Revelations on the internet are inducing numbers of co-counselors to leave the International Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) Community. The internet is also making them aware of the existence of CCI. What follows is one "refugee's" experience at Cathy and Dency Sargent's recent weekend fundamentals class at Mary's Field Retreat Center in Hebron.
"The coffee pot is ready. First person down in the morning turn it on." Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas any more. Or Seattle!
After seven years in RC, I was taking a CCI fundamentals class. I had ridden the train from Philadelphia to Hartford for the first of two long weekends.
Initially I was wary of committing to another co-counseling community. I had left RC quietly, determined not to undermine my beloved teacher. Therefore, I hadn't had an opportunity to client about the IRCC's problems. Here, at last, in a session with an experienced CCI leader, I finally discharged some of my disillusionment.
But I still held back. What kind of folks were these people, *really*? Was it possible to know? Finally, Saturday night, while playing Woods and Water, I had a breakthrough. As I lovingly rubbed feet and cradled heads, I thought, "Yes. These could be my people."
Both weekends were carefully planned. Content and timing were crafted into a seamless structure of small, easy steps and exercises. The reason for every step was clearly explained, and all questions were respectfully answered. There were multitudes of handouts with detailed definitions, explanations, and suggestions.
The first weekend was devoted to clienting skills--what feelings are, how to identify them, how to "act into" them. Listeners were told to give caring, aware attention--and say nothing. This was a challenge for me as I passed up one good opening after another. I'll admit that once, after the timer went off, I did venture a sentence--which my client immediately claimed. I knew it was a perfect direction and was secretly pleased that I hadn't lost my touch.
There were occasional ten-minute demonstrations, but typically we worked with each other. This was useful. Not only did we develop appreciation for and connections with each other; we avoided developing a hub-and-spokes dependency on the teachers.
The second weekend we concentrated on counseling skills. I had learned how to counsel from RC's instruction to "identify the distress and think of all possible contradictions" and from watching dozens of demonstrations. But here each technique was spelled out, specific wordings were given, reasons were explained. With each step we had short opportunities to practice the techniques with each other. People developed confidence in their counseling skills as we went along.
A bonus from the didactic approach is that when I have an organized framework of techniques in the back of my mind, *I can use them on myself, too.* The client really is in charge...and responsible. One has no illusion that one's counselor is going to surprise one with a "magic bullet" contradiction that will fix everything. So again, dependency is avoided.
There is a respectful gentleness about CCI's approach. Any major breakthroughs must come at the client's initiative. I have heard it said that chronics will not yield to permissive counseling, and observation tends to bear that out. But I'm not convinced that they yield to bold counseling either! When I've seen somebody *really* change their life, it has seemed to be as the result of some mysterious inner inspiration, some larger hopefulness.
In our class of eleven people, the participants knew where they were stuck, and worked hard at real issues. For one man it was a major victory just to stay for the entire weekend; it was a delight for the rest of us to have him there. I spent my own ten minutes of group time shaking off a ton of terror and attempting to breathe in an affirmation. Later a useful re-evaluation popped into my mind.
It was a stretch to come so far, to an unknown city, to trust that I would be okay. Of course I was. Each weekend someone met me at the station Friday afternoon and delivered me back there Monday morning after a good night's rest.
Even if I hadn't had a compelling reason to leave RC, this class would have been an enriching experience. What I appreciated most was its repeated emphasis on new and goods and validation. How I resonate with that! It's a relief to be in a group culture that not only permits, but actually encourages and models joyfulness.
I've been thinking, "*I* could teach *this* way. It doesn't depend on being a star performer, only on being clear, organized, and loving. That I could do."
I'm glad I went.
p.s. Mary's Field Retreat Center really does have a gorgeous heated swimming pool. The last Saturday night big white flakes of that twelve-inch snow came floating down outside the windows as I swam lazily back and forth. A real hardship post!
Wed, 11 Dec 1996
Last weekend I attended Part II of the CCI Fundamentals class taught by Cathy and Dency Sargent. The first weekend we concentrated on clienting skills. This time we concentrated on counseling skills. Again there were multitudes of handouts with detailed definitions, explanations, and suggestions.
I had learned how to counsel from RC's "identify the distress and think of all possible contradictions" and from watching dozens of demonstrations. But here each technique was spelled out, specific wordings were given, reasons were explained. Then we had short opportunities to practice the techniques with each other. As a result, I saw counseling skills quickly come up to speed.
A bonus from the didactic approach is that when I have an organized framework of techniques in the back of my mind, *I can use them on myself, too.* CCI makes a big point that the client really is in charge...and responsible. One has no illusion that one's counselor is going to surprise one with a "magic bullet" contradiction that will fix everything. So again, dependency is avoided.
In CCI the client begins the session by setting the contract: stating, "I want your aware, caring attention." You then add whether or not you want the counselor to say anything, what kind of touch and facial affect you want, and how vigorously you want your chronics challenged. There is a respectful gentleness about it. Any major breakthroughs must come at the client's initiative.
In our class of eleven people, I saw most of the participants take that initiative; people knew where they were stuck, and wanted out. For one man it was a major victory just to stay for the entire weekend. (I spent my ten minutes of group time shaking off a ton of terror and attempting to breathe in an affirmation. Since I've been home, a very useful re-evaluation has popped into my mind.)
During the weekend I had an opportunity to find out a little more about the various CCI communities. I scanned their newsletters and noted their similarities and differences. I gather there's a lot of variation, and considerable free discussion and dissent. I'll be interested to see how it all comes together at a workshop.
It was a jam-packed weekend. We could easily have continued learning for another day or two. There wasn't much time for singing, which I missed, but lots and lots of joyful validations.
I came to appreciate each person's unique goodness, and hope they'll continue to be in my life.
I'm glad I went. I think that even if I hadn't had a compelling reason to leave RC, this class would have been an enriching experience.jhealdvoicenet [dot] com (Jane Heald) 30 Dec 1996