Thursday, 26 February 2015 19:00

3. Distinctively philosophical?

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I suppose that the usual way of responding to this quandary is to talk about what is NOT philosophical, or more precisely what is not philosophical about psychology and the like.

Psychology is a science (even if in its origin it was itself philosophical, or born out of philosophical discourse and reflection). As such, it aims to ground the understanding of the human mind and behaviour in methods that yield measurable results.

Despite controversies even amongst psychologists/therapists, their treatment hinges on a therapeutic paradigm that rests on a clear understanding of health and unhealth. On the basis of this understanding, unhealthy mental and behavioral patterns are detected, classified, and causally determined with diagnostic, prognostic and treatments to boot. Sessions then aim to first diagnose a patient (methods may vary), elucidate causes (either exclusively by the therapists or in conjunction with the patient), and then proceed to implementing treatment.

Sessions conducted by philosophers do not follow this pattern at all. Philosophical counselling draws clients into an intra-personal and inter-personal dialogue that aims to elevate counselees from a static, or stagnant state of thinking and behaving to a self-reflective state invested in a deeper, more synthetic and analytic understanding of self and the world.

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Elly Pirocacos

I am a professor of philosophy presently on leave from the American College of Greece and Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Education, Department of Integrated Studies in Education, at McGill University. My research is focused on working out the inter-subjectivity of dialogical engagement to address fundamental epistemological issues with regards to counseling and teaching methods. I have a practice in philosophical counseling in Montreal, Canada and am secretary to CSPP (the Canadian Society for Philosophical Practice).