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Co-Counseling for Married Couples [1]

by Harvey Jackins

Newer members of our Community (and we are all quite new) sometimes are restive and impatient with insistence on the rigorous application of Re-evaluation Counseling theory in Co-Counseling. Others feel insistence on agreed-upon policy in Community affairs (the Guidelines) is too restrictive and interferes with the creativity and initiative which they hope to recover in their Co-Counseling.

Feelings, of course, are not a guide to action for intelligent humans. Our acts and proposals should flow out of logical thinking and should bear up under logical appraisal.

These Co-Counselors should be reassured, however, that there is ample opportunity for creative contributions to both theory and policy. Our theory is by no means cut-and-dried but is continually growing and developing. We are just beginning to learn how our Communities should function, and the Guidelines are explicitly subject to review and revision each year.

Novelty is not necessarily creativity, however. It is important that contradictory, unworkable practices and ideas not be introduced into either theory or policy by patterns or by undigested fragments of other disciplines. Honest mistakes are still mistakes. Well-intentioned errors still have poor results.

Re-evaluation Counseling theory is a rich, complex, integrated body of knowledge. It is a deductively logical structure (which few, if any, other social sciences have even attempted). Its assumptions are clearly stated and its theorems and conclusions are carefully and consistently derived from them, as well as being rigorously checked in practice by many Co-Counselors before they are included in the theory.

When new Co-Counselors, for example, want to mix Co-Counseling with some of the things they experienced in encounter groups previously, they may have the best of intentions and “good feelings” about their intentions. They probably were able to discharge to some extent in the encounter experiences and “know” it was helpful to them. What they may not be able to understand until they have more experience is that RC is designed to be helpful to everyone, not just a lucky few; that there is great good reason for RC to rigorously exclude the invalidation and dramatization that proliferate in encounter groups.

Similarly, some new Co-Counselors feel the “blue pages” policy (the rule that Co-Counselors not set up other social relationships with people they first meet in the RC Community) is an intolerable restriction on their “freedom.” Yet one need only put oneself in the mental position of the spouse or parent of a new Co-Counselor to realize that this is a necessary guarantee and reassurance that the warm, open, loving relationship of Co-Counseling not be taken advantage of by someone else’s distress pattern.

[1]  Appeared in Present Time No. 9, October 1972.

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