I first came across RC (www.rc.org) or ‘co-counselling’ as it is generally known in the 1980s when I was eighteen – some people in the shared house where I lived were doing it. I regret that I didn’t learn it then – I didn’t understand how amazing it was. I didn’t come across it again until my early 30s, when some of my friends who I particularly admired began to do it. Because I thought a lot of them (thanks Dea and Diane!), I went after learning it myself. It is a peer-listening project that began in the USA in the 1950s, but to think you know what it is because you know ‘counselling’ is a mistake. It is actually a life-changing, revolutionary theory and practice based on observation and experimentation by a growing group of people in over 90 countries. It has a very advanced and elegant theoretical basis, and a practice that works brilliantly – although it takes time to build up the skills and knowledge to experience it at it’s fullest power, even beginners can notice it’s beneficial effects on their lives.
It’s basic theory is that human beings come equipped with an in-built ability to completely recover from all hurts and traumas – just as our bodies’ can mend a broken bone, or repair a wound, so our minds have a mechanism to recover from distressing experiences. This recovery process is very simple, and is found in ALL humans from all races and cultures. In RC we call it ‘discharge’. It is quite a physical process – it involves crying, trembling or shaking, sweating, moving, yawning and talking about our experiences, thoughts and feelings. It is a very profound healing technique – it really can transform a traumatic experience into just something that happened.
Somehow most societies have evolved to somehow mistake this healing process for the hurt itself, and people are made to suppress it from a very early age. But in fact, when someone is hurt and is crying, if the crying is stopped then the hurt does not vanish, but goes underground. The effort it takes to suppress painful feelings has the result of making our thought processes, designed to be flexible, become rigid and stuck. Instead of us remaining the warmly loving and co-operative individuals we naturally are, keen to be close to each other, full of zest for life and good at problem solving, we acquire ‘patterns’ that make us act in irrational ways. Examples of this can be seen everywhere.
The good news is that it is possible for us to regain our full humanness by learning to really listen well to each other, and to recover this natural discharge process. Although it can take a little while to get the hang of it, once you have experienced the discharge process for yourself, you can tell that it is hugely beneficial. Re-evaluation counseling is a brilliant method for healing and personal development. I have also never found anything better to foster closeness and cooperation between people of all kinds.
It has completely transformed my life over the 15 or more years I have been doing it, as it has for thousands of others. You can find out if there is anyone doing it in your area via www.rc.org