Clarify the source(s) of your current frustrations, difficulties and obstacles...
Understand your own ways of thinking, reasoning and judging patterns...
Examine your beliefs, habits, and weaknesses that hold you back...
Articulate your values, passions and priorities that motivate you...
Improve your reasoning and decision-making abilities...
Find answers to your questions and solutions to your problems...
Have self-actualized and flourishing life...
Philosophical counselling is an approach to counselling that uses philosophical insights and techniques to help you to:
Find your unique answers to your questions and solutions to your problems
Get a deeper understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.
Explore your personal values, beliefs, standards and goals.
Discover how to improve your level of self-confidence.
Uncover limiting patterns of beliefs, thoughts and behaviors.
Improve your self-concept: Build your self-worth and self-image, and boost your self-esteem.
Create an action plan for goal achievement, productivity, and for working smarter not harder.
Philosophical Counseling started to be practiced in the early 80s, in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Israel, and later in Canada, the United States, England and South Africa. Nowadays,it is widely used in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Norway and Mexico.
Although it could be concerned as a modern approach, the philosophical counseling has very strong foundations. Considering that throughout history, many rulers, emperors, kings and queens had philosopher mentors, it could be claimed that the techniques used by today's philosophical counselors are based on the ancient philosophers who aimed to encourage people to think and question their assumptions and beliefs.
Philosophical counseling enables you to look at problems from a broader perspective and focus on enhancing client strengths. It aims to support healthy individuals in gaining greater self-understanding and achieving peak performance. It can help individuals resolve existential concerns, relationship challenges, or moral dilemmas, thereby empowering them to lead more fulfilled and productive lives.
Philosophical Counselors are trained to ask good questions, questions that can help and assist you to discover the limits of your mind and your personal thinking patterns.
This enables you to correct our thinking errors for richer, more productive and satisfying lives as well as give us the tools to solve our problems more confidently and to live more conscious and rewarding lives. In other words, a philosophical counselor will engage with you in a dialogue whose aim is to help you to examine your life and your philosophy of living more clearly and deeply to find new ways to resolve or manage your problems.
Philosophical counseling is not about telling you what to think, what to believe or what you should do. Instead, by conceptual analysis and logical reasoning, it allows them to understand their problems, analyze them in different ways, and find their own solutions.
The questions you may wonder
What kinds of topics I could bring to Philosophical Counseling?
Relationship and Family issues
Trauma and Stress Disorders
Political issues and disagreements
Time management issues
Career issues and Job loss
Problems with coworkers
End of life issues
Problems with family
Family planning issues
Breakups and divorce
Becoming a parent
Finding out one is adopted
Falling in and out of love
Loss of a family member
Loss of a pet
Academic or school-related issues
Religion and race-related issues
How is Philosophical Counseling different from Psychological Therapy?
Philosophy goes back thousands of years. Philosophical counseling focuses on application of philosophical principles to life issues, things like morals, making decisions, how we perceive and value other people (and life itself), and how we think about life, existence and reality.
Psychology came into its own as a distinct science in the 19th century. There is some overlap and complementarity between psychotherapy and philosophical counseling -- as psychotherapy often incorporates philosophy (from which it sprang) -- but therapy generally attempts to identify (and resolve) mental/emotional disorders, their causes, and the problems that these disorders cause. Psychotherapy often addresses dysfunctions that are the (understandable) result of abuse, trauma and similar events, as well as biochemical imbalances. They do this by a variety of means, including the administration of various medicines.
Unlike psychotherapists, philosophical counselors do not prescribe medicines and their primary purpose is not to diagnose and treat clinical mental or emotional disorders; the local philosopher should not be the first stop for someone who suicidal, having an acute anxiety attack, etc. If someone is struggling with an actual mental disorder or recovering from some kind of trauma, psychological therapy may well be called for. However, if someone is simply wrestling with a decision, a moral dilemma or the like, then philosophical counseling is often a good choice.
The main difference is the duration, in contrast to psychological therapies, philosophical counselling is generally concerned as short term journey.
Can philosophical counseling serve as a substitute for psychological counseling?
Philosophical counseling uses philosophy, its theories and ways of critical thinking, to help counselees address ordinary problems of living. Such problems include midlife crises, loss, career changes, moral problems, work-related stress, and a host of other common, human, life challenges. Often, these problems can be addressed philosophically by helping the counselee to examine and reassess his or her reasoning about such matters.
Psychological counseling can also address such problems using its extensive body of psychological knowledge and theories. However, there are other human problems for which philosophical counseling would not be indicated, and are the primary domain of psychological counseling. For example, those who have cognitive disorders (psychoses) or mood disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder, or major depression) may require medication and/or the causal approach used in psychological counseling. While people with such disorders can possibly benefit from philosophical counseling after or concomitant with psychological counseling, it cannot serve as an alternative or substitute for psychological counseling in such cases.
It is therefore important that philosophical counselors develop support and referral networks with psychological counselors as a part of their practices.
Some psychological counseling approaches such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) address irrational thinking errors, within the context of a scientific body of knowledge/theory that looks for the underlying causal etiology of dysfunctional ideas. For example, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), a form of CBT, holds that certain irrational beliefs about events in the world cause people to behave and emote in certain self-defeating ways; and, it further holds that, by changing these irrational beliefs to rational ones, these “behavioral and emotional consequences” can also be changed.
However, philosophical counseling approaches focus on epistemic justification of counselees’ arguments, not underlying causal mechanisms. For example, the philosophical counseling approach of Logic-Based Therapy (LBT) helps counselees find fallacious premises in the practical reasoning from which they deduce self-defeating conclusions. Thus, instead of looking for the causal etiology of dysfunctional behavioral and emotional consequences, it focuses on the epistemic justification of beliefs. As such, it takes a humanities perspective, not a social science one. The same may also be said of other philosophical counseling approaches. These approaches characteristically look at the epistemic justification (or lack thereof) of beliefs, not their underlying causal relationships. They are therefore akin to a Socratic dialogic investigation as distinct from a scientific investigation into the causes and effects of mental processes.
Moreover, since philosophers are trained expressly in the analysis and dissection of logical arguments, they are appropriately trained to engage in such epistemic aspects of philosophical counseling.
Do philosophical and psychological counseling have their own distinct techniques for helping?
Yes, but there is also significant overlap. Some techniques used by psychologists to help clients feel and do better can be helpful to philosophical counselors, and conversely.
For example, some psychologists give behavioral assignments and use bibliotherapy (reading assignments) to help their clients. Similarly, a philosophical counselor might give his or her counselee a “homework assignment.”
Similarly, Person-Centered Therapy emphasizes the importance of the counselor-client relationship as a vehicle of constructive change, especially the development of empathetic understanding, congruence (transparency), and unconditional positive regard (unconditionally accepting the doer although not necessarily the deed). Along with other helping professionals, philosophical counselors can benefit from incorporating such person-centered attributes into their philosophical practices in order to encourage counselees’ cultivation of autonomy and trust.
Conversely, psychological counselors have borrowed philosophical ideas from philosophers. For example, Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy, the earliest form of cognitive-behavior therapy, has made Stoic philosophy a cornerstone of its approach to helping. Existential Therapy has incorporated the insights of such existential philosophers as Buber, Sartre, Nietzsche, and Heidegger into the corpus of their practices.
There is, as such, a vast trove of valuable tools that can be gleaned from both philosophical and psychological counseling.
For more questions...
What is the Difference between Counseling and Life-Coaching?
The difference has to do with the subject (client) and the object of concern (the topic of discussion).
Philosophical counseling generally involves a private discussion between the philosopher and the visitor -- sometimes a couple or small group -- about how to work through and resolve a frustrating problem.
Coaching also is generally one-on-one or in small groups, but tends toward positive action -- it isn't necessarily addressing a specific problem as much as it is working through positive personal development.