The Basic Theory of Re-evaluation Counseling
Upon Which the Work of United to End Racism Is Based

The article below is available as a downloadable PDF

Re-evaluation Counseling is a process for freeing humans and society as a whole from the effects of early hurtful experiences so that we may resume fully-intelligent functioning. Re-evaluation Counseling is practiced in pairs, by people listening to each other and assisting each other to release painful emotions. Because no money is exchanged between people who counsel one another in these pairs, Re-evaluation Counseling can be used by any individual, regardless of his or her economic circumstances.

Members of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities have worked on eliminating racism since the 1970’s. In 1999 the International Re-evaluation Counseling Communities designated eliminating racism as our key issue, accelerating work on eliminating this oppression. Within the RC Communities, people attend caucuses and workshops in which we exchange counseling to free ourselves from the effects of racism. Some of these caucuses and workshops are for people of various heritages. Some are for single-heritage groups (African-descendants, Indigenous peoples, and so on).

Re-evaluation Counseling (also known as RC or Co-Counseling) views all human beings as inherently intelligent, cooperative, and good. We assume it is natural for a human to have good relations with all other humans, to think well, to act wisely and successfully, and to enjoy life.

In this view, every human being acts and cooperates well except where patterns of emotional distress interfere. Then irrational behavior, negative feelings, and failure to cooperate or communicate replace the inherent human behavior. These “distress patterns” are the residue of physical or emotional hurts, many of them dating back to childhood, from which we have never fully recovered. We re-enact them when something in the current environment reminds us of the earlier times of distress.

The residual effects of past distress experiences could have been thrown off quickly and permanently, at the time we were hurt, through the natural channels of emotional discharge (for example, crying, laughing, and trembling). After emotional discharge, a person’s mind is able to think more clearly and re-evaluate what happened in the distressing incident.

Instead, some of the social conditioning against emotional discharge carried by our cultures and rigidly inflicted upon us when we were children (“Don’t cry,” “Be a big boy,” and so on) has interfered with, and prevented, recovery from our hurts, leading to an increasing accumulation of distresses and tensions. By the time we are adults, this has severely limited our original abilities to achieve good relationships with others, to succeed, and to enjoy life. It also interferes with our collective progress towards a society that supports all humans to thrive in cooperative, respectful relationships.

In Re-evaluation Counseling we regain the natural ability to heal from hurt. The prime requirement for this is a listener (we refer to this person as the counselor) who is sincerely interested, who will remain relaxed in the face of our tensions, and who understands and encourages the process of emotional discharge.

Many of our accumulated distresses result from societally-imposed hurts that we call oppression (racism is one example). Every adult in every present society has been conditioned, through the imposition of distress patterns, into functioning in both oppressed and oppressor roles. (For example, the same person can both be oppressed by racism and be in the oppressor role with regard to sexism.)

Oppression is neither inevitable nor inherent in human beings. It arises and operates only on the basis of distress patterns. No human being would agree to submit to oppression unless a distress pattern of such submission had been previously installed while the human being was hurting. No human being would ever agree to, or participate in, oppressing another human being unless a distress pattern had been previously installed. Once these patterns are in place, we are susceptible to acting irrationally and oppressively toward others, including people in our own group, and even toward ourselves. (For example, when racism has hurt people to the point where they unknowingly internalize it, they may demean and mistreat themselves and their own people.)

Individuals can be freed from the damage caused by racism, and other oppressions, through the processes of emotional discharge. This healing empowers individuals to engage in the organizing and struggle necessary for the elimination of racism from institutions and society.

Re-evaluation Counseling is currently practiced in ninety-two countries. More information about Re-evaluation Counseling may be found on its web site at: <http://www.rc.org>.


Last modified: 2016-07-21 17:05:51-07