Canadian Society for Philosophical Practice
Société Canadienne pour la Pratique Philosophique


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Autumn 1999

Volume I Number 4


Annual Report

Results of Elections


Member News

Requests to Members

Change of Address (outdated)

Calls for Papers and other Projects

Annual Report

Review of Business for the First Year

CSPP began formal (financial) operation in November 1998.  Early in 1999 it conducted an academic awareness campaign by distributing information sheets on the Society to the 33 philosophy departments in Canada having graduate programs.  A Society Web site was established.  Discussions among the members during the first year focused on a few major themes: codes of ethical conduct for philosophical counsellors and the question of professional training and certification as possible long-term goals; legal liability issues for officers of the society and for philosophical counsellors and other practitioners; and debates about the similarities and differences between PC and traditional forms of psychotherapy.  Members have generally chosen to tackle these issues in a cautious way without self-imposed deadlines, mainly out of concern that philosophical disputes may lead to the fragmentation of the interest group in spite of some common values, much as appeared to happen in the past few years south of the border. 

 These same issues look likely to be important subjects for dialogue in the second year as well.  There have been some developments in the substance of these discussions, however.  The Society is now considering a precisely worded Proposed Code of Conduct (aimed primarily at counsellors) which was tabled in the course of dialogue among several members.  Some members with a background in clinical psychology, social work or counselling are now more strenuously advocating concrete developments in methodological standards and clinical-professional training, as well as in a code of ethics.  Yet it became apparent during discussions at the First Conference that members have not yet agreed on questions as fundamental as whether philosophical counselling should ally itself with psychotherapies or consider itself as wholly distinct from them and hence possibly free of the need for such institutional regulation.  A stark example of this pluralism of views came in conference discussion about the attitudes a philosophical counsellor could properly hold towards a client's contemplation of suicide.  Some appear to believe that a counsellor has no place under any circumstances accepting a client's conclusion that suicide is right, while others think that it might be philosophically justifiable in some cases even if not legally sound. 

 At this point it seems necessary to ask what we should hope to achieve in concrete terms during the second year.  Further raising public awareness and further extending the discourse among friends of philosophical practices are certainly common goals, albeit hard ones to measure.  There is also a sense that progress must be made on the question of professional ethics and criteria of competency, whether or not members can reach a clear consensus on the nature of PC.  Why is this so?  All members support "ethical standards and ...measures to enhance the competence and skill of practitioners," but so far neither have been definitively established.  Yet whatever becomes formalized in this matter, there is a keen interest in ensuring that these standards and measures are both articulated and realized in a manner that is fair and lacking in arbitrariness or non-essential rigidity.    


Results of the annual elections at the AGM

 Because of the absence of contested positions, members nominated for Board or Executive positions were elected prior to the AGM by acclamation as endorsed by the membership. The results of the nomination process were as follows:

Re-elected President and Treasurer:               Dr. Stephen Hare  

Re-elected Vice President and Secretary:       Hakam Al-Shawi, MA

Re-elected to the Board:                                 Dr. Christina Bellon

Newly Elected to the Board                            Dr. Jon Mills

Stanley Chan, MSW

Dr. Michael Picard

One vacant Board position remains, and the positions of Secretary and Treasurer are in fact available, since they should be filled by persons other than the President and Vice-President.  Members willing to assist with Officer duties are encouraged to indicate this and assume these roles either as interim Board/Executive members or in their private capacity as members.


 In relation to its very modest size, the CSPP's finances are in good shape, with a year-end surplus of about $225 to be carried over into the second fiscal year.  Apart from required administrative expenditures during the year (bank fees and the costs of stationery, photocopies and postage of information to members), the only expenditures were (1) a mail promotional campaign to 33 universities in Canada with graduate programs in philosophy and (2) hospitality in the form of food costs for attendees at the first conference in Guelph.  An open invitation was made for applications for travel subsidies to any out-of-province members wishing to attend the conference, but there were no requests.  Low administrative costs have allowed the Society to accumulate net membership assets towards specific Society projects.  Assuming no loss of members in the new year, the Society is in a good position to increase its total assets to a record level.  Members are being mailed a hard copy of the financial statement.  


Member News

 With some encouragement from certain faculty, Dr. Peter Raabe has applied to the Counselling Psychology Department at the University of British Columbia to begin teaching courses in philosophy for counsellors.  If successful, Raabe's proposed courses would represent the first Canadian scholastic program of instruction directly related to philosophical counselling.  Raabe is also seeking formal support from the Society in this proposal, which is under consideration by the Executive and Board.  Raabe says that the Counselling department was the logical choice for the proposal because there was little interest in philosophical counselling in the UBC philosophy department, and a counselling school would already possess needed expertise in clinical aspects of counselling.  

Requests to Members

 Members are urged to notify the Secretary and/or President as soon as possible of any changes in their current mailing address and particularly in their active e-mail addresses.  It is sometimes impossible to reach members on short notice with last-minute announcements or information because e-mail addresses are out of date and no longer valid. 

Change of Official CSPP Address

 Please note that the mailing address of the CSPP is now #2-356 Mayfield Street, Vanier Ontario K1L 7W2.  The address was formerly 473 Besserer Street, Ottawa Ontario K1N 6C2. Annual memberships are now due for renewal and members who have not already sent their cheques are kindly asked to do so promptly.  Members who do not renew for 1999-2000 prior to the release date of the next quarterly newsletter will be removed from regular and electronic mailing lists at that point.


Call for Papers and Other Project Proposals

 The CSPP is submitting a proposal for a symposium on Philosophical Counselling/Philosophical Practice to the Canadian Philosophical Association (CPA) by the end of November 1999.  The proposal was suggested by Dr. Andrew Brook, current Treasurer of the CPA.  This symposium would take place within the CPA Annual Congress at Edmonton during May 24-27, 2000.  A second CSPP gathering within about half a year of the first is a worthwhile goal, not only because of the logistical support and exposure the CPA would lend to the event, but because members who attended the past meeting are in general agreement that "physical" discussions are more satisfactory than the virtual forum in which members usually carry on their dialogues.

 Members and non-members who would like to participate and have not already indicated this are encouraged to submit statements of interest, paper abstracts of under 200 words or complete papers of under 3000 words as soon as possible to the Secretary, Hakam Al-Shawi, either electronically to hakam@ or by regular mail to #915-15 Vicora Linkway, Don Mills Ontario M3C 1A8.  New members are also especially encouraged to contact other members or officers of the society if they would like the Society to consider pursuing any project of special personal interest, or if they have suggestions about new ways for the Society to promote PC/PP to a wider audience.


Canadian Society for Philosophical Practice

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