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Tim Jackins answering a question at a teachers’ and leaders’ workshop in Israel, in October 2004

Paired commitments was a technique my father developed. He developed lots of techniques. This one was about two people committing themselves to each other, and it was aimed against the isolation people wear. He did some work on it in workshops, and there is a videotape of that. In the video we get to see people struggling against their isolation to commit themselves to each other. It’s a wonderful thing for you to go look at, and to attempt. Many people do.

I don’t talk much about it. There are hundreds of techniques my father developed that I don’t talk much about. Many of them are aimed at the same distresses. People work with them for a while with success, and then sometimes they are not able to make them work as well. When that happens, I think it’s often because they stop thinking well about them. They try to use them as something they have memorized. They hope that going through the motions and saying the words will make something happen. It’s a little like what goes on* in a lot of our educational systems, and we’ve acquired habits from that. Of course, no technique works if your mind isn’t involved.

A technique is useful only if it reminds your mind of what you’re trying to do. A technique is not the goal of a session, and it doesn’t accomplish anything automatically for you. I think some people hope that it will. They hope that if they just say the words they heard someone say—whether it was their RC teacher, or my father, or anyone else—they will have the same effect as when that person said them. But often the details of the technique weren’t the important thing. It provided a guideline for the client’s mind to follow toward the goal of standing against their distress, and there are thousands of ways to do that.

We need to think afresh about these techniques and what my father was trying to do with them. Then they won’t fade.

People who come into RC tomorrow will have gotten here too late to have seen many of these techniques. Some wonderful idea was thought of twenty-eight years ago, and someone wrote an article in Present Time about it, but people who got here twenty-three years ago were never told what was there before. We naively expect new people to pick it up somehow.

Those of us who are experienced forget how much we know. We forget how much we could teach people. All of these techniques, all of these ways of thinking about another person and his or her struggles, would be useful to think about again and to show to newer people. Few people go back and read old Present Times, even if English is their first language, and it’s even more unlikely if it isn’t. So all of these good ideas are waiting back there for someone to figure out how to talk about and use them in a fresh way.

It would be interesting to collect twenty of these techniques and teach a class for Co-Counselors who are experienced but haven’t been in RC long enough to know about the techniques, and show them videos of them, where they exist.

There are wonderful things, like paired commitments, that wait for us to figure them out better. One way you might bring back an old technique is to offer a group on it at a workshop. Bring your videotape player, if you want to, and just work with people, or have them work with each other. It almost doesn’t matter if they can make the technique work. It’s thinking about it and trying it that’s important.

So paired commitments is a wonderful idea, and it should be used when you can figure out the right place.

Reprinted from the July 2005 Present Time

* Goes on means happens.

Last modified: 2020-07-01 08:50:08+00