Exactly What Is Co-Counseling?

By Harvey Jackins (February 1988), from pages 52 to 55 of “Open Question Evening in Copenhagen,” in Start Over Every Morning

Question: I might be the only one here who doesn’t know, but I’d still like to know exactly what is Co-Counseling. What is the theory? What is it all about?

Harvey Jackins: Well, I have written several long books trying to tell people what RC is. So it will be a little hard to tell it all in three minutes.

It is a continually changing and growing theory. It is a better and better approximation of the real nature of human beings and how they can really be helpful to each other.

It is a set of assumptions about human beings. One is that almost every human being is enormously intelligent, even though he or she may not be acting like it. Another is that every human being is good, basically very good. When humans do evil things, it’s only because the scars of old hurts are forcing them to do that.

Every human being has complete freedom of decision, even though most of them no longer believe it because they’ve been told so many millions of times that they don’t. Every human being has complete power, if by power we mean the ability to have the Universe respond to you in the way you want it to. Hardly any humans believe that anymore, because they’ve been told so many millions of times by the society that they have no power, that they must do as they’re told.

The flexible intelligence, the genius-sized intelligence that humans start out with, can be temporarily frozen into rigid, unintelligent behavior by the accumulation of hurt experiences. If a human being has been hurt in an area where she was formerly very wise and skillful and flexible, and not been allowed to get rid of the hurt, she will, from then on, be compulsive, unintelligent, and often destructive.

If a human being has been hurt this way and can find another human being who will listen to her, support her, and help her contradict the hurt, she will spontaneously do one or more of a series of processes that we call discharge, which are outwardly indicated by tears, trembling, laughter, angry storming, yawns, and talk. If she and her listener can follow this through sufficiently, the rigid hurt pattern will disappear. She will again be intelligent, powerful, flexible, successful, and happy, where she had been unhappy, rigid, and unsuccessful.

In the long-ago past, these hurt patterns were imposed on people by accident and by contagion. If I crawled over to the edge of the porch and fell off accidently, that could leave a hurt on me. . . . The child who is beaten by his father, and grows up, will tend to beat his own child when his child’s presence restimulates the old hurt. . . . Hurts were and still are acquired by accident and by this kind of contagion.

At some time in the past (partly because of the hurts and because of greed, which undoubtedly arose out of hurts) human beings allowed themselves to be organized into oppressive societies. In the first place, it was always slave-owner-slave societies. Later these gave way [yielded] to noble-serf societies, or feudal societies, and later these gave way to owning-class-working-class societies, usually called capitalist societies.

These oppressive societies impose hurts deliberately and wholesale, in order to condition people to fulfill the rigid roles that the society assigns them. The slave-owner-slave societies and the noble-serf societies . . . collapsed in the past from their own internal contradictions, killing off large numbers of their members in the process. The present societies are in the last stages of their collapse (from their internal contradictions) and are in danger of killing off all the members of the present societies through their possession of atomic weapons.

The principal reason why people are not taking charge of this situation and eliminating the patterns and the oppression and the danger of nuclear holocaust is the existence of large numbers of patterns on everyone. There is also a tremendous amount of misinformation, which is perpetuated by the oppressive society, and a lack of communication between people and a lack of leadership for them.

If people can just begin taking turns to listen to each other, the recovery process can begin, and if persisted in will accelerate, and all people of the world in all their different groups can come to a common agreement, eliminate the oppression and the danger of war, and have a world that modern technology would allow us to convert and restore to a Garden of Eden very quickly.

We have a very real choice between a future Garden of Eden for our children on the one hand, and on the other hand the complete destruction of all complex life. . . . Taking turns listening to each other, and the rest of what we call Re-evaluation Counseling, is the most hopeful way we’ve found so far for helping to make that choice in a good direction.

These are some of the assumptions that are part of Re-evaluation Counseling.

Re-evaluation Counseling is also an international movement. It began in Seattle thirty-seven years ago, acquired knowledge slowly but persistently for about twenty years, began to spread outside Seattle seventeen years ago, and in the time since has spread to most of the cities of the United States and Canada and to fifty-six other countries.

Harvey Jackins

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

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