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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

Harvey Jackins' Sexual Abuse of Women

Personal testimonies by survivors show that Harvey Jackins has long been having sex with female clients from RC workshops and Personal Counselors, often during counseling sessions. Often, it seems, he has combined sexual exploitation with other forms of psychological pressure and control. Many women have reported deep, lasting harm as a result of Jackins' sexual and psychological abuse. Rather than face up to the situation and try to make amends, Jackins and his subordinates have barred any discussion within RC of his unethical conduct, and have punished or expelled people who speak out about it.

A few survivors of Jackins' sexual abuse have come forward publicly. Shirley Siegel, an RCer for 19 years, states that Jackins sexually exploited her during counseling sessions, ostensibly to help her "work on sexual problems." He also pressured her not to get medical treatment for a serious intestinal condition eventually diagnosed as Crohn's disease, urging her to counsel more instead. Because of her emotional and physical problems stemming from Jackins' mistreatment, Siegel says, she was unable to care properly for her daughter, who died from a respiratory infection at age four. After leaving RC, Siegel helped found the organization Stop Abuse By Counselors. (4)

In 1990, Deborah Curren filed a lawsuit accusing Jackins of repeatedly abusing her sexually at age 15 when she was his client through Personal Counselors. She dropped the suit when Jackins filed for court costs if he should win. (5) Pat Pearson reported in a 1991 open letter that during a session "when I did not respond to [Jackins'] sexual overtures, he sunk me into regression and with hypnosis raped me." (6)

Referring to a session shortly after the rape, Pearson described how Jackins abused his position of counselor to increase his power over her:

"He had me counsel my anger at him pounding on a mattress for two hours while holding eye contact which was also hypnotic. I started having pains down my arms and across my chest. I was angry but not that angry. I began to hyperventilate. He had counseled me beyond exhaustion. My reserve energy to think clearly about it was interrupted and I felt short circuited. It had damaged me for years to come and left me vulnerable to more of his abuses. The part of me I loved and respected he termed distresses to be counseled on.... I was to blame for everything

 "Jackins' [sic] informed me that the goal was to remove all past 'conditioning.' This means moral, ethical, political, etc. or everything that makes you who you are...." (7)

Many other women have written or spoken about being sexually abused by Jackins, but have chosen to remain anonymous for reasons of safety. One survivor spoke to KIRO-TV (Seattle CBS affiliate) in 1981 about her vulnerability to Jackins: "Coming from a horrible childhood and finally finding someone who would help and who was kind and who would listen and someone to cry with over all of the terrible things that had happened, I just simply suspended my own judgement from that time on and took his word for everything." (8) A woman who was appointed an ARP after Jackins became sexually involved with her has written

"I have spent the past 11 years in R.C. working through my dependency on Harvey. I was suicidal at times. At times I was grateful to him. In the beginning Harvey told me not to work on our relationship with co-counselors. The secrecy of the relationship created tremendous tension in itself. There is something very hurtful about not being able to be open about such an intimate and significant relationship. I was confused about what was happening. Part of the confusion was that by its very nature the relationship couldn't work and it felt it was my fault that it wasn't working." (9)

Another woman was Jackins' client as a teenager. She "trusted and believed he had my best interest at heart," until they began having sex weekly. After that, "I started resisting going to sessions and things got worse at home. I didn't feel right and now I had no one to talk to. One day after a session I came home and tore my bedroom up, breaking all I could. I started to take a lot of drugs, mostly LSD, so I could escape from my reality. Finally I caused enough fuss so I didn't have to go back and see him. The bottom line is I've never been able to trust anyone I've slept with since. I am still that lonely lost little girl looking for love. Whose fault was this - years and years later I finally know it was not mine. I am not the one who needs to be held accountable. It was my counselor, Harvey Jackins." (10)

There are many more such testimonies. Shirley Siegel says that Jackins "had sex with literally hundreds of female clients over a period of thirty years." (11) [As recently as March 1993, Jackins reportedly harassed a female client sexually at a workshop in New York state, according to a source who entered the room at the close of the incident.]