Cocounselling is a process in which two people exchange time and attention to help each other think more clearly and act more powerfully. The process is natural 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 sixty years. It started by observing what helped people grow without any preconceptions. It is now the most straightforward and profound approach to improving human functioning that I know.
RC theory starts with the assumption that people are fundamentally good, creative and effective. However, we are easily hurt, and it’s hard to think when you are hurting (or what you experience reminds you of a time when you were hurt.)
The natural mechanisms for releasing painful emotions (talking, laughing, sweating, shaking, storming, crying, and yawning) are available to young people. During and after emotional discharge, the person re-evaluates the painful experience and can 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 pain itself. (Big boys don’t cry etc.).
What is RC practice?
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 you swap roles. 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 valuable that one good session leaves a person permanently interested in repeating the experience.
You learn more theory and the subtleties of the practice in a ‘fundamentals class’.
The fundamentals class covers the basic theory and practice of RC. The methods used include teaching, demonstrations of technique with students, cocounselling sessions, support groups and reviews of students’ experiences. We apply the cocounselling process to issues in the students’ and teachers’ lives and work. We learn how to discharge hurts due to how 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. One of the implications of the theory is that there are no bad students. Some students may find the training situation difficult because it is painful or reminds them of an earlier difficult situation. Simply asking people what they find challenging and listening will usually solve the problem.
The simple practices of RC classes that create trust rapidly are powerful and effective. The session, support group and workshop formats are also helpful.
The most significant gain will be the participants’ flexibility as they discharge their hurts and recovers their innate intelligence.
Coconsulting is a lighter version of the method that may be more acceptable in some organisations.