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Family Work: The Best Way to Understand RC

The following are excerpts from some reports on an RC family workshop led by Louisa Flander,1 in Mebourne, Victoria, Australia, in January 2013.

At this workshop I got a picture of how my feelings and frozen needs2 have “guided” me in my decisions and ideas about RC. Louisa said that “everyone is doing family work3 all the time.” Understanding this, I can correct some of how I’ve thought about my role as counsellor. When I first learnt RC, I took what I learnt about being a counsellor and fashioned it into a job like so much in my white Western life, instead of realising that it is all about playing with humans of all ages.

Playing is so intrinsically human; it seems to me the right way to imagine attention off distress. It makes it simple to remember that patterns are separate from the person and that restimulation is never about the present but always about old hurts. Thank you, Louisa, for this reminder that this world is completely benign (no matter how I feel) and that, like the young people I got to play with at the workshop, I and all my people are all about play all the time.

Anne Barton
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

In the past, I lived with the everyday competition with my younger sister. Now I am reveling in the direction of “I lost.” The competition pattern is a rigid, holding position in which no collaboration or joy can be had. Family life is an opportunity to practice losing, discharge what comes up, and then see what happens.

For years my dear Co-Counsellors have tried to get me to take the direction that nothing is wrong with me. It’s been a bit abstract. But when I play with babies and they stick their fingers up my nose, take a handful of my face, and otherwise love me up,4 it is hard to argue against. My resistance topples. I am loveable and loved. 

Rachel Steinmann
Brunswick, Victoria, Australia

Playing with and counselling the young people was an opportunity to get clearer about my own early loss of connection with other human beings. I now have a clearer picture of how to go back for “my little one”5 and what that session might look like.

Cynthia Lawson
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

I noticed while playing with the children how much I automatically sat and watched and held back. It seemed like new territory to really notice a child and play in such a way that my whole self was right there with them. Before, I was contributing only fifty percent.

The oppression in societies like Australia seems to make many of us white folk hugely passive on the one hand or “all-knowing” on the other. Family work is a good way to see this in its purest form and notice how the underlying hurts were laid in when we were little ones. I can see that if I keep showing up6 and deciding to be in the moment, I will get to discharge these early hurts. I think family work is the best way to understand the wonderful ideas of RC.

Lisa Rasmussen
Northcote, Victoria, Australia

A family workshop in which we are cooperative and in close with other people as we play shows me this: Re-evaluation Counselling theory and practice are accessible to me in relation to how much I can step out of my defensive patterns.

Vicky Grosser
Geelong, Victoria, Australia

This workshop helped me to see more clearly how families are systematically hurt by “whiteness,” capitalism, and male domination. What happened in my family wasn’t personal. 

I am in charge of my re-emergence, and I can repeatedly decide to keep my attention in the present.  Anything else is a waste of time. Spending the day with a young person is a great way to keep my attention in the present.  All of what happened to me in the past has no place in this situation. I can then decide to take charge in my sessions and discharge hard on early distress, knowing that I was and am deeply loved and connected to those around me and to all humanity.

Victoria Kemp
Thornbury, Victoria, Australia 

Recently I have been thinking about other ways of connecting with human beings besides sitting at a table talking. At a couple of workshops previous to our recent family workshop, I decided to organise and lead a game of RC volleyball. I also decided to say yes to all invitations to play, regardless of any feelings I might have about the type of play or the people involved. And I decided to have a good time. 

My ability to connect with humans in this way was given a significant boost at this family workshop, where I was more able to notice the power of play, with people of all ages.

While I understand the theory of play, in the past I haven’t put my whole mind to the activity of play. I have come to it with an attitude that I can best describe as babysitting, as a way of entertaining and to pass time, rather than using it to connect wholly with another human being.

At the family workshop I was more able to connect with everyone’s minds, to connect with other humans. As I did so, I noticed the brilliance of a human mind and the subtle nuances in the play that a young person was leading. I noticed the power in the quality of my touch; in using the volume and range of my voice; in space, proximity, gesture, and speed. 

I had much more stamina and enthusiasm for play and was more effective in listening and communicating with my whole self. I do know the importance of these things as a counselor—I teach them in my fundamentals classes. For me, they are made all the more effective with the decision and desire to connect with another human being, another mind—not just in play but in all contexts. 

Tony Smith
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Reprinted from the newsletter
of the Melbourne, Victoria,
Australia, RC Community

1 Louisa Flander is the Area Reference Person for the RC Community in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
2 “Frozen need” is a term used in RC for the hurt that results when a rational need is not met in childhood. The hurt compels a person to keep trying to fill the need in the present, but the frozen need cannot be filled; it can only be discharged.
3 “Family work” is the application of Re-evaluation Counseling to the particular situations of young people, and families with young children. It entails young people and adults (both parents and allies) interacting in ways that allow the young people to show and be themselves, and not be dominated by the adults.
4 “Love me up” means express affection to me.
5 “My little one” means my young self.
6 “Showing up” means being present.


Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00