Krsna Conscious Co-Counselling

A Peer-Counselling Model for Vaisnava Society

Aghari Dasa (Andrew Marks) and Chandramukhi Dasi (Chandra Wright Marks)

Care within any society requires listening skills; skills that are not always available when needed. In this article, the authors propose a grass-roots system of peer-counselling as a way of helping individuals to cope with life’s problems. At the same time care is taken to ensure that the principles of Vaisnavism and peer counselling do not clash.

As the size and diversity of the ISKCON population has increased since its inception in the 1960s, the occurrence and reporting of psychosocial problems, including child abuse, mistreatment and exploitation of women, domestic disputes, substance abuse and addiction, and acute psychological dysfunction, as well as corrective social and clinical interventions, have increased concomitantly, reflecting the mainstream cultures from which most of our members are drawn. There is a need for the establishment of a professionally qualified referral-based system of social workers and counsellors within our society. This was poignantly expressed during the conference, Therapy and Social Care: A Krsna Conscious Perspective, held in Potomac, Maryland, on 1–2 June 2002. The conference was sponsored by ISKCON Communications, and led to the establishment of the Vaisnava Alliance of Care-providers (VAC). While the need for devotee access to professional Krsna-conscious counsellors appears indisputable, there is also interest in a grassroots, continuously available, system of peer counselling that would not require the direct presence of a trained clinician. Simultaneously, professional supervision and referrals would remain core elements of an effective community mental health system.

A grassroots system of peers could include all devotees. Devotees would be encouraged to select one or more peers from their local ISKCON community with whom they would begin developing confidential relationships in accordance with carefully-drawn ethical guidelines established for the protection of the individual and the preservation of the system. Devotees would choose peers with whom they do not currently have close relationships. The choice of peer would be made on the basis of similarities of age, service, goals, problems, qualifications, and characteristics; therefore the peer would be ideally suited to understand and offer support for the devotee’s personal, family, and social difficulties.

Intimate exchanges undoubtedly occur between devotees already. However, because there are no fundamental guidelines and ethical supervision, these exchanges are not easily replicated, nor are they extended to all devotees, since some devotees are not naturally inclined to engage in intimate exchanges. Further, when especially challenging problems occur, relationships may deteriorate because of lack of training, feelings of being overwhelmed, or fears of stigma or ‘contamination’. Greater facility can be provided by establishing ground rules, modest organisational systems, and guiding ethical principles that promote safety and encourage trust.

Importantly, a peer system must be available without financial cost to the participants. While the need for access to professional help is obvious, the costs of this help may at times prove constraining. Many devotee professionals provide care to devotee clients on a sliding scale or pro-bono basis, but professional counsellors may be not be able to extend care in times of expanding need, owing to economics or other factors.

The co-counselling1 model presented in this article provides ongoing care without cost, other than the cost of materials, introductory training, and teacher certification (these are not expensive). Each participant in the co-counselling system takes a turn at being the counsellor for the other within a scheduled session. This system of exchange and reciprocity may prove to be the single most effective way of disseminating principles of mental health throughout ISKCON communities. Such reciprocity is achieved not by artificial mandate but by the natural evolution of choice and practice, two components that are already constituents of healthy sadhana (spiritual practice). Through this gradual grassroots evolution, a culture of confidentiality may be facilitated.

Facilitating a culture of confidentiality

Most devotees regard revealing one’s mind in confidence and hearing in confidence as established Vaisnava social principles. In The Nectar of Instruction (v. 4), revealing one’s mind in confidence and hearing from another in confidence are given as two of the six exchanges of love between devotees. Sometimes devotees use this principle to explain or justify the idea of counselling in devotee relationships. The confidential sharing of ‘problems’ and ‘challenges’ to devotional advancement is also part of the process for cleansing the heart.

Humanistic psychology, specifically the work of Carl Rogers, emphasises the importance of empathic or deep listening as perhaps the single most critical element in providing effective counselling. In professional counselling, when a client is deeply listened to without interference, judgement, or too much advice, that client begins to trust and reveal — to self and therapist — the thoughts, feelings, behaviours, memories, and challenges that may need work or are presenting as disturbances. For the listening to be effective, the client must be able to count on the confidentiality of the counsellor; that disclosures will be contained by the counsellor, perhaps reflected back to the client, but with an attitude of ‘unconditional positive regard’2 and safety.

However, confidentiality must not be confused with secrecy. Problems such as child abuse, spousal abuse, or any harm to self and/or others is generally understood to be an exception to the rule and requires either referral to a professional counsellor or reporting to an authorised agency. In peer counselling we should seek ways to protect and preserve confidentiality while also facing and dealing with extreme situations quickly and compassionately.

The power of listening and confidentiality

Perhaps the broadest rationale for devotees to deeply listen in confidence can be found in the principle of vaisnava-seva: serving the devotees. A strong service attitude rooted in humility may allow one devotee to deeply listen to another devotee for a prescribed amount of time, refraining from the urge to speak unnecessarily or to give advice, and patiently facilitating whatever the ‘client’ devotee chooses to reveal. In the co-counselling model, the participants switch roles, and the listening exchange is reciprocated. In this model, one (counsellor) devotee, out of love, chooses to listen, not speak, in order to nurture the other (client) devotee. The client devotee receives this gift and uses the process to discharge (cleanse) disturbances, or the client devotee reveals joys that he or she is currently experiencing in life.

During our Masters-thesis research (Marks, Wright, Meader, and Bruce, 1994), we conducted ethnographic field research in the Pacific-Northwest United States with members of groups and subcultures who identified themselves as ‘skinheads’3. In the process of collecting over seventy hours of videotaped documentary footage, we encountered a considerable diversity of people, settings, and, from mainstream society’s point-of-view, extreme belief systems and philosophies.

The core methodology of the project pivoted on deep and careful listening. Time after time we were told by the participants that they had never been listened to before; one interviewee said, ‘even my family and friends don’t know what you guys know’. We received many similar testimonies. Throughout the two-year project, the power and impact of deep, layered listening was repeatedly confirmed and emphasised as the essential element, and result, of the research. Researchers and participants found the interactive deep listening process to be a moving, life-changing experience. Modern life moves at a frenzied pace, yet the simple and profound act of patient listening can provide an effective and loving antidote to the passionate, ‘don’t have time’ mentality.

Much of the suffering experienced by many individuals throughout their lives can be attributed to the lack of opportunity to be properly heard. It is the nature of this age that people are gradually torn apart from each other and from intimacy by the struggle to survive. Regardless of whether one is or is not insulated by the community of devotees, we often come to relationships — any relationships — with a deficit. Who has taken the time to listen to us? In the same way that Caitanya Mahaprabhu not only instructed Sanatana Goswami but also cured his sores, devotees have to listen and hear each other. Deep listening is a cure for the inevitable emotional ‘sores’ symptomatic of an age of pain and sorrow.

To listen confidentially, we must first address some of the challenges to confidentiality. A confidential listener should be aware of dilemmas that surface in the client-counsellor relationship and reflect on these with thought and care for the individual who discloses private information.

Confidentiality dilemmas

The confidentiality dilemmas list below4 can be used as a quick reference for possible challenges that are raised by and within the confidential relationship. These issues require careful thought before formulating a response in any given situation. Before devotees disclose private information that could create a dilemma for the listener, the client devotee should, if possible, ascertain that the situation is safe and that the listener will help contain the problem and protect the client devotee.

Confidentiality dilemmas list


  • Harm to self or others
  • Required reporting

Philosophical and moral

  • Regulative principles
  • Choice
  • Judgement


  • Relations with other devotees, especially under a client’s care
  • Position/service
  • Management

Family and friends

  • Context
  • Client’s impact on and/or influence by family and friends
  • Counsellor’s impact on and/or influence by family and friends


  • Relationships with guru, God, and society


  • How client affects counsellor
  • Counsellor’s history/position
  • Client/counsellor relationship


A standard principle of the helping relationship is that the counsellor must be alert to the potential for a distressed individual’s harming himself or others. A professional counsellor is legally obliged to report such a possibility to the appropriate agency. Peer counsellors may not always have an obligation to report or refer an acutely distressed individual but they may have an ethical responsibility to do so. The concerned peer counsellor should seek help and support, ideally with the client’s participation, from another peer counsellor to obtain the level of professional care that is needed. People often express feelings of hopelessness and helplessness when they are discouraged; the decision to report this information can put pressure on the counsellor. It is also true that the interventions of social service protection agents can cause harm and can lead to deterioration of an already difficult situation. Therefore, great care should be given to the decision to breach confidentiality and involve others. Nonetheless, sometimes this choice is required. When a counsellor is not sure about the intention of the client, it is important that he or she ask questions and try to clarify whether or not the client already has a specific plan.


When a devotee knows that another devotee is suffering acutely from certain problems, what obligation is there to report this to managers in the organisation, especially those who directly supervise the client or that the client directly supervises? How will this kind of information, when disclosed to a manager, affect the position and service of the devotee experiencing difficulty? In order for confidentiality to work, the disclosure of a devotee’s problems must remain the burden of the devotee experiencing those problems. A culture of confidentiality cannot be created in an atmosphere wherein devotees receive private disclosures and then needlessly report this information to other devotees.

Philosophical and moral

The path of Krsna consciousness has specific guidelines regarding chanting, following regulative principles, and proper association with devotees. Devotees who hear each others’ problems may feel the inclination to judge; they may fear losing their own tenuous hold on their sadhana and devotional principles; or they may feel it is necessary to ‘preach’ to the devotee disclosing the problem instead of listening. The way out of these feelings is to disclose our judgements and fears in our own sessions, to continue to practice sadhana carefully, and to continue to practice deep listening — wherein we will again and again have opportunities to hear how devotees overcome their problems each day in practising Krsna consciousness. Since Krsna consciousness is a process, it is the job of the society of devotees to facilitate that process in each and every devotee with caring and humility: this is the goal of authentic listening.


Sometimes a devotee reveals information that appears to indicate that his or her relationship with the spiritual master, Krsna, or the society of devotees is in jeopardy. These relationships are the responsibility of the individual, not the counsellor/listener. Taking guidance from the concept of serving the servant, the listener’s job in the client-counsellor relationship is to serve the client.

Family and friends

All human beings live within some context of family and friends. Sometimes, in a close society of devotees, a client-counsellor relationship may develop between people who know each other’s family, friends, gurus, and disciples. Care must be taken to prevent these other relationships from compromising effective listening. We should always try to bring ourselves back to listening with empathy, and we should utilise our own opportunities for disclosure to reconcile our distress or problems. In the case of an acute problem that a client may have and that may have an impact upon the client’s friends or family, the best thing is for the client to work through the problem to the point where he or she can disclose this to the family. If there is a significant concern on the part of the counsellor, a referral to a trained clinician can be arranged, provided the client concurs.


We have the potential for changing each other’s lives and for facilitating deeper, more congruent sadhana and devotional service. In the client-counsellor relationship, we must protect the sacredness of the exchange by not allowing the relationship to develop in other ways; for example, the client and counsellor should not simply ‘hang out’ together or pursue a romantic relationship with each other. We should not seek a surrogate guru-disciple relationship in the counsellor-client relationship.

The key to confidentiality is not only remembering to hold a person’s disclosure as private but also, perhaps more importantly, to maintain the sacredness of the relationship that facilitates that disclosure. The relationship between the two devotees, who take turns as client and counsellor, disclosing and listening, becomes a temple for service to each other. Co-counselling relationships are sought outside and remain outside our social network to protect their sacredness. If we hear a devotee disclosing information in public that we heard her or him share in a one-to-one session, this doesn’t automatically give us the right to discuss the specific information disclosed to us with other devotees. If we see a devotee with whom we have shared a co-counselling relationship, we don’t advertise this to others but instead behave discreetly. While the telling of devotees’ stories is an often inspiring part of devotee association, we should first emphasise our own personal disclosure; and secondly, only with the permission of other devotees, should we tell their stories.

What is re-evaluation counselling?

Re-evaluation of a person’s rigid patterns of behavior seems to consist primarily of his exploring these patterns with part of his attention, while at the same time managing with part of his attention to stay outside the pattern and achieving some kind of objective look at them.

This division of attention, this balancing of attention between the content of the reactive pattern or the experience of hurt and the real world of the present, seems to be necessary at every level of this process. It is present in the discharge of deep grief, it is present at every level up through the ‘talking out’ of boredom. (Fundamentals, p. 12)

The psychological theory behind re-evaluation counselling (RC) conceives of human beings as intact individuals at birth. Individuals start life unscarred by personal trauma; they inherently possess full intelligence, creative capacity, and a natural joyfulness and ‘zest’ for living. ‘Vast intelligence, zestful enjoyment of living, co-operative relationships with others — these seem to constitute the essential human nature’. (Jackins, p. 28)

Young children are intrinsically able to heal hurts by instinctive emotive discharge around painful events by, for example, crying, shaking, and trembling. This natural ability of the child to heal by discharge in immediate and direct relation to the traumatic event preserves the intelligence, creativity, and healthfulness of the person and prevents the layering of stored traumatic material and reduced capacity found in the incapacitated adult.

Vedic teachings provide a picture of the original nature of the soul as inherently and eternally full of knowledge and bliss. Then, due to association with matter and material conditioning, the soul becomes covered by the subtle and gross bodies and bound by the false ego (ahankara). This conditioning imprints traumatic material on the subtle body’s record as memories, conscious and subconscious. These imprints cover the true nature of the soul and eclipse its constitutional position as an eternal servant of the Lord.

We can infer the complexities from our past lives by analysing our current life.

It is to our advantage to use whatever tools are available for removing blockages and obstacles that are inhibiting our progress in devotional life. Inhibitions that we can understand are not only traceable to traumatic events from our current lives but are also likely to evince patterns and problems linking us to karmic ties from previous entanglement.

How does RC work?

RC is a co-counselling process for talking about current and past experiences and emotionally discharging them within a safe and confidential relationship.

Co-counselling is a sort of a mutual ‘take-turns’ bootstrapping process. You can’t lift yourself by your own bootstraps but you can take turns lifting each other. It works, and of course it works in larger groups than two, but for the economy of time, most Co-counselling is done in pairs, switching roles, between the first person who is listened to and the second, who listens. That’s about what it amounts to.
(Fundamentals, p. 51)

Deep listening

The first thing you must do and do very well is to listen ... listen with interest, with full attention.

If you will listen in this manner, your client will be encouraged and enabled to talk about himself, about his patterns of distress. He may relate them to you in terms of difficulties or he may relate them as experiences that occurred.

Many light tensions seem able to be unravelled because your client is enabled to think about them much more thoroughly if he or she can talk about them to an interested listener.’

(Fundamentals, p. 8)

Listening cannot be underestimated. Non-interfering, deep listening over time is one of the most empowering and compassionate behaviours a devotee (or anyone) can demonstrate. Listening in a co-counselling relationship does not mean giving advice, disclosing one’s similar problems, or pursuing avenues of interest or inquiry that reflect the counsellor’s agenda. The client knows where to go if the counsellor will only listen and be observant for and attentive toward discharge moments.

Emotional discharge

‘Discharge is the recovery process from irrationality, from distress’. (Fundamentals, p. 43) In RC theory, old and new hurts, fears, joys, angers, and frustrations can be re-stimulated and discharged and thereby prevented from hardening into introjected distortions and burdens.

Now, if Mother is as we have hypothesized — relaxed, aware, attentive, and undistressed — if she gives to the baby her aware attention and concern, gives him her arms and eyes but keeps her mouth shut and does not talk, sympathize, jiggle, distract or interfere, then the damage repair process of the baby goes into action. Without hesitation, spontaneously (no one has to tell the baby what to do) he turns to this attentive mother and begins to cry. Allowed to do so, he cries and cries and cries and cries. He will continue to do so for a long, long time if every time he slows down and looks out at this mother he finds her still interested, still attentive, still caring, but not interfering or distracting. (Jackins, p. 77)

During a co-counselling session, the counsellor needs to stay focused and tuned to the client’s emotional process. When a client begins to express or discharge certain memories or experiences, the counsellor facilitates the remembrance and re-evaluation of hurts or traumas within a safe and supportive relationship. Helping the client stay on track in a non-interfering way means helping the client stay with the emotional process that was thwarted or prematurely blocked in the past. Discharging these obstructions will return previously constricted capacity to the use of the client. It may take several sessions for a client to revisit, re-evaluate, and reclaim the original wholeness that existed before it was eclipsed by the traumatic event.

Note that Jackins states that when ‘allowed to do so, he cries and cries and cries and cries’. New counsellors must grow accustomed to and become comfortable with the emotional discharge of their clients. Sometimes the counsellor may be afraid that the client’s discharge is too intense or could become counter-productive. The counsellor must have faith that only through a completion of previously restricted emotional discharge can the client be freed from residual pain that inhibits them in their present lives.

Working through

How can you be a successful counselor and always help your client achieve discharge? We can now state a three-step rule for successful counseling .... Step one, pay enough attention to the client to see what his or her distresses are. This includes, of course, asking them and listening to them, as well as observing them. Step two is to think [...] how those distresses can be contradicted. Step three is to contradict them sufficiently. If you do these three things, discharge will always come.
(Fundamentals, p. 46)

Contradiction in co-counselling means to contradict the original interference that prevented the client from going through a natural emotional discharge at the time of the original emotional event. Contradiction is a supportive, responsive, listening tactic that helps the client stay on track and supports them in their need to break through the original interference. For example, if an employer shuts down an employee’s attempts to advance or contribute more creatively at work and this was done in a shaming, dominating manner that left the employee feeling pain and frustration, the counsellor might contradict this interference during the client’s emotional discharge in order that the client feel free to express her or his anger, feelings of oppression, or frustration at having her or his creative urge denied.

Careful listening tracks idiosyncratic expression. When the client is speaking and gets to the real distress, the counsellor may repeat or state something that is idiosyncratic but helps the client to discharge. Being tuned to the client’s process includes observing the client’s body language. The counsellor can sense emotions building as the client begins to cry or her or his words become choked. The client may become angry or passionate about what she or he is saying. If the counsellor grabs onto something key or elemental to what is being said, then the counsellor can assist in deepening the discharge process. It begins by watching and following. If the counsellor is wrong, he or she can back off and try to get back to where the emotions dropped off. To move past emotional discharge opportunities is interfering and evasive.

In working through distresses, it is important for the client not to prematurely close the issue; too short a session may be problematic. In the early days of co-counselling, half-hour sessions were typical, but 45 minutes to an hour may be more productive. In solidly working through discharging of distresses, the client has sufficient time to scan the memories and thoughts and try to describe parts of the experience that were missed during the first, second, or third recounting. However, as the relationship develops, quick sessions may become appropriate for both participants, but the sessions must be mutually satisfying.

If thorough and sufficient discharging occurs, a person naturally re-establishes a sense of personal congruence and feels grounded after leaving a session. However, if there are times that the emotive process escalates beyond what feels safe and in the best interests of the client to be able to return to the outside world, the counsellor may need to help the client feel more grounded with some ‘here and now’ techniques.

Some frequently asked questions about RC

Although we (the authors) have been involved in RC since the early 1990s, we were recently re-introduced to it and have had time to digest some of the literature as well as participate in new introductory sessions. We brought some of our questions to our teacher in order to better address issues we found to be challenging. What follows is our understanding of the RC perspective on these issues based on her answers.

Do you try to stick to the amount of time allotted for the session? If someone is discharging heavily and seems to be making good progress, do you just stop? Do you ever find that some kind of de-escalation or re-grounding is necessary to help someone put their ‘game face’ back on?

Co-counsellors generally meet and share an equivalent amount of time, for example 50 minutes to one hour each, taking turns as client and counsellor. Occasionally, someone will get a session as a client and then later provide time as a counsellor as their partner chooses. At the end of a session, a question might be asked that assists the client in grounding back to the present. This is called a ‘present-time’ question. For example: ‘what do you plan to do this weekend?’ or ‘tell me what you like to do in your spare time?’

The notion that RC should not be mixed with other theories makes good sense, but how does this apply in religious communities or other organisations that have pre-existing governance.

RC has been successful by staying true to its principles and being careful not to dilute its practices in order to accommodate different groups and settings. Co-counsellors will learn best how to co-counsel by being part of the larger co-counsellor community. People in particular groups or organisations should consider going out from their own organisations to build relationships in the RC community in order to bring back effective co-counselling skills and understanding of RC theory to their own groups.

We understand and agree with the idea that persons within a co-counselling relationship should not socialise with each other outside of that relationship. However, close friends and family who end up in co-counselling (not necessarily with each other) can’t help but infect each other within their overlapping relationships.

One of the great benefits of co-counselling is that we do not use our counsellor or our client as our friend. This means that the relationship is reserved for co-counselling only. The counselling relationship utilises discharge, which often requires repetition of traumatic events. Discharge is a means of reliving and releasing the residue of traumatic events, which block one from as full and free a life as possible. By doing this work with your counsellor, you can avoid burdening your friendships with counselling needs. Already existing friendships and relationships that later include co-counselling experiences and skills can only benefit those relationships.

We are sensitive about concerns regarding psychiatric drug usage. However, we’ve seen cases where people who already have deep problems couldn’t function at all without these drugs. Would RC theory strictly require these people to go off medication before being involved in co-counselling? This is an issue of concern as oppression could occur either way. We envision a transition, if possible.

RC is not for everyone. Some people believe that psychotropic medication blocks effective discharge from happening and certainly there is a prohibition against mood-altering drugs and alcohol before sessions. It seems that the wider RC community is continuing to work through their position on this issue. Being part of an RC community means getting involved with the process of establishing and revising RC policies. One who, for any reason, is incapable of focusing on and maintaining the shared relationship of client and counsellor will probably not be able to make it in RC.

Accessing co-counselling training

Introductory and educational classes for RC are available internationally. RC communities exist in over eighty countries. Since 1994, several million people have participated, and there are many books, journals, pamphlets and other educational materials. A ‘Fundamentals’ class lasts over six weeks and is reasonably priced.

The RC community actively seeks to involve and train new members and believes its mission to be the promotion of world peace and harmony through practicing the principles of co-counselling.

A proposed code of ethics for co-counselling in a Krsna conscious community

Devotees can obtain RC teaching certification and begin to offer the process within their devotional communities. In this way, devotees will naturally adapt the styles and system to work within Krsna conscious culture. While practitioners of RC believe in preserving the integrity of RC’s organisation and methodology by not mixing it with other theories and practices, there are, in our analysis, no glaring conflicts between co-counselling practice and devotional practice. It appears to us that devotees could be co-counsellors and devotees without infringing upon either philosophy or practice.

We would suggest the following as an ethical basis for a Krsna conscious peer-counselling model.


The confidentiality of the individual is a priority. If even one person’s safety, trust, and integrity are broken, the entire culture is compromised. Gossip or casual conversation that breaches confidentiality is harmful. However, relying on secrecy as a means of avoiding the reporting of abuse and harm is not to be mistaken with confidentiality. When in doubt, obtain the confidential support of a more experienced counsellor.


There is a need to respect the devotional maturation process of each individual while sustaining and preserving the purity of Vaisnava standards and teachings.


Recognise and prioritise the importance of children so that the individual and the community acknowledge the innate vulnerability of children and take responsibility for their protection.


To see with ‘equal vision’ (Bhagavad-gita 5.18) also requires respect for and ownership of the individual’s ethnicity, cultural-identity, gender, race, age, and physical ability.

Free Access

Co-counselling is free of charge. No one should seek to undermine its availability by attaching financial reward or restriction to its use or dissemination.

Counselling principles as a priority in ISKCON

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami writes in Among Friends:

ISKCON, with all thy faults, I love thee. Yes this institution has to be reformed, but it will begin with the reformation of each member’s heart and with their not denying their own responsibility both for themselves and their duty toward Prabhupada’s movement. (Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, p. 9)

Truthfulness is very important. We need the truthful realisation that we are not these bodies, together with their material identifications and false attachments. We need the truthful realisation that we are eternal loving servants of the Lord and His devotees. We also need the truthful realisation that begins with our ‘own responsibility’ for ourselves, and moves outward to encompass and include our family and social relationships.

Carefully and caringly practicing devotional relationships cannot be assumed as a given. These exchanges require skills, etiquette, and a deepening trust. Developing deep trust in relationships is challenging for all people regardless of society and culture. Without a culture of confidentiality as a natural practice, truthful disclosure may not be met with reciprocal safety and caring containment. Our disclosure may become public information, gossip, or rumour. We may be censured or our service and careers be threatened or taken away. This goes for every level of devotee in every asrama (stage of life) and may even be life-threatening. When we lose our service we lose the very lifeline that connects us to our worship of Krsna, we lose the active process that links us to our guru, and we lose the daily activity through which we interact with other devotees.

We cannot afford to lose our service. And we cannot afford to evade self-disclosure and truthfulness in our relationships.

Truthfulness is an interactive, relational practice that takes place within the safety and confidentiality of mature relationships. Within this relational containment, disclosure can occur, and, through deep listening, patient progress without the loss of service and regard can be sustained. Through effective peer counselling with a service attitude, we facilitate each other in a cleansing process and help to establish a viable environment for healthy relationships.

Facilitating strong and caring relationships that lead to long-term consistency and preservation of progress furthers the spiritual, holistic health of the individual and the organisation. Co-counselling is a tool for self-care and the care of others. Relationships constructed on fundamentals of trust and support provide a means to face the struggles and obstacles that are a natural by-product of purification. Peer counselling offers a safety-net to protect our most valuable resource — each other — and can be established as a priority in our day-to-day lives until, one day, the intimate, safe, and loving exchange of problems and accomplishments between people becomes an ordinary and natural process of life.


1 Co-Counselling is a term created by Re-Evaluation Counselling to identify a relationship wherein the two participants take turns being the counsellor and client. Co-Counselling is a trademark of Rational Island Publishers and Personal Counsellors, Inc.


2 ‘Unconditional positive regard’ refers to the mood of the counsellor with the client wherein judgment of the client or the client’s behaviour is suspended and an atmosphere of love and respect is created and maintained for the purpose of deep listening. One can be supportive without condoning another’s behaviour (Lietaer, pp. 41–58).

3 ‘Skinhead’ is a social, cultural, and political identification. Individual ‘skinheads’ vary in their political stance — e.g. racist, anti-racist, or non-racist — however, they often identify with the same social and cultural roots of this sub-culture — from Jamaica and England — such as dress, music, warrior/violence ethic, labour/under-class rights.

4 Created by Andrew Marks and Chandra Wright Marks, May 2002, for the Vaisnava Alliance of Care-providers Conference.


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