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Young People’s Work in RC

Goal 2 of the RC Communities1 is that the Re-evaluation Counseling Community put new and increased efforts into making Re-evaluation Counseling and the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities accessible to young people. I am writing a series of articles about moving forward with that goal.

This is my second article. In the first (on page 49 of the July 2014 Present Time) I focused on the basics of young people’s oppression and beginning steps for allies. This article is about young people’s work in RC. The third article will be on places where we need to make progress.

Young people’s work involves young people doing two-way Co-Counseling. Young people’s work and family work2 overlap, and both go better when the other is going strong. They are also different from each other and need to be thought about differently. When I’m talking about family work in this article, I will call it family work. When I say young people’s work, I am not including family work.

Young people’s work has not yet been fully taken on3 by most RC Communities, but it is growing. More and more young people in more places around the world are using RC. Everyone’s progress will accelerate as young people’s work and the elimination of young people’s oppression are made a priority.

Young people are a tricky constituency in which to develop experienced leadership. By the time they decide to use two-way counseling, they usually have only a few years before they age out of being young people.4 However, effective young leaders are emerging. The adults who were once young leaders know how to support today’s young leaders and have a good understanding of young people’s oppression. Goal 2 has pushed those of us doing young people’s work to take ourselves more seriously. And many key RC leaders have put resource into young people’s work, to good effect.


Often there is only one young person, or only a couple of young people doing two-way counseling, in a local RC Community. It can feel lonely and hard when you are the only young person in a Community that is set up by and for adults. It helps to have several young people and experienced allies building relationships with each other—led by the young people. It also makes a big difference when young people can be in contact with the broader RC young people’s liberation movement.

At the moment, young people’s weekend workshops seem to be the most useful tool for developing two-way counseling among young people. They now happen yearly, in different parts of the world. Occasionally they are constituency-based—for example, for young women or young people of the global majority (people targeted by racism). There are also International young leaders’ workshops, at which young people who are leading get to see what others around the world are doing, support and learn from them, and think about young people’s liberation together. We need yearly workshops that all young people doing two-way counseling can attend. This is especially important for young people who are not in a Community with strong young people’s work.

RC leaders need to be aware of the young people in their Communities and help them get to young people’s workshops. Even if they haven’t fulfilled the usual requirements for workshop attendance (completing a fundamentals class, being active in their local Community), if they are interested in two-way counseling, have some RC experience (possibly family work), and understand RC theory, it can still make sense for them to go, even to an International workshop. We need to be flexible, because (1) young people usually haven’t had as much time as adults to learn and lead in RC, and (2) young people’s oppression can make it hard for young people to want to attend local Community events. If you think a young person in your Community might be ready to attend a young people’s workshop, please contact me or look in Present Time for the nearest young people’s workshop and contact the organizer.

I went to my first young people’s workshop when I was thirteen. I came from an RC Community that didn’t have any young people in it who were doing two-way counseling. I was blown away5 by having a young person lead the workshop and by seeing other young people building close relationships, using RC, and working together against young people’s oppression. Afterward I started having regular phone sessions with another young person. I also decided to be more involved in my local RC Community, to get a young people’s support group going, and to go to adult workshops. All this happened quickly for me because I was ready for RC and could tell6 that I wanted it. It doesn’t go this quickly for all young people, but they often get a profound glimpse of having RC for themselves.


It makes a big difference for a young person to have a committed ally—someone who can show that he or she likes the young person; who can trust the young person’s mind; who can listen to the young person’s anger about young people’s oppression, without defending the oppression; and who can see where internalized young people’s oppression is holding the young person back and counsel him or her on it. It needs to be someone who isn’t urgent about the young person discharging or being an RC leader.

I have seen only a few young people who could stick with RC without having a committed ally. Sometimes the ally is their parent, and sometimes not. An ally who is not the parent can help the young person learn about RC in a way that isn’t confused with the parent’s distress. Things usually go even better if the young person has several committed allies. However, even only one ally, parent or not, can make a huge difference. Allies need to be discharging regularly on their own years as a young person. That will help them to be in close with the young person and remember that being an ally is as much for themselves and their own re-emergence as it is for the young person.


It’s great if young people can figure out how to do two-way Co-Counseling sessions. It can be really great for them to do sessions with another young person, in person or on the phone. A big part of young people’s oppression is the message that young people can’t be important to each other. That is not true; we young people can be close and a great support for each other. However, we sometimes internalize the false message and believe it about each other. We sometimes need support from allies in our counseling relationships with each other. This could be in the form of a three-way session.

It’s also great for young people to have two-way sessions with allies. Although it sometimes makes sense for the young people to take more time than the adults (especially if they are transitioning to two-way counseling from family work), it can be beneficial for adults to be counseled regularly by young people. When being clients with us, it’s great for adults to openly show their struggles and take us seriously as the smart counselors that we are. It helps if the adults work on what it was like for them when they were our age—in sessions with other adults or, after getting our permission, with us. Adults need to be thoughtful when counseling with young people and ask our permission before working on anything that might be hard on us, such as their oppressor recordings7 about young people, their feelings about sex, and so on.


Young people’s classes and support groups are a great idea when several young people live near to each other and are doing, or want to learn how to do, two-way counseling. It is good to be creative and playful in young people’s groups (as in all RC groups) and experiment with different ways of doing things so that the young people get to share their thinking and it doesn’t look like school. This can mean doing go-arounds in which each young person gets to share his or her thinking on a topic, playing games, having snacks, going on fun outings, and so on, as well as having theory presentations and discharge time.

It is often good to have a couple of adult allies in the class. How many depends on how many young people are attending, their experience with RC, and the relationships they have with the allies. If the allies aren’t the young people’s parents, the young people get some space to figure out RC separate from their parents. Sometimes a parent is the best option. Parent allies can meet together in a separate discharge group.

It often makes sense for a young person to lead the group even if he or she doesn’t have as much experience as RC leaders usually do. The young leader should be supported and thought about, just like other leaders. Because of internalized young people’s oppression, other young people may feel like the young person chosen to lead is smarter than they are. This can make it hard for them to stay close to and back8 the leader. Allies need to interrupt the internalized oppression and help the young leader stay connected to the other young people in the group. Sometimes there isn’t a young person ready to lead. If an ally leads the group, he or she needs to learn about young people’s oppression and frequently ask for the young people’s thinking. If there is a dilemma about who should lead a young people’s group, please contact me or someone else experienced with young people’s work.


Ideally, young people are the organizers of young people’s classes, support groups, and workshops (supported well by adult allies). Adult allies can also do the organizing, at least at the beginning. Organizers can pull in adult allies to help with logistics. Most young people don’t have access to cars and need drivers or help figuring out transportation. Allies (and young people) can reach out to young people, listen to them, and encourage them to come to events. They can help them think about details like money (and possibly help them apply for Outreach Funds) and registering.

Young people are capable of figuring things out themselves. However, because of young people’s oppression they don’t have as much resource as adults do (or the resource is at their parents’ or someone else’s disposal). They also have extra burdens, for example, little control over how much homework they are given.


Things will go better for everyone if we all figure out how to address and discharge on young people’s oppression and move toward a more playful and connected way of being together. If we don’t do this, RC events won’t go very well for us young people. They will be too much like the young people’s oppression we face daily. And although at a primarily adult workshop the play and fun should not all be left up to us,9 young people do often have good ideas about play, so it’s great to get our input.

Things go a lot better at an RC event when there are a few people whose job it is to think about the young people. These allies should be experienced in young people’s work (or family work, if that’s all that’s been available) and/or have relationships with the young people. They should also have worked on young people’s oppression.

They can listen to the young people and provide perspective outside of the internalized oppression. They can ward off any adults who run10 their oppressor patterns at the young people. They can check in with the young people about how things are going. They can make sure that the young people get good sessions, find topic groups to attend and people to room with, and so on. Until the majority of adults have worked on their oppressor patterns, even a small group who can think well about the young people will make the event go much better for the young people. It is useful for these allies to check in with each other beforehand and throughout the event and to be a team in thinking about the young people. It can also make a difference if the leaders of the event check in with the young people and ask for their input. For example, the sexism that young women face can be different from that faced by older women.

Mari Piggott
International Liberation Reference
Person for Young Adults
Vancouver, British Colubia, Canada

1 A goal adopted by the 2001 World Conference of the RC Communities and reaffirmed by subsequent World Conferences
2 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 to not be dominated by the adults.
3 “Taken on” means embraced.
4 “Age out of being young people” means are no longer young people.
5 “Blown away” means astounded, surprised, pleased.
6 “Tell” means see.
7 Distress recordings
8 “Back” means support.
9 “Left up to us” means our responsibility.
10 “Run” means act out.

Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00