Family Work1: Pioneering and Revolutionary

Last December I participated in an RC family workshop in Valbonne, France—along with my son, Miro, and his ally. It was not my first Co-Counseling experience with young people, but it was the first time I had measured how much this work is pioneering and revolutionary. No doubt Miro‘s presence helped me feel involved.

Play sessions with young people involve the whole body. The “co-player-counselors” are jumping, running, falling down, tumbling, throwing themselves, lying down, and so on. It is a fully developed version of what I bring into my adult Co-Counseling sessions. In those sessions I am active but in a more restricted way: I cuddle, hold hands, look, see, listen, smile, along with occasionally being more physically active. While freely playing with young people and following their lead, I am in contact with my three-dimensional, moving, spontaneous intelligence.

The oppressive society has prevented me from functioning in the fully intelligent ways expressed in free play. In the same way that I have been conditioned to control my emotional discharge, I have been conditioned not to jump, play, be noisy, or let my body take on odd positions or make spontaneous, organic, unique moves.

Using my body in playing with young people makes my discharge more freely available. It is such a contradiction to my patterns of “correct behavior”—of being polite and having “good manners”—that I cannot help feeling something. Sometimes it frees up light fear (of being caught in “unsuitable” postures, of having “bad behavior”), and I just want to laugh. When I take more risks with my body, it brings up heavier fear (like fear of falling down). Often I feel bored. (It must have been boring to “behave” and limit my body to only “correct” postures.) If I am shoved around or hit inadvertently, it can bring up rage. When I am involved in a play session, it is practically impossible for me not to feel something.

Because of the commitment they require, play sessions with young people threaten my oldest patterns. Committing my whole body in these sessions can be compared to a verbal commitment in an adult session. A verbal commitment can powerfully attack one or several patterns, but a commitment made in a play session with a young person seems to shake all my patterns from their foundations all at once. My body bumps into old memories that are inscribed in it, and they spontaneously burst out in the open. My control patterns seem less effective (or even totally ineffective).

In play sessions, the counseling is not dependent on words. A young person feels, sees, and captures the presence and state of mind of whoever is facing him or her. In adult sessions it is easier to “cheat,” to say things that are not synchronized with what we feel.

Another revolution I am experiencing through play sessions is that my state of mind is joyous (at least that is what I am reaching for). This is a step forward in my “being there.” I am in closer contact with present-time reality. I am accessible.

To take part2 in these kinds of sessions is, for me, a constant invitation to plunge into the zestful reality that powerfully contradicts my distresses, plunge into discharge. I make contact with distresses recorded during childhood. It also allows me to get closer to young people and to work on the oppressive patterns I have as an adult.

I often feel a huge resistance when it comes to participating in a family workshop or to playing with young people or with adults. Recently I asked myself what would help me to use the efficient and powerful tool of playing more often. A few ideas came to me:

  • to take playtime seriously during adult RC events
  • to suggest games at every event, develop my thinking about them, and encourage other RCers to do the same to take seriously my resistance to playing and discharge on it
  • to discharge on the oppressive patterns I have as an adult
  • to play with other adults
  • to play with young people, even a little bit, and appreciate myself for doing it
  • to look for games that are attractive to me.

As adults, we need a lot of support and encouragement to attack the oppressive patterns we direct at young people and to involve ourselves in playing with children. Thanks to Brigitte Guimbal, Marina del Campo Loubet, and the Valbonne Community for organizing and leading this workshop and for continuing this precious work that is so fundamental for parents, allies, and young people.

Emma Perrot

Reprinted from Ecoute, the newsletter for Co-Counselors in France

(Present Time 171, April 2013)


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Last modified: 2017-05-10 04:36:22-07