We do not promote normalizing and numbing world views and instead aim to reclaim the self from the potential monotony of a disengaged day-to-day life.
What Is Philosophical Counselling?
Philosophers have been doctors of the soul since Hellenistic times. The Socratics, Stoics, Epicureans and Skeptics notably encouraged the art of self-reflection as a means to personal happiness. They were specifically focused on the kind of happiness referred to as eudaimonia, which is Greek for the kind of happiness that evolves out of self-knowledge and self-reflection and, as it was Philosophical, this happiness also reflected the rigorous, and balanced, use of reason. It is in this tradition – with a notable formalized revival in the 1980’s –that Philosophical Counselling has re-emerged as an internationally recognized academic domain of research and clinical practice. As such, it meets an important need in holistic and humanistic approaches to mental health.
For instance, many contemporary philosophers and mental health advocates feel that the agency to influence one’s own well-being and mental health can easily be taken from the hands of patients because thoughtful self-reflection and meaningful self-knowledge are not typically taught or encouraged. Whereas Philosophical Counsellors, by teaching and encouraging knowledge-based self-reflection, encourage agency and choice where possible and, in this role, they are important members of mental health teams, as well as mental health advocates.
In my clinical experience, and as a member of numerous health care teams working with MDs, psychologists and psychiatrists I recognize the fact that many members of such teams do not have the time and/or (in some instances) the inclination to encourage these kinds of patient engaged self-reflections. Nor should they. After all, guiding and supporting cultivated self-reflection is a specialty, just as psychopharmacology is a specialty. In my practice, with over fifteen years of clinical experience, I have shown the psychotherapeutically grounded practice of PC to be particularly effective in supporting the treatment of PTSD as well as anxiety and personality disorders.
Contemporary philosophers are rigorous students of the breadth of academic theory. As such they cannot help but work with, and appreciate the massive contributions of the recently differentiated fields of science: Medicine, Psychiatry, Psychology, Neuroscience. Many scholars in the field note that Philosophy and Psychology were a shared discipline until the late 1880’s when some – including, Charcot, James, Janet and Freud – facilitated the splitting off of Psychology from Philosophy. This split facilitated specialized knowledges by distinct means. Psychology, notably, committed to scientific method in a way that Philosophy could not. Yet, Philosophy has a long history of influencing Psychology and since the 1900’s Psychology has a rich history of doing the same for Philosophy. The legacy and potential of this history is why the APA, Division 24 (Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology) recognizes the importance of these distinct academic fields working together to enhance each other.
In short, Philosophical Counselling is a growing field of practice and research and this fact is reflected in the growing number of joint Philosophy, Psychology and mental health programs as well as research initiatives bourgeoning internationally. It is a field of research that has evolved out of the shared history of the two disciplines.
Philosophical Counselling for Patients, Doctors, Psychologist and Psychiatrists
Over the years – as I have a good rapport with the medical and academic community – many of my patients have been referred to me by their medical doctors.Oftentimes, these patients have been on medication and want to reduce, or come off of it. I am not necessarily medication opposed and I work with many of my colleagues to evaluate the effects and benefits of medication for my patients, however, it is often the case that medication does not address the core causes of discontent. Philosophical Counselling, if you are willing to pay for it and do the work, allows us the time and space and non-normative – or not only normative, or consciously normative – engagement to go deep enough into your psyche to address the causes of discontent.
Happiness is possible and more and more happiness can be a part of life. Philosophical Counselling supports self-reflective and authentic happiness. It is especially rewarding for me to work with individuals who are living with PTSD. Finding authentic wisdom and happiness in integrating some of life’s more profound challenges is very rewarding work.
Life can be difficult and humbling at times and we can choose to learn to live wisely in the face of it. In Philosophical Counselling we look our particular lives in the eye, and go deep inside ourselves to learn as profoundly and as deeply as each individual can, why they are going through the hurts, challenges and expansions they are living through. In PC, we look to see what meaning individuals will make of their experiences and lives.
As a researcher, clinician and academic, I specialize in psychological trauma recovery, which includes recovery from abusive relationships, loss of a loved one, near death experiences, random injurious traumas, incest recovery, sexual-abuse recovery, rape, physical assault, and home invasions. I also specialize in sexual health issues including sexual identity and sexual lifestyle issues and challenges.