Human Potential Research Project

Contributing to these web pages

Anyone who has been a student or facilitator with the HPRP is invited to comment on any of these pages, offering amendments and additions: email James in the first instance. This record is offered in the hope that the potential in our Higher Education Institutions to engage in more radical educational activities will be more widely recognised and that this record will assist them to flourish.


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 well defined, 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.

Co-counselling: a symbol of the core philosophy

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”.

Six Category and beyond

By 1975, having developed his “Six Category Intervention Analysis” out of his work with G.P.'s from the original Blake and Mouton D/D matrix he had conducted many training workshops to realise it in practice and was ready to create the first edition of what would be a developing and popular publication. He was also able to distil his research results into a series of further publications on Experiential Techniques, Peer Learning Community, Self and Peer Assessment and Transpersonal Psychology. However, by this time, a backlog in writing up his research and development work had accumulated and he finished this phase of the project with a sabbatical which saw a number of developments. First and foremost for the HPRP, there was the “Dimensions of Facilitator Style”, an extension into group work of the 6CIA approach to one-to-one intervention. Other publications are given separately. At the end of the sabbatical, in January 1977, he took up a new appointement at The British Postgraduate Medical Federation, as Assistant Director, Medical Education. Future writings became jointly published by the HPRP and BPMF and many training workshops for health care staff, especially doctors, were offered cooperatively in mutual support.

Phase 2

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.

site map | home > back to top

Note all pages print in Times New Roman without navigation

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict Valid CSS!

links updated February 9 2023; hand-coded to xhtml strict standard