Human Potential Research Group

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The Human Potential Research Group was based at the University of Surrey.

"The Human Potential Research Project was founded in 1970, by John Heron, Director, under the auspices of Professor David James, Head of the Centre for Adult Education founded at the same time. By summer 1973 the character of the Project was welldefined, work with a number of organisations and groups was well under way and publications were becoming profuse. At this stage, they were mostly reports from training events written up to show the activities and content of the events. Human Relations work and trainer training was developing with the police and medical professions, and with volunteer organisers as well as with staff in whole organisations such as Mental Handicap Hospitals and with training staff at Colleges, government and commercial training centres.

"John adopted co-counselling as the primary personal development system of the Project. Its core values deprofessionalised the whole business of experiential learning to everyone. It provided a means to uncover latent learning, hidden in the multitude of life experiences as part of a natural survival strategy. The d.i.y. philosophy in a peer support network offered a potent method accessible to most people, so John became instrumental in bringing the approach to many European countries.

"By the summer of 1973, John had parted company with Harvey Jackins and his team, the originators of re-evaluation counselling. He argued that the organisation and control of the teaching was contradictory to its fundamental values of developing the capacities of intelligence, choice and co-operation by its hierarchical control of the new co-counselling communities and its control of the content and practice of teaching. This was also antithetical to the University research imperative, whereby its members scrutinise and develop theory and practice in their fields, disseminate their findings widely and incorporate their new understandings into their teaching, whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level. He therefore promoted the new Co-Counselling International along with others who agreed with him which supported a network of co-counselling communities. He initially named the method “Reciprocal Counselling” to differentiate it from its parent, though later we refer to the developing method by the generic term “Cocounselling”...

"Phase 2 was begun in 1976 by with James' inspiration and made a transition from John Heron's leadership to that of James Kilty in 1984 via co-direction with Nicholas Ragg and John in the interim." [1]

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  1. James Kilty Human Potential Research Project, organizational web page, accessed July 18, 2013.