So Eddie McGuire has been sent to counselling by Andrew Demetriou for his racist comments last week. He apparently is going to be educated on racial vilification.
Counselling is such a convenient solution. It’s a feel good solution. It’s not really a punishment like a fine but it is kind of a punishment because the person is being sent and they are meant to be contrite with their tail between their legs. Kind of like being sent to the headmasters office at primary school. Here is a grown man, Eddie everywhere, being treated like a child so it is a pseudo humiliating process and hence we have the punitive aspect of being sent to counselling in this instance.
However, having been a counsellor for 30 years I would love to be a fly on the wall and see what happens in Eddie’s counselling session(s).
True counselling is a collaborative process particularly around the goals of the counselling. The counsellor and the client together work out what are the goals the client wants to achieve. What this means is no better illustrated than with a person who has been sent by the drug courts for counselling. The logic behind this is that the counselling is somehow going to correct the client and then they will not want to take drugs anymore.
I have counselled many such people and not uncommonly the client will say, “I see nothing wrong with taking drugs and I intend to keep taking them”. The goal of the counselling has been clarified. From then on the counselling sessions are not about the person stopping taking drugs which contradicts the logic behind the whole process.
The logic behind Eddie’s counselling is that he will come to see making racial comments is wrong and then he will want to stop making them or having that negative view point of other racial groups. The goal is to change his perception of the value or worth of himself and others.
That is a very difficult thing to do. To change ones basic values, view of racial groups and people in general is a difficult thing to do. And of course in his counselling Eddie may say that he has no intention of changing his views in this way and that he is quite happy with them. From that point on the counselling is no longer about Eddie becoming less racist. So in this way the whole process becomes a farce as the AFL has sent him to counselling so he will in some way come out less racist.
At that point it could stop being counselling and become a (re)education process for Eddie. It is no longer a counselling session but changes into an education session. These are two quite different things. Having said that counselling often does have an educative aspect but it is not a teacher - student relationship. That relationship is quite different to the counsellor - client relationship.
If someone is of the view that other racial groups are more primitive and ape like, simply giving them information (teaching them) that this is not so and why will have very little, if any impact on their racist views. One’s basic value system does not change by simply acquiring factual information.
Even if one goes to the extent of ‘Brain washing’ that they tried in the 1950s and 1960s, that was a failure as well. It was discovered you cannot change people’s basic view of societies or racial groups unless the person to some extent wants them to be changed. If that basic motivation is there then the counselling process can begin. If it is not there then Eddie’s counselling session is going to be a waste of time as far as the AFL is concerned. The best outcome that could happen in the reeducation of Eddie is it allows him to become more subtle in how he expresses such views (hopefully keeping his views entirely to himself) but his basic views do not change.