Basic Re­evaluation Counseling Theory

People come into the world inherently good, intelligent, thoughtful, cooperative, zestful, and with all other positive human qualities intact. Exceptions are the few people with damage to the forebrain, and these people, too, have many inherently human qualities intact. We are vulnerable to emotional hurt, which can mask and distort our inherent qualities, but we also have an innate ability to heal from such hurts. Crying, laughing, raging, non­repetitive talking, trembling, perspiring, and yawning, especially with the warm, loving attention of someone else, are crucial to this healing ability. These emotional releases, known collectively in RC theory as discharge, are reliable indications that an internal process is taking place that eventually, with enough discharge, allows us to heal the hurt completely and re­evaluate the original hurtful situation or event. We are then able to function with relaxed, flexible intelligence in that area, as though we had never been hurt.

When someone gets hurt, emotionally or physically, they often don’t get the opportunity to discharge thoroughly. Undischarged incidents pile up, eventually forming a distress pattern that causes the person to be unable to think or act clearly in that area. What we call recordings develop as part of these distress patterns, containing all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and so on that accompanied the hurt experiences that formed the distress pattern. These recordings can play awarely or semi­awarely in the person’s mind as if they were tape recordings of the original incident. The person is then vulnerable to becoming confused by the recordings and thinking or acting as if the recorded events were actually part of the present reality. In the first few years of life, people develop many distress patterns that affect them throughout their lives, unless they are able to discharge the underlying hurts. 

Later, when something reminds a person of the early hurts recorded as part of the patterns, the person may feel all the original hurt, along with a compulsion to act in a way that is dictated by the old hurt, rather than responding to the present situation. To an observer, the feelings may seem much more intense than the situation warrants (and in a way they are, since they are the feelings resulting from the old situation) and the behavior will probably seem inappropriate (again, because it is behavior influenced by the past, not logically related to the present situation).

When circumstances (someone’s caring attention, or even a chance occurrence) allow a person to begin to discharge the early hurt, the hurts are being healed and the pattern re­evaluated (the confused thinking from the hurtful situation begins to clear). But the person (or others around the person), not understanding the discharge process and not having help with it, may be concerned about the discharge and try to stop it. Once opened up, however, the long awaited opportunity to discharge the hurt can overpower worries about the discharge process, and a lengthy period of crying or laughing or shaking may ensue. Because the discharge process is misunderstood, “mental health” intervention may mistakenly be sought. What is actually taking place is an inherent healing process.