to Philosophical Counselling
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Achenbach is widely regarded as the founder of contemporary philosophical counselling.
His approach, however, has been influential but is not everywhere adopted. The
following summary is based some of his writing, but is not meant to be a
comprehensive statement of his views or his current position.
1) ‘Never treat universally what god intended to be
differences in clients; one size does not fit all; match response to particular
case, e.g. thinkers, emoters; depressives…
2) At first and at length, the sole goal is to understand
the other being before you.
client centred; be open to “surprises” from them
apply pre-existing theory, or “teach” but rather learn from other
3) ‘Do not want to change the client’
not “work on people”;
not ameliorate human nature;
clients discover goal of sessions for themselves.
4) Attend to detail and enlarge the context of the
and attention to detail are philosophical virtues;
neglected aspects of problems;
multiplicity of perspectives.
Marinoff is the president and founder of the American Philosophical
Practitioners association, which runs certification programs in philosophical
counselling. He has developed the following schematic approach to counselling,
which he calls the “PEACE” process:
listen, seek to understand the client’s issues from their perspective
aware of the emotions surrounding the issues (not necessarily to find the
locus of problem in them)
survey options; examine aspects of the problem looking for consistency,
assumptions, new perspectives, etc
find broader outlook, consider ideas for their own sake.
seek peace of mind; find resolution in action (justified decisions to act).
Peter Raabe wrote his doctorial dissertation in Educational
Studies at UBC on the topic of philosophical counselling. His approach involves
four stages, but not all counselling sessions need or require all four.
Floating : “listen with maieutic silence”
to client’s needs/wishes; why have they come?
together where to go next.
attend to the
specific life issue that brings the client in (if there is one);
philosophical reflection to precipitating issue
“insider” perspective as fellow human to offer a relatively more universal,
augment the client’s capacity to engage in philosophy (provided client so
teaching not limited to client’s personal issues; but which also serves the
moral autonomy of client to think for themselves;
critical reflection; may instruct in logic or about ethical frameworks or
: “emerging from Plato’s cave”
toward ecological relationship to world;
compressed immanence of lifeworld;
necessarily rational) liberation from bonds of passion; choice/discernment of
good; greater understanding, not a unique higher Truth
Cicero said that Socrates brought philosophy down from
heavens into the soul
Socrates has been described as many things:
as barren midwife
(wisdom born in others through his own ignorance);
as matchmaker in
as electric eel, who
stuns others, but who is himself constantly dazed and stunned
as horsefly, gadfly,
pesterer with questions;
as wearing an ironic
mask, over-conceding points to keep is interlocutors off-guard.
Unexamined life is not worth living; each must think for themselves (moral
philosophy as tending to the soul, not the body
purpose of soul is to know; thus involving inquiry and dialogue
purpose of life: to make the soul good as possible
(Socratic Paradox) Virtue is knowledge; sin is ignorance
(Socratic Paradox) Evil is always the result of mistaken judgment; thus, no one
ever does evil wittingly.
Advocated the tetrapharmakos
or fourfold remedy:
“God presents no fears,
death no worries; good is readily obtainable, evil readily endurable.”
Blessed nature has made what is necessary easy to obtain, and what is not easy
Cry of flesh is for no hunger, no thirst, no cold; if this is secured, one may
rival the gods in happiness.
of philosophy is ataraxia: undisturbable
state of mind; imperturbability.
one must train the soul to relax into pleasure and serenity, with gratitude to
nature and life
· one ought to grow friendships by confessing faults, by
mutual correction, mutual examination of conscience
Stoics equated the following:
Possessed of reason, therefore, we are one with the divine,
or at least partly divine.
But the function of reason is to deal with our desires, to
effect a kind of therapy of desires.
Freedom lies in
knowing what is up to us and what is not.
Bondage lies in
concern with what does not depend on us.
Our doing: conception, choice
desire, aversion, judgment
Not our doing: body/health,
property, reputation, office, prophecy
happens! Reason over passion! Death before dishonour!
Key Methods in Stoic
“therapy of desires”:
(vigilant, mindfulness, tension, keeps truths at hand, keeps mind in
present); Anagnosis (reading
and explicating texts);
(investigation, putting into practice of learning);
(to be affectively prepared; as in praemeditatio
malorum, imagining poverty, suffering, death)
of Duty. (duty for duty’s