with RC from around the world
I have been using Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) to think better about my life and about the world for the past 24 years.
I was raised by activist parents in Toronto, Canada. They worked hard for social justice and as a young person – I wanted to help too. But by the time I left home at the age of 19, I felt “burned out” and unable to take action anymore. I felt hopeless about the future and that trying to change things was just too hard.
Years later, when a friend told me about this peer counselling organization, I thought it sounded worth a try. The theory I learned in my first class was like rain falling on dry ground. What if it was true that all human beings were born good, smart, loving, exuberant, powerful and co-operative? And that the only reason we don’t always act that way is because we’ve been hurt. It made sense to me. It made sense of what my parents had been trying to do in making the world a better place for everyone.
My experience with using the tools of RC (being listened to with full attention, releasing emotions by crying, shaking, laughing etc.) was that I was less “triggered” when things in the present reminded me of past hurts and I was able to think about my life in a new way. Not only could I think more creatively about my own life, but I could think about the whole world! I was able to return to activism in a way that wouldn’t “burn me out” and I’m having a lot of fun along the way.
But the biggest gift RC gave to me was after my 20-year-old son died in a tragic accident in 2008. My first thoughts were that it really couldn’t be possible to heal from such a big hurt as this. And yet I knew that there was nothing else to do but to feel the enormity of the loss. I had to cry and cry and rage and cry for a very long time. The healing of this hurt didn’t have a rigid timeline. My co-counsellors understood this and supported me in the process.
At the same time I attended a non-RC support group for bereaved parents. It was good to be with people who shared the same kind of loss but what I also learned there was just how terrible our culture is at dealing with death. Many of the parents in the group ended up on psychiatric drugs because they thought they needed to stop crying so much (or a doctor thought they needed to stop crying and that their grief was pathological). And for many of them, their lives grew smaller, forever diminished by the loss of their child. I believe this wouldn’t have happened if people around them had understood just how much they needed to cry (or whatever form the release of emotions was for them). When I think of my son now, it is with a smile on my face for all the beautiful memories of who he was and how much we loved each other. The things that I learned, grieving fully, have made my life even bigger and richer. This would never have happened without RC.
—Phyllis Beardsley, Vernon BC Canada
I have been in RC for the last 34 years and I appreciate the fact that it does not contradict and conflict with my profession in guidance and counselling but it reinforces me. It also very much connects with our traditions of sitting around a circle and giving each person a chance to take turns to address an issue where eventually we are able to speak of problems through listening and taking turns.
I have been able to disseminate the information to other communities within the region where most people have benefited from giving and being given a chance to actively listen to one another with attention and delight. Most parts of the countries do not have professional counsellors and this has played a big part in helping people release (in RC we call emotional release “discharge”) their distresses and heal from their hurts/accumulated hurts. I am happy to share with many people the experience I have gained and the teachings I have to all people, young and old.
—Wanjiku Kironyo, Nairobi, Kenya
I learned about RC as a teenager in the 1980’s and adamantly refused to have anything to do with it. As a teen-aged male I was proud to not seem to need to be connected to my feelings.
Just before I turned 21 my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer and given two weeks to live. When I heard the news I went into the hospital room washroom and cried for the first time in 10 or 12 years. After that experience was when I decided to give RC a try.
My mom ended up having surgery and lived for another 2 years. One night, when she was back in hospital, I visited her and she was in really bad shape. She asked me to put a pillow over her head so she could be finished with the agony of her illness. I crawled into bed with her and we both had big cries after which she no longer felt suicidal and was instead appreciative of my company.
Occasionally, experiences in life leave you unshakable in your understandings and beliefs. That night with my mom has always been, for me, the most important lesson about what we, in RC, call the ‘discharge’ process and how it can work. I have had several more of those throughout my years practicing RC. Some of them have come through working with ongoing groups of co-counselors, often over many years, addressing particular liberation issues; thinking and using our process together to uncover and undo the emotional damage caused by oppressions that has left us targeted and that has caused us to learn to target others.
In many ways I see the world as a complicated place with much upset and irrationality, the results of which are increasingly harsh. It is invaluable to me to have the process of RC as a key means for keeping my mind as clear as possible while I stay engaged with the people and issues that are important to me.
—Phil Rees, Toronto, ON, Canada
My RC Story
I started RC as a young adult in the early 1970s. It was an exciting time to be alive and active. There was much turmoil—opposition to the Vietnam War; the emergence of the women’s, Chicano/a, and black liberation movements; the War on Poverty. I’d dropped out of college to support our little family.
Chicanos/as were angry and trying to figure out how to assert ourselves in a system that basically ignored and used us. Some of what was being promoted was an attitude of contempt and even a kind of hatred toward white people. In general, people were passionate and could quickly become emotional on one side of the issues or another. There was (and continues to be) considerable orchestrated confusion among the leaders.
I was learning about our history. I had not been taught how racism was used against us. There were only stories about tragedies or of the daily irony that we faced.
We weren’t encouraged to speak Spanish in school. Previous generations had been punished for not speaking English. Those of us with lighter skin pigmentation could “pass,” while those who were darker were often treated badly. One’s command of the English language could open doors or keep them closed.
I’d grown up in a poor and mostly working-class community. I didn’t know we were poor. I had just assumed that’s how life was for everyone. In fact, many white families were poorer than we were.
I was also raised Catholic. The priests were mostly white or Anglo—it was rare to get a Chicano priest. Our family’s life still revolves around the Church.
I was not successful in school. I was easily bored. I only liked the teachers who could make learning fun and interesting. Racism was not discussed, except, occasionally, the racism targeting the Black community.
I decided to join RC when I was twenty-three. It was and remains the best decision I ever made.
I attended one of the last weeklong workshops. It was in Arizona (USA) and led by Harvey Jackins, whom I’d never met before. The venue was like a summer resort. There was a refrigerator filled with beer outside the meeting room. I couldn’t understand how this was possible. I really wanted a beer and was tempted, but I did not take an opportunity to drink, then or later. Years later l learned that many Mexican American men were “destined” to die from cirrhosis of the liver.
There were three of us of Mexican/Indigenous descent. Women were indignant about sexism and were raising concerns about men’s behavior. It was “intense.” Harvey did a two- or three-hour demonstration with a woman who had been sexually assaulted; he insisted that she could move her life forward. At that point I decided I wanted to learn everything I could and apply the skills in my life.
I was tasked with picking out some questions from my support group for the open question evening. I asked about the term “liberation” and about police brutality. Harvey spoke about fifty minutes on the topic. He did not speak against the police or the government, or the President at that time, Richard Nixon, who was upsetting many people. Harvey spoke about how we all develop patterns that, through no fault of our own, result in a society that hurts everyone, including the owning class.
I keep learning and thinking. I persist with discharge, despite the distress recordings that would have me do otherwise.
—Lorenzo Garcia, New Mexico, USA
I have been involved with Re-evaluation Counseling for many years. It is a tool that has helped me tremendously. Through equal exchange of listening with a partner I was able to clear my mind of distressing thoughts and feelings so I could think more clearly. In my work as a school nurse, it helped me greatly in being able to have empathy and develop strong caring relationships with parents, students, and staff. It helped me return to work each day with a fresh perspective and willingness to take on the challenges of my job. It helped me understand oppression and be able to listen to others from many oppressed groups and learn from them. Re-evaluation Counseling at its heart, is a tool that uses a peer-to-peer process to help oneself grow and have a fuller picture of humanity.
—Anne Greenwald, Massachusetts, USA
I discovered Re-evaluation Counseling about 45 years ago, when my son was eleven years old. As a young black mother with an autistic child I was desperate for help. I had exhausted my financial resources with the mental health system, and gotten very little real help beyond “bring him back next week.” My son was being put on ever-increasing dosages of Ritalin to no avail, when a friend introduced me to RC.
Through Re-evaluation Counseling I learned how to listen to my son, and was listened to as well. This process helped me to trust my own thinking, discover my own strengths as a mother, as a female and as a parent. The bonus for me was understanding oppression and learning to navigate an oppressive society in a way that allows me to thrive and help others do the same.
I am a licensed professional counselor with a private practice guided by the theory of Re-evaluation Counseling. I am also a teacher of RC classes. I lead RC workshops, and participate regularly in co-counseling sessions where I give and receive compassionate attention from others without coercion and advice. Both my son and I have benefited greatly from this process and its principles guide our lives.
—Dorothy Marcy, Fayettevillle, Arkansas
I have been practicing RC in New Zealand since I learned it in 2001.
It has been fundamental in helping me come out of a cycle of abusive relationships. Through RC I have learned and understood too many things to list, among which the importance of emotional release to heal old traumas, and the power of just sitting with a friend in need, with loving acceptance and giving them the space to tell their story, uninterrupted.
Of massive importance, I have learned about systemic oppression in society, how it targets me and people different from me and the resulting divide and challenges in organizing together for important progress. Understanding some of the struggles endured by others has given me the opportunity to connect deeply and create precious relationships with people I may never have met, as well as helping to maintain and deepen relationships I already had.
In spite of being made up of a collection of humans with all our personal hurts and ancestral traumas, co-counseling is the most elegant organization I have come across so far. It has the broadest and highest aspirations of inclusion, equality and healing for all. It has evolved systems that are exemplary and could inspire any other organization with similar aspirations of equality and ending oppression.
I thank all the hard work and good thinking contributed by thousands of co-counsellors across the world.
—Franca Morani, New Zealand
I became aware of RC in late 1983, and it has played a significant role in my life since then. Being listened to non-judgmentally while I let go painful emotions that clouded my thinking had a profound effect on both my parenting and my work as a Primary school teacher with children aged 4-10 years.
At RC workshops I met people at the cutting edge of thinking in their field, for instance women’s issues, racism and disability equality. I had the idea to introduce equal opportunities onto the curriculum where I worked, but this was not common practice in the 90s. Sessions with my co-counsellors gave me the courage to broach the idea with the Head Teacher and staff.
We began with a week-long focus. I sought out appropriate books to enrich the library and found visitors for each class. The first theme was sexism and the visitors modelled that it’s good to break out of the mould, for example a father who was training to work as a nursery nurse and a female engineering graduate encouraging both boys and girls to consider a job using science and technology. At the end of the focus, each class shared and celebrated their work. One class had written and illustrated a jobs alphabet, with characters in non-conventional roles. The following year the focus was on what it’s like to live with a disability and then ‘Our multicultural Heritage’ as an age-appropriate introduction to racism. These three topics formed a rolling programme that influenced the tone of the school throughout the year.
Every year I welcomed a student teacher from the University school of Education. They thrived in my class and appreciated the respect I showed the children. My classroom was different. Their tutors were also impressed and I was invited over several years to lead seminars on Equal Opportunities, and to nurture students who were struggling.
—Cee Martin, England
Goodness, there are so many positive and compelling things I could say about Re-evaluation Counseling, it’s hard to know where to start! In the approximately 8 years I have been practicing RC, my healing has deepened immensely and my work and leadership in the world has blossomed beyond my previous expectations at a record-setting rate. I first learned of RC in the context of movement building work with leaders of color I respect and admire. I didn’t know much about RC at that time, but I noticed the leaders of color who were part of this practice/community were some of the most compelling, self-aware leaders I knew. They still are today.
Eventually, a white leader who was a stand-out volunteer and ally to me during my tenure in my first Jewish communal executive role reached out and invited me to an introductory RC meeting. I joined an intro class and there was no turning back. Each class managed to rival the depth and insight of my former university course work, while also offering healing at a level of sophistication I had not encountered in traditional counseling, and not for lack of searching.
Is RC perfect? Of course not! Nothing run by wonderfully imperfect humans is. Not my spiritual/religious communities, not even the best of social justice movement spaces. But like other communities and practices that deeply enrich my life, it is continually evolving and its benefits far outweigh occasional or on-going growing edges, by orders of magnitude. At least in my adult life, there’s no community that has brought more insight, healing, perspective, and knowledge as much as RC has, hands down. I love the diversity, depth, and substance RC brings to my life as a Southern-heritage Black, Cherokee and Ashkenazi Jewish woman. I am joyfully certain RC will be central to my on-going evolution and healing for a very long time to come. With all that I’ve said, this still doesn’t encompass how much RC has enriched my life and leadership.
—April Baskin, USA
The anti-racism work I do through Re-evaluation Counseling has changed my life. As a Japanese heritage person growing up in an all-white community, I faced a lot of racism as a young person. Growing up, I thought that my role in life was to support other people, to stay in the background. Through the practice of RC, I’ve realized that I can seek a bigger life with me in the center and can challenge myself to go after my own life goals.
RC helps me heal from the early hurts of racism: the name-calling and excluding me from groups. I share the practice and theory to help others also heal from early hurts so they don’t have to accept limitations in their lives.
—Sue Yoshiwara, USA
Much has been written about Jenny Sazama and the organization she worked for including Re-evaluation Counseling (RC). Much of what has been written seeks to discredit Jenny and cast doubt on RC in general, and so I am writing to share my perspectives.
I have known about RC for 32 years now. I met Jenny Sazama 30 years ago through the same organization. From the very first day I met Jenny she treated me with respect. She was kind in a way that was not condescending, which for me as a black African male was unusual treatment from a white person. I have earned the right to call her my sister, my colleague, and a dear friend.
I have never known her to treat people of different races from her with anything less than complete respect.
Jenny Sazama did not teach me RC but much of what I have learned from RC is because she is an embodiment of what that theory holds dear—that all human beings are equal. All human beings are intelligent no matter the age, gender, skin colour or financial standing.
It was in RC that I was reminded of my intelligence and ability to think for myself. RC has taught me and provided a safe environment to be able to express my emotions in a non-violent and healthy manner. RC has helped me make sense of a world that does not make sense, where people are allowed to die of starvation when there is enough food in the world.
My life is thriving because I have learned through RC that I need not fear that which is different or that which I do not understand. I have learned that it is ok to trust my thinking and be wary of anything that is rigid.
I have found this to be a valuable and accessible tool and a viable approach to social justice and social change.
—Bafana Matsebula, Eswatini, Southern Africa
I was 20 years old when someone decided to have me as a friend in her life. Later she learned me about RC and how to co-counsel. This friendship is forever and so much worth in both our lives. And in RC I met many, very different, people who showed me many aspects of their lives. We worked together to become more powerful in many ways.
RC learned me what the human side of human beings is; how people are originally. And how we can reclaim this originality.
RC showed me also that everywhere in the world human persons and mother earth is being threatened by capitalism. I use the RC tools to take on powerful and lively leadership more and more, in my own life and in the world around me.
—Hannie Schuurman, Fryslân
To be honest, over a period of three years my closest friend would occasionally invite me to attend an introduction to RC and I just wasn’t interested. I was a single mom and a factory worker from a mostly working-class background. She said you listen to each other. You cry and release emotions and it helps. Seemed foreign to me. Didn’t happen in my family.
But then, her four-year-old daughter whom my son and I were very close to died unexpectedly from heart surgery. It was beyond heartbreaking and my friend and her family were devastated. I got to see how they began to process this terrible loss. They didn’t drink or numb out. They spoke of having sessions about her death, and I could see them slowly emerge from the grief and begin to function and find some joy in their lives. It got my attention. It was different from anything I’d witnessed, and the next time she invited me to an RC introduction, I went.
I thank my lucky stars I did. Being in class led to looking at some hard things from my childhood, releasing feelings about them and rethinking and questioning assumptions about who I was and what I could do. Sometimes it was scary. I learned to recognize that those were just feelings from past experiences that I could work on in a session and move on from. Over time I could feel myself changing: being able to think more clearly about parenting my son; daring to apply for jobs I previously thought I was too stupid to do and getting them.
I teach RC now because it is such a joy to see people use these tools and make positive changes in their lives as they heal, get perspective and reclaim their ability to think past the places where they are stuck. I think these tools hold promise for our society, which sorely needs a lot of people thinking clearly.
—Kathy Martino, NYC USA
I learned about Re-evaluation Counseling when I was a 17-year-old high school student. I have been practicing it since. I heard about RC from a wonderful teacher while I was a teacher’s aide in her fifth-grade classroom. She told me about an introductory workshop that she and her husband attended over the weekend. She incorporated some of the listening tools and theory to make her class even better.
The following year, I was in college and again volunteered to be her aide, this time in her sixth-grade class. She had moved to the middle school and was the homeroom teacher for most of the same students. She suggested students could listen to each other as a way of dealing with problems like someone interfering with their schoolwork or when they had a dispute with another student or were too distracted to focus on their schoolwork. Several students who had told me that they had previously hated school began to like it and try hard. This teacher created an environment where everyone could do their best.
I applied what I had learned with those 10- and 11-year-olds in my own interesting career as a union leader, a community organizer, and as a teacher and trainer of activists. I have found that giving everyone a chance to listen and be listened to makes meetings more constructive, increases understanding across differences, and builds unity.
—Joe Fahey, Dixon, California, USA
In 1975 I was a 20-year-old university student from a Lebanese and Italian, low-income working-class background, majoring in sociology, and committed to progressive social activism. After making my first public speech on campus as an ally of women, I was contacted by a faculty person who invited me to her class in Re-evaluation Counseling. I was amazed to hear that someone was going to listen to me for an hour and I would give equal listening time back. I loved it. Emotional release came easily for me, at first mostly tears about the loss of my father when I was eight years old and connections with my family.
I became the local RC librarian, and during breaks from school, I read all the RC literature that was published at that time. What I found made a great impression on me. Human liberation had to do not only with social activism but with freeing our minds from emotional distress in order to increase our effectiveness and recover our true selves. I had been thinking about becoming a social worker and doing community organizing, but after many sessions, decided to move back to my old neighborhood, do working-class jobs, and organize from the grassroots, using RC as a tool.
I have never regretted that decision. I have made many connections with people, learned a lot, had good influence, and together with an African American friend built a diverse RC Community. From this base, I have also reached out internationally as an ally to share co-counseling and build solidarity. I have no doubt that our organization and its leaders have extraordinary integrity and are willing to take risks to reach all the people of the world. RC has truly changed my life.
—Victor Nicassio, USA
When I joined RC I was diagnosed as clinically depressed. I was so depressed that I couldn’t get out of bed for months. I saw expensive therapists and was advised to take psychiatric drugs. I was a film school graduate, but I had given up on filmmaking. I had no social life other than whatever co-dependent relationship I would get into with a boyfriend, and I was so deathly shy that drinking alcohol felt like the only way I could be around people. I was estranged from my immediate family and didn’t tell them what my life was really like.
When I joined RC, I was guarded and suspicious of everyone in it. I quickly saw, however, what happened when I was listened to and when I got to cry about my childhood, as the daughter of a holocaust survivor. It’s now 25 years later. I’m the writer-director of award-winning and critically acclaimed films. The peer support that I’ve received in RC made it possible for me to pursue my dreams as an artist.
Even more exciting, however, is the fact that I learned how to support other artists. In 2006 I founded “The Independent Film School.” I have thousands of readers; hundreds of matriculated students join me each year; and I receive emails regularly from people I’ve never met who thank me for changing their lives by reclaiming hope, finding their confidence, and learning how to build networks of support around them. I’m able to do this for thousands of artists because of the help that I receive in RC.
I also have a rich social life (without drinking), a loving husband, and I’m now very close to my siblings and parents.
I’ve read critical articles about RC and its founders, but these descriptions are inconsistent with my many years of experience in this organization. I’m fortunate to be a part of this simple but profoundly effective work, and I can only imagine the world we would live in if every human got this amount of support, and this big a chance to heal from old hurts and regain this level of confidence in their mind.
—Ela Thier, Born and raised in Israel – currently living in the US
I am 66 years old and live in England, UK. I have used the tools of Re-Evaluation Counseling for the past 36 years.
It was so valuable to me during my 30-year career as a family medical doctor. Knowing how to listen to people really well and enable them to express the many feelings that come with illness and difficulties in life helped me provide the very best possible standard of care.
It also gave me the support I needed to do this demanding work and to be able to work in a co-operative way in the team of health care providers.
In retirement, I am able to teach the skills of RC to others and to help people to use the listening tools to live full and rewarding lives.
It is important to me that this is a tool shared by peers. It has given me the chance to recover naturally from the effects of past hurts so that I have been able to make good decisions and make the best life I can for myself and those I am close to and to help others to do the same.
Re-evaluation Counseling is used by a diverse group of people where the practice of co-counseling is continually being developed. People are encouraged to do their own thinking and to use the practice of RC to develop their lives in the directions that they wish. The many insights that have been gained over the years are openly shared with one another. This has led me to a deeper understanding of how universal experiences such as racism, sexism and classism have affected people’s lives and how we can also heal from these hurts.
—Anica Gavrilović, England
Over the years I have been part of Re-evaluation Counseling, I have found the structure of exchanging listening with others to be very helpful. It has always made sense to me that each of us thinks better with the thoughtful attention of others.
One way it has been helpful to me is in my work as a union electrician for nearly two decades. Big construction jobs can be grueling and hazardous, and tense. Having a reliable place to unload these stresses after a workday or workweek makes a difference in not bringing them home to my family. It also enables me to come back and do my job well and safely the next day. And the regular support I get has helped me make the job go better by adding humor, looking out for everyone’s safety or defusing tensions among my co-workers.
A couple of times I have had injuries related to my job. In these situations, it was invaluable to be part of a flexible network of support. This meant I could add extra times to exchange attention, so I could deal with the physical and emotional stress of pain, treatment, and recovery. I was lucky to be able to do this without racking up any more bills, and to recover from the injuries well.
—Dan Alter, USA
If it were not for a coworker who gave me information about Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) in 1992 I would not be here today. Soon after the coworker told me about RC, I experienced a work injury that kept me out of work for a year and a half. I went into great depression and was contemplating suicide. I heard myself say “I need help.“ Immediately I remembered the book she gave me called “The Human Side Of Human Beings.” I read the book and learned about this method of peer counseling that was based on listening to one another. I found a local RC teacher and took the 16 week class to learn how to listen and be listened to.
As two people listen to one another without judgment, without giving advice, each one has the opportunity to unload the emotional pain from early hurts. This unloading allows a person to be able to think much clearer and understand their situation and be able to affect change in their lives.
What I liked about it was that there was no advice, and there was no socializing. No socializing means that the relationship is purely for peer counseling and nothing else. You will not become friends with your peer counselor or go into business with your peer counselor. All you will do with your peer counselor is exchange listening time. I like the cleanness of it and that made it safe and effective.
I have been counseling with the same cocounselor for nearly 30 years and we have supported each other through good times and bad. I went back to school after my injury and became a family physician. I am grateful that I have this tool and have applied it in my own practice. Effective listening is undoubtedly a tool for healing.
—Veronica Obodo-Eckblad, USA
I have used RC as a practice throughout my entire life and it has been incredibly important to me to be part of a community of people committed to mutually supporting and listening to each other, showing emotions without judgement, and validating each person’s mind.
As a young person in RC, I had a space where I felt encouraged to trust my thinking and remember that my voice mattered, despite the messages of racism, sexism, and young people’s oppression I was facing out in the world at all times. RC has been a key support base for me since I was a young person, and now, as a young adult.
So much of RC is also about experiencing joy, fun, and connection. It is a powerful model of contradicting isolation and finding ways to feel hopeful and impactful about taking on big issues in the world. A big part of RC is about coming together to exchange inspiring, pleasant, and joyful stories with each other.
Getting to work together in RC on liberation issues is fun and empowering. People share smart perspectives with each other about how we’d like to see the world change for the better. And at the center of it is the leadership of young people, people of color, women, working class people, and other groups fighting for their liberation.
RC has given me a space where it’s okay to have a cry on someone’s shoulder when I need to, laugh lots and be playful, or decide to face my fears. I’ve been able to heal from hurtful experiences by getting to process my feelings at my own pace with supportive ears. I’m glad to have a practice in my life that helps me remember that having feelings is a part of being human, that my struggles don’t have to limit or define me, and that I can trust I have an inherently intelligent and good mind.
—Erin Huang-Schaffer, United States
Being part of RC has enriched my life in many ways. It has given me the opportunity to re-evaluate my distresses & patterns and to regain strength in my own life. It has brought me true relationships with members of many countries.
The many classes, support groups and workshops – national and international – with inspiring RC members has taught me – and still does – about many oppressions in the World and about the Climate emergency. It stimulates me to look further than my own struggles and do something about it. Recently, I took more leadership, by leading my first fundamental class.
Most of all, the mutual attention and the respectful use of the method of emotional release has convinced me that my thinking matters, as well as my actions. Within the safety of our community, I can heal from my own distresses and give others the opportunity to do the same. In that way, we all contribute to prevent harm at someone’s expense.
RC provides a fantastic human support! What we learn in RC and the method that we use, should be proposed to everyone and use regularly, from a very early age on and through all our life. It makes a better World to live in.
—Anne-Marie Lacombe, Fryslân
I have used RC as a tool in many ways in my everyday personal and professional life since I learnt about it some 45 years ago. To learn how to listen to and be listened to in the way that is the basis for RC has been especially important in the professional leadership roles I have had in International development for the Swedish government and the United Nations. Using this tool has, I believe, made me a better and more humane manager. When I have someone that listens to me where I can shed my own upsets I can see beyond my colleagues’ upsets or conflicts and listen to what they need. It clears my thinking and I am able to pay attention to where we connect rather than on what keeps us apart. I feel more connected, present, trusting and energized.
It has also been really useful and has helped me think more clearly around how to initiate internal work on addressing racism and sexism in the workplace.
—Anneka Knutsson, Sweden
I, Chioma Okonkwo from Nigeria, West Africa, crossed path with RCers in Durban, South Africa during World conference against Racism and Xenophobia in 2001. After attending one of their workshops, I was amazed at the transformation and revolution that I felt on the inside of me. After listening exchanges which was my first experience, I could not keep what I felt to myself knowing that my country and people need such liberating theory.
On my return to Nigeria, I wrote to our International Reference Person thanking him for making this available for people to use and that I would love this to be introduced to my people in Nigeria. My request was granted and in February 2002, the then regional reference person for Africa was asked to visit Nigeria for an inaugural workshop, which since then has given rise to over 34 communities across Nigeria and 20 other communities across West Africa totaling about 54 communities with uncountable members, adults and elders, both male and female, from all races and religious background.
My region Nigeria and West Africa need more of this liberating tool for people to regain their minds and be in good relationship with every human being, to know that everyone is good and we do not have any human enemies but rather undischarged hurts. Pains and mistreatment of people make them behave in a questionable way but this wonderful life-changing tool taught us to love, and not judge or condemn any one and be rational and not oppress any being as we are all good and intelligent.
This Re-evaluation tool is simply revolutionary.
With profound appreciation,
—Chioma Okonkwo, Nigeria & West Africa
I am a licensed family physician who has been practicing in Massachusetts for more than fifteen years. I was introduced to Re-evaluation Counseling in my early twenties, before I had decided on a career path. I found it to be very helpful in a variety of ways. In particular, it helped me challenge and overcome limitations in my self-confidence and negative perceptions I held about myself.
Thanks in part to these gains, I made the decision in my late twenties to return to school, and was able to take all of the required pre-requisite courses, gain entrance to medical school, and complete my training. I continued to participate in Re-evaluation Counseling throughout my training. The support I received through this peer-counseling network was tremendously helpful in dealing with the pressures and stresses of such an intense and rigorous training process.
In my nine years as a primary care physician I not only relied on the personal support I received from my participation in RC to help maintain my own mental health, but I was able to use the deep listening skills I had gained in RC to augment the care I provided to my patients. RC helps me approach my patients with more compassion, and to always see their humanity and withhold judgment. I have collaborated closely with medical and mental health professionals of all disciplines, and have referred many patients to the care of psychiatrists and psychologists. Throughout my career, RC has been a tremendously useful tool, and has provided me with a supportive peer network, both of which have made me a better physician.
—Bonnie Cohen, M.D.
I have been involved with Re-evaluation Counseling [RC] for 47 years.
My background is in psychology and RC has offered me a more accurate perspective on human behaviour than any of the theories and practices I studied in my training.
I have used the tool of RC at all the different stages of my life to keep my thinking clear and unhindered by individual and societal hurts. It augments my ability to listen to the painful feelings of others, which is crucial as I work with mental health system survivors and people currently in prison. It has been the most effective exponent of anti-racist, anti-sexist practice that I have come across. As a white woman, RC theory on ending white racism has increased my ability to identify my own, and structural racism; taught me to challenge racism in a pro-human, unblaming and accessible way; and enhanced my closeness with people of the global majority.
Here is an example of how I use frequent peer counseling sessions to release emotions that would otherwise cloud my judgement and interfere with my ability to connect with others. I was born just after the Holocaust to a German Holocaust survivor. Despite her obvious love for me, my mother’s experience coloured the messages I received about the world – ‘You can’t trust anyone’, ‘Everybody hates you’ – and I ended up on psychiatric drugs when I was 15. RC has given me a context within which to make sense of my previous and current struggles, to eliminate the hold the ‘transgenerational transmission of trauma’ has had on my life.
From my perspective, RC is situated outside of the world of therapy and pathologised mental health narratives. I use it confidently for myself and offer it in all my interactions, both social and professional. It is clearly up to individuals whether or not they accept my offer.
—Leah Thorn, England
I took my first RC class in college in 1973. It was a theory and perspective built from the experience of the people involved, the only requirement was that you test every idea and that you think for yourself. This made sense to me.
I was one of a large number of working-class people who took part because RC recognized the significance of working people in the world. RC theory also recognized the terrible role all oppression plays in limiting people’s lives and held out the logic of taking leadership to end oppression.
I became someone who taught RC in 1983, not because I was good at it, but because RC tolerated failure and championed initiative. RC held out that responsibility and leadership were birthrights, not the special domain of the privileged.
I had enough common sense to grasp that RC was something I could use to overcome what discouraged me from fighting for what I knew was right. The basic ideas of RC, combined with the opportunity to build counseling partnerships with people from all walks of life, was, like exercise, something that made things go better, even if I didn’t always enjoy it. It was that simple.
RC has played an important role in my building a family I am proud of and my contributing in many ways toward a world where everyone gets a fair shake, and everyone is treated with respect and dignity, and this makes sense to me too.
I have used Re-evaluation Counselling (RC) for over thirty years. In my medical training, my time as a junior doctor and throughout my career as a pediatrician I have used peer co-counselling sessions to recover following particularly stressful or emotionally demanding situations. This has enabled me to maintain my energy, joy and passion for my work and my own health. It has also allowed me to continue to listen deeply when many doctors, over time, become “hardened” and less able or willing to be fully present and emotionally available during their consultations.
As an environmental activist I use RC to process the potentially overwhelming emotions related to the climate emergency we are facing. I’ve found peer listening exchanges very helpful to me and other activists to cope with feelings of grief, frustration, fear, powerlessness and despair. Having space and time to share these emotions appears to release remarkable new energy and creative ideas with resilience and the ability to persist.
—Dr. Gill Turner, Northumberland, England
I write to comment on the situation with Boston Public Schools and Ms. Jenny Sazama. I am Director of Research at the World Institute on Disability, and Senior Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, teaching Disability Public Policy and Bioethics
I have known Ms. Sazama for thirty years, holding the utmost respect for her work and integrity. I worked with her in Boston before I moved to my current situation in Berkeley. She and I have kept in touch due to our mutual interests in education and youth empowerment.
I have been a practitioner of Re-evaluation Counseling for forty years. RC has been an exemplary resource for me personally, providing peer support for personal needs as well as invaluable perspectives and excellent tools for teaching about social justice. RC’s positive influence has greatly enabled my effectiveness in my work.
I have led RC groups for over a thousand participants over decades, around the world. I do not teach RC practice in my university classes, but share relevant tools from RC in these classes, e.g., listening pairs and teaching tools for social justice theory and action, which my students consistently find hugely beneficial. In verbal feedback and in anonymous course evaluations, many mention my courses as uniquely attuned to their learning needs in ways they find rare in education, which I attribute to the tools I’ve gained and shared from RC
The descriptions in the news articles of RC practice are distorted. Having lived in Boston, I believe local media to be of the genre of news media that exaggerate and inflame stories in order to sell papers. I hope that biased “media spin” seriously be taken into account in accurately exploring this situation.
Thank you for considering my input.
—Marsha Saxton, PhD., Berkeley, CA, USA
RC brought me a lot in all the years that I use RC: It gave me much more insights about my background and my birthground. I am now proud of who I am, and I can see where patterns are in the way of facing benign reality.
We are good people; we love other people, and we are worth to be loved. Each person, whether you are a man or a woman. Oppressive patterns keep us small.
I learned that discharging by crying, shaking or yawning helps to work through situations that were painful in the years when I was young. Discharging helps to get a different picture of these experiences.
I have a better picture of my own goodness and of others now. That helps me to be able to connect really with other people.
—Hennie Jongsma, Fryslân
Today, I lead a better life largely due to RC. RC has affected me positively in many ways. It has helped me in my marriage and relationship with my wife. It has helped me in my relations with children. It has helped me in my relationship with my colleagues. It has helped me in my relationship with my friends and my family. It helps me stabilize and balance my mind in the midst of the chaos going on in my country, Nigeria, especially as my people are targeted and are being killed. RC helps members of my RC community to discharge bottled-up hurts. I find RC a positive influence on those who use it and these people in return lead a good life for a better society. Our world needs organizations like RC where everyone who truly takes in its perspectives would be an added good to humankind.
I particularly like the Healing from War and Genocide project of RC that seeks to bring to an end, wars in the world. What of the Sustaining All Life project which works on different aspects of climate and environmental justice? Wonderful! We also have the United to End Racism which helps reduce tensions caused by racism. RC gives everyone a level playing field where you are free to talk about the issues of your life with a peer. That is why we call it “Co-Counselling”. It is not discriminatory and its ideas are carefully thought out. Decision-making is participatory-based and everyone lends a voice to all or any issue that bothers their collective well-being.
I encourage people to attend our classes and take part in our sessions. It is amazing how the human mind works.
—M. Chinaka, Enugu, Nigeria
I have been part of the Re-evaluation Counselling project and communities for 45 years as a teacher and regional leader. I live in British Columbia, Canada, but through my involvement in this project, I have made connections in many parts of the world and gained a much deeper understanding of world-wide conditions and thinking.
I have found the theory and practice of RC provided enormous benefit in my career as a lawyer, social justice advocate and visual artist, as well as in my personal relationships and has contributed to what I have to offer toward creating a flourishing community where I live.
It has helped me to think more clearly and to trust my own thinking. It has supported me to reach out to people different from myself, including people of all ages, of all skin colours, all belief systems, all classes, gender identities, etc. to learn about them, understand their perspectives, and to play the role of an ally to their liberation.
Having the tools of RC – the ability to listen deeply without judgement to others and to be listened to myself – have made it possible for me build relationships with this wide diversity of people. I have the opportunity and support to address oppressions such as racism, sexism, classism, and adultism, with the support of others in a way I could never have done on my own. Personally, it has encouraged me to take myself seriously as a female leader and to support other females to do the same.
It is clear that the climate crisis can only be solved by ending the artificial divisions between people, and because RC has done so much work already on understanding the phenomenon of oppression, it is very well placed to now put its full attention on the climate emergency. I am able to use what I have learned in RC to support the work of the community where I live in preparing for the changes ahead.
—Samantha Sanderson, Canada
I have been using Re-Evaluation Counseling tools and have been part of an RC community for over 10 years. I find the tools indispensable in my life. My RC sessions provide a safe space for me to regularly express big feelings without judgement – it is hard to find a space like this anywhere else. One thing I appreciate about the RC communities is that while lots of perspective and theories are offered, each person is encouraged to use the process to seek their own thinking and their own mind. I also appreciate that we acknowledge that RC is made up of imperfect human beings just like any organization, we do our best to use our healing processes to understand and make things right when we make mistakes or have conflict with one another.
—Madeline Shaw, USA
RC has enabled me to heal a significant damaged relationship in my family.
My relationship with my beloved mother began to heal after I interrupted her well-intentioned criticism of me. Although it was tense and scary at the time, this interruption broke a cycle of feeling that we had failed each other—she as a parent failing to mold her daughter “correctly”, and me as a daughter failing to achieve an “ideal” or even a “good enough” standard. We began to shed some hurtful aspects of our cultural and historical legacy, including the near-constant criticism. I began to discover and appreciate the ways she had supported me and fought for my well-being since my birth.
Growing up in the southern US, I was ashamed that she spoke heavily accented and imperfect English. Forbidden to speak Mandarin Chinese (the “secret” language of my parents) and confined to speaking kitchen Cantonese with no one outside my family to talk with, I learned to speak and write “perfect” English. Much later, I was able to appreciate her linguistic talent when I heard her speak mock “American-accented” Mandarin Chinese. Decades after deciding to abandon studying Chinese in college because I could see no career path forward for someone who looked Chinese but spoke accented and rudimentary Mandarin, I am now delighted to practice more Chinese with other RCers, and to reclaim my heritage. I have been instrumental in gathering, connecting, and mutually supporting RCers of Southeast Asian and Chinese heritage in the diaspora, including during this past extraordinary year.
—Francie Chew, Massachusetts, USA
What attracted me to RC was the way that the peer listening sessions (co-counseling) were timed, and each person in the pair had an equal amount of time to talk and to be listened to. I was a person who had listened to other people, but was too reserved to be able to share much about my own self. Later, the developing understanding of how oppressions work and the work to end them has become very important to me.
As it has turned out, my life has been much fuller and more satisfying than I could have imagined possible because of the time I have spent in RC. In my work in public schools as a teacher of special education and elementary classes, and as a middle school guidance counselor, I was able to be a welcoming presence and advocate for children and families and bring more compassion, leadership, and fun to the jobs than I ever could have without RC. Likewise, having RC as a resource has helped me to be a more level-headed, playful, and deeply loving mother and grandmother, and has also helped me have a life rich in diverse and wonderful friendships.
I count myself lucky to have “run into” RC such a long time ago.
—Claire Foreman, USA
My lower-middle-class family is talented, resourceful, loving, and fun. My parents strongly encouraged me to work hard, go to college, and get a good job so I could “move up” in society. No one would think less of me, as a black female, if I was strong, educated, and accomplished. I worked very hard and was often the only black female in every situation or environment I was in. I studied computer science and mathematics in college, a high technology focused MBA, and Ph.D. in higher education. I work at a well-respected university managing a technology team.
But none of that protected me. I am still seen as intimidating or mean when I take charge or speak my mind. I’ve been spoken to as if I was a prostitute, maid, or customer service and presumed to be a poor single mother. Before I learned Re-evaluation Counseling (RC), I was angry at and disappointed with other black people who were in those roles or situations and felt if they just worked harder life would be easier for all of us. This hurt my relationships with other black people, leaving me feeling terrible about myself, isolated, and lonely.
RC has benefited my life greatly, especially around understanding how racism and sexism operate in the larger society in addition to how it’s impacted my life specifically. I use the tools of RC to recover my pride in being female and black, restore and build new relationships with women and black people and decide when I want to work hard, not to prove my worth, but because it makes sense at that time. Not only that, I actively fight for Women’s liberation, Black liberation, and ending the destruction of the planet because of the work I’ve done with RC.
—Jenene Cook, Boston, MA
RC tools and perspectives have helped me be more confident in who I am as a woman of color, improve my relationships and make things go well in all aspects of my life.
It has been wonderful to have a global community of people of different ages and cultures who are committed to supporting each other to be our best human selves, keeping people’s goodness in the forefront and finding solutions that affirm the inherent dignity of all people in a challenging world that often pits people against each other.
The healing process has helped me to deconstruct perspectives that I used to take for granted, from what it means to be female to how to parent. As a result, instead of blindly succumbing to sexism or racism or immigrant oppression and other oppressions, I now have the tools to face feelings and fears, heal them, construct my own reality and decide what I want to do, instead of blindly giving in to preconceived expectations and fears.
As an activist, RC has given me the tools to discharge old feelings of defeat and powerlessness, allowing me to rethink, strategize and recommit instead of giving up in the face of persistent systemic oppression. It helps me to see the people I am “fighting” against as humans to be reached, rather than enemies to be overpowered or destroyed.
As a parent, it has helped me to respect my children for who they are and stay close to them even when they don’t listen. Without the help of RC perspectives, healing processes and supportive community, it would be so easy to simply repeat the pattern of blame and punishment which I grew up with and raise another generation of young people who doubt themselves and their goodness.
—Cheng Imm Tan, Indonesia and Boston, MA, USA
The theory that human beings can heal from the impact of painful emotional and physical experiences from their past appealed to me. Poverty, heavy domestic violence, and alcoholism was a feature of my early life, and by the time I came to RC, I had been estranged from my family for about ten years.
Through RC theory, I learned and understood that my parents did the best they could and that the issues that my family and I experienced were systemic. I used the RC healing process of peer listening to release the painful feelings from my upbringing, and, over time, I noticed that I was more able to forgive my parents and enjoy their company. I always found my parents’ home visits, the house I was raised in, difficult in many respects. Still, I always used the RC peer listening process to release painful feelings that would rise and cloud my thinking and actions and always found it extremely helpful in maintaining an open and warm connection with my parents.
My mother has been dead for ten years and my father for five years. Both died in my arms. My voice was the last they heard as they drew their last breath, appreciating them for their parenting and the incredible job they did under the circumstances. I am very proud that I led the way for my parents and I to find our way back to each other. It wasn’t easy. I don’t think I could have done it without the theory of RC or the peer listening process.
—Tony Smith, Melbourne, Australia
I have used RC now for over 30 years and it has transformed my life in the ways of strengthening rational thinking, good decision making, and growing positive relationships and connections with a diverse range of people.
I love the good information about many oppressions (how groups of people have been subject to systematic mistreatment) and the way they keep people divided. RC is about us understanding these oppressions, and how we can work towards their elimination. The work done around racism is the best I have come across. It really emphasises the responsibility I have as a white Australian for healing the hurts of racism in this country, and for building relationships with Aboriginal people, people of colour, and with other white Australians. It helps me notice where I carry racist attitudes and behaviours and provides tools for me to eliminate this behaviour. It does this work in partnership with Aboriginal people.
I love the comprehensive information about parenting which has helped enormously with my relationship with my daughter, and enabled us to stay closely connected as she has grown to adulthood.
RC is about noticing the inherent goodness in all people, and working towards the ending of all oppressions that keep us separated as humans.
It makes me laugh to think there is confusion about RC being a cult – it’s definitely not about huddling together in groups isolated from others, it’s definitely not about anyone amassing money for their own greed, and it’s not about us relying on one person’s thinking. In actual fact it encourages us to reclaim our own individual, rational thinking and to work towards healing hurts and divisions caused by racism, sexism, ageism, and the climate emergency.
—Chris Young, Australia
I am 84. Originally I was a schoolteacher of children (from 4 yrs. to 18 yrs) and was a management consultant for many years. I was married to a priest in the Church of England for 50 years, and am a mother and grandmother.
The insights and skills that I have acquired from my experience in RC have served me in every one of those capacities. These are skills that enable people to understand what it is that hinders relationships and underpins all forms of humans harming humans, whether in the conditionings of society or personal dealings.
Not only has it been possible for me to train and enable understanding in my work, but also to facilitate recovery from that conditioning, which, in every case, has arisen from early painful experiences.
Essentially the activities within RC have freed up my thinking and understanding of how and why the inequalities and oppressions of our society originated and are perpetuated. In addition it has given me the ability to recover my inherent sense of my own power so that I can do something about it and effect change.
This is an organisation of peers who have learned to help themselves and each other by listening and unloading past painful emotions, and then recover their self-esteem and pride. They can then take that learning into where ever their lives are led.
The absolute basics of equality, integrity, principle and respect have underpinned all our dealings with one another within the organization, irrespective of age, class, colour or religion. We have the goal of taking those basics out into a classist society where inequality , disrespect, exploitation and oppression are endemic.
I would regret if a culture of sensationalism, profiteering, blame and attack managed to hinder in any way the work of an organisation that has intelligence, healing and recovery as its primary focus.
—A Josephine M Saunders (Mrs.), England
Re-Evaluation Counseling has been an important part of my life for years. I have developed trusting relationships where we have listened deeply to one another. This has given each of us space to release our feelings, so we could gain clearer thinking and to heal old hurts, so they were not having a negative influence on how we were acting in the current time. I have gained an understanding that I may not always be able to change everything, but I can always choose the perspective I have, such as choosing to be hopeful and not giving up, even in the face of discouragement. RC has encouraged me to develop and trust my own thinking.
I have been able to use the skills of listening deeply both in work settings where I was working with families who were facing many challenges and in voluntary organizations where we were working together to end racism. It has also been useful in expanding my patience in listening to children and acknowledging that their feelings were important. It has allowed me to listen patiently to a little one crying when they were missing their parents and watching them finish crying and be cheerful and ready to play again.
RC has expanded my world by being in contact with other people from around the world as well as other parts of the United States and hearing their stories. This has been particularly important for me as a white person who grew up in a very white focused world. All in all, I have found using the skills learned in RC to be powerful in my life and in developing a rich full life where I am useful in the world and have many deep human connections.
—Gail Haines, Vermont, USA
I don’t know what happens in Seattle or other places in the world though I guess it same or similar to what happens in my Enugu, Eastern Nigeria RC Community.
Now, I know and feel the impact of self-validation. I feel useful and worthy to be part of life. It’s something big for me and I chose to be that way because I encountered RC.
Again… now I see everyone one as good and capable of being so even if presently their behaviour is contrary, if only they can get the attention they deserve. This has made me a better leader.
Compassion and empathy, listening with attention to recognize distresses and not to condemn and pass judgement has made my relationships better and healthier.
A lot happened while covid 19 raged, safety precautions and other measures like online meetings till date even when parts of Africa are relaxed has helped me focus on my safety and keeping others safe too.
My biggest lessons of RC are on climate change/care of the environment. My home is surrounded by trees and plants. I am intentional about proper waste management now.
I have been in RC over 13 years by choice.
—Adaobi Azubuike, Enugu, South East Nigeria
As a single mom, I have had many challenging moments when I felt completely at wit’s end about how to be an effective parent. Thanks to RC, I have always had support and caring from my co-counselors to be able to move through those moments and come out stronger, smarter and more loving than I would have imagined possible. Because of RC, I have been able to consistently fight for a deeply respectful relationship with my teenage son.
My own father was extremely abusive and my family suffered incredible trauma. Despite this, in large part because of RC, we have been able to develop loving, trusting and honest relationships. I can safely say that our family is closer now than ever before.
My work as a climate activist has also been supported and fueled by my experience as a co-counselor. My ability to connect with people across differences in age, class, race, and gender identities, has helped me invaluably in being able to build teams and lead workshops on environmental justice. My work in RC getting over fears and timidity has made it possible for me to give speeches at rallies and even go to COP25 as the representative of the climate organization Mothers Out Front.
Having RC tools and the community has allowed me to set up my life so that I have time and energy for things that give me joy; I love to learn new things every day and am still taking on new challenges like ice skating, roller blading, and American ninja warrior gym classes.
I have a beautiful life filled with closeness with people of extremely diverse backgrounds, because I am able to feel and heal from grief, fears and loneliness in the company of many trusted and beloved co-counselors. It has been the single most important tool and resource for me to live my life well and work toward a more humane and compassionate world.
—Amy Tai, Massachusetts, USA
“The one-point program of RC is using RC to seek recovery one’s occluded intelligence and innate humanness and assist others to do same”.
I write to attest that the above comment has worked for me and members of my Community. Before I joined RC, I was a very temperamental person but RC theory made me believe that all human beings are born good, with tremendous intelligent, natural zest and lovingness but these good qualities were blocked because of accumulated distress which are acted out through our irrational behaviours. After going through series of co-counseling sessions, I am now a better human being, very patient with people who are acting out their hurts.
Also, the Covid-19 lockdown in year 2020 met me very lonely and depressed. This affected my whole body system. I developed acute body pains and stomach ache but with intense counseling sessions I had with other co-counselors, the pains disappeared and I felt well again.
With permission, I narrate the story of a member of my community who struggles with the issue of loss of memory before joining RC. Co-counseling sessions regained the memory and is now one of the very active members of our community.
RC is healing, loving and has built my self-confidence.
—Ugo Ogwu, Abuja Community, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria
I have been using the tools and understandings of RC for 44 years. In my personal life, I have managed to handle and solve some difficult situations for myself and my family, and among friends. In my political life, as elected to the county council of greater Copenhagen, for 7 years for one of the parties in Denmark, I could create an understanding of the necessity of cooperation across parties without sacrificing your integrity. As active in NGO’s for Women, I have as a consultant been leading several courses for women who want to engage in politics in Jordan and Morocco, training them to handle the sexism they meet in politics. In my professional life as a consultant in charge of the professional training of health care workers, I have shared the tools of listening in pairs and allowing for emotional healing, as health care workers are in high risk of burn out because of the kind of jobs they have. I have furthermore done leadership training for one of the big unions that mainly have women as members. In all my consulting work, I have shared the specific tools of listening in pairs and allowing for emotional healing as key to functioning as teams and preserve energy and high spirits. I have in RC in Denmark built a community of people from diverse backgrounds and ages who through the use of RC create better lives for themselves and where many along side their personal lives have become engaged in different forms of activism for climate and environment, and for civil rights movements, f.ex. Women’s rights, BLM Denmark, and other.
—Susanne Langer, Copenhagen
I have used the tools of Re-Evaluation Counseling to become a more thoughtful, caring and confident person. I have found that listening to people of all ages, ethnicities, languages, and cultures without judgment as they share their thoughts and feelings has been a powerful way to support others to gain the confidence and presence of mind to live the lives they want and help others around them do the same. In turn, it has made a huge difference to me to be listened to by others in RC. I have become a better friend, family member, romantic partner, and colleague. I have become more hopeful about what we as humans can do together. I have become more effective as an ally to others across differences and as an advocate for a world in which humans are not compelled to hurt other humans or exploit the planet. As a white man in particular, I have found that releasing upset feelings through talking, laughing and crying in the presence of a caring peer has made it easier for me to care more openly for all those around me and to collaborate more effectively with lots of people across racial, socio-economic, and cultural lines on projects that improve our communities. I have learned a lot about how emotional hurts and conditioning have affected all of us as humans over the years and also about the lives, relationships, and communities we can create if we have chances to be listened to and express ourselves alongside working together on issues of importance.
—Brian Fox, California, USA
I am a leader in the Japanese community.
I learned RC 28 years ago and I have been teaching it for 26 years in Japan.
RC is the organization which is trying to create an equal relationship each other in the world.
I like theory of RC and I am happy to teach it to all people who want to learn RC.
(Please read the theory at RC website)
The method of RC is very simple, and using it I have solved many problems in my life.
At the same time I could help other people who are facing some difficulties.
—Wako Ono, Japan
I have been using the healing process of Re-evaluation counseling (RC) since I was a young adult. I am now in my 70s. It has been one of the most useful things I have done in my life for my mental and physical health. I have also seen the process of co-counseling help many other people change their lives in positive ways.
In the first book I read about Re-evaluation Counseling, the author said readers should not take anything he said on face value, but to check it against their own experience and to think for themselves. That impressed and appealed to me. I soon learned the main goal of co-counseling is to assist people to free their minds from the effects of hurtful experiences in the past so they can think more clearly and respond more successfully to situations in the present. This has certainly been how it has worked for me.
This process has helped me to overcome the lingering effects of traumatic events from childhood, heal important relationships, pursue a rewarding career, and create a life filled with close loving relationships. Within the RC community, I have built close relationships with people from all backgrounds, ages, races, and beliefs — a much broader range of humanity than I would otherwise have known. In the years I have engaged in this practice and been part of this community, I haven’t met anyone who didn’t act from the very best intentions for themselves and for others to the best of their ability. Based on my own experience and that of others I know well, I believe Re-evaluation Counseling is a powerful force for healing and that many more people could benefit from it.
—Katherine McHale, United States
I was heavily targeted by domination and bullying by my older brother. I was sexually abused in hospital by medical staff. At age 10 I was sent far from home to a boarding school and I experienced many other challenges in my early life. As a result I became anxious, was often in physical discomfort, and became ill. I was frightened, unable to think clearly and made some very bad decisions about my life. I also did not always treat people as well as I believed I should.
I came across RC when I joined the Women’s Movement in 1976. I was immediately relieved to discover that remedies I had understood vaguely were really effective when provided in the context of a safe co-counselling relationship. Talking and laughing about embarrassing experiences, crying when I was upset, trembling when considering terrifying experiences, yawning to relieve physical tension, and raging about the unfairness of the world all brought relief and the ability to think much more clearly about how to proceed.
I taught the exchange of listening which the co-counselling structure provides, over many years and discovered that the process was extremely valuable to others too. Those who were able to feel safe enough to face bad feelings and offload/discharge them in an ongoing way seemed to develop confidence, improved relationships and pleasure in life.
As well as assisting me with my personal life from RC, I understood more clearly the role of oppressions (racism, sexism, and many others) in the world. I discharged many of the effects of sexism on me and began to challenge it more effectively and more widely. I sought out ways to hear and understand others who were targeted by racism and disability oppression, and I could therefore support better and fight for those who are targeted in ways I am not.
I am now an activist in the Climate Movement. I continue, with thousands of others across the world, to use RC knowledge, skills and techniques to empower myself and others in supporting change and encouraging ever wider public involvement.
—Fio Adamson, England
I first learned about the tools and perspectives of RC when working on a college campus in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, and I took my first Fundamentals of RC class in 1998. Learning RC, being listened to, and getting the chance to listen to people from many backgrounds has broadened my perspective about the world and enabled me to be a better mom, musician, and community organizer.
I keep RC’s foundational beliefs in mind (such as: people are good, our minds work better when we’re listened to, we can heal from emotional hurts, and oppression harms everybody) every day as a mother, in my community organizing, when I write songs, and in my work settings. I’ve experienced the positive impact of being listened to, and I have seen how groups are more effective when we’ve been able to truly listen to each other. I’ve built relationships in RC that I will always cherish. I’ve appreciated the guidelines that RC has set up around our relationships so that no one uses their RC relationships to build out their rolodex or find a date. What I have seen and experienced in RC around leadership are many leaders who are able to lead boldly because they are thoughtfully supported by people close to them. And to a greater degree than in other organizations I’ve been part of, though not every time and in every circumstance, I have found that in RC we have mechanisms for addressing and learning from mistakes.
Being involved in RC has much in common with my most positive experiences in my family of origin: the religion of my childhood, community groups I’m part of now, work settings, and friendships. Similar to all of those groups, RC as an organization is not yet able to operate without some inconsistencies and human errors. I see improving the practice of RC as part of my role as an RC community member and teacher. I’m pleased to be part of this organization, and in the next period of time I plan to continue to use the tools of RC for my own healing as well as to build more connected, caring communities.
—Delilah Poupore, USA
I first heard about Re-evaluation Counseling, or RC, about 40 years ago, As a working class, down to earth kind of guy, it didn’t sound like a good fit for me. I declined the chance to learn more. Some months later, with the encouragement of a few friends, I decided to check it out.
It was challenging in many ways, but as a new dad it was just what I needed. I have two daughters. They were exuberant and playful and highly emotional at times. I initially found this very confusing, but RC gave me a fresh perspective on how to help them be themselves. It also gave me a way to move past the limitations of my own upbringing.
By sharing my struggles and dreams with my co-counseling partners, I was able to gradually become much more relaxed, loving, and effective as a father. To my surprise, this carried over into many other areas of my life. My friendships became stronger. My career became much more fulfilling. My wife also began to use RC ideas and practice and our own relationship grew.
We will celebrate our 50th anniversary this summer.
I have seen so many friends and colleagues use RC to better their lives and to become effective as professionals, parents, and citizens. When someone shows curiosity about RC, I often offer to teach them. The usual response at that point is “why didn’t you share this with me sooner!” I know a number of people who would likely no longer be alive if they had not found the healing and connection that RC offers.
RC tells me in a variety of ways, “trust your own thinking.” This has been such a powerful and vital direction as my life has gotten better and better over these four decades.
—John Schmieding, Athens, Ohio
I’ve been a part of a Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) community for nearly forty years.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned in the community was the idea of separating the person from their behavior. I was raised in a family where I never knew when the adults around me would mistreat me, losing their temper, calling me names and trying to humiliate me the way that they were humiliated when they were young. With the help of many RC classes and workshops I was able to adopt an attitude of relating to my parents and my sibling without blaming them for their behavior towards me. I was able to firmly tell them “No, you can’t do that any more.” and not resent them for all of the past abuse they heaped on me. My parents were raised by abusive parents and it was no wonder that they felt compelled to treat me like they were treated. I decided not to blame them for this and instead of backing away and rejecting them I set a goal of getting closer to them. I was not going to watch them get old and die without being able to say I did my best to build a new relationship with my parents and my sibling, one of deep love and mutual respect. It worked.
When my parents and my sibling died I was able to deliver eulogies to them that I was proud of. With the help of Re-evaluation Counseling I was able to break a cycle of harshness and separation in our family that benefitted no one. It took a lot of work but my life improved as a result.
—Bob Gomez, USA
Re-evaluation Counseling as l know it has allowed me the space to be myself and helped me to think things through, take responsibility, trust others, and follow through on my commitments. In my 40 years using this tool, I have become more kind, more caring, and more effective in every aspect of my life.
—Betsy Beach, Providence, RI, USA
I started learning co-counseling as a young adult a few decades ago. As a man, rediscovering the difference between thoughts and feelings, and learning what to do with both, has helped me tremendously. On a most basic level, it’s helped me deal with stress in a healthy way and to give up using mind-altering substances of all kinds. I’ve become a good listener and been able to develop closer relationships that I ever knew were possible with a wide range of people in all areas of my life. When I was young I had a habit of looking to other people for answers and direction; when faced with a crisis, I typically froze up. Now, I think I function well in difficult situations and other people tend to look to me for leadership. When I’ve decided to take on new and bigger challenges in my life, or been thrust into big challenges not of my own making, the practice of co-counseling and the supportive relationships I have there have helped me move powerfully and smartly in manners of my own choosing. I think my involvement in the RC community has helped me be a better spouse, father, worker, and overall member of society and I’m proud to be associated with it.
—Paul Trudeau, United States
I have used the tools of Reevaluation Counseling for many years, in my personal life and in my work life as union organizer, political organizer and political staff. Getting the opportunity to be listened to about things that happened to me in my early life has made a huge difference. I have found it invaluable to be part of an organization that offers an accessible perspective about systemic racism, sexism, classism, and other oppressions, and that assists people to think about their own lives, as well as big issues including the climate catastrophe. The process pushes me to think beyond where I get stuck or rigid. This has affected how I approach projects I want to do, and how I tackle difficult situations in my personal life, my work, and any activism I participate in. By using this process I have gained the flexibility to listen to many people with different opinions from mine. As an organizer, it is useful to listen to people without being judgmental or dismissive of their experiences, in order to support them to make the changes they want to see.
—Mary Susan Yankovich, Toronto, Canada
I can easily say that finding RC saved my life. I was a single mother of two small boys when it was suggested to me (by an elementary school counsellor)to bring my 6-year-old son to an alternative program. It turned out that this school had many children of co-counselors (RC counsellors) attending it. At the time, my son had many behavioural challenges, and I was struggling with many forms of addictions. I made many close connections with people who had the awareness that my struggles were not my fault. I made many close connections with co-counselors and it did not take long for me to see that they had some things figured out that I had not been able to figure out.
I have continued to use co-counselling in my life and took the theory “we are all born intelligent” to heart. I had quit school in grade 9 and turned to drugs, alcohol and sex as a way to survive. With the tools of co-counseling, I went back to school and got my grade 12, then a degree in history, a PE diploma, a teaching certificate and began teaching high-school. I rode a bike from Frankfurt to Prague, lived in Japan for a year, got my level one snowboarding certificate and then taught snowboarding at a local mountain for five years. My life just keeps getting better and bigger. My very closest friend from my childhood into my early 40s became a crystal meth addicted street worker and was murdered by a serial killer. I was not able to save her as I was figuring out how to save my own life (with the tools of RC). I now dedicate my life to offering anyone I know, these tools that can make your life better.
—Mary Klausen, BC, Canada
I am a man in the building trades. I was at first sceptical when my wife tried to convince me to be in an RC class, but I agreed to try it because the other people in the class seemed to be having so much fun. What won me over was that it helped me to reassess long-held negative beliefs about myself, specifically about having meaningful friendships.
Doing RC sessions makes me feel lighter and be able to think more clearly about what’s going on in my life. What I like about RC is that it doesn’t ask you to agree to any set of beliefs or worldview. All it requires is that you use the power of listening, of telling your story, crying, laughing and things like that to heal emotional hurts.
Everyone knows the cathartic nature of a good laugh, a good cry, and telling your story. Most people never deal with hard emotions and they let their emotions run their life in unhealthy ways. It’s really nice to have an arena where you can talk about what’s going on in your day-to-day life, feelings, and things in your childhood, without judgement or unhelpful advice.
RC provides a way to learn how things are for others and express how they are for you with people that you’re intentionally connected with. It helps you to develop compassion, understanding, and fight your own unaware dominator patterns.
I have been very involved in Re-evaluation counseling for 50 years. I started as a 19 year old and found it was a safe place for me to be myself and express myself. Having real connections with people that are safe and healthy, including being listened to, helped me to heal from the systemic childhood traumas of growing up in a violent, post war 1950’s family. Just being listened to is a very powerful and underestimated tool. Re-evaluation Counseling has enabled me to have a life that I could not imagine having by simply “letting the hurt out” in very natural ways, the same ways a newborn lets it’s mother and father know what it needs. I have learned how to give support and receive support from others.
My wife of 38 years is not active in Re-evaluation counseling but she is very supportive of me being in it because she sees how the work I do makes me much more “human” and attentive to others. She uses the ideas of listening and not being judgmental in her work and with young people. I had a 30 year career that I loved in public service, and with my wife, we were therapeutic foster parents for 5 years for a teen with special needs. We are still very close with her and her children, 24 years later.
I have had several big health challenges these past years where the support I received and the relationships I had with people in Re-evaluation Counseling, made all the difference in my rapid healing, including heart disease and cancer. I would not have been able to do that without the ideas and tools of Re-evaluation Counseling.
—Joe Kipphut, Montana, USA
I first came across Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) in college almost 40 years ago. I was an assimilated Jew, disconnected from any Jewish life or Jewish community and I was a committed anti-racist activist. I was intrigued by RC because the theory on liberation and oppression was the clearest, most human-centered that I had come across. I was particularly taken by two ideas, the first being that we all have learned and acted out oppression but those oppressive behaviors do not represent who we truly are or want to be and we have the capacity to change. The second idea was that we have all internalized the oppressions that have been directed at us and we often treat ourselves and others who are like us based on those messages.
Through my involvement with Re-evaluation Counseling classes and communities I was able to understand how significantly I had been affected by anti-Semitism and to heal from those hurtful experiences. From there, I was able to reclaim my Jewish identity and subsequently created a deep and rich Jewish life and embarked on a more than 30-year commitment to working with Jews and building Jewish communities. In each community that I have worked in, I have used the understandings I learned from RC liberation theory to support Jews to fully reclaim our lives as Jews, as well as to challenge ourselves to address racism and many other oppressions.
In the end, I got what I was hoping for from my involvement in Re-evaluation Counseling – a framework and skills in working to eliminate racism. But I also got something I hadn’t expected, a connection to my Jewish traditions, values and to Jewish community.
—Michael Saxe-Taller, Berkeley, California, USA
I am a parent and a retired teacher who has always valued civic engagement as the foundation of democracy. The tools of Re-evaluation counseling have been tremendously useful anytime I am involved with a community group. As a volunteer on committees at my daughter’s school and when working with a statewide environmental group, the approaches I have learned in re-evaluation counseling classes and workshops have helped me to work closely with others to create a space in which everyone’s experiences and opinions are valued.
By promoting listening to each person without judgement and holding the capabilities of every individual, regardless of age or background, in the highest regard, re-evaluation counseling offers an effective way for people to resolve differences and work together to achieve common goals. At a moment in history, when polarization threatens the fabric of our society at every level, Re-evaluation counseling is an antidote to the discord of our times. It offers a roadmap for healing the rifts we face and coming together across social and cultural divisions to create a more just and equitable society.
—Paula Buel, USA
I have long been a member of the international RC community, for these important reasons.
The theory of Re-evaluation Counseling is intelligent. I was delighted to find this rational system of thought affirming my own moral and ethical beliefs in the essential goodness of human beings. The theory of Re-evaluation Counseling posits that all people are by nature intelligent, cooperative, and creative. Any person’s harmful behavior comes from accumulated hurts. It was a relief to understand this, and to find that hurts resolve through attentive listening.
The ideas and practice of Re-evaluation Counseling are based on mutual respect, caring, and appreciation. We take turns offering attentive listening to each other, to be able to resolve our difficulties without harm to others. My friends and family have benefited from my understanding of this, where I can extend kindness and caring rather than harshness when they encounter difficulties. My family members often take turns listening to each other to solve problems. Many in my life ask what it is that makes my family so extraordinary – having observed that we truly listen to each other.
The tools of Re-evaluation Counseling have improved my life by strengthening my relationships. These tools have enabled me to form deeper friendships and to listen to those I may have little in common with. In the process, I have learned empathy, tolerance, and respect for people of all walks of life. I use this insight in my interactions with all people. This process helps to overcome divisions in our society.
The goal of Re-evaluation Counseling is to end any form of humans harming humans. This worthy goal is actualized through its theory and practice. I have worked with many wonderful people in this organization while pursuing this goal. Doing so continues to transform my life.
—Gail Mandella, USA
I attended graduate school for counseling psychology in the 90s and that’s where I first heard about reevaluation counseling. It was written about in a book about alternative therapies. Two years after that I moved to a different city and was invited to a reevaluation counseling class by a friend.
One thing that stood out to me right away was the immense amount of respect shown to everybody in the class. It was quite different from what I learned in graduate school in that the client was considered to be powerful and completely intelligent; we were not broken people that needed to be fixed by an expert. Each person would be best poised to achieve what they wanted in life. This was achieved through clear non-judgemental listening.
The basic structure of RC seemed so equitable to me and gave me a chance to see many different groups of people from all over. Getting this kind of perspective has been a boon to my understanding of the world and others.
My mother was terminally ill and as you can imagine, this devastated my family and affected all of us deeply. But using the practice of paired listening in RC I was able to heal so much of this grief and fear. There were many other hardships and struggles that I was able to heal using reevaluation counseling. I was able to pursue and choose a meaningful career, relationships of my choice including a solid marriage and have been able to maintain and grow deep thriving relationships with family members of all political stripes and persuasions.
Using the tools of RC has allowed me to work through so many different relationship issues and from there I’ve been able to use the skills in advocating for fair treatment at work. I work with healthcare workers, many from different parts of the world who are targeted by sexism and racism.
—Karan Liseaux, USA
I am a retired Judge. I am also a mother of six children and 18 grandchildren. I became a single parent of 5 children in 1982, when my youngest was newborn. I started Re-evaluation Counseling two years later. In short Re-evaluation Counseling changed my life.
I was a little lost and wondering how I might make my life work for me and for the children. With the listening practice of Re-evaluation Counseling, I was able to pursue my goal of going to law school when my children were between the ages of 12 and 4. I worked as a lawyer and later became a respected Judge. I adopted my sixth child, who was a biological grandchild. I have strong and active relationships with my children and grandchildren. None of this was easy, it took a lot of work.
I have used the Re-evaluation Counseling practice of listening to remember my capabilities and strengths. I have used Re-evaluation Counseling practice to challenge my implicit and explicit biases as a white Jewish woman and as the mother and grandparent of mixed race children. I believe I would not have the wonderful family or the career or the many friends I have without Re-evaluation Counseling.
I understand people have different experiences. My experience has led me to believe that Re-evaluation Counseling practice has provided me with the tools and perspective I need to continue to have a full forward moving life.
—Judy Tilsen, USA
I first learned the theory and practice of Re-Evaluation Counseling in my late twenties. I started out rather skeptical about the process, but I found that when someone listened to me with respect and patience, I could talk about things that had happened to me and things that had upset me. Afterwards I noticed that I was less tense and more at peace with myself. I didn’t need advice or analysis, I just needed a chance to unload.
As I became more comfortable with the process I discovered that at times I would cry, or laugh. When that happened, I felt a sense of release and felt lighter afterwards. It was quite remarkable to exchange listening with other people who were learning the process, because we were taught to respect and appreciate each individual’s efforts to work things out for themselves. I’d never before experienced a space that was free of judgment, criticism, or advice.
As I went to RC classes and workshops over the years I had opportunities to listen to the experiences of people whose lives were quite different from mine. Over time I learned much more about racism and sexism and was able to be more effective in various social justice efforts.
I spent 8 years as a public elementary school teacher and 27 years as a public elementary school principal. I became quite well regarded and respected. I think my success was in significant measure due to my ability to listen well, respect all people, and be a strong advocate for social justice—all skills that I developed more deeply (and am still developing) through my participation in RC.
—Russ Vernon-Jones, Ed.D., Amherst, MA, USA
I learned about RC when I was 25 years old. My father invited me to his therapy session and I agreed to come. At that session, his therapist encouraged me to tell my father anything that he had done that had been hard on me. I timidly said something. Then I was encouraged to yell at my dad about it. I tried, but was scared and didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Then my dad told me it was ok, that he knew I loved him and that he wanted me to heal from any hurts I may carry that might get in the way of us having a good relationship. The session continued and I yelled and cried and laughed and by the end I felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from me. I later found out that this therapist used the tools of RC in his practice and that my dad had learned these tools. I could tell, he had great attention for me that day and our relationship greatly improved over the years. It was a key moment in my life and I too went on to learn RC and have been using it for over 25 years myself. The tools are about recovery from old hurts. What you do with these tools is up to you. I have chosen to teach these tools to others with the hope that they too get to recover and have better lives.
—Christie Gosch, Denver, CO, USA
With the tools of Re-evaluation Counselling (RC), I learned to see the good in people, to listen deeply to them, to hold out high hopes and expectations, to be compassionate when people fall short of their own goals, and to apply those same ideas to myself. I have learned about the hurtfulness of racism, sexism, classism, able-ism, and other oppressive conditions we encounter. I have learned that nobody would do hurtful things to another person unless they themselves had been hurt somehow, and that all those hurts can be expressed and their hold over us lessened.
Because of those tools, my relationships with my family, friends and co-workers have become steadily better over the years. When I began a relationship with the person who is now my partner, my co-counsellors [practitioners of Re-evaluation Counselling] were there to help me figure out where previous relationships failed, and to think freshly about the new situation. When my mother died, there were many co-counsellors who helped me grieve. When I had health challenges, my co-counsellors held out the perspective that I could take charge of my health, and cheerfully listened as I expressed feelings of fear, doubt and hopelessness, until I noticed that I was in fact taking charge of my health, following my doctors’ advice, and getting better.
—Jean Hanson, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Doing co-counseling has helped me in many ways and in many areas in my life. Getting a space to share my thinking and my feelings has empowered me, made me a better organizer, and helped me with making big commitments as a climate activist. Listening to other people, and hearing their stories, has broadened my perspective, made me understand other people better, and helped me be more humble. This has also been very important and valuable as a climate activist.
—Elvin Landaeus Csizmadia, 21 years old, Sweden
My name is Najma Abdi, a Kenyan living in Nairobi. I joined RC in 2019 and since then I have always loved to be part of every session brought forward.
RC stands for Re-evaluation Counseling where its members come together and share their emotions and struggles that they go through in their lives.
RC has played a major role in my life personally. I was at a bad time in my life. I had lost so much hope and faith, I was getting into depression and life wasn’t getting easier.
RC was introduced to me by a friend who has been a member. She told me it was good for me and that it would help me lift off the weight off my shoulders and discharge from my distresses. I got a chance to be actively listened to and that helped me heal a great deal.
RC played a major role in my life it made me be strong emotionally. It also made me make friends whom I consider family. RC members treat you with so much love and understanding. They listen to you when you are down and they help you heal from what you are going through.
So RC has become a part of me and I feel nothing but grateful to be part of a family like it, where by you feel like you are wanted and not neglected.
Some of the things that I love about RC is the world-wide workshops—it’s full of new experiences and new adventures. I also like the language liberations whereby we are given opportunities to speak in our own languages.
—Najma Abdi, Somali Community
First of all RC has exposed me to break up the slavery of boundaries in respect of our African countries. Before being a member of RC my thinking was enslaved by regarding only my country’s problems as my problems. While I could consider that the problems which are likely to occur in other country apart from my country, are not my problem or my country’s problem, but now I feel the sense of oneness.
RC knowledge has helped me to eradicate the chronic distress by way of discharging, before that I could not even determine stress which were affiliated in my life, and this goes hand in hand by curing others problem through assisting them in discharging their chronic distress.
RC has played great roles to me by preserving and caring environments like planting trees and cleaning my surroundings.
Lastly, through the RC’s knowledge has imparted to me the sense of leadership by believing that every human being is capable.
—Ahsante Sana, Yahya Masoud, Tanzania
RC HAS HELPED ME SO MUCH IN LIFE
Since I joined RC some 14 years ago, RC has helped me in so many ways, My Personal life, My relationship with my fellow human being.
RC is a tool that has helped me when I am in a distress situation, pain, hurts etc.
In children raising it has done so much to me. My social life has changed, I can listen to some one very without interruption.
RC has done me well. I am happy to be an RC member.
—Chinedu, Southeast Nigeria
This is my 4th year since I became an RCer. RC has taught me the act of listening respectfully to someone. This has really helped me to connect very well with people as we are able to take turns listening to each other without interruptions.
Through RC I have time to reflect on my past life as a child growing up, I get to realise the oppressions that I have grown embracing and passing on to other people, and most importantly, RC has taught me to offer appropriate contradictions to these oppressive patterns.
As a Young person I have gained a lot of skills on how best to connect with children. Attending the family workshops has been so helpful to me in person as I am able to practice what is taught directly with my family. This has made it easy for me to bond with children and able to develop useful relationships with them.
Am very thankful for the efforts that our leaders are making in ensuring that we are able to learn and practice this RC tool.
Am looking forward to more learning opportunities.
—Kennedy Mwangi, Nairobi Kenya
I have used RC to recover from traumas in my childhood that previously affected my adult life in many debilitating ways. RC has freed my mind and that means that now I am much less constrained by these early traumas. I feel much more powerful and light-hearted in the present.
Being able to release my feelings through crying, laughing, or shaking has also been very helpful. I have learned that these physical expressions of feelings are okay and that they can actually help me heal from past hurts.
RC helped me be a far more effective school teacher. I learned through RC to treat all my students with respect and to see them as individuals who all deserved my attention. RC helped create space for all students to speak their minds in class. RC transformed the way I taught and made me a far more caring and successful teacher. I was able to enjoy my many years of teaching thanks to the support I gained from RC.
People I have shared RC with have told me that it has helped them enjoy life much more. They appreciate having a space where people can meet, be listened to and listen to others in a world where everything else is for profit.
—Victoria Kemp, Australia
I still feel so fortunate that I discovered this organisation at a time when I was dealing with the sudden death of my mother, and the ending of a long term relationship with a partner meant I had lots of grief to process.
This was very overwhelming and scary for me as I had seen older family members being sent to psychiatric hospitals and given psychiatric drugs and shock treatment when they “felt too much” and I knew there had to be a better way of dealing with human pain and suffering.
Just being supported to release the painful feelings I was experiencing with no judgement and with reassurance that I was not “going crazy” was profoundly healing for me. I went on to become a teacher and leader of RC in New Zealand and also attended RC workshops in Australia and the US, building relationships with many other RC leaders from around the world.
I have always loved the positive view of human beings that is a core part of RC theory, and the knowledge that we can recover completely from painful experiences from the past. I also love the work we do on issues of oppression within RC, so we can potentially be free from the effects of sexism, racism and all the other forms of oppression that divide and limit human beings.
I have used RC to improve my health over the years, especially when dealing with bowel cancer several years ago. I find that when I am listened to with respect and caring in RC I can then think more clearly about my life, my relationships, my work in public health and the world around me.
I have always found RC to be a very sound and ethical organisation and I am proud to be part of it.
—Diane Shannon, Christchurch, New Zealand
I have a bigger life because of my participation in RC. RC has encouraged me to think bigger about what I can do in my life, how to work with people from around the world and that it is possible to understand how this beautiful world can be so harsh for so many people.
I understand better how the world works with the perspective that people are good and that unhealed emotional hurts can lead to good people doing terrible things.
I have found my mind and what I think underneath so much early conditioning to not think for myself.
I used to not be pleased with the people that I grew up with in my hometown. After many hours of being listened to as I talked about the experiences I had as I grew up, I now feel pleased that I grew up where I did and with the people I did.
I’m better able to listen to other people and understand their point of view and ideas. And that I may have different ideas.
—Bill Keegan, VT, USA
Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) offers the most powerful set of tools to manage one’s life as well as one’s relationships with other people. Everything else I know pales in comparison. When I encountered RC, I was surrounded by internal communication barriers that had developed along childhood and adolescence because of several oppressions rampant in the French education system. Slowly but surely, I was able to break through these barriers thanks to the attention of co-counselors in sessions and the participation to many wonderful workshops in Europe and in the USA. This also speaks highly of the unique international character of RC. Everywhere you go in the world, you can find the support of individuals or groups of people intent on helping you to get rid of past distresses and ready to fight to end all oppressions.
—Régis Courtin, Villiers St Frédéric, France
I wonder who of those questioning RC has read The Human Side of Human Beings. (Online here.) The theory is so benign and simple. It makes sense of what many of us already know in our gut. One of its ideas is that everyone is perpetually seeking attention to unload their problems. Perhaps the best idea in the book is that we take timed turns paying attention to each other. In the first turn, one person gets a bit of the attention they always long for, while the other puts their feelings on hold. Then they switch. With an agreement as to confidentiality, it works beautifully.
The ideas that people are hurt in unique ways, that they are the experts on what they need to unload next, and that the mind is brilliant and accurate in not bringing up more than it is ready to handle—these are also smart ideas.
The idea that crying, laughing, yawning, trembling, sweating, and talking often signal not a hurt, but rather the undoing of the hurt goes against a common misconception, even though most of literature seems to reflect an understanding that the hero or heroine thinks better after they have a good cry.
I have benefited greatly from this theory, which instead of trying to make us feel better, seeks to help us think better. And I love this organization with its simple, one-point program: helping oneself and others uncover our innate intelligence (so our thinking and our decisions become better and better).
—Karen Slaney, United States
I am a multicultural educator and teacher educator in a university in Taiwan. I learned RC in the US and have benefited greatly from the practice and theory of RC. It is one of the most useful things I have ever learned in my life. The theories I learn in academia help me to understand oppression including racism, sexism, classism and ableism, but it is RC that helps me to clarify many areas where the theories can’t explain, or are in conflict or fail to bring forward actions.
I always keep my mind alerted when using the healing process of RC. And it’s been over 20 years since I first learned RC, I am still very convinced that this process is natural and useful. This healing process was discovered, neither it was invented nor could be instilled by other people. I am most convinced when I observe how young people use this discharge process and get their full mind back after discharge. I see people around me using this tool to connect with their family better, to pursue a bigger life, and to be able to think better. I see myself achieve the same too.
—Yih-Sheue Lin, Taiwan
When I was 20 years old at a university in Tokyo, a feminist professor introduced me to RC in a university class. Since then, I have been doing RC for 15 years.
I had never told anyone “how I feel,” so I was surprised to hear my feelings and thoughts during the session.
Life changed a lot when I had time to focus on “how I feel.” I also wanted to be able to listen to people’s stories, and I wanted to increase the number of friends who could listen to each other’s stories.
I like non-experts trying hard to listen to each other without money – struggling, tackling their own problems, and trying to be good listeners. I think it’s a good method for me and use it.
Co-counseling sessions are sometimes useful for making us feel better, but they often don’t have immediate effects on our problems, and we don’t always get what we’re looking for. But as I continue, the mountains will surely be crossed.
I understand that the process of committing to each other is what we are looking for, and that we need to continue learning about various oppressions so that we can sustain them without giving up on committing to each other. I will continue to learn.
I grew up in a society where no one listens to my plights and what I am going through; everyone is busy looking for their own means of survival. The few that care to listen end up judging me; they believe to know my story more than I do. This made me keep things to myself, and I kept my hurtful experiences in my mind till I became a bitter person. As I grew older, I began to change from being the happy person I was in high school to a bitter and resentful person in the university due to the hurtful experiences I had with people. My life changed for the better in 2015 when I met Re-evaluation Counselling.
Their methodology of discharging hurtful experiences during sessions and the principle of confidentiality employed turned my life around for good. A co-counsellor listened to me as I poured out my emotions without offering any word of advice. That began my healing process! Since I started discharging, I have become a better person, much better than I could ever imagine given the hurtful experiences and oppressions I had faced in my past. My changes were so evident that people around me noticed.
They pointed out that I have become more friendly and happy, and wanted to be a part of whatever it was that made me this new person. That gave me an opportunity to introduce RC to them, and we have since begun community classes using RC literature. I can boldly say RC has helped me become a better person and it won’t stop helping till I become the best version of myself. Thank you RC! Keep doing what do.👏
—Adekunle Akinola, South West, Nigeria
My best perspective is no matter how successful and cherished a person or organization is, attacks will come from colleagues or program participants who have not been able to build trusting relationships with those who offer a contradiction to their individual insecurities and deep isolation. Often, we feel justified in finding fault if our opinions differ and we do not take time to listen and reconcile our differences with each other. Re-evaluation Counseling offers another way of looking at the issues that divide us.
Having been in RC for close to 50 years, I have benefitted so much, and still do, from identifying and emotionally discharging the issues of my past and present life that keep me small. I have yearned to reach for a strong sense of myself and my mind which becomes more and more attainable with the help of amazing and wonderful people. I know that building and growing all kinds of relationships makes it possible to find many ways of working together. I know that RC can teach us to really listen to one another and assist us to live the life of our dreams. I have been able to think more broadly and consider new perspectives that I once might have easily dismissed.
Attacks are never justified; we all make mistakes which is merely a part of our ability to strengthen our perspectives, move our work forward, and grow our respect for one another. Every human being should be well supported and encouraged to enjoy close and nurturing relationships as we learn and grow together.
—Laurie Summers, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
My first job on leaving university was as a teacher of 16, 17 and 18 year olds for whom traditional school had not worked. Increasingly I found myself more interested in the lives of the young people than in the subject material I was teaching. I decided to train as a counsellor. Within the counselling course Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) was taught alongside many other disciplines.
I was attracted to RC primarily for two reasons. The fact that, in a society where hierarchy is so embedded, to be part of a peer counselling organisation was radical. Each person taking a turn to be counsellor and client. The other element that appealed to me is the understanding that our hurts and resulting distresses, from which we strive to heal, arise not just because of our individual lives but because of our membership of certain groups in society.
I am an immigrant to London, England, arriving as a teenager with my family. I am of African heritage from Guyana and racism was a factor in my life. I was poor – in England, my family all struggled. RC had a framework for understanding what was missing in some other counselling disciplines. Unsurprisingly this understanding led to many of us involved in using the theory and practice of RC to make a difference in the world.
I have worked with parents and young people to have their voices heard in our local authority. I have learned a lot and have found the very basic tool of RC – taking turns to speak and to be listened to – has been very useful, especially in emotionally charged and controversial situations.
—Dorann van Heeswijk, London, England
I use RC ideas about listening and people being fundamentally good in my corporate training, senior team facilitation, working with machine crews in factories and in university teaching. For me RC is about reclaiming our excellent minds. Following a series of sessions I taught, a group member said recently: “I have come to realise that sometimes the best thing we can do for the people around us is to learn to trust and work on ourselves. Simply by being more trusting of our minds it allows people around us to do the same.”
—Amanda Harrington, England
I joined RC 4 years ago. I have never regretted for having received the theory and its application. Today I believe I’m more better than before, I’m able to live a present life – this is as a result of having worked on my old hurts. I have adjusted on how to handle issues across the board – most of my worst actions in life were being driven by emotions which accumulated from previous experiences.
RC has taught me a better way of raising my family. I changed the way of treating my family the day I attended a family workshop. RC tools have become part and parcel of my daily activities. With the growth in RC, I have been able to come up with support groups within my community area. The support we have received has enabled us grow in all aspects.
The knowledge I have gained in RC on various topics we’ve handled has become very vital.
Thanks to our leaders who have constantly involved me in RC meetings, workshops and led me into a present life. The growth to be an associate leader for young adults in Kenya has really improved my leadership skills.
—Joshua Atsali, Western Kenya
I learned RC 27 years ago when I became a teaching assistant for a college political science class. The political science class taught units on the political economy and social justice, so the way I came into RC was very much focused on politics and human liberation. Many people come to find RC through their desire to heal personally and then learn about social justice, but I really appreciate the way I did it.
In the time since then, I’ve used the RC practice of listening and being listened to every week. After college, I also spent 10 years as a preschool teacher, and both listening to my counselors and listening to children has given me such a broad understanding of how the world is, and how hard all people are trying to make it right for themselves and their friends and families.
I’ve had counseling partners who I’ve been working with for over 15 years, and I love watching them grow as they use the counseling process to get relief from the challenges from their childhoods and the stress of daily life. I personally have overcome issues stemming from childhood sexual abuse and now have a wonderful man in my life who I love very much, and am able to have relaxed friendships with men that I never could have imagined 27 years ago.
—Cameron Crowley, Oregon, USA
RC has impacted me in a way that I accept and love every human being without prejudice. I accept them as good people and make a difference between them and their actions. In this way I accept myself and love and appreciate the way I am no matter whatsoever people say or think about me.
I saw RC liberating myself from the norms of oppression and legalization. It brought light to my thinking that I got the passion to care for people and the environment. The RC community is a place where I can be myself.
—Mesfin Taye, Ethiopia
My name is Dr. LG Shanklin-Flowers, and I am a 70-year-old, Black woman who has been an active member, teacher, and leader in the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities (RC) for over 30 years. I find the attacks on RC to be biased and misleading.
As a consultant, activist, and community influencer, I have found the practice and theory of RC to be personally and professionally beneficial. I have incorporated many of the perspectives gained there.
This includes my involvement with Black Liberation and Community Development, one of many constituency-based groups in RC, in which African-heritage people throughout the world listen to and support each other regarding the impact of systematic racism on our lived experiences and the healing work necessary to undo the damage of internalizing the messages of white supremacy on ourselves, our families, relationships, and communities.
My work also centers on creating environments in which people resolve painful emotions that impact their thinking and acting effectively on their own behalf. I have incorporated the peer listening with attention practice in my Empathetic Listening Services that assist nonprofit leaders in goal-setting and strategic thinking. My consulting and training programs that provide a social justice framework and community-building approach that recognize the limits of long-term movements based on painful emotions is based upon RC theory.
Re-evaluation Counseling has been and continues to be a useful and valuable basis for the work I do, and I am fortunate to continue to engage in their important resiliency-building efforts.
—LG Shanklin-Flowers, Ed.D., USA
Voilà bientôt 6 ans que j’ai eu la chance de faire la connaissance de la co – écoute, un outil merveilleux qui a changé la qualité de ma vie. Les principes simples de la co – écoute m’ont permis de parler de mes blessures sur la guerre, la famille, l’environnement, le racisme et beaucoup d’autres sujets, me permettant de découvrir la capacité de l’humain que je suis de me relever des charges émotionnelles.
Depuis je ne cesse de découvrir l’homme extraordinaire qui se cache en moi et je me suis donné d’aider toute ma communauté avec cet outil merveilleux afin d’impacter positivement ma nation.
It has been almost 6 years since I had the chance to get to know co-counseling, a wonderful tool that has changed the quality of my life. The simple principles of co-counseling have allowed me to talk about my wounds on war, family, environment, racism and many other subjects, allowing me to discover the capacity of the human being that I am to get up from emotional charges.
Since then, I have not stopped discovering the extraordinary man who hides in me and I have given myself to help all my community with this marvelous tool in order to positively impact my nation.
—Christian Kabasu, Congo
I was introduced to RC tools 29 years ago. I was a teenager then. The ability to be heard without judgment and to offer my listening to others in an equal exchange changed my life. As a working class Mexican woman, being able to speak freely about what economic oppression and violence has been like for me and my people during our life experiences has been crucial in regaining confidence in my thinking and getting the life I want.
RC has offered me a very useful perspective on racism, considering not only its structural factors but the wounds I personally received because of it. Thanks to this tool I can better handle the racist micro-violences that I face regularly as an Afro and Indigenous descended person.
I have witnessed how RC has also improved the lives of many other people in Mexico. Listening to each other in solidarity and in equity allows me to remember day by day our full humanity and to face challenges more intelligently.
—Iliria Hernández Unzueta, Mexico
When I was 29 y.o. I arrived at a job I had been working my way to for years and I was pleased. What was confusing was why I felt so flat, blah, dead in the water, not excited about life – the job is what I had wanted, what could the problem be?In the search for the aliveness I was missing, I found Re-evaluation Counseling. It was the most logical explanation for why someone like me – and a lot of other someones – could lose life’s spark. The theory and process were simple, not easy. With the theory came people to practice with and chances to keep learning and being alive in my life. Part of the theory was that “we are always doing the best we can,” and, “our thinking is always evolving.” These were good to remember for the times when I didn’t agree with the leaders. I didn’t have to agree with everything they said. They didn’t want me to. Their thinking was evolving as well as my own. Refreshing. Confidence in my own thinking began to change. I began to speak up at staff meetings and to notice that not only did I have good ideas, but people were willing to follow me. It was a relief to have a better understanding of why some people’s annoying behaviors were just that – I didn’t have to walk away or give up on them. I could understand. We could keep thinking together. At the time I was a pediatric nurse practitioner. RC helped my work with parents, children and staff. It was invaluable.Probably the most important change that I began to see was that I could talk with people in a way that brought me closer to them. Loneliness was on its way out.This tool is not for everyone. I don’t know that there is any “one size fits all” answer for us humans. It works for me and I am grateful for it and the thousands of people all over the world it connects me to.
—Marilyn McEnery, Danville, VT, USA
I’ve been in RC for many years, and have always been struck by the simplicity and power of taking turns. From early on, I was someone people turned to to talk, cry, tell stories with. I remember my mother saying “what won’t she do for her friends.”
I’m a white woman working in the field of restorative justice, anti-racism and oppression. My experience has confirmed that people are starved to be listened to, to have a place where they can tell their stories, feel and show without judgment and interruption. Oppression weighs heavy on us. War, adultism, racism, sexism, homophobia, violence . . . many of us have learned to live with, settle, shut down, blame ourselves or each other. Many are trying to survive, have enough to eat, have shelter. Living in a world with so much injustice and the climate crisis is confusing, to say the least.
I remember seeing my friends and classmates growing up being ridiculed for crying and showing fear. I learned early not to. I started smoking when I was 14, and doing drugs to control, numb up and escape. I grew up feeling stupid and unseen. The intersection of anti-Semitism and class oppression was brutal.
Counseling has provided a place for me to shed the fears and the grief, fight for my own mind and assist others to do the same. To not give up. I organize, I teach, I make art, I play… it’s work, but it allows me to face some of the hardest things, reach for others, and have joy. It informs my RJ and anti-racism work, my relationships, everything I do. They say you fall in love with people whose stories you know. That’s been the case. I think in order to make the changes we need to make, that’s an important step.
I learned Re-evaluation Counseling when I was 20. Now, almost 40 years later, I still tell people my first teacher saved my life. The tools of Re-evaluation Counseling have helped me to heal personal traumas – for instance, the loss of my father in a car accident when I was a child. And the Re-evaluation Counseling community has gifted me with caring relationships around the world with a diverse group of people.
The RC community keeps me hopeful as we face the multiple crises of pandemic, climate change, racial and economic injustice, to name just some of our global challenges. I face them with more fortitude and hope, knowing that I am joined in solidarity to a worldwide group of people who care about each other, humanity, and the planet and are working together to end all oppression. It will take a while, but we are on our way . . . “Heaven knows how we will get there, but we know we will” (from the song “Woyaya”).
—Hao-Li Tai, USA
My name is Ofer Lior and I live in a small place in the north of Israel. I have been involved with co-counseling for more than 15 years and its theory and practice have supported me in many arenas in my life. I want to share a bit about how it helped in my work.
I have been working for more than 20 years in several NGOs and organizations that bring Israelis and Palestinians to communicate about the conflict situation and to have a better understanding of each other’s narrative, perspectives and struggles. I facilitate and organize different kinds of seminars, both for youth and young adults and for adults. In those seminars we encourage people to speak openly about their experiences, their thoughts, their historical narrative and more. Usually those meetings are very tense and there are many bad feelings that come up during it.
Through the years I managed to involve the tools of co-counseling in that process. We simply encourage the participants of those seminars to share their personal stories about the conflict with each other and to listen with good attention to other people’s stories. In other cases, we offer to people from both sides to share whatever stories they would like to share with the whole group. When those participants share their story and sometimes show the feelings that came with those stories it almost always brings much empathy and compassion for the participants of the other side.
I am convinced that the tools of co-counseling are important to my work and my effort to create understanding and connection between Jews and Arabs in the middle east. I will keep bringing those tools to people that live around me and to use it myself in order to end the war situation that I am living in all my life.
—Ofer Lior, Israel
I have been active in RC for many years. It has been tremendously helpful to me in allowing me to heal from past traumas that without RC would have damaged my ability to live a productive and happy life. As a young woman growing up in our society, I had hurtful experiences that I needed to process. Through using RC and the peer relationships that I built I was able to free myself from the effects of them. As an adult I have used RC consistently to process difficult feelings and handle complicated situations through the exchange of listening time with another person.
As a public school health teacher, I have consistently given my students listening assignments where they get to experience an active listening exchange with a friend or family member. I am always amazed at the incredible observations they have about how good it feels to both listen and be listened to. Students feel important, valued and more connected by this simple, powerful process. Listening is a natural healing process that anyone can use to be able to think more clearly about anything they choose. We all need more listening in our lives!
—Kate Goldring, USA
I am pleased to share with you how Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) has made a huge difference in my life.
Re-evaluation Counseling has taught me that bottled up emotions and distress recordings (hurtful experiences) interfere with my inherent intelligence and hence limit my ability to come up with solutions. I understood early from RC teachings that if I discharge or release these bottled up emotions, I would free my mind and regain my intelligence and be able to make rational decisions. I have been able to achieve this through regular use of RC tools of listening and co-counseling. They help me to recover my ability to think well and find meaningful solutions to issues.
Co-counseling in RC has taught me how the tool of listening to one another without interruption, with loving attention, and without being judgmental could heal existing hurts, enhance relationships with other humans and grow my ability to make rational and positive decisions. I am not afraid to shake or cry and release bottled up emotions and distress recordings that I experience in the course of my activities as a human being.
I have become a better person, better able to relate with and appreciate other humans and their struggles. I do not rush into conclusions and I have learnt not to make decisions when I am upset or confused about things around me. I am able to manage difficult situations, relying on co-counseling tools. I am very happy that I got the opportunity to experience Re-evaluation Counseling.
I have used RC tools for 20 years and counting, and I recommend these tools to the rest of humanity.
With love and appreciation,
—Onii Nwangwu-Stevenson, Lagos, Nigeria
My involvement with the RC community dates back to a difficult time in my life. I noticed that my friends who were involved with RC were consistently the only ones who could really listen to me with respect, without passing judgment and without giving advice or proposing (their own) solutions. And I could be in charge of my own healing process.
My first impressions of RC were that it proposed a modest but pragmatic means of understanding other people (what makes us wonderful to be around and what informs our personal and societal struggles). The theory aligned with ideas I had always held to be true since I was a child – that people are basically good, intelligent, that we desire closeness, and that we are inherently joyful and cooperative. The theory also provided a useful framework for better understanding irrational and harmful behaviors. RC emphasizes that feelings should not be a guide to action but are simply to be felt and I found this information helpful. RC is not a magic bullet and like any honest practice that seeks to heal (whether the “problem” be individual or systemic), it is a slow business that requires time, persistence and some amount of self-discipline. Something that has sustained me and greatly enriched my life are the many close and enduring co-counseling relationships that I’ve made over the years with people who are committed to the practice of RC.
RC has allowed me to have more of my independent thinking and has enabled me to consider possibilities for myself in my life that I otherwise would not have. I went back to school and became a pediatric nurse. I found a loving partner and we adopted our amazing son. RC has given me many practical skills (not just listening skills but leadership skills as well). I can organize others. I can easily listen to a child’s upset. I can pay attention to friends, co-workers, family members and neighbors. The work on racism that I’ve done for over 30 years in RC has allowed me to live a life filled with lots of people who are not like me. RC has not inoculated me against making lots of mistakes nor has it minimized the many challenges in my life. It has given me a greater appreciation for my own efforts to meet those challenges and increased opportunities for facing them in the company of others who will stay close and offer their confidence and encouragement as I make my way. Playing this role for others has also greatly enriched my life.
—Rose Fichtenholtz, NYC, USA
I have been fortunate to have the tool of Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) so I could reach big goals and create experiences that would otherwise not have been on my radar: I will be forever grateful for building a close relationship with my mother; I have travelled and camped throughout Africa and witnessed the marvels of the natural world; leading groups to challenge racism and sexism has helped me fulfill my hopes to contribute to creating a better world.
RC is a simple, yet profound process of gaining an accurate perspective of yourself and the world. It is not a cult, as most people are not up to the rigors of facing their difficult issues, and I would estimate that 90% of people leave after their first class. I am so glad I have had this tool. RC is not a psychological model and should not be compared to those methodologies. It is a straightforward practice of people sharing active listening with each other. RC may not be for everyone and people are free to choose. Disparaging it serves no useful purpose.
—Susan Seibel, Retired Director, Intensive English Language Institute, Oxford, Massachusetts
I have been using the theory and practice of RC since the mid 1980’s.
Re-evaluation Counseling is not “counseling” as many think of that word. Participants are not given advice, but are listened to without being told what to do or not do. The process alone is strengthening, but not in the way many think of “strength.” I have not become a bully, but have gained a stronger sense of my worth as a human being in this society. I understand that my ideas have value, that I can think well and act rationally, that being fully human is a good thing.
I was born at the end of World War II to a poor Jewish family and was able, with financial aid, to attend college and graduate school, and to pursue a career as visual artist. Even at 40 years old I was unable to understand what I felt was my weakness or fear around succeeding, earning a living, fulfilling my potential in the society.
RC has given me a bigger picture of the world. I have always wondered why people are the way they are and act the way they do. Being listened to consistently and learning to listen to others in turn has broadened my understanding of individuals and groups, and has opened my eyes and heart in ways I could not have predicted. RC is life changing and life enhancing. I wish everyone on the globe had access to it.
—Marilyn Banner USA
My lower-middle-class family is talented, resourceful, loving, and fun. My parents strongly encouraged me to work hard, go to college, and get a good job so I could “move up” in society. No one would think less of me as a black female if I was strong, educated, and accomplished. I worked very hard and was often the only black female in every situation or environment I was in. I studied computer science and mathematics in college, a high technology focused MBA, and Ph.D. in higher education. I work at a well-respected university managing a technology team. But none of that protected me. I am still seen as intimidating or mean when I take charge or speak my mind. I’ve been spoken to as if I was a prostitute, maid, or customer service rep and presumed to be a poor single mother.
Before I learned Re-evaluation Counseling, I was angry at and disappointed with other black people who were in those roles or situations. I felt if they just worked harder life would be easier for all of us. This hurt my relationships with other black people, leaving me feeling terrible about myself, isolated, and lonely. RC has benefited my life greatly, especially around understanding how racism and sexism operate in the larger society in addition to how they have impacted my life specifically. I use the tools of RC to recover my pride in being female and black, restore and build new relationships with women and black people and decide when I want to work hard, not to prove my worth, but because it makes sense at that time. Not only that, I actively fight for Women’s liberation, Black liberation, and ending the destruction of the planet because of the work I’ve done with RC.
—JMC, Boston, MA
I’ve been involved with RC since 1973 when I was a young adult. There were two things that attracted me to RC. One was the caring and supportive attention that my friend who was introducing me to RC offered me. That made a huge difference in how I took on a very challenging new job. I was deeply impressed with how the work I did in my counseling sessions made a job that I thought would be too hard to handle well within my reach.
The second was the social change emphasis of RC. I started being an activist in college in the 60’s, and both the work I did and the growing understanding of societal oppression that I accumulated in my connection with RC was invaluable. It remains so to this day. My ability to be smarter, more committed to building a better world, and more connected today than I was yesterday has very much to do with the emotional healing work I do in my co-counseling sessions.
I’ve worked throughout my years as a raised poor working Jewish female to reclaim my confidence in my mind and my ability to communicate my thinking, and to be an effective leader for ending all oppression. This continues to be a work in progress and I’m happy with that progress. RC theory, the RC community and RC tools have made a huge difference in my life.
—Dvora Slavin, Seattle, WA USA
My name is Jo Perry and I live in Sydney Australia. I started RC in a fundamentals class and learnt that being listened to while telling stories of the difficulties I had had in my early life enabled me to gain new perspectives on my current life. The process helped me understand how and why particular things happened to me. I also learnt how to listen to other people and assist them in the same way. One of the things I found particularly useful was gaining an understanding of how various oppressions like sexism, racism and the oppressions of class impacted my life and the lives of others. Another insight was about how patterns of behaviour develop and how they affect us as individuals and as a society in general.
I am grateful for all the hours of being listened to with respect and warmth. It has made a huge difference in my life and enabled me to take on a range of activities, leadership and jobs that I had never thought possible. I deeply respect this organisation for its people, intentions, goals and policies, and I believe using the tools I learnt can make a profound difference in society as a whole as it has in my life. I am proud to have taken on a leadership position in RC and to teach and support people who are interested.
—Jo Perry, Sydney, Australia
I was 29 years old before I heard that it was good to be working class–that it is our strength and intelligence that makes every other person’s life possible. This was decades before the concept of “essential workers” came to the forefront. At that moment, at my first Re-evaluation Counseling workshop, for the first time I felt pride in the generations of poor and working-class people that had come before me. I had never been listened to for five minutes in my life. It was profound. Another person—one of my peers—could listen to me without judgment, with confidence in my ability to think my way through the challenges that had faced me and my forebears. And then I could do the same for them.
It was good to understand that there was nothing wrong with us and that we could systematically help each other break out of old patterns of self-denigration and powerlessness. For the first time I understood that it was possible that we could help each other get out from under the patterns of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and other oppressions that society had heaped upon us and that kept us from unifying and moving forward with other people from all over the world. For the first time it was suggested that I could be a leader. That we need to have leaders from groups that have a keen understanding of the realities of the world.
I have shared the theory and practice of RC with others as best I could. I see my role as helping to save lives and I can confidently say that I have saved a few. There is nothing better one could do in life than that.
—Dan Nickerson, Freeport Maine USA
To me Re-evaluation Counseling is about people getting a chance to bring forth the best qualities of being human. I have been involved since 1997. I am sure that my involvement helped me be more effective in both my paid work and my volunteer leadership roles, and to enjoy my relationships with everyone in my life.
I am proud to be part of an organization that creates opportunities for people to use the very human processes we were all born with—crying, laughing, raging, trembling—so that our intelligence, caring, and love of life are fully available.
—Roberta Paro, Norwich, CT
It is amazing how often my outlook clarifies and changes immediately when I am listened to with someone else’s respectful and patient attention. Even when I have felt confused, sad, angry or emotionally distant, it doesn’t take long to feel things shift when I can get someone’s non-judgmental attention. Of course, they don’t have to be in RC, but through RC I have a large and varied network of people who are willing to do that with me. How precious I consider this!!
What a relief I felt when first learning of RC, to hear that crying, laughing, or trembling—all natural processes that I would do anyway—were not things to be suppressed, but were actually built-in ways of healing from griefs, fears and insecurities; that once free of the effects of hurt experiences, our minds become much sharper. I also found that the policy of freedom from advice in the counselling sessions sidestepped the confusions and dependency that can develop when I receive advice.
I love the peer aspect of the practice. That I am just as important to my counselor as they are to me is gratifying and empowering. My co-counselors and I often marvel at the results: how much better we often feel after a counselling session (as well as how much fun it can be); how new thoughts and inspirations arise, perspectives change and initiatives come alive; and sweetly, how our feelings of connection to each other and our place in the world are greatly enhanced.
—Sarah Spademan, Massachusetts, USA
I took my first Re-evaluation Counseling course many years ago and found the tools I learned to be very effective for improving relationships, pursuing goals, and handling challenges. I appreciate the perspective shared about living every moment well, the encouragement to go after my own dreams, and the emphasis on recovering my ability to think clearly at all times. I have learned so much about people from many different backgrounds and have personally benefited from the leadership of people around the world whom I’ve come to know and love. I’ve used the support of others to become better at public speaking, learn new skills, and be the parent I want to be.
I’m so grateful to be a leader in an organization that sets big goals (for example, ending racism and protecting the natural environment) and provides information and events that help me and many others move toward achieving those goals.
—Nancy Faulstich, California, USA
I have been actively involved in the RC community all of my adult life. I was attracted to it initially because of the core idea that all people are born with the capacity to be caring, intelligent, joyful, and thoughtful towards other people and the natural world. That fit well with the Quaker values I learned as a child. It was helpful to add the perspective that when we act in ways that don’t make sense, it is because of hurtful experiences, and that we can heal from those hurts by taking turns listening to each other as we release those feelings. What RC has done is to create a community and a structure to allow a healing process that is natural to all of us to happen in the course of our daily lives.
Although we may challenge each other in RC to face our difficulties, we do it with great caring and respect for each person. It is always each person’s free choice whether or not to engage in this process.
The perspectives I have gained have helped me be more effective as a parent, a grandparent, a classroom teacher, and a leader in community organizations. The opportunity to listen to and build close relationships with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, countries, and life experiences has enriched my life immensely, in ways I could never have imagined when I was a shy little girl. These days I am learning that I can take stands on difficult issues while continuing to stay connected to the other person, a life lesson that we all could benefit from. I also have opportunities to think, learn, and stretch my mind with others about ways we can organize to end all forms of oppression and to live more fulfilling lives
—Marcy Morgan, Philadelphia, USA
I learned Re-evaluation Counseling in Israel in the mid 1970s. As a young adult, RC gave me a clear understanding of why people sometimes act in ways that are hurtful to themselves and others. It also gave me some very powerful tools to resolve a lot of emotional confusion I had accumulated growing up. As I continued to work within RC, I was able to assist others in the same way, which has been very satisfying, including working on the systematic oppressions (racism, sexism, adultism, etc.) that are so damaging to our relationships. The understandings that we share in RC—that people are inherently good, that no-one is more important than anyone else, that there are no real conflicts of interest between humans, that differences of opinion are always the result of either misinformation or emotion—are extremely hopeful in a world where the appearance of human relations may not always reflect these basic tenets. For me, this knowledge (and using our listening tools) has enabled me to have deep and caring relationships. I also have great parental pride in having used RC together with my wife to raise a child—now a wonderful and much respected young man—who approaches the world with lots of love and common sense.RC is not a made-up artificial thing, but has been built, like the best of science, on careful observation of what happens when humans really listen to each other. Nothing has been added to the theory that has not withstood testing by thousands of people using the tools with each other. As a (very) deep skeptic I have found that aspect of RC to be very reassuring. It has allowed my stay involved. I am very thankful to have learned about, and proud to have contributed to, RC.
—Allan Hansen, Ph.D., California, USA
I became acquainted with Re-evaluation Counseling in the early 1970’s when I was a graduate student at Brandeis University. I was very impressed with this “people’s art” of exchanging listening and permitting and encouraging emotional release. To me it seemed quite brilliant, simple, and powerful, combining all the most advanced social, political and psychological thinking to which I had been exposed as a student of European Intellectual History.
It combined a radical sense of respect for all humans, an understanding of human irrationality and “problems”, and a set of tools by which ordinary people with some training could exchange help in a meaningful way. Within a year I started teaching classes, and felt profoundly honored to give people such important tools.
My experience in RC enabled me to take on new and often daunting challenges. It gave me the confidence and skills to listen, connect, and support team members and lead excellent meetings wherever I worked in the mental health system. It helped as I married someone of a non-US background and formed close loving relationships with my in-laws. It helped in my parenting.
It helped me in various multicultural committees in my children’s schools; in starting a diverse Women’s Commission in my City of Newton that did groundbreaking work for five years; in supporting anti-racism work in my UU congregation; and more recently in the Green Team in the neighborhood Catholic Church. I have been through deaths, transitions, and health challenges, all in a profoundly non-isolated way.
And after all this, I still think that the simple work of doing a “session”, exchanging listening time with people near me and people all over the world, is one of the most humanizing, profound and satisfying experiences I can possibly have. I am very grateful to Re-evaluation Counseling for helping me have a life of growth and service as well as full intellectual and emotional challenge and global connections. It has made all the difference.
—Barbara Deck, Ph.D., Boston, Massachusetts, USA
As a young adult, when I listened to other people who were talking—a teacher, a friend, or a parent—I didn’t realize that I was not listening to them. I was thinking about what I was going to say, or the impact of what I would say. I did not care or empathize with who was talking, and I took in very little information. Learning this tool of RC, learning how to listen, and to pay attention to someone else, has been good for my relationships at work, at home and with friends. I find myself more engaged with other people, interested in them and their lives. The other part of listening to others is that I am also learning what it is like to have someone listen to me. Being listened to has impacted my ability to communicate more clearly, value what I think, and have more enjoyable interactions with others!
I started RC when I was a young adult, and one of the first things I learned was that crying is okay. I needed to cry a lot. I was 22 and my dad had recently committed suicide. People in RC listened to me and didn’t try to make me stop crying, and that was amazing. That helped me process what happened and not blame myself for his suicide.
And I learned to listen to other people, which helped me understand that I wasn’t the only person who needed support. I realized that everyone needs to talk and be listened to without having someone giving them advice or analyzing them. I really liked hearing about people’s life stories and about their struggles. I really liked supporting other people.
As time passed, I understood that RC is a liberation movement. I learned that oppression is used to divide people who are actually natural allies and that we are all good people; and that we can heal from the oppression that has come at us. I also learned to build close relationships with people who I had been taught to be afraid of. This has made my life so much better.
RC has helped me believe in myself, stand up for myself and figure out a lot about relationships. I have a happy meaningful life and RC has helped me create that life.
—Marya Axner, Somerville, MA USA
Through my work with Re-evaluation Counseling, I have learned to think better about a wide variety of people in my life. As someone who inherited money and has privilege, I now build security in my life through relationships in my community instead of through the continued control of excess wealth. I understand now that all people are good and can heal from any hurts that get in the way of acting on this goodness.
—Kate Stout, USA
I first heard about RC as a junior in high school when a class was offered through a school program expanding the curriculum. The course description sounded so valuable that I asked my friends to take the class too. Learning RC improved my life as I began unloading many of the things that burdened me, including how scared I felt as a result of being targeted as a young female with sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse. Through the shared listening process, I began to recover from that mistreatment and other painful experiences.
I found the theory liberating: the idea that people are inherently good and what drives us off track results from how we have been hurt individually and by oppression. It was hopeful to learn how each individual can choose to take responsibility for making things go well, including by working together to change the conditions in society so all humans could flourish. These ideas helped me make sense out of the glaring problems I saw in society that I yearned to address, including war, inequality, violence, exploitation and mistreatment.
Through shared listening, I could overcome internal obstacles to reaching my goals, including feeling alone, scared or powerless. By using the process of RC, I was able to focus more clearly on my own goals, build good relationships with many people and create a meaningful life. Many of the goals I care about most require collective action. As an activist, I am inspired by how RC models a collective process of developing good draft policies and working programs on problems confronting humanity. It is deeply meaningful to me to participate in a handful of collective RC projects including United to End Racism, No Limits for Women, and Sustaining All Life (advancing climate justice).
—Jennifer Wexler, USA
I write to briefly describe my personal experience using RC.
I am a retired appellate attorney, member of my synagogue, and happily married for decades. Additionally, I helped to grow a local peace advocacy group into a nationally known nonprofit.
In each of these endeavors, the commonsense RC practice of exchanging attentive, caring listening has proven immensely useful. It reliably helps me think clearly, take initiative and accomplish my goals.
Since the listening is reciprocal, I also have the satisfaction of assisting others by paying attention to them as they achieve their own aims, like becoming a professor, and getting married and raising children.
I took a class in Re-evaluation Counseling when I was a young adult. Right from the start, I loved connecting with people and learning about their lives. And I soon discovered that it was useful for me as well. The simple structure of trading time listening to each other allowed lots of good things to happen, including processing big and little things that were currently going on in our lives and things that had happened in the past.
Over the years, that process has allowed me to build strong, trusting relationships with co-counselors, in which I have worked out knotty parts of my life, grieved losses, faced fears, set goals, and figured out next steps. I have shared tears of sorrow and tears of joy, laughter, and heart, all within this structure of taking turns listening to each other. It’s hard to imagine what my life would be like had I not had these tools. I am certain that I wouldn’t have moved through the most difficult things as quickly as I have, and that my life would not be as rich. Listening deeply to many people, whose lives are different from mine, has given me invaluable insights and perspectives that inform who I am and how I live.
When I think about how to make the world a better place, and the big existential challenges facing us all at this moment in history, I think more people using these tools is more important than ever—to build connections across differences, to understand each other, and to use our minds to work out knotty problems.
—Gayle Cribb, Dixon, California, USA
I have been involved in Re-evaluation Counseling since I was a young adult. It was important to me, and a deciding factor in staying with it was the clear direction not to criticize or give advice. This provided a safe environment where no one would tell me what to do, but would listen to me as I thought through whatever I was needing to.
Our agreement to not set up social relationships with others in RC was reassuring. There was no guarantee that someone would not hit on me or try to sell me insurance, but if they did I would have an organization backing me when I refused.
Over the years, using the tools of RC has helped me overcome fears and doubts as I faced challenging circumstances: taking (and passing) the California bar exam; running for and serving on the San Jose/Evergreen Community College Board; recovering from a rape and being public about refusing to testify in favor of the death penalty in the murder trial of my rapist; and attacks on my local union. Being listened to without judgment and being able to express my feelings in a safe environment has allowed me to maintain my perspective during a long career as a union representative, organizer, negotiator, and labor educator. Our work on the importance of the effects of oppression has helped me communicate and work on important issues such as climate change with increasingly diverse groups of people.
In my personal life, my RC practice has been instrumental in helping me recognize when my reactions are overreactions, to stop blaming others for how I feel, and to maintain mutually loving and respectful relationships with my family, friends and co-workers.
—MaryRuth Gross, USA
RC has played a positive role in my life in a variety of ways. It has been very helpful in relationships, providing a context for understanding what gets hard for me or the other person, and reaching through those difficulties to connect and find a way forward together rather than just giving up. Whether I have had a success or made a mistake I have a non-judgmental place where I can notice my feelings (of pride or humiliation or anything in between). In that space, I can process and learn from what happened and be able to go forward with new insights and a clearer perspective.
It helps me remember that people who are being hard on others are not bad, that there are understandable roots to their behavior, and that it’s possible to connect with their goodness. It was an enormous help to me as a parent when my children had big feelings, to not blame either them or myself, but to just give them space to vent those feelings. It has helped me have a clearer picture of what I am capable of and to move toward bigger challenges, since I know I will have a place to bring my fears and feelings of inadequacy, and that I won’t be all alone with them. Overall, I would say that I am kinder—to myself and others—and more courageous as a result of my participation in RC
—Pamela Haines, Philadelphia, PA USA
I became involved in RC because I understood that its techniques would help other activists and me better work together. I found that to be true and much more as well. Using RC has empowered me to live a hopeful and fuller life, given me clearer insight into my own struggles, and radically changed my ability to think and act outside my feelings. RC helped me better become the parent I wanted to be, for example not passing on the abuse I received as a child.
Some of the credit for my success in my thirty-year career in child welfare for the state of Vermont is owed to RC. Using the process gave me insights into the needs and struggles of children and families that I did not get in my graduate studies for my MSW. This included being able to better understand what many poor and working-class families experience and to listen to them. When I became a supervisor, and then in my last ten years as a district director, I continued this commitment to families.
I credit RC in helping me take on other leadership roles as well, such as being president or copresident for eight years in two different synagogues.
—Guy Wood, Putney, Vermont, USA
I have been using RC as a tool to sort out my life and emotions for over 40 years. I don’t think I would have survived two suicides in my family and been able to go on to live a life so full of joy, fun, friends, purpose, connection to people, and interesting challenges without it. It is a safe place I can depend on to be able to sort out what is going on in my mind with someone’s thoughtful listening, to use my best thinking to resolve issues both internal and external, and to problem-solve and make decisions that need to be made.
—Janet Hughes, USA
I started benefiting from Re-evaluation Counseling in the 90’s, while raising children and training to be a pediatrician. It was an indispensable tool in both endeavors. Raising children, and helping pediatric patients and their families through illness and other challenges, both require clear thinking that is as free as possible from the distortions that might arise from challenges I experienced myself while growing up. Being engaged in RC helped me tremendously in that regard. In addition, the thoroughly egalitarian model of RC, and its commitment to work against racism, sexism, and any other oppressions are as relevant today as they have been at any time in my life.
—David Ferrazares, USA
Re-evaluation Counseling has been a tremendous force for positive change in my life. Recently, through working the process of mutual listening and release of emotions, I was able to stay positive in 2020. The basic theory of RC that people are good, but act irrationally when hurt and not healed, helped me keep a hopeful outlook. People act out their hurt, but they are still good people. With the RC listening practice and this theoretical perspective, I actually became closer to people in 2020 and became healthier physically.
I also used RC practice to help me get through law school which I started when I was 42 years old with a 7-year-old child. My counseling helped me relieve the huge stress of law school and studying for the bar. I passed the California bar the first time partly because I released the negative emotions that vied for my attention.
Another big transformation is my attitudes and actions about race and racism. Before doing RC, I did not understand the importance of white people working on race (I’m white). Through the RC theory of goodness and the process of emotional release, I have developed the slack to have more relationships with people of color. I can apologize for mistakes I make around race without wallowing in feeling bad about myself.
—Megan Elsea, US
In my first RC class 25 years ago, I learned the power of active listening between peers. I was able to construct a roadmap of pivotal childhood experiences in my life and decipher connections between those experiences and the parent I had become. It was a powerful feeling as a new parent to learn that I need not be ruled by my past, but that I could self-determine who I would be in the world.
Twenty five years later, I have stuck with RC because its theory and practice have made my life richer. I know I am a better parent, grandparent, teacher, manager, daughter and wife because I don’t keep my emotions under lock and key, nor do I allow them to rule my life. RC has provided me with the framework to trust my own thinking and to speak out when I experience or witness injustice. I am a better ally, a better friend, and ultimately a more conscientious human being because I take time each week to examine my emotions and reach for my clearest thinking.
—Roia Ferrazares, USA
One of the greatest privileges I’ve had a result of many years of involvement with Re-evaluation Counseling is how it’s enabled me to effectively support young people and parents.
Understanding the innate healing process that all young people instinctively use, and how to support their healing, has made all the difference in my ability to support young people in every part of my life — in my family, my religious community, the school system, youth programs, and with the children of my friends. I’ve also been able to support parents, while they do the hardest job there is. Understanding what it means to treat young people with respect, in a society whose institutions do not, has also been key.
Being part of an organization that works at the intersection of personal healing and social justice has also given me the chance to develop so many relationships with people I would have otherwise been separated from due to classism, racism, and other “isms.” These are deeply personal connections in which we help each other heal from the hurts of oppression and take leadership in our lives and in the work of transforming society.
Getting to be part of this project and this profoundly committed group of people has been the single most important opportunity of my adult life.
—Cameron Hubbe, LCSW, Eugene, Oregon, USA
RC has played a major and very positive role in my life. I stumbled upon it by chance, and I have always been grateful for that. I have used the theory and practice to tackle any feelings that would hold me back from having the life that I want to have.
I grew up being told that females could not go for big lives. In learning RC, I have been able to have major successes in my life. I taught music in public schools for 39 years and, unlike many of my colleagues in those schools, I did not “burn out” at any point in my career. I could do that because I was able to have regular RC sessions where I could talk about and express any feelings I had—upsets, discouragement, fears, or anything else about my work. After the sessions, my mind cleared, and I was able to go back to enjoying my job.
As I learned important pieces of RC theory—people are born good, no-one would hurt anyone unless they had been first hurt themselves, there is no blame, we can all heal from childhood trauma—and had my sessions, my life just opened up on all levels. I became kinder to myself and as a result kinder to others. I became so much more aware of oppression in the world, especially of racism and white supremacy. I got to have sessions on where I had feelings of white supremacy myself. This was and continues to be hard work but has freed me up so much as a white person to make new friends and move out of the racism I have carried since childhood. Eliminating racism has now become a big part of my life’s work.
I first came across RC just after my children were born. It was such a relief to find somewhere that folk listened, didn’t judge or offer advice and where I could clear my mind and think about my life. That it was low budget, and virtually free, was a bonus too! I saw it as an approximation of what good friends did for each other, listening with kindness and without judgement as I talked, cried or laughed about the challenges of life. I dropped in and out of the project in my early years but as I had ambition to improve myself, my family and community in N Ireland I decided to get more closely involved. As I engaged with the project more it was so interesting to hear other life stories internationally from people of colour, Jews, women with different life experiences than my own.
My paid work as a human resources consultant locally in N Ireland brought me into arenas where I heard the ‘hard to listen to’ but revealing stories of both Catholics and Protestants caught up in so many years of violence. Coming up to The Good Friday Agreement I joined The Women’s Coalition (first all-women’s political party I believe) to ensure women’s voices were heard. I progressed to doing environmental work and developed models for community development which were copied across N Ireland. This work was greatly assisted by the insights into how to support people’s wellbeing gained in the RC project.
The compassion for people, the flexible thinking, the organisational tools, and that access to so many interesting and good-hearted people was very attractive to me. It was a resource for me in terms of personal development and an excellent source of information about how we can enable people to function well which seems to be something we are born with. It has been a pleasure to be a part of this project. It has enriched my life and as I watch my children and grandchildren thrive, I can see that the understanding of people and their early emotional and physical hurts, and the mending of them in RC, is something that I am fortunate to have come across.
—Sheila Fairon, Portrush, N Ireland
A PLACE TO GROW IN EVERY WAY
I learned about Revaluation and Counseling (RC) from my mom. A friend of hers invited her to a parenting group 29 years ago. At first, I found it very strange that so many adults paid so much attention to me, but I liked it. At that time, I was 17 years old, my relationship with my mother has always been good, but it improved as a result of her attending that group. Then I had the opportunity to meet with more young people and with people of all ages and religions.
RC has always seemed to me a place where I can learn, where I can be myself and support other people to know themselves better. Over the years I have met many people from many parts of the world, I have been able to listen to their personal struggles and I have been able to share mine. It has been a space where I have been able to understand how this society works and the oppressions that operate on us as people. By working on my emotions I have been able to understand other people’s emotions and not take things personally, trying to understand that all of us have had different experiences in life and that we react in very different ways, but in essence we are good, intelligent and supportive people.
I am a teacher by profession, and I have used the tools I have learned in RC to be able to listen to my students and their families. Especially in these difficult times, when they have suffered family losses. The families I live with have told me that having someone who can listen to them without judging them or giving them advice is something they appreciate very much. The work we do in this community is to open spaces to be able to listen to each other as human beings, to work on the emotional hurts we carry and that do not allow us to think in a flexible way about how to solve the problems in our lives. Thanks to the RC tools in this pandemic, I have been able to support other people not to lose their jobs. I was able to think about how to share the knowledge I have about how to work through the fears, hopelessness and other emotions that have come up in this pandemic. I was able to listen to these people and think together about how we could support each other, these were people who are not part of the RC community. I can say that at least 200 families have benefited directly from these tools that I shared with them. I know that the effect of this is greater and just what we want to share is to be able to solve the challenges that we have as humanity at this time.
—Dulce Cisneros, Mexico
I live in South Africa. I learned to use the tools of RC in London in the late 1980s. I’ve attended RC events in eastern and western Europe, Eswatini and Nigeria in Africa and Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
Although our languages and cultures are different, the people I know around the world who use RC seem to derive a similar individual benefit as I do: the ability to move our lives (and those of our family, friends, colleagues etc) forward in a range of ways. These include taking on challenges like going back to school to further our education, reconnecting with and deepening relationships with families, “giving up” the victim position and accepting responsibility for privilege, getting elected to positions of influence and much more.
However, while life changes for the better for the individual in RC, what the most profound result is, is that it enables people to understand big picture issues and become active in movements for social change such as Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter and the Ending Gender-Based Violence project.
People become allies to themselves around issues which affect them directly while at the same time learning to be allies to people in targeted roles such as PGMI people, the LGBTQIS community, the disabled, men, the people of the Middle East and across class lines.
How do we do this? We take time to build peer relationships with ordinary people who are different from ourselves. We simply take turns to listen and be listened while applying some basic principles – active listening, assured confidentiality, not giving advice, and showing caring and respect.
—Roslyn Cassidy, South Africa
Just recently here in New Zealand we have had an outpouring of racism on social media. This has been painful for many communities. It has been confusing and I don’t think I could have even looked at it, never mind actually taken action, without the perspective of Re-evaluation Counseling.
I have always believed people are mostly good, but when they show so much hate and anger I can feel a bit unsure that this is true. I am really grateful that I have my connections in RC, and a shared understanding of how people carry their past struggles into the present. It helps me take action to understand but not condone some of the negative responses, and the conversation I have really do help people rethink old attitudes.
Knowing I have people I can trust to turn to when it all feels a bit hard is also crucial for me. Thanks for all you, and the community, does.
–Jacinta O’Reilly, Christchurch, New Zealand
I’ve been in a co-counselor for 25 years now, through my younger adult life, and now into middle age. I’m a fourth generation Japanese American. My mother was born in incarceration in the World War II relocation (concentration) camps here in the US alongside our whole Japanese American community. After World War II, our communities had been torn apart and we were scattered across the US. My family was assimilated more than it ever had been into US, mainstream white culture. Many beautiful parts of our heritage were hidden and never talked about. We only spoke English. We were taught not to be together with other Japanese Americans, to stand out as little as possible and to keep our heads down. The idea of speaking up (and being noticed) was terrifying!
One of the most precious things that co-counseling has offered me is a pathway back to my community. In Re-evaluation Counseling I found an intergenerational group of Japanese Americans who were also working to heal from the oppression and the legacy of trauma that our people had experienced. I have had the chance to cry and mourn, to laugh, and to shake through the old terror in the company of others who I had previously been separated from. In time, I was able to attend memorial pilgrimages to relocation camp sites as well as other events of the larger Japanese American community and to really reclaim my people with pride.
In my middle age, I’ve been able to work in the Asian community doing advocacy work around language access, immigrant rights, neighborhood displacement, economic justice and more. Doing this work within Asian communities has been one of the greatest joys and most healing experiences of my life and it is possible because of my long journey and learning with the Re-evaluation Counseling community. The wealth of knowledge around liberation and oppression that the co-counseling community has to offer on a huge range of places where people get hurt in our current oppressive society has been invaluable. Co-counseling has helped me to stand up for myself as female, a person of Asian descent in the US, someone with mixed class and religious backgrounds, as someone who works with children and young people, as an activist and world-changer, and so much more. I wish such opportunities for everyone in my life who needs a place to heal from the generations of oppression we and our ancestors have faced.
–Alix Mariko Webb, Philadelphia, PA, United States
Miles away from Seattle, USA, here in India, RC is being practiced for more than 40-45 years. I have been associated with RC for a little over 30 years and very actively using RC theory and practice. Have hundreds of people using it and happy with themselves and RC.
RC is a very complete theory so I see more and more people from all walks of life coming to learn and practice it. We have Students, Housewives, Professors, Teachers, Engineers, Doctors, Counselors, Academicians, Psychologists, and more coming to learn and use this.
This Practice based theory talks about everything a human wants to know about what is real and true and what is false and hurtful in this world thus bridging the gap between them.
People use this awarely because of its clear theory and specific practice principles, to get out of the confusions that hinder our full functioning as humans. In India we have people of all age groups using this awarely from age 14 to age 89.
If it was a baseless practised theory it would not be used so widely and so awarely for so many years.
As RCers we stand strong with each other since that is the Humanhood it has created. We would love to teach this to anybody who is wanting to learn it and use it. It is a theory which has unfolded the natural healing process of humans.
I am surely very proud to be associated with this Theory.
—Niti Dandekar, India
I am a white English/Welsh older woman living in the UK. I heard about RC when I was in my 40s and had a young daughter. I went to a Fundamentals class and learned the RC practice of listening and being listened to without judgement or criticism but with warmth and kind attention. I learned our theory about human inherent goodness, connection and capabilities and the hurts we experience as infants that leave us feeling small and alone. I learned we can heal the hurts by telling our story and showing our feelings with another caring human being who is listening to us and who we can listen to in our turn.
As a result of using RC I have grown in confidence in many areas of my life and taken on leadership roles in my family and community. My mind is no longer crowded with self-doubt and I can see the goodness in others as well as their struggles. I used the theory and practice of RC in my work as a child-care social worker and was effective in supporting parents and their children. I used RC when my mother became ill with dementia and was able to care for her and help her to live a fulfilling life despite the progress of this disease. I used RC as a parent and learned to listen well to my daughter and help her recognise her qualities and strengths. I currently use RC in my environmental work and activism forging connections and contacts across many groups to develop projects that restore the natural environment and campaign for our government and businesses to take action on the climate emergency. The perspectives and practice of RC, which we now share in SAL with environmental groups, have been invaluable. I would thoroughly recommend to anyone of any age and background to learn and practice RC, develop their flexible thinking and fully engage with their family, friends, communities and the wider world.
—Jill Coleman, England
Years ago I was a student on an ordinary counselling course. The tutors were an eclectic bunch and one of them was skilled in RC. I ended up in his group. I was in a bad way at the time, major conflict in my workplace meant I was constantly anxious and stressed and was sleeping very badly. My tutor had explained about the theory of emotional release or ‘discharge’ and sometimes demonstrated it by counselling one of us in the group. One week it was my turn. I have no recollection of what he said to me but I started crying and crying. I had been raised not to show my feelings and never cried normally, but once I started I couldn’t stop. The group ended and I went home. My partner took one look at me and asked ‘are you all right?’ I said no, and the crying started up again. I cried nonstop for about 2 hours. My partner listened to me for a bit then gave up and went and watched TV while I carried on crying. I felt I had gone into a deep pit of despair and would never come out. Eventually exhausted I went to bed and when I woke in the morning I almost felt I could start crying again but decided to ‘pull myself together’, which I was quite surprised to find myself able to do. I went off to work – and something had changed dramatically. All the stress and anxiety had left me. The tensions and conflict at work simply no longer bothered me. It was an enormous change – literally from one day to the next. I realised it was the crying which had done this, and that there was something important and potentially life-saving in this ‘discharge’ process so I asked my tutor to put me in touch with a local RC class. I have been a co-counsellor ever since and I credit RC with saving my life.
—Julia Cameron, London, England
I started in RC when I was 23 years-old and it has made a profound difference in my life. I have been teaching other people the tools of RC since then.
As a white, upper-middle class Jewish male, I can say that I have made many unaware mistakes whether based in sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, or other patterns of oppression. Fortunately for me, I have had friends and colleagues who have pointed out my mistakes to me, provided me with opportunities to learn, and then ultimately, I have made corrections in my behavior. My greatest learning along these lines has come as a participant within Re-evaluation Counseling. In RC, I have had tremendous learning about systemic oppression, how I came to possess patterns of oppressive behavior, and how to unlearn those oppressive behaviors. I am glad to be an activist against systemic and interpersonal oppression and recognize that I, and we, have much more work yet to do to make the world that we all want.
Many participants in RC are actively involved in social justice work. I have been as well, and I was also an executive at two large corporations, GE and IBM, for over 25 years. People who participate in RC come from all walks in life and can find it useful whatever endeavors they choose to pursue. As a result of my use of RC tools and practices, I was more effective in my work, got closer to my family, and become a trusted and respected community leader.
—Mike Markovits, USA
Comencé a practicar RC en el año 1996, a la edad de 21 años, y desde entonces he estado muy comprometido en su desarrollo. Desde mi adolescencia he trabajado en organizaciones dedicadas a la justicia social, el apoyo a colectivos discriminados, y al fomento del liderazgo de la gente joven. Desde hace más de 10 años me dedico profesionalmente a dirigir actividades cuyo objetivo es transformar la masculinidad tradicional para así terminar con el sexismo y el patriarcado.
La llegada de RC a mi vida aportó a mi labor social una mayor eficacia, solidez y claridad. Esto es así debido a las siguientes características que yo encuentro en RC, y que son parte de su esencia:
la consistencia y coherencia de sus fundamentos teóricos; el amplio y profundo conocimiento que tiene sobre la psicología del ser humano; el trabajo no lucrativo, voluntario y entusiasta realizado por quienes integran RC; el respeto a cada persona, participe o no en RC; el apoyo mutuo y la cooperación; los enormes recursos destinados a superar la confusión, el enfrentamiento y la separación generados por las distintas opresiones e injusticias sociales.
Mi experiencia en RC me aporta un pensamiento más claro, y un mayor equilibrio emocional. Esto me ha permitido mantener el ánimo ante las adversidades y el sufrimiento que estas sociedades nos generan a todas las personas, por causa de la violencia y la inseguridad intrínsecas a ellas. Precisamente, las propuestas de RC tratan de cambiar esto.
I started practicing RC in 1996, at the age of 21, and since then I have been very committed to its development. Since I was a teenager, I have worked in organizations dedicated to social justice, support for discriminated groups, and the promotion of young people’s leadership. For more than 10 years I have been professionally involved in leading activities aimed at transforming traditional masculinity in order to end sexism and patriarchy.
The arrival of RC in my life has made my social work more effective, solid and clear. This is due to the following characteristics that I find in RC, which are part of its essence:
the consistency and coherence of its theoretical foundations; the broad and deep knowledge it has about the psychology of the human being; the non-profit, voluntary and enthusiastic work done by those who integrate it; the respect for each person, whether participating in RC or not; the mutual support and cooperation; the enormous resources aimed at overcoming the confusion, confrontation and separation generated by the different social oppressions and injustices.
My experience in RC has given me clearer thinking and greater emotional balance. This has allowed me to keep my spirits up in the face of the adversities and suffering that these societies generate for all of us, due to the violence and insecurity intrinsic to them. Precisely, RC proposals try to change this.
—Juan Manuel Triku, Madrid, España / Spain
Hope and perspective for all
Using the RC tools for many years I’ve always found myself able to renew my perspective at so many issues. I always found an upward direction towards self confidence, leadership and hope; understanding myself more clearly as well as being more and more able to think more clear about and support various groups of people in their fight for liberation as well as understanding and interrupting the oppressive mechanism that play a role in society.
These enrich my leadership and life at all levels: in my relationships, with family and friends, gardening and definitely in making my art.
In RC I’ve found an organization that combines personal growth with down-to-earth love, dedication, and effective commitment towards ending all kinds of unfair treatment of oppressed groups without exception. Those are my goals; this is my group of people. I’m very grateful for all wonderful support I’ve got throughout the time from so many people that thought and fought with me.
—M. P., the Netherlands
A friend of mine introduced me to RC when I was 25 years old. I was a white female and I my father had just died. I was supporting my mother who was devastated and did not dare to sleep alone in the first year of his dead. I also just started to work in my first ‘real’ job, but I had not yet finished University, still struggling to finish writing my thesis. It was a huge treat that my friend recognized that I faced difficulties and confusing emotions that slowed me down: so she offered to listen to me and help me discharge (release emotions). It was the best experience I could have hoped for, it was such a relief to find a place were I could show my fears, cry and be angry. I was happy to start in a fundamentals class soon after the first few sessions. This helped me to understand and handle emotions of myself and others: I gained focus, I dared taking leadership, I stayed close to my mother and to my younger brother and sister, I wrote my thesis, I got graduated, and grew as a professional in several jobs. I had truly good relations with my colleges at work. The insights that came through RC helped me building caring and strong connections everywhere. Which I think is one of the most important gifts one can have in life. I am pleased to be able to live a sincere and meaningful live and fight for social justice in many ways. Also I enjoy being a grandmother together with my partner, their grandfather. We have some struggles, sure, who does not? Using RC is helping me to face them and always helps me to strengthen my resilience, stand solid and cherish what we have build.
—BT, The Netherlands
In the 1970s and 1980s I was active in the feminist movement. My motto and that of many other activists was that personal is politics. In those years I first heard from Re-evaluation Counseling (RC). Nothing for me I thought at that time, there they are only dealing with the personal. My main focus was on the outside. To make changes, you have to be on the barricades. That, in my opinion, was the only way to get changes, liberation and equality between women and men.
After working in various organizations, I started a new job in the 1990s. I had gained a lot of work experience and had many colleagues and managers before.
In this job, I immediately noticed that there was something special. There was something I didn’t experienced in other jobs. The person who led the organization, did this in a special way; a way I had not experienced before. She was friendly and open, but this wasn’t just the only special thing. I noticed that I liked working with her, that she could listen with full attention to me and my colleagues and that she regularly appreciated me in my work and always encouraged me to get the best out of myself. She believed in me and in my qualities and that’s how she also did this with the other colleagues. This gave us all a sense of connection with each other and motivation to get the best out of ourselves and to go together for our vision. She did this in a very natural way. I didn’t experience this before in that way in my other jobs.
At one point I was invited by her to come to a RC meeting. I became curious and I wanted to know in which kind of group you can learn to be kind, listening to others, appreciating others? Was that something I also could learn? I wanted that too….
It’s been almost 25 years since I’ve been introduced in the RC community. A global organization where I have met many people over the years. People who I love and I have built deep relationships with them. As a group we know that every person is important: woman, man, black, white, young, old, etc. Everyone is welcome and can be themselves. A group of people I can share my life story with, including all the beautiful, sad and painful sides. A group of people who always be with me and who will encourage me to release about the pain and sadness I feel and that in the presence I can focus on my own strength and my own mind.
Being a part of this is important for me in my life to keep going for my own and for our liberation knowing that I’m doing this with all those people I love and I’m connect with. We can reach out for each other.
I’m proud to be part of this community! In RC I finally learned that activism starts first with myself and then I reach out to others …
—MM, The Netherlands
My story started in a poor immigrant family where everyone was struggling to survive. My siblings and I are mixed heritage with African and Portuguese roots. I grew up with perseverance and a heart for the world, but without the closeness I needed to flourish.
I joined an RC class in Boston over 40 years ago during a time of big change in my life. I thought I would learn some counseling skills I could use to help others. Little did I know what it would do for me. My life has been profoundly impacted by RC theory and practice. My growth and healing from past hurts has been nothing short of life-changing.
In RC I have learned so much about the effects of oppression: sexism, racism, gay oppression and the ways it separated me from my people…I found my voice and became capable of fighting for myself. I was able to build community unlike anything I ever experienced or imagined. I have many cherished relationships, including with co-counselors around the world. I learned how to be an effective leader, which helped in all aspects of my life, especially in my professions as a public school teacher and social worker.
Using the process made it possible for me to make the decision to become a lesbian mother. I raised an incredible young man, who also uses RC in his life, as a teacher and activist. In the past fifteen years I have been through the deaths of my mother, two brothers and a sister and the support of the RC community has made all the difference.
I teach an RC class for people of color where I support and back them to counter the effects of racism, sexism and other oppressions and to have the life they want. I am proud of the work I have done and proud to be a member of this organization.
—LA, Boston, Massachusetts USA
I am a Puerto Rican Jewish writer and social justice activist. I’ve written eight books and hundreds of articles and poems, most of them about understanding the roots of injustice, and imagining and creating a world free of harm. I write about hope and possibility. I joined RC in 1984 and RC theory and practice, the international network of people who share them and the many important relationships I’ve built, have profoundly enriched my life and made me much more effective than I otherwise would have been.
The idea that our reactions can be rooted in past hurts and not useful in the present isn’t unique to RC, but having a large community of people who share an accessible, liberation oriented peer practice to heal those hurts and learn to respond out of our full humanity instead, has been life changing for me.
With my counselors, I’ve been able to map how early hurts in my life drive what pushes my buttons, makes some relationships hard, and gets in the way of fulfilling my biggest dreams. I can access deep, thoughtful listening from a huge variety of people, and in the presence of that loving attention, laugh, cry, shake, and rage my way to a more expansive, relaxed and flexible set of responses to life’s challenges.
RC has also been a foundation of my public work as an artist-activist. Over sixty years of counseling each other about all the isms has helped us to develop a highly sophisticated understanding of how the traumas of different injustices show up as individual and shared hurts, and hone our practices to better shift them. They make me a better artist, a more effective liberationist, and give me infinite hope about what we humans can learn to do together.
—Aurora Levins Morales, Writer, Maricao, Puerto Rico
When I was learning RC, I had a co-counseling session with another person in my class. I related my upset about my husband, from whom I was separated, taking our son to another city to live and not allowing me access to him. It had been going on for many months and was the reason I decided to take an RC class. As I told this story and wept in this session, I suddenly got a new idea: “I could get a lawyer.” (I had grown up in a low-income family and never knew anyone who had consulted a lawyer.) The following day, I found a lawyer through a friend, who told me that in that state, mothers always won contested custody cases, unless they were abusive or drug users. I called my husband that night, and told him that I was willing to make a joint custody arrangement, but if he refused, I would take him to court and could win full custody. Within two weeks, he signed a joint custody agreement, and I was with my son. (That son is a successful businessman, lives across the street from me with his family, and also participates in the RC community.) RC posits that discharge of feelings of upset can clarify one’s thinking (“re-evaluation”). This experience made me realize this in a very big way, and I have participated in the organization ever since, while having an interesting and successful life.
—Jane Zones, San Francisco, CA, USA
I found Re-evaluation Counseling completely by chance in 1976. I was 23 at the time and am now almost 69. At that time I was very lost emotionally and plans for my future were very vague. I was using drugs and alcohol, and having meaningless relationships in a futile search for a partner. A roommate was told about co-counseling by her yoga teacher and we went to an introduction. I mostly went because it was free and there wasn’t much to do where I was living.
I met the most supportive and caring group of people there. I immediately thought the theory made sense—that humans are good, that we get hurt, that those hurts confuse us and make us lose perspective and direction, that the inherent processes of releasing our emotions with aware, caring, and non-judgmental attention can help us resolve those hurts. Using the process, little by little I changed. Over these decades I have quit all substance abuse, found meaningful relationships, raised an amazing son, and found a career that I enjoyed putting my time and mind into.
I have taught these processes to many people and have overseen large groups of others doing the same. Not everyone has been able to use our tools, but many, many people have and have greatly moved their lives in positive directions, as I have.
—Randy Karr, Brooklyn, New York, USA
I am an RCer from Taiwan and I am currently studying for a PhD. I learned RC since 12 years ago. I applied the perspectives of RC in my life and it has changed my life. Because of RC, I have more connections with my mother, brother and sister. Because RC, my family and I have a happy life.
When I use RC with my co-counselors, I can see my co-counselors get rid of the difficulties of life, regain the power of life, and we make each other better! We are changing the world quietly.
Because RC, I know how to listen better, and helps my work better. I heard about the difficulties encountered by people of different classes and different cultural backgrounds in the society. We work together to try to build a better organization system that reduces exploitation and can support each other. I know that all RCers around the world are also committed to liberating all oppression and exploitation. I feel that being able to use RC with all RCers around the world to change the world is one of the best things in my life.
—Tsui-Ling Wang, Pingtung, Taiwan
I am a white raised poor woman with Irish and Scottish heritage I left school at 16 with no expectations from my family or myself to go on to further education, because that is not what working class girls did, you went out to work until you got married and had children. I was also dyslexic but it was not diagnosed so I left school feeling that education was not for me.
So imagine some 30 years later the organisation I worked for had funding to support a staff member to go to university to complete a degree. Yep, they wanted me to go! So, what happened? I started to get worried: “I cannot do this; I am not academic enough”, “I am stupid”, all messages I had internalised growing up.
The difference this time round was I had RC. I understood that these were the messages from old hurts and I knew by using the process it might be possible to work my way through. I had sessions with my many counsellors who understood the difficulties I was facing. There were tears, anger, frustration, self-doubt–but I kept discharging the feelings every time they got in the way of me thinking I could do it.
So, July 2015 I received my First Class Degree in Informal Education (Youth Work and Community Learning and Development).
RC has helped me to understand the oppression that I have internalised and the oppression other groups are facing. It has helped me to develop my tool kit and understand the power of really listening to people, creating safety to release our feelings, and how to be an ally to the young people I work with.
–Margaret Brough, England