RC is one of many counseling options available.
For individuals dealing with trauma, abuse, oppression and other struggles, or simply the stress of daily life, there are a wide variety of approaches to healing available. Traditional counseling by licensed practitioners, twelve-step programs, and support groups are some of the more common offerings. There is no such thing as “one size fits all” in the counseling arena. Re-evaluation Counseling is one option for people to access the help they need.
The Re-evaluation Counseling community is an international, grassroots, peer support network of volunteers that exists to help improve the lives of ordinary people. The heart of Re-evaluation Counseling is the voluntary exchange of active listening between willing participants. This peer counseling is a private activity that, at its best, approximates deep conversations between close friends in pursuit of a better life and happiness.
Responding to falsehoods that RC is “cult like,” Joan Karp, local leader and Senior Researcher at PERG Learning, said, “Nothing could be further from the truth. RC does not ask for unquestioning adherence nor demand any financial commitment other than a fee for classes and workshops—often on a sliding scale to insure affordability. Rather than separating people from their families and friends, we encourage and support each other to build and maintain good relationships in every area of our lives.”
RC’s core ideas are:
- Painful experiences and unresolved trauma from our past can interfere with having fulfilling lives in the present;
- Societal oppressions like racism, sexism, and others are the ultimate source of many of these traumas;
- It’s possible to create the conditions for people to resolve the effects of these hurts by telling their stories without suppressing emotional release.
These ideas are not unique to RC. The general concept of organized peer support has been part of the work of numerous organizations, including twelve-step programs, restorative justice, trauma-informed classroom teaching, and support groups offered in a variety of settings such as places of worship, workplaces, and health care facilities. In the organized RC community, co-counselors exchange active listening as peers, based on a hopeful perspective that sees good in every human being and envisions what individuals could become in the absence of oppression.
In RC, we work both to heal the effects of oppression, such as racism, and to end it among individuals, institutions, and society. In this light we support students’ rights to fight against the oppressions they experience in the school system and throughout society. They are legitimately expressing their concerns and have a right to have them addressed.
Over time, the RC community organization has developed an evolving set of agreements that govern how participants relate to each other as co-counselors. These community “guidelines” are readily accessible on our website along with many of our publications, the bulk of which have been written by volunteers who have wanted to share their experiences.
Over the 50-plus years that the Re-evaluation Counseling community has existed, many people involved in social justice movements have been attracted to RC’s work because of its progressive, humanist, self-help philosophy, and the fact that it is accessible to anyone through low-cost or no-cost programs. As a primarily volunteer organization, the RC community does not try to “sell” these ideas and has no marketing budget or department. Their substantial spread, noted below, has been through word of mouth: when participants have a successful experience, they tell their family, friends, and co-workers.
Social justice leaders sometimes face periods of burnout and discouragement.
“RC has given activists a place to look at their experiences and regain their hope and confidence,” according to Dr. Barbara Love, a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a teacher and trainer who has focused on eliminating racism and building leadership among people of African heritage. “We have also applied the theory and practice of RC to the movements we have already been a part of—addressing racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, the destruction of Native peoples, and other forms of societal oppression. Our key practice—the equal exchange of active listening time between peers—has played a useful role in many academic institutions, government agencies, youth and adult education programs, and corporations.”
There are tens of thousands of people in more than 90 countries around the world, from virtually every race, religion, and socio-economic background, who have benefited from their exposure to—and ability to use—what RC can offer.
For more information please visit our website: www.listeningwell.info