Why It Works

Philosophical counselling differs from psychotherapy. It is regarded as a highly sought after way to heal and solve everyday problems. It is simple. Philosophy is useful. Most people will at some time or another want to deal with the uncertainties of love and trust, consider when to forgive others and when to hold on to one’s anger, what one should aim for in life, whether to pursue a spiritual path, and how to cope with death.

Philosophical counselling employs philosophical questions that ask what is common to all humankind— the universal, the essence of humanity and reality. The spiritual exercises can open consciousness inward towards the essence, and answer the problems of life views and views of values.

There is one main reason why philosophical counselling works: it offers dialogue, not diagnosis. This amounts to promoting philosophical contemplation, under the guidance of an expert, so that problems are handled, deeply at times, rather than simply handing out medication. This way, clients can adjust their world-views and deal with their emotions properly, which is the most common cause for personal discontent and anguish. Philosophical counselling is not only concerned with the self, but also opens the mind for an enhanced perception of the self. Since most problems are “dis-eases,” disturbances in emotional balance, they can be handled through an existential analysis of the meaning in life that deals with “healthy pain,” such as existential anxiety, frustration, and apathy, and leads to equilibrium.

Philosophical counselling is an art; it goes beyond mechanistic science, which is antithetical to healing and wholeness. Where philosophy begins with a concept of being human, mechanistic science has no real concept of the person as a process nor does it really believe that people change. In such a static universe there is no place for the ongoingness of the process of existence and being.

Philosophy has the practical task of empathy – of helping people realize what it means to be human, to go beyond the given, to the newness that we are all capable of, and to our capacity to renew and re-create.

Philosophical counselling aims to assist clients in achieving authenticity in self-knowledge and action.  By calling into each session the wisdom of the greatest thinkers, philosophical counselling can presumably lead to enlightenment through a series of very simple steps that indicate a process is needed for helping anyone live a happy and fulfilled life. This is the practice of the good life: to help people apply philosophy to examine values, solve ethical dilemmas, and improve their lives. It is what all philosophers seek in their practice. This business is not self-serving, but dedicated to the client's well-being. Most philosophical counselling is finished in just one or a few one-hour talking-sessions about personal predicaments, making it preferred among many people who wish to resolve their problems efficiently. Philosophical counselling is an education discipline and it adheres to the belief that learning is process .

There are four components that describe Philosophical Counselling (Lizeng Zhang, “Distinguishing Philosophical Counselling from Psychotherapy” in Philosophical Practice, Journal of the APPA; (Vol. 8:1, March 2013,)

  1. An Examined Life

“Contemporary philosophical counselling aims at a Socratic life, i.e. a life in which there is honest self- appraisal and rational inquiry into goals; in short, an examined life (Van Hooft, 20). The aims of philosophical counselling are to help clients come to know themselves and to understand their lives better by philosophical means. It concerns questions about the meaning of life and other existential themes. Philosophers are well- (if not uniquely) qualified to help their counsellees escape from narrow conceptions of their lives, and to encourage them to open their minds to new ways of understanding themselves and the world.”

  1. A search for wisdom as a way of being

“Philosophical counselling aims at conceptual clarification and wisdom, without explanatory recourse to psychological patterns or mental health constructs. Ran Lahav thinks that philosophical practice should be viewed as a search for wisdom. Wisdom is not the same as knowledge or intelligence, since a knowledgeable or intelligent person need not be wise, and vice versa. It is an attitude that expresses a broad understanding of life not just in thought, but in one’s actions and reactions, emotions, manner of speaking, interpersonal relations, and entire way of being. The important point is that wisdom is not an isolated skill, but a way of being. The search for wisdom, therefore, is a process that involves changing one’s attitude to life, developing a new openness towards one’s world. In short, it requires a personal transformation (Lahav 2008).”

  1. Avoiding some psychological problems

Psychotherapy can help people to maintain their emotional well-being, which is essential to certain dimensions of personal growth—including one’s personality, habits, likes, dislikes, ambitions, aversions, and so forth—while philosophical counselling can transform one’s dis-ease to ease, which can prevent some dis-eases from becoming diseases.

  1. Making sense of everyday life

Steven Segal thinks that unlike psychotherapy, philosophy does not focus on the disruption of the personality, psyche, or self, but on the breakdown of conventions which structure everyday life. Thus a philosophical crisis is one in which the conventions of everyday living no longer give everyday life structure or meaning. From this perspective, the aim of philosophical counselling is not to heal the self but to explore the disruption of conventions and to open alternative frames for making sense of everyday life (Segal, 2006).