Re-evaluation Counseling

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Re-evaluation Counseling or RC is an organization directed by Re-evaluation Counseling Community Resources, Inc., that practices "co-counseling", a peer-based counseling procedure centered on helping people and of bringing about social reform. It was founded in the United States by Harvey Jackins in the 1950s and was led by him until his death in 1999. It is now led by his son Tim Jackins. RC teaches co-counseling and holds workshops throughout the world. It is based in Seattle, Washington, USA.


Jackins is said to have developed Re-evaluation Counseling after observing a troubled friend change through being patiently listened to while he cried.[1][2] Curious about the effect of this crying, he worked with others to develop a method of peer counseling based on the recollection of psychological traumas (or "hurts") accompanied by various types of emotional catharsis (or "discharge"). He came to believe that discharge led to clear thinking (or "re-evaluation"). He held that repeated discharge through co-counseling, in which two people counsel one another in turn, could remove the accumulated effects of past hurts and bring about re-evaluation, a process called "re-emergence". The objective of RC became the dissemination of this method of creating rational thinking. Re-evaluation Counseling later put more emphasis on the removal of "oppression", which it considers to lie at the root of many of the world's problems.

Jackins systematized re-evaluation counseling during the 1950s and 1960s. From the late 1960s, Jackins spread RC beyond Seattle by means of workshops, and in the mid-1970s traveled outside the US, teaching in the UK, Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. RC is now practiced in most countries.

After Jackins' death in 1999, his son, Tim Jackins, was chosen at a conference, attended by leaders in the RC communities world-wide, to take over the role of International Liberation Reference Person, the title given to the leader(s) of RC.


Re-evaluation Counseling describes itself as "a process for freeing humans and society as a whole from distress patterns so that we may resume fully-intelligent functioning."[3] Counseling is practiced in pairs ("co-counseling"), in which the participants listen to one another in turn and help one other to "discharge". No money is exchanged by the co-counselors but they pay a nominal fee to the Re-evaluation Counseling organization when attending classes or a means-based fee when attending workshops.[3]

RC believes that everyone is born completely good or innocent, and that all human hurts are acquired. Inappropriate or hurtful behavior is caused by the unconscious "restimulation" of past hurts that have not been properly discharged. If discharge can be completed, the behavior will not be repeated. RC believes that, as a result of these past hurts, the average person "is operating on about ten percent of his or her original resources of intelligence, ability to enjoy life and ability to enjoy other people."[3]

The RC counsellor aims to remember the fundamental goodness of the client. Client and counselor are expected to work co-operatively. The counselor is expected to listen in a non-judgmental way but also to "contradict" errors and other conditions associated with distress so as to facilitate discharge. The counselor also intervenes to "interrupt" the client's patterns. Each co-counselor has to be emotionally healthy and well-versed in co-counseling in order to work effectively together.

RC does not describe itself as psychotherapy and does not ally itself with any other self-help, counseling, or psychotherapy practice. RC opposes the use of psychiatric drugs and says that "mental illness does not exist."[4] though it acknowledges that physical cerebral differences cause behaviors that are not the result of learned "hurts". John Heron compared RC with and distinguished it from primal therapy, Wilhelm Reich and Freud's early psychoanalysis when he made use of abreaction. The editor of the Brunner-Routledge series of books on "Advancing Theory in Therapy" says that while Re-evalulation Counseling is not generally regarded as a psychotherapy, "it has made and continues to make an important contribution to our understanding of human beings and human situations."[1]

RC considers that co-counseling does not imply psychopathology on the part of co-counselors or the need for professional treatment, and that there is a need for lay counselors because of the shortage of professionals. RC says that, for the average person, co-counseling can heal emotional hurts, increase rational thought and increase one's capacity for a joyful and positive life. It has been said that, unlike professional organizations, RC lacks standards for assessing the competence of counselors or any process for handling grievances.[5] However, teachers must apply to the central organization in Seattle and be accepted as competent before they are allowed to lead groups.

RC's has ambitious social and environmental objectives, including, "The transformation of society to a rational, peaceful, non-exploitative, classless form world-wide. The preservation of all existing species of life and the re-creation of extinguished species. The preservation of wilderness areas and the creation of a completely benign environment over most of the earth, the oceans, and the atmosphere. The exploration of, and eventually becoming at home in, space."[4]


The organization's official title is "The International Re-evaluation Counseling Communities". It is owned by Re-evaluation Counseling Community Resources, Inc., with headquarters in Seattle. Its President is Tim Jackins and its Vice President is Sarah Elizabeth Jackins.[6] The corporation owns copyright in the terms "Re-evaluation Counseling", "RC" and "United to End Racism".[7] It also controls the Re-evaluation Foundation, a non-profit 501(c) organization, and Rational Island Publishers.[8]

Within RC, Tim Jackins is called the "International Reference Person". He is a former mathematics teacher from Palo Alto, California, and a graduate of Yale and Stanford. He has been a co-counselor, leader and teacher of RC for most of his life. The International Reference Person appoints senior leaders, who appoint local leaders ("reference persons") in consultation with local groups. Reference persons decide who can attend events, teach RC, lead groups, and, to some extent, who may counsel together. They are not paid.[4] RC considers that this form of centralized leadership is essential for uniformity and quality of practice.

RC runs classes in co-counseling and local groups are set up by people experienced in the ideas and methods of RC who have been approved by the leaders. New members are invited to join "fundamentals" classes by existing members. They are expected to be well-functioning and emotionally healthy so that they can be effective counselors as well as being able to benefit from counseling. Fees are fixed at a low hourly rate per person, and there are scholarships for people on low incomes. Twenty-five per cent of fees are sent to the central body in Seattle.[4] Participants are asked not to use caffeine or alcohol and must abstain from mind-altering drugs so as to be attentive and to have access to their feelings. People who counsel together are prohibited from socializing with one another. It has been said that, in discussing clients' "distress patterns" in classes and workshops, RC violates the standard of confidentiality that is normally expected in counseling.[5]

Classes and local communities are organized into regions and loose, country-wide affiliations, although RC does not organize on national lines.

RC is committed to spreading RC practices and insights "as widely as possible in the general population". RC does not seek publicity[9] and states that it keeps a "low profile". Local publicity has to be approved by the regional leader and national and international publicity by the leader of RC.[4] RC does not list local contact information on its website.[8]

RC does not publish membership figures or comment on estimates. On one occasion, Jackins claimed that more than a million had attended RC "Fundamentals" classes.[10] The April 2007 edition of the RC publication Present Time listed 243 RC groups (each with about 45 members) and 428 teachers in groups of about 10 people, making an active membership of about 15,000.

Re-evaluation counseling encourages its members to play an active role in public life[11] and has set up groups to promote its ideas, which it calls "naturalized" groups.[8] The main groups promoting RC methods are United to End Racism" (UER), formed in 2000, and the National Coalition Building Institute, formed in 1984.[12] UER is part of RC and shares its HQ in Seattle.[8] It participated in the 2001 Durban World Conference against Racism, the 2006 Caracas World Social Forum and the 2006 Vancouver World Peace Forum.[8] The National Coalition Building Institute is formally independent of RC but is linked through its Founder-Executive Director, Cherie R. Brown,[13] who is a member of RC[14][15] and active in UER.[16]

The Re-evaluation Foundation aims "To provide opportunities for people to participate in Re-evaluation counseling who otherwise could not afford to participate."[17] Founded in 1972, it supports projects based on the theory and practice of Re-evaluation Counseling that apply "bold, thoughtful action to freeing human beings from the distresses associated with past hurtful, unjust experiences."[8] Its president is Michael Markovits,[18] a former vice-president of IBM.[19] Its assets at the end of 2006 were $1,063,634.[20] "The Foundation considers grant requests only from members of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities who are seeking financial assistance that will further the dissemination of the theory and practice of RC."[21] In 2007, the foundation made grants totaling about $240,000 to several organizations controlled by Re-evaluation Counseling, including "People-of-Color Leadership Development, Global Initiatives, Young People Leadership Development/Family Counseling Work, Elimination of Racism, and Mental Health."[8]


RC has been criticized for encouraging emotional display and discouraging analysis of its ideas or research into its effectiveness. Although its advocates refer to the theory of Re-evaluation Counseling, it has been said that RC derives from Harvey Jackins' counseling experience and that "there has been no independent attempt to verify or otherwise the key constructs of RC theory."[22] There have been occasional papers about RC in scholarly journals. (See Further reading)

RC tends not to co-operate with attempts at independent investigation[23] and is sensitive to criticism, either external or internal, which it often regards as an attack on the organization. Jackins believed that much criticism was inspired by the US government, who feared RC's "profoundly progressive nature and its effectiveness".[24] RC instructs members "to quickly interrupt both attacks and gossip."[4] It says that such attacks are "dramatizations of distress and are not acceptable behaviors within the RC Community. An attack is not an effective way to resolve disagreements or difficulties." "People who participate in an attack must first stop the attack and apologize for having participated in it. Only after they have done this should counseling resource be offered to them."[4] Critics who persist "should be made to leave the group and their attacks ignored."[8]

RC's system of unelected leadership and strict central control have been criticized by ex-members. John Heron, who was an RC leader and teacher, left the organization in 1974 to set up his own co-counseling organization, Co-Counselling International. He said he did so because he realized that RC "systematically conditioned its members to associate a certain kind of beneficial human development with centralized authoritarian control of theory and community policy. It was clear to me that this was pseudo-liberation." He considered that the authoritarianism of RC derived partly from the Leninist doctrines of central control that Jackins had learned in the Communist Party of America and partly from the autocratic example of his former associate L. Ron Hubbard.[25] RC has also been criticized for suppression of internal debate.[23] In an article analysing RC's "attack theory" Steve Carr says that "To counter attacks on RC and its leaders, RC members are instructed to interrupt the person, approach the accusation as the personal problem of the accuser, and vigorously come to the defense of the person or people being attacked."[23] Richard Childs describes how he was treated in this way and expelled from RC when he tried to discuss allegations of sexual abuse within the organisation.[26]

Re-evaluation Counseling has been listed as a cult[27] while some say that it is like a cult in some respects. The Study Group on Psychotherapy Cults, an organization of ex-members hostile to RC, described it as "cult-like".[22] Denis Tourish and Pauline Irving in a 1994 article considered the characteristics that RC shared with psycho-therapeutic cults, namely, a charismatic leader, idealization of the leader, followers regarding their belief system as superior to others, followers joining the group at times of stress, the therapist becoming central to the follower's life, the group absorbing increasing time, illusions of superiority to other groups and the group becoming suspicious of other groups. They concluded: "Given its hostility to such pluralistic notions of participation and democracy, RC has the potential to become a fully fledged and harmful cult, despite its original humanistic aims."[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b New, Caroline and Kauffman, Katie, Co-Counseling: The Theory and Practice of Re-Evaluation Counseling, 2004, Brunner-Routledge ISBN 1-58391-210-X
  2. ^ Medicine Story, "To Be Human Again - Camps for Peace and Love", Talking Stick, Winter/Spring 2003
  3. ^ a b c RC website: Re-evaluation Counseling theory
  4. ^ a b c d e f g RC website: guidelines
  5. ^ a b Jerry Maxwell, Is RC Co Counseling Healthy? 2001
  6. ^ Washington Corporations
  7. ^ Trademarkia
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h RC website: United to End Racism
  9. ^ Tom Ferguson, Co-Counseling: Therapy Without Therapists
  10. ^ RC web site - How to Begin RC (PDF file)
  11. ^ Cletus Nelson, Killing the Beast Within
  12. ^ National Coalition Building Institute - About the Institute
  13. ^ National Coalition Building Institute
  14. ^ Cherie Brown, "Applying decisive ideas boldly", Present Time
  15. ^ Excerpt from RC journal Ruah Hadashah
  16. ^ Cherie R. Brown, "Lessons Learned in Durban", Tikkun Magazine, November/December 2001
  17. ^ Washington Secretary of State Charities Program
  18. ^ RC, Foundation Leadership
  19. ^ Zomminfo
  20. ^ Re-Evaluation Foundation in Seattle, Washington (WA)
  21. ^ Re-evaluation Counseling
  22. ^ a b A Documentary History of the Career of Harvey Jackins and Re-evaluation Counseling, Study Group on Psychotherapy Cults, Belgium, 1993
  23. ^ a b c Steve Carr, "Attack Theory: Re-Evaluating RC", Polemicist, Volume 3, No. 5, April 1992
  24. ^ Harvey Jackins, Why Leaders of RC can expect to be attacked and what to do about such attacks
  25. ^ John Heron, History of Co-Counseling
  26. ^ Open letter from Richard Childs
  27. ^ Freedom of Mind Center
  28. ^ Dennis Tourish and Pauline Irving, "Group influence and the psychology of cultism within re-evaluation counseling: A critique of Co-Counseling",Psychology Quarterly, Volume 8, Issue 1, 1995, pp.35–50

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]