The Role of the Re-evaluation Counseling Teacher

All our new structures and policies are, of course, tentative. We're trying to apply the intelligence we are regaining to the job at hand, the regaining of more intelligence. When unaware identifications with other groups or churches or lodges creep in, we have quit thinking, because thinking means solving the situation which is right here right now, which hasn't been met before and won't be again. The pressure to slide into old ruts, to learn and use something by rote is incessant and insistent and must be resisted.

We come together at workshops to share experiences, and this is very important. We listen to what someone else did with their class and think it was a great thing to do; but if we slip and decide we will do that same thing in our class, we're in trouble. As soon as we start taking something that worked before and applying it literally again we've already left our whole theory and the whole basis of being intelligent. It's hard to keep that in mind, with all the conditioned pressure, but it's necessary. Someone in England published a list of "things for teachers to do." That's a millstone around a teacher's neck if the teacher uses it in that way. If an RC teacher takes a list of things others have done and decides to do them, he or she has abandoned the theory. Yet, if we don't think, it can seem such a "good idea."


There's no question but that you can be inspired by others, you can start from what somebody else did, and think of what you can do now. A good deal of our experience sharing is valuable that way, but we have to stay out of the slippery little rut of doing the way someone else did, or what someone else did, or applying this technique to that situation. There aren't any borrowable techniques, except in the most general sense.

The levels of technique we talk about in the Spectrum of Techniques are very general. The correct technique consists of what is the new, right thing to do that moment within the general concept of that particular level of free attention.

This is a crucial thing for our teaching. RC is not encounter; RC is not primal scream; RC is not anything else. RC for you at that moment is intelligent you, with some general knowledge and experience behind you (a little more experience than the rest of the troops you're trying to teach), and that concrete situation. The question is, "What are the elegant things I can do to allow this group of human beings to flower, to emerge as human beings, to regain their intelligence and enjoy it?" There aren't any rote answers at all to that.

I'm continually asked what to do in a certain situation, and that's a very tempting question. I think of something to do; I feel like telling it as a solution; the rut tempts me too. It doesn't hurt if I communicate in context what I or someone else has done about something similar before. People will ask how to handle a certain kind of client. The truth of the matter is that there is only one client who is that kind. The minute you start thinking otherwise you're sliding back into the old rut of all the previous psychotherapies of putting labels on people or putting them in bins or classifying their difficulties. That immediately makes the problem impossible to solve. That's one of the main reasons psychotherapy has been such an idiot pretense of a science. The minute you start classifying and putting a label on somebody or on somebody's problem, you've lost touch with reality.

That person's difficulties are his own unique difficulties, his own unique distress patterns that are the result of the unique distress experiences that happened to him and to nobody else ever in the world. There are no categories, no lumping together. So I can give some general suggestions like getting attention out, approaching fear from the "haha" angle, etc., but I cannot possibly tell anyone else how to handle a particular client in a particular session. The persons involved have to solve that one themselves.

A baseball coach can show you roughly how to bat, how to pitch a ball and maybe even how to slide a base, but if you ask how to win a ball game, you're on your own. You're out to win a ball game every time you move to help someone get out of a pattern.

This is basic. Yet even the good information-sharing we do is dangerously close to the rut of rote answers to categorized problems. If we slip into that at all we've thrown the baby out with the bath water.


In the Manual we say the only dependable motive for a counselor is helping the other person get free of a pattern. You're there for one purpose, to help the person recover her humanness. A teacher must be similarly motivated. This is why we have to be more and more aware of what RC is all about.

As many of you have heard, RC began with an accidental experience. For two weeks I tried to get a man to stop discharging but allowed him to because he was so intent on it. He moved away from psychotic collapse to elegant functioning in two weeks. Early along the line I decided it was good for him to cry. When he started to shake I told him to quit and go back to crying. A few days later when he began to laugh I became very indignant; told him we had indications that crying and shaking helped him; to quit laughing and get back to shaking. What we have learned we have learned inevitably. In spite of all the blocks, circumstances forced reality on me. Realities did impinge, and my patterns were such that I was impelled to go back and look at reality and try not to deceive myself.

We've tried all along not to deceive ourselves, to take a clear look at what's actually happening. Our theory is subject to revision all the time (not out of somebody's recorded itch to change it; we get a lot of that, but we're smarter than that— we're not going to forget or contradict our basic assumptions which have been tested and proven valuable thousands and thousands of times), but on the frontier where we're learning we're going to continually question any conclusions we're tempted to make.


We're hostile to mixing in other theories for very good reasons. They're misleading. There's no question that they have good elements, and we point those out. Hurrah for Alcoholics Anonymous and Synanon, in that they establish peer relationships, but they're not good theories otherwise. The mistakes in them are sinking people who might otherwise make it, and we have every reason to be ruthless in our criticism.

I'm not hostile to psychotherapists...we're continually recruiting them. These are good people, often doing good things, but to a great extent in spite of their theories. We need to be ruthlessly critical with any theory that leads to poor results; not with the person but with the mistaken idea.

We have to be equally ruthless with our own growing theory. The tendency for rationalizations to creep in must be fought. "Facts are stubborn things." We should tune up our alarm circuit against kidding ourselves, listen to the bells that go off if we start rationalizing. We want to "get along," we don't like to fight; but if we don't take issue with these people who are voicing incorrect theory and policy, if we don't reject the pattern, then we're abandoning the person to the pattern. We have a real responsibility to reject patterns, and it's especially crucial that we reject them when they come pretending to be theory.

All of us have been conditioned to believe what the teacher says or what's in the book. "If it's written it must be so." I once had an English teacher do me a great service when she asked me if I could really believe the advertisements in the magazines.


Who is smart enough to know if something is tentatively worth trying or obviously nonsense? Only the first person singular. Sure, it's uncomfortable to take the cover off your mind and blow off the dust and turn the on switch; but we should seek this kind of discomfort assiduously. This is the lovely discomfort of getting the mental wheels turning again, of questioning, of being skeptical, of making tentative judgments and trying them out.

If you tell your class something, or do something, and feel uneasy afterwards, pay attention to that uneasiness. It may turn out just to be the unaccustomed realization that you do a good job, but you can discharge on that and then know that you do a good job. If it wasn't that, then look at it. If you discover you're sweeping a rationalization under the rug or letting a little corrosion into your approach, correct it with your class. You can't afford not to.

We conjecture that it should be possible for all of us to act efficiently, as if we have a limited amount of time ahead of us. We really can't afford to waste any of our time kidding ourselves, buying incorrect views of the world, rationalizing.


What are the motivations of people who ask to be teachers? A few want to be in style. They say "everyone" else is. doing it. We have safeguards against these. Others have failed at everything else, so they want to try teaching RC. We have standards that the candidate should have mastered the general environment before they hope to be a leader in RC.

We require that teachers be a model, an example, not just of accomplishment but of direction and commitment and effort. We have given permission to teach to people who were still smoking but were making a determined effort to quit. We've refused permission to teach to someone who would on no account take drugs herself but was insistent it was everyone's right to do so and that we had no business taking a position against it. This was too much confusion. Such a teacher would be abandoning people right where they needed a firm voice against the addictive pattern.

There are other poor motivations for wanting to teach. One is making a lot of money. There are a few Communities where you can make a lot of money pushing RC if you really hustle. Our teachers can make an adequate income and should, but it will never be easy money because there's a lot of work involved.

There are lots of real rewards, real motivations. I think the universal experience is that you really start applying RC to yourself when you start teaching someone else. There's the reward of attending a workshop like this and Co-Counseling on this advanced level. Teaching RC gives a purpose to life, one that endures. Your life no longer suffers from meaninglessness. You are through waking up and going to sleep and wondering why you bother.

You really earn what money you can get. You may have to discharge a pattern that people shouldn't be charged for something nice, that "all Quakers should do this for each other free." You have to reach people; you have to be such a magnet that people want to have what you've got; they have to gravitate to you and in intuitive ways ask you to teach them. If you can't do that yet you have to go out and hustle to assemble your classes. This takes doing and goes against all kinds of patterns. You lose a lot of patterns that feel like they were your hide.

For a teacher, I think the only enduring motivation can be a determination that humankind shall flower, that it shall fulfill its potential, not just you and your friends, but everybody. If we have feelings that this is something only for our gang, that all we want is to straighten out our school, or our research team, and we allow a pattern of indifference to the rest of the world to persist, we won't do a good job of teaching. As our students come out of their distresses, they're going to reach for meaning, and unless the meaning embraces the whole universe, and in particular our whole human species, they're going to be frustrated with RC. A basic assumption of ours is that we are concerned about every single human being, and in good time will get to them, and everything we do with our class and the people we work with is not only good in itself but is thought about as a step toward this cascading spreading of the word. If we aren't thinking in these terms we won't teach a good class.


Re-evaluation Counseling evolved step-by-step. I had no preconceived notions of RC. I began to find out about it accidentally. Co-counseling was discovered because Eddie and I were the only ones who saw what happened to Merle, were the only ones interested, and we had to try it on each other because no one else would believe what happened. We started having a staff of professional counselors in order to acquire enough experience and to pay for the research. We intuitively made the decision that these counselors had to be counseled. We noticed that students who came in because they wanted to help others would be good counselors for about three weeks and then become foggy with restimulation, so we made the decision that counselors had to be counseled. Each step in theory and policy grew out of experience.

At this point it's worth saying that we need to realize that RC is a crucial development for humankind. Lots of other grassroots developments will mesh in with us. It's fascinating, for example, to see the similarities to RC in the self-criticism meetings in China, in which everyone participates and where they take all the time they need, if necessary shutting down the factory while they discuss.

There'll be lots of other developments elsewhere. Here in the technically most advanced society in the world, where we have most leisure and most resources, RC is the key development.

This body of ideas and practice are welded together. We pound away on theory, but it's continually related to practice. If you fail to communicate this at the proper time you will leave your students frustrated, because they want it all, and they need the whole picture. RC involves not only me, not only me and thee, not only us, but them and us and them are us, and there aren't any national boundaries to RC. We correctly dropped the word "national" out of our Guidelines. We have every reason to be ruthless in eliminating the taint of nationalism from our thinking and action. It's going to be as difficult to get rid of as male chauvinism is for us men, and as difficult as white racism is for us palefaces to shed. We don't need any of them. Our communication to our students has to include all of these things.

Step-by-step we face the fact that if we want to get rid of our own distresses we have to be a zingy, clearheaded, eager internationalist and a down-to-earth, practical, skilled counselor and everything in between. Nothing less will suffice.

Harvey Jackins
Upward Trend, page 197

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00