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Re-evaluation Counseling or RC is the best-known and largest organization for Co-Counseling. RC today spans over 40 countries and offers many individuals an inexpensive or largely free form of counseling and personal healing/growth.
Founded by Harvey Jackins and his followers in the 1950s and early '60s, it is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, USA. Jackins, who died in 1999, had an interest in helping and empowering people, as well as in social justice movements of the time. He was active in trade union organizing in the 1940s. His interests led him to explore and investigate approaches as diverse and unrelated as Marxism, Dianetics, a number of progressive movements, and other movements and organizations that purported to help people feel and function better. Finding none of them to be satisfactory, he created RC as an attempt to combine the best features he had seen work in practice, with his own insights about how people heal, to form a new therapeutic method based on co-operative and free sharing of time and attention between individuals to each others' problems which he called "co-counseling" and a new overall movement, establishing formal teaching methods and workshops to train Co-Counselors, which he termed "Re-evaluation Counseling", delivered through Seattle-based "Personal Counselors", a small company which trained people in his methods.
Origins and basic beliefs
Jackins' version of the origin of the movement is essentially that he first began exploring the ideas that led to Re-evaluation Counseling after observing a profound change in his very troubled friend after listening to the friend talk and cry at length about his troubles. Curious, Jackins began to work with a small group of people who together slowly and methodically developed a methodology that consisted of sharing attention between one another in order to promote healing from painful feelings and memories through natural biological reflexes such as crying, laughing, and shaking which were termed "discharge". This emotional catharsis led in turn to "Re-Evaluations" or clearer thinking, following the relief of having discharged the legacy of past hurts. RC theory asserts that the process of freeing one's self from past hurts allows rational thought, because the past hurts are no longer coloring one's view of reality with emotional biases.
The RC organization and literature do not describe its practice as psychotherapy, but instead define the process of dissolving distress patterns through emotional discharge in the context of appreciative attention as a natural process that does not imply either psychopathology on the part of the individual or the need for professional treatment. A frequent example given is that children are born knowing how to cry and therefore heal emotional hurts, but modern societies usually teach children that such emotional displays are "bad" or wrong.
The basic assumption in RC about human beings is that all people were born good and remain good at their core, but that all people have been hurt in various ways. Inappropriate or hurtful behaviors by people are thought to be caused by "restimulations" (behavior caused by a legacy of emotional hurts that have not been "discharged", influencing the response to current events without being aware that the behavior is linked to those past events). One of the principal aims of the counselor in RC is to remember the goodness of the client in spite of the hurts being talked about by the client. In RC, the client and counselor are expected to work co-operatively, participants are expected to provide non-judgmental listening and to "contradict" the misinformation or other conditions thought to be associated with distress patterns. "Contradict" in this context means to say or do something that facilitates the client's discharge. RC also uses techniques such as "non-permissive" counseling, in which the counselor intervenes to "interrupt" client patterns. Counseling sessions are almost always mutual, with first one person acting as counselor and then the roles being switched, with the original counselor acting as client. Therefore each co-counselor is expected to be emotionally healthy enough and well-versed in co-counseling practice to be an effective counselor.
RC takes a strong stand about relationships between Co-Counselors by having a strict "no-socialising" rule in order to keep the motivations of each co-counselor clear and to enhance trust. RC Co-Counsellors are expected not to socialise or have social or sexual relationships with other co-counselors unless these relationships pre-dated their becoming co-counselors. This is one reason why many consider a well-organised community of Co-Counselors with clear rules to be essential in the successful practice of Co-Counselling.
Re-evaluation Counseling places a high importance on the need to understand and adhere to a comprehensive theory about the nature of the universe and of human beings, the best ways of assisting the discharge process and of pro-liberation attitudes in Co-Counseling. RCers believe that, when taken together, these enable the counselor to keep a clear picture of the client's "re-emergence" and are therefore very effective.
Practitioners of RC view the methods of RC as effective as other modes of therapy (for the average well-functioning person) at healing emotional hurts and increasing the effectiveness of rational thought and one's ability to have a joyful, powerful, positive life. RC also recognizes the world's lack of enough professional counselors to give everyone emotional support who needs it; therefore, the need for a large number of trained lay counselors. RC does not ally itself with any other self-help, counseling, or pyschotherapy practice. There are no independent or empirical studies done on the effectiveness of the RC "process", though there are studies on the effects of crying, for example, during traditional therapy. It is therefore difficult for those outside RC to assess the claims of the organization in an objective way. Academics studying the value of different types of therapy have not had access to RC to attempt this (but this is equally true of a number of other well-known similar movements).
Eventually Jackins' organization became officially known as "The International Re-Evaluation Counseling Community", or slight variations of that name. The "International Reference Person" is now Tim Jackins, a former math teacher from Palo Alto, California, and the founder's son, who assumed the title when Harvey Jackins died in 1999. Tim Jackins is a Yale graduate and received his masters' degree from Stanford.
The core organization structure of RC consists of classes and local communities set up by experienced Co-Counselors, who have applied to be teachers and have been approved by leaders; classes in turn are organized by regions and country. New members are invited by present members personally, and prospective members are expected to be well-functioning and emotionally healthy so that they can in turn be effective counselors as well as to be able to take advantage of the process in the role of client.
The classes and local communities are in turn organized by regions and, sometimes, loose country-wide affiliations. RC is against nationalism and hopes that by avoiding organizing on traditional national lines, this enables co-counselors to avoid nationalism, which may impede seeing all humans as good and establishing close relationships with any RC member, no matter the country of origin. There are currently 270 organized areas internationally listed in the quarterly journal of Re-evaluation Counseling, 'Present Time'. In 2007 'Present Time' listed that it has a circulation of slightly less than 4,000. RC does not have a central membership roll and no overall membership figures are available; the RC organisation has in the past estimated that over a million people have learned or been exposed to RC; others doubt this and believe that somewhere between 50 and 100 thousand people have learned RC since its beginnings and that there are probably around 10 to 15 thousand currently active RC practitioners, spread over about 40 countries. These figures are based on average calculations of class numbers from RC insider's calculations; Harvey Jackins in his own works claimed much larger numbers, but these claims are difficult to confirm, since some people only attend a class for a few weeks and others stay in classes for years, making it difficult to define having "learned" RC. More analysis of this on the Harvey Jackins page.
A related organization is the Re-evaluation Foundation, a 501 c 3 charity, whose stated aim is to "The Re-evaluation Foundation supports projects - based on the theory and practice of Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) - that apply bold, thoughtful action to freeing human beings from the distresses associated with past hurtful, unjust experiences." In 2007, according to their website, the foundation made grants totaling about $240,000 to "People-of-Color Leadership Development, Global Initiatives, Young People Leadership Development/Family Counseling Work, Elimination of Racism, and Mental Health." 
Development and liberation theory
During the 1970s, the RC approach shifted emphasis somewhat from simply basic listening partnerships to a more strategic focus on liberation and oppression issues for a wide variety of identity groups (e.g., women, working class). The theory behind this shift was the belief that there are certain distress patterns that were observed to be particular to specific groups of people in society (for example, men have been discouraged from crying, adults have been made to feel they always know better than children) and that these mistaken beliefs actually slow and impede any real connection one can have with another human being. As a result, RC publications, workshops and leadership structure(s) are organized within the context of this liberation theory. The RC organization formulated an active response to the 9/11 events with public listening and support projects.
When attending external events, RC often presents itself as "United to End Racism" (UER) since ending racism worldwide is one of RC's major goals. UER played an active role at the 2001 Durban World Conference against Racism. UER has been more recently involved in events of the 2006 World Social Forum, the main event of which was held in Caracas, and the World Peace Forum 2006, held in Vancouver. The RC website clearly states the connection with UER, and UER groups present their ideas as based on Re-evaluation counseling.
RC Policy on sexuality
The RC policy on sexuality was developed through the 1970s. Like most of the policies adopted by RC, they are based on views on human nature by its founder Harvey Jackins and his followers which they state are garnered from insights from clients in the many co-counselling sessions they undertake. In keeping with the movement's emphasis on rational choice, Jackins constructed a policy on sexuality that deemed all strong sexual feelings for another (regardless of sex) to be suitable subjects for discharge and likely to be cluttered by feelings of "restimulation" because so much of society's messages about sexuality are confusing and based on sexism and distress.
Regarding homosexuality Jackins stated, "Re-evaluation Counseling opposes the oppression of Gay people as completely wrong. We in Re-evaluation Counseling have a responsibility to find ways to help the individuals saddled with the patterns that lead to this activity to discharge and remove such patterns, We in Re-evaluation Counseling cannot compromise with any "identification" of the person with a pattern which pushes the individual towards participation in sex with people of his or her own gender. We do not concur with any identification of oneself as Gay, Lesbian, or bisexual as ultimately "rational." (Participation in same-gender sex, and identifying oneself as gay, lesbian or bisexual are two separate activities that sometimes occur together, but not necessarily.)
Origins of RC as an adaptation of Dianetics
Re-evaluation counseling is apparently related to Dianetics because of Jackins' early role in Dianetics (he was originally the North-West U.S. organiser and a member of L. Ron Hubbard's national governing body for Dianetics), which he abandoned in the mid-50s. RC also does not publicize itself well because of the individual, personal invitation model used to find new members. RC members have in the past been unaware of the Dianetics origins of RC, but information sharing on the internet has to some extent changed this. Anecdotally, to members in 2010, however, this history seems irrelevant.
The current leadership of RC remain silent on the issue, republishing Jackins' official version of the origins of RC which contains no mention of Dianetics. Since most current RC leaders were not in RC until many years after those events, they may simply not know about them, or if they have heard of them, prefer Jackins' own version or find the link irrelevant. The link between RC and Dianetics often draws considerable energy from detractors who insist that Jackins was not as forthright as possible. Those in RC who are aware of the connection with Hubbard sometimes dismiss it as irrelevant not only because Jackins died in 1999 but also because (they believe) practical benefits of RC occur independently of whether this link is true or not.
While passion about this link exists, it is unknown who outside of the RC organization is so passionate about this link. It is unknown if those passionate about this link are current Scientology members or former members of RC.
An aspect of the "cult" label sometimes directed toward RC is the combination of emphasis on leadership, non-criticism of leaders and centralized decision making that leaders agree are needed to ensure success in "anti-pattern" progress of the RC method and to be sure that RC practice is fairly uniform. To some, these appear similar to other alleged cults. Within RC these features are perceived as being required "to assist the average counselor in facing the difficulties of maintaining aware focus on the discharge process". The centralised leadership has the authority to make decisions about who is allowed to attend events and to teach the subjects of RC, lead groups, and other internal matters; there is no effort anywhere in the organization to control the outside lives of "members". Therefore a key aspect of cult identification, undue control over members, does not apply to RC. RC does not levy high (or any, in case of need) financial charges for basic courses (RC "Fundamentals" classes) or workshops and in general avoids the other behaviors commonly attributed to cults. Attendance at workshops and in classes are encouraged by structuring financial contributions on a sliding scale based on income and by many scholarships, which make workshops free of charge to low income members. Class members are free to drop out of class at any time and, anecdotally, are not pursued or pressured by teachers or leaders to resume attending. Anecdotally, questions about theory are welcomed, and suggestions about policy are not criticized;( this is incorrect if an RC member cricizes a policy they are told it is is distress, never to speak about it again and made to go into extra counseling sessions. Failure to do this results in expulsion.) neither are individuals ever criticized. However, participants at workshops may be subjected to "tracking" (to insure they are not "isolating" or indulging in prohibited activity) and the occasional "self-evaluation" which may occur behind closed doors and may or may not permit discharge as part of the process. Teachers and leaders receive little or no pay for their work, however, anecdotal evidence suggests there is every incentive to remain on good terms with the Area Reference Person (ARP) and Regional Reference Person ("reggie") especially, in those organized communities most often found in heavily-populated parts of a country. Those areas, over time, have evolved complex systems of areas and regions with overlapping histories and geography (this is especially true of the older communities) and, the coin of the realm is less about money but rather, about loyalty, to the point of, "backing the leadership, no matter what". In that sense, counseling resembles less a cult than an updated version of the ancient, heraldic knights of armor, where teachers and other designated leaders compete for recognition (and greater counseling resources) and joust with potential rivals.
Quick Google searches do reveal a number of sexual abuse and other allegations leveled against Harvey Jackins dating from the early 80s and the 90's. These are explored more thoroughly on the Harvey Jackins page. There have been no similar allegations against any major RC leader since Jackins' death.
Re-evaluation counseling encourages individuals within RC to play other important roles in their community as government leaders, educators, non-profit organizers, artists etc., to use it as a tool to help move forward their personal goals and improve their communities, rather than to become insular adherents to some ideology. Jackins frequently urged members to join and advocate for RC-style philosophy within mainstream groups, which he termed "wide world change". The organization also advocates the formation of groups that promote the principles and style of organization of Reevaluation Counselling groups, and disclosing to members of such groups the connection with the organization depends on the audience. These groups are called (within RC) 'naturalized' groups. An example is United to End Racism (UER), which does clearly list its affiliation with RC on its website .
- Harvey Jackins
- Tim Jackins
- List of psychotherapies
- List of counseling topics
- United to End Racism
- Jackins, Harvey (1970); Fundamentals of co-counselling manual; Rational Island, Seattle; ISBN 1-58429-073-0
- Jackins, Harvey (1973); The human situation; Rational Island, Seattle; ISBN 0-911214-04-6
- Caroline New, Katie Kauffman (July 2004); Co-Counselling: The Theory and Practice of Re-Evaluation Counselling; Brunner-Routledge; ISBN 1-58391-210-X
- Nelson, Cletus, "Killing the beast within: the rise of re-evaluation counselling," Disinformation, January 30, 2001