tried this have been able to do it. When it works, the client is apparently self-directed for long periods of continuously-flowing discharge, switching the kind of discharge between laughter, trembling, tears, and yawning at their own choice.

I have not yet tried this with people who have no knowledge or experience with Co-Counseling, but I am eager to try it.

I encourage you to try it. I will appreciate your reports on how it works.

These glimpses into the possibilities of more efficient use of counseling time and counseling relationships are appearing as a logical outcome of previous steps forward in understanding the counseling process. Ever since counseling began, however, there have been sporadic individual "breakthroughs" which have encouraged hard thinking and experimentation towards accelerating the re-emergence process.

Many of you have had the experience of a client showing up for a session and being so eager and ready to discharge that greetings and any amenities were bypassed, and the client simply discharged steadily as long as the time permitted. We have sometimes referred to these occurrences as "taking advantage of a crisis" or "things being accidentally just right."

I have told many classes and workshops about the man who came in for his "free" interview for one-way professional counseling some forty years ago. He began to talk guardedly while looking at the floor, looked up into my eyes once and apparently noticed that I was really paying attention to him, and cried violently for the next fourteen hours.

There are other phenomena that have kept tantalizing us with the possibility of more rapid re-emergence. One of them is the spontaneous, several-days-long intense discharge and intense re-evaluation that has occurred many times when a co-counseling client "turns a big comer" in re-emergence from one of the large and early chronic patterns that had previously dominated his or her life. These clients report days and nights of excited re-evaluation. They tell you that they are re-thinking all the decisions which they had made in the past years which had been influenced by the chronic pattern, that they can feel this re-thinking going on in their sleep as well as in their waking hours.

Something which I know has been experienced by several dozen Community members, because I have personally observed the experience, has happened when a client, carrying a load of embarrassment, such as our society tends to install upon every young person, begins to discharge the embarrassment well. This usually happens in a workshop demonstration. A skillful and experienced counselor reminds the client that full discharge of this embarrassment is very much in the client's interest, therefore the client would never rationally stop the laughter as long as there is more embarrassment to discharge. The counselor reminds the client that if the discharge is interrupted, it necessarily has to be a pattern operating, otherwise the client would laugh persistently until all the embarrassment was discharged.

Since such a pattern inevitably has a vocal component, the counselor is able to draw attention to the sound of this component, and by copying the noise, and thereby drawing the client's attention to it, can re-trigger the laughter discharge by copying it each time the noise is made. By the counselor persisting in this copying, the client himself or herself eventually becomes aware of the noise each time he or she makes the sound. Noticing the sound triggers the re-starting of the laughter. Many clients, given this much support and awareness, have laughed all that day, all that night and all the next day. This achieves an enormous diminuition of their total embarrassment.

I become excited again whenever I'm reminded, or remind myself, of these glimpses we have gotten and are now getting, more dependably than ever, of the possibility of direct, rapid re-emergence. I would love to hear your experiences, your thinking, and your speculations in this direction.

Harvey Jackins


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