“Cocounselling” is a process in which two people exchange time and attention thus help each other think more clearly and act more powerfully. The process is a natural one and was first described and researched by Harvey Jackins. He called his approach “Re-evaluation Counselling.” There is much literature and a website.
What is Re-evaluation Counselling?
Re-evaluation counselling (RC) theory and practice have evolved over the last sixty years. It started by observing what helped people grow and without any preconceptions. It is now the simplest and most profound approach to improving human functioning that I know.
RC theory starts with the assumption that people are fundamentally good, creative and effective. When we sometimes behave differently it is because we either are hurting at the time or are being affected by the residues of hurts in the past. It is very hard to think when we are in the grip of painful emotion.
The natural mechanisms for releasing painful emotion (talking, laughing, sweating, shaking, storming, crying and yawning) were all available to us as young people. During and after emotional discharge the person re-evaluates the painful experience and is then able to think and act more clearly.
Unfortunately, emotional discharge is often inhibited by those around us who mistake the release of emotion (the healing of the hurt) for the hurt itself. (Big boys don’t cry etc.).
What is RC practice?
RC practice offers a systematic way for people to use and recover the natural processes of emotional release, to be freer of our internalised conditioning, to be more flexible and hence be more in charge of our own lives and be more effective in the world.
The core of RC practice is the session. In a session, one person, the counsellor, listens, pays attention, facilitates and encourages the release of feelings. The client talks and discharges and re-evaluates. The subject matter can be anything that the client chooses. At the end of the client’s time, the roles are reversed. With increased experience and confidence in each other, the process works better and better.
How do you learn RC?
Most people become interested in RC by having a session. The experience of being listened to profoundly without interruption is so rare and useful that it has been said that one good session leaves a person permanently interested in repeating the experience. The more detailed theory and the subtleties of the practice are learned in a ‘fundamentals class’.
The fundamentals class covers the basic theory and practice of RC. The methods used include teaching, demonstrations of practice with students, cocounselling sessions, support groups and reviews of students experience. The cocounselling process will be applied to issues in the students and teachers lives and work. We learn how to discharge hurts due to the way society handles race, age, sex difference, class etc.
Application to Training and Development
RC theory gives trainers an excellent way of understanding their students and themselves in relation to them. One of the implications of the theory is that there are no bad students, there are only students who are finding the training situation difficult because it is painful to them or reminds them of an earlier painful situation. Simply asking people what they are finding difficult can have profound effects.
Many of the simple practices of RC classes that are designed to create trust rapidly can be put into practice with immediate effect. The session, support group and workshop formats are also useful. The most significant gain will be the participants’ personal flexibility as she/he discharges his/her own hurts and recovers her/his innate intelligence.