Philosophical Counselling – A Brief History

The term Philosophical Counselling may be new, but the practice is not. Socrates was actively providing Philosophical assistance as far back as 5th century B.C. The philosophical schools in Greece and Rome viewed philosophy as a means for addressing human suffering as well as social challenges. For the last two thousand years philosophers from Epicurus (who considered philosophy “therapy of the soul”) to Descartes (who counselled Queen Christina of Sweden) to Locke (who counselled the Earl of Shaftesbury), have used their philosophical insights to solve human problems.


The modern philosophical counselling movement is said to have reemerged in 1981 when Gerd Achenbach opened his practice in Germany to try and return philosophy to its original mission of addressing the everyday challenges and traumas of human life. He applied philosophy in private consultations creating a space for people to develop their own thoughts on matters of concern using philosophy as the foundation. This movement is growing and expanding to other European countries, Israel, India, South Africa, the United States, Canada, and South America.