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A Successful Class—Contributing Factors

I recently received two great appreciations for my ongoing class. A workshop leader said how much easier it was for her to lead when there were participants who were well discharged. Also, someone at the workshop who was in my ongoing class thanked me for preparing them so well for the workshop. These are great because both things are important to me as an RC teacher.

The following are some things that have contributed to the success of my class.

HAVING A PLAN

My class has been going for fifteen months. It originally started as a fundamentals class for people who were new to RC. As part of the screening process I required everyone to come to at least one of my introductory evenings. I set myself the goal of teaching the fundamentals of RC as clearly as possible. I asked my Area Reference Person and other teachers in my Area for copies of their fundamentals class outlines. I also subscribed to the RC online fundamentals class. All the lesson plans were similar so I decided to follow the online model. This is a terrific resource. The whole series is set out sequentially and clearly over twelve classes and includes relevant reading material. This meant that the clarity of my classes was not so vulnerable to my restimulation. I had a solid plan to rely on. Having the plan seemed to give me more room to see my old confusions and hopelessness for what it is—old and dischargeable. This class went for fourteen weeks—to allow more time for questions, demonstrations, and Co-Counseling sessions.

USING NOTES, A GLOSSARY

I aimed to show myself and to be a good model of the process. I taught from notes. This was new for me. I explained that my distress sometimes had me confused and prevented me from speaking with clarity about a topic. I read out loud some sections of theory from my notes that I thought were important for them to receive as accurately as possible. Other times I would have a go at1 explaining things, laughing and sweating along the way, and then would sum up from my notes if a more accurate picture was needed. Other times I was able to speak with clarity. I always asked for their agreement to be my counsellor if I needed to stop and discharge some feelings.

I provided a glossary for each person. It was added to each week as new terms were introduced. There is a great glossary in the pamphlet “What’s Wrong With The Mental Health System.” And at the end of each class I gave each person a selection of the relevant readings on that evening’s topic from the online fundamentals class.

I appreciated and congratulated everyone (including myself) for getting to each class. It’s a huge decision to not let the day’s restimulation prevent coming together each week. Such a powerful act of hopefulness is bound to restimulate old and early struggles. I made time within the class for people to set up sessions for the following week, making sure that everyone had one. I myself would have a session each week with a class member.

We had one week’s break between the fundamentals and the ongoing class, which I opened up to people who lived in my Area and had completed a fundamentals class. This class has been going on now for thirteen months in twelve-week blocks and is predominantly made up of new people.

SELF-APPRECIATION

Most important to me as an RC teacher is helping people make best use of the process—learning how to be most effective as counsellor and client. I plan my classes around that perspective and head my mind in that direction.

Fundamental to using the process effectively is giving up the habit of feeling bad about oneself. I taught a series of classes starting from this lovely quote by Harvey:2 “Each one of us, in our liberations, must start with self-appreciation, with pride in ourselves. To undo any accumulated invalidation is an essential and central part of any human being’s liberation from oppression.” We counselled on self-appreciation for that series of classes. I used to find self-appreciation difficult. As soon as I pointed my mind in the direction of self–appreciation all the horrible feelings of invalidation and worthlessness would come up so strongly that I couldn’t think of anything to say that was real. This happened until I came up with, “Well, I know this (appreciating myself) is the right thing to do and it makes sense to me, so I appreciate that I am trying.” Heavy discharge followed and away I went.3 I have since found much more to appreciate about myself. I set up mini-sessions in class or counsel everyone lovingly in front of the group, insisting that people put their minds to the task of self-appreciation. It has been a lovely example of people fighting for themselves.

My own sessions go much better when I can notice my goodness and value or simply give up the habit of feeling bad about myself. I am less inclined to defend my rigid position and more able to notice my counsellors doing their best and reaching toward me, rather than hearing everything they say as a criticism.

TIME FOR DISCHARGE, QUESTIONS

I like to leave as much time as possible for discharge in each class. Sometimes I will do the counselling; sometimes all the counselling is done in mini-sessions. Other times I will do a demonstration. At the beginning of each class I remind people that we are here to discharge, that it is not our job to make each other feel comfortable. I encourage people not to “wait” in a session.

I try to allow a lot of time for questions, thoughts, and comments after each mini-session and make room4 for those for whom speaking up does not come so easily. I hold out to each of them that their thinking is important and encourage them to take the opportunity to practice it aloud. They all say astute things, which is a perfect example of the magnificence of our species.

RESTIMULATIONS, WORKSHOPS

I teach people how to deal responsibly with restimulation. I have tried to prepare people well for support groups, gather-ins, and workshops. I’ve encouraged people to go to support groups and gather-ins and day workshops before attending a residential workshop. I want them to have enough of the discharge process and free attention available to be able to use the resources at the workshop effectively and participate as fully as possible. I’ve also tried to answer all the questions that come up around a workshop and have offered counselling time in front of the group. All of them have now been to at least one residential Area or Regional workshop and most of them have been to two. I am so proud of them all. They are robust and brilliant and have solid understanding of the process.

I keep an eye out for them at residential workshops and make a time, usually over lunch, for us to meet. The meeting is not compulsory but they all come. I lead it and use it is an opportunity for us to check in with each other and to discharge. I use the next class after the workshop to teach people how to clean up upsets and leftover restimulations from the workshop.

I mention every workshop that is on our calendar—why it would be good to go, and then we counsel on going or not. In the last remaining weeks of this year’s ongoing class I split the men and women into discharge groups in preparation for our local Healing the Hurts of Sexism workshop.

I am in an ongoing class for teachers and leaders led by my Area Reference Person. This is a wonderful resource for me. It keeps my counselling and thinking pointing in the right direction. It keeps me abreast of the advancement in thinking and the directions in which Tim Jackins and the International RC Community is leading us—for example, learning how to fight for ourselves—which I then pass on to the people I teach.

I love teaching Re-evaluation Counselling. I plan to start another series of introductory evenings in preparation for another fundamentals class next year. I also plan to do a series of ongoing classes around Janet Foner’s5 five-point program in “Getting Present and Staying That Way.”

Tony Smith
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


1 Have a go at means make an attempt at.
2 Harvey Jackins’.
3 In this context, away I went means I made rapid progress.
4 In this context, make room means allow time.
5 Janet Foner is the International Liberation Reference Person for “Mental Health” Liberation.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00