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Teaching RC to My Young Adult Friends

Several years ago I decided to teach an RC fundamentals class for my friends. I wanted to bring discharge and an understanding of distress, oppression, and internalized oppression to the people I cared most about. Re-evaluation Counseling has made my life better in countless ways, and I knew it could play that role for my friends as well.

I asked my best friend, Kate, to be my assistant. That was important. I felt like I wasn’t alone. I had taught Kate RC when we were young people; I knew I could count1 on her to model having sessions and discharging and to be a good counselor for me. 

We decided to do an introductory night and invited both of our boyfriends and several other friends. It went well. We were surprised that everyone who came wanted to participate in a cycle of fundamentals.

That first fundamentals class met every other week for a year. Highlights included classes on appreciation and validation and on drugs, alcohol, and addiction. Several class members attended a Regional workshop last spring.

This past fall we brought in several new people and started another fundamentals cycle. Members of the previous class had all agreed they wanted to expand the group. Some, including Kate, haven’t been able to attend the second cycle because of school and work conflicts, but we still have a good group—with some more experienced and some newer people and a good mix of genders and racial, class, and religious backgrounds. All of us are young adults. My boyfriend has stepped up to play the assistant role.

CHALLENGES

There are complicated relationships among members of the group. Most of us grew up together and have known each other for many years. We have been a part of some of the best and some of the hardest things in each other’s lives. We have feelings about each other’s distresses and patterns. People have often fought or “gotten hooked”2 outside of class and occasionally in class. It has sometimes felt hard for us to separate the person from the distress and to think well about each other.

I sometimes feel urgent and discouraged, like we’re not moving fast enough. At first people’s sessions consisted only of talking. They had a hard time figuring out what to work on and how to use sessions well. I worried that the sessions weren’t valuable, and it was tricky3 to figure out how to discharge openly in my own sessions the way I can with other Co-Counselors. Also, the class has been going on for two years now, and some of the members still haven’t attended a workshop.

TRIUMPHS

Even though it’s been hard for me to tell4 that the class has made a difference to people, they have all kept coming back, week after week. In fact, people rarely miss a class. Even though they haven’t discharged heavily in their (in-class) sessions, these sessions have been what they’ve liked most about the class. I’ve realized they may be their only chance during the week to really be listened to. I myself love listening to my friends about what’s going on in their lives, and letting them listen to me.

With young-adult oppression pressuring us, it has seemed important to have a drug- and alcohol-free space where we can stretch to care about each other and have deep, meaningful relationships. It has created a sense of community and realness and given us permission to show our struggles. Coming together as a group week after week is a contradiction to the pull to couple off5 with one primary relationship and isolate ourselves from friends. People always seem more connected and relaxed after class. They will stay for a half hour or more after it ends to hang out6 and laugh together, even though it is late. I sometimes have to kick people out!7

I have had big sessions on how much I care about my friends, on my feelings of isolation, and on how hopeless young adult oppression feels. The class has helped me hold on to the possibility of our having big, good lives and doing it together in connection and community. Most of my friends are not activists or even particularly progressive minded, but they are all receptive to RC theory and Co-Counseling sessions and are increasingly able to notice the ways that oppression and early hurts affect their lives. I’ve been reminded of how natural the discharge process is and how hungry people are for information about how people get hurt.

The class has helped us to think more clearly about ourselves, each other, and our various identities. It has mattered that the women have learned about sexism and internalized oppression and that the men have learned about men’s oppression. It has made a difference to people to have gotten information and discharged about racism, classism, anti-Jewish oppression, and anti-Gay oppression. These oppressions affect our lives every day. I want my friends to know that all the ways that things are hard, or that they feel bad about themselves, are not their fault. I think I’ve done a good job of showing them that, and I know I will have many more chances to express it even more openly and deeply.

Some of my friends have started calling me for impromptu sessions outside of class, and people are discharging more in their sessions. I love being able to ask for a mini-session when we’re hanging out and some feelings come up. I also feel connected to my friends who are in the class, when I see them at a social function.

GOALS/NEXT STEPS

Everyone wants to continue with the class, including me. My goals include getting class members more connected with the young adults in our Region, helping them to have sessions outside of class, and getting them to a Regional workshop. I am also committed to teaching RC to my boyfriend’s family. He and I are planning to do an introductory lecture and invite his sister and her husband, who have both expressed an interest in learning RC, and some other friends.

A longer-term goal is to do a half- or one-day workshop for everyone who’s been in one of my classes. Also, Kate and her boyfriend just got engaged and some of our class members are in their wedding party. I’m considering organizing a support group so that we can think well about them and support their relationship through this next step.

Teaching this class to my friends has been for me one of the highlights of the past several years. It has contradicted powerlessness, isolation, and young-adult oppression and has given me a chance to express the love I have for the dearest people in my life. I am so looking forward to the future and to long, close relationships with all of my friends.

Jessica Whitehead
Wilmington, Delaware, USA 


1 In this context, count means rely.
2 “Gotten hooked” means reacted to each other’s distresses.
3 Tricky means complicated and difficult.
4 In this context, tell means notice.
5 Couple off means form a couple.
6 Hang out means spend relaxed, unstructured time.
7 Kick people out means require that people leave.


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