December 13, 2017 News & Opinion » Feature
Oakland Counseling Guru Accused of Sexual Assault
Steve Bearman grew up in Connecticut and went to college at Hampshire College, a private liberal arts school in Massachusetts known for its alternative curriculum. According to his LinkedIn profile, he earned a bachelor's degree in "Personal Transformation and Social Change."
In the late 1990s, Bearman was a volunteer instructor in San Francisco with Re-evaluation Counseling, a Seattle-based group that practices co-counseling. It was founded in the 1950s by Harvey Jackins, who was later accused of sexual misconduct and rape in the 1980s.
Jane Zones (her real name), who was Bearman's supervisor at Re-evaluation, said in an interview that Bearman was a volunteer teacher and student but that the organization stripped him of his teaching credential in 1999 because of a sexual harassment accusation to which he admitted. Two knowledgeable sources told the Express that Bearman admitted he got fired for masturbating on the phone while counseling a patient. Bearman had no further contact with Re-evaulation after losing his teaching credential, despite being eligible to stay on as a student, according to Zones and one person close to Bearman who said he told the person the same thing.
While she hasn't talked to him since, Zones said she reviewed the Interchange website before talking to the Express and that there were many similarities between Re-evaluation's program and Interchange. A major difference was that Bearman's program was far more expensive: Re-evaluation's teachers are paid directly by students in very modest amounts.
Comments following the article make interesting reading.
Here is an exerpt from one of the comments. The author suggests
among other things that part of the problem is that some
contexts we are socialized to avoid passing judgement for fear
of being derided as prudish, unsophisticated, uptight.
I read this article a couple nights ago and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. I've never met Steve but I've known about him and Interchange for years. I saw him at a party a few years ago and a female friend of mine told me he would date his students. I was like, REALLY? It seemed so bizarre to me, but she was nonchalant about it.
I'm now wondering, how is the sex/drug positive culture we're in here in the SF Bay Area contributing to this kind of a situation happening? Why weren't people in leadership roles calling him out on this earlier?...
I mean, everybody involved in counseling or psychology knows about the dangers of transference....
I remember seeing the "Ending Jealousy" course being offered by Interchange a while back. Think about that for a second. Having that as part of your curriculum, and also being "sex positive" is a perfect set up for abuse to happen. Anytime someone rebuffs your advances, you can just say, "Oh, you're not open enough" or "You have more inner work to do, I can help you" etc, etc. Other sex positive people around Steve probably looked the other way because "Hey, look how awesomely open minded we are about sex. It's no big deal that the lead counselor dates his students. We're sex positive and more evolved than all the shame filled normal people out there, it's all good". Boom, THAT'S A BLIND SPOT PEOPLE. Being sex positive doesn't mean that transference won't happen, that abuse won't happen, and that people won't get hurt.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/29/2020 04:50AM by corboy.