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September 17-23

The Art of Being a Client [1]

by Harvey Jackins

Most Re-evaluation Counseling literature is written for the Co-Counselor in his or her role as counselor, and properly so. All of us retain spontaneous motivations toward being clients, however much these motivations may seem obscured by inhibiting patterns. It is in becoming an effective counselor that we all need detailed guidance and encouragement in overcoming the conditioning against discharge and against assisting discharge which our culture has placed upon us.

Nevertheless, most of the rewards of Co-Counseling come to us as clients. Our success as clients, that is, in discharging and re-evaluating our own distresses, is the primary factor in the long-range success we have as counselors. Skill in functioning as a client is of great importance. The following guidelines, extracted from many experiences by many people in being clients, will be helpful.

First, take and keep responsibility for one’s self as a client. It is marvelous to feel the responsibility of one’s counselor standing by when one is in the throes of heavy discharge; but in between times it is best to remember to think about and plan for one’s own progress as a client. One will have much better sessions if one comes to them with an idea in mind of what one wants to work on, and allows even the most skilled counselor to fill his or her proper role as helper rather than having to try to plan for the client.

Second, one should act like a client during sessions and only during sessions. One will certainIy have many informal, short or telephone sessions as well as one’s formal ones, but one should try to be sure that the other person is ready and willing to be counselor before one “lets go” with one’s distresses. To do otherwise is not only unfair to and an imposition on one’s counselors, but it will not work really well for the client over the long haul.

Third, lovingly care for and nurture one’s counselors. People who can counsel one well are treasures, to be treated with courtesy and consideration, to be appreciated openly and well, to be given one’s best counseling back when the roles are reversed (and, if one is not yet able to counsel them equally well, to be tendered babysitting, lawn-mowing, floor-scrubbing, or other valuable considerations so that the relationship remains fair and mutually self-respecting).

Fourth, one should act during and between sessions so that any observers will be drawn to the use of Re-evaluation Counseling by the example of how responsibly one frees one’s self from one’s distresses, rather than repelled by the carelessness with which one exhibits and dramatizes one’s material.

To inflict on other people in the environment examples of how loudly or daringly one can yell, scream, curse or repeat words forbidden in childhood is exhibitionism and the rehearsal of a distress pattern and is not discharge nor responsible counseling.

A client will sometimes need to yell or scream in order to get discharge started, but the yelling or screaming is not itself discharge, and can be done into a pillow or out of earshot of others when it is necessary.

Wrecking furniture or counseling rooms or other destructive violence is not discharge but is the unhelpful rehearsal of a pattern. Violent movement is necessary for some kinds of discharge, but this is easily achieved by jumping up and down violently on a firm floor, with no harm to anything nor upset to the neighbors.

Warmth and closeness grow naturally between Co-Counselors and between members of Co-Counseling groups or Co-Counseling Communities and is to be treasured and enjoyed, but this is a private matter. To embarrassedly or defensively engage in embraces in situations where such embraces will not be understood or to blindly try to impose such closeness on others, who, through no fault of theirs, do not or cannot understand, is again exhibitionism, not counseling.

All persons not yet in the Re-evaluation Counseling Community must be treated awarely and with respect, must be communicated with on the basis of where they are, not on the basis of how we feel, or where we wish they were.

A Co-Counselor once summed this up by saying, “We just mustn’t wipe our stuff on other people or think that will help us get rid of it.”

Co-Counselors must endeavor, like Caesar’s wife, to be above reproach in their relations with all other people. And because we are Co-Counselors, always growing and gaining, this will turn out to be not so difficult as it might seem.

[1]  Appeared in Present Time No. 5, September 1971.

Last modified: 2023-04-15 09:24:12+00