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Sex, Lies & Co-Counseling

Article Index
Sex, Lies & Co-Counseling
What is Re-evaluation Counseling?
Why This Article Now
Harvey Jackins Sexual Abuse of Women
Sex in Counseling Situations
Punishment, Denial, Complicity
The Rational Island versus the Wide World
Does RC Philosophy Contribute to Abuse
Credits and Contact Info

by Matthew Lyons

This article was first published in the Activist Men's Journal in August 1993. I have added a few updates and comments in brackets []. - ml 3/96

"I am the best male ally I have ever heard of for women and women's liberation." -- Harvey Jackins

Re-evaluation Counseling is a quiet movement. You probably won't find its publications at your local bookstore or public library. RC doesn't advertise much except by word-of-mouth. Although its members participate in a wide range of progressive organizations and events, they don't usually broadcast their RC connections. For example, Charlie Kreiner, who frequently leads workshops at Men & Masculinity conferences and the like, does not ordinarily mention at these events that he is RC's "International Liberation Reference Person for Men" -- although the techniques he uses are pure RC without the label. This is not modesty, it is policy. RC does not want to attract attention. [Since this was written, Charlie Kreiner has left RC.]

Why the low profile? RCers often say that they want to be able to share with people the principles of RC, a.k.a. "co-counseling," without running into any prejudices outsiders may have about the organization or its specialized terminology. (Teaching RC to people without telling them that's what you're doing is called "naturalizing" RC or "Wygelian" work.) Perhaps a more straightforward reason is fear of political repression: Harvey Jackins, head of the Seattle-based movement, faced blacklisting and government harassment during the McCarthy era for leftist activities, and he knows that such persecution could easily happen again in this country.

Unfortunately, the RC leadership is ducking not only the government, but also principled feminists and other progressives. It is hiding authoritarianism and abuses of power within its ranks. Most of all, it is hiding Harvey Jackins' long history of sexually exploiting female clients.

Some of you may think of RC as a "cult." Please note: this article will *not* use that label. The concept of cult may be useful if applied carefully, but too often it becomes sensationalistic. "Cult" suggests weird, crazy, different from us. Wacko. (Like those nutty Branch Davidians in Texas, who believed in a charismatic leader, stockpiled weapons, and abused children -- things that normal Americans never do.) Calling RC a cult, I fear, may encourage people to treat its problems as marginal. But sexual abuse and authoritarianism -- and the psychological denial that helps maintain them -- are not marginal problems. They are central and intrinsic to our whole society.

Some of you, on the other hand, may be RCers or supporters of Re-evaluation Counseling. I know that the RC leadership would define this article as an "attack on RC," and that Harvey Jackins has instructed RCers to repel all such attacks without considering their merits. Please remember: You have a right to know if Re-evaluation Counseling is putting women in danger. You have a right to an organization which is safe and which does not keep secrets from its members. You do not have to settle for less than that. Please trust your own thinking enough to consider the information I present.