What are these additional ingredients?
Some practitioners believe that what makes a discourse "philosophy" is that it uses logical analysis (or critical thinking). If your counseling analyzes the logic of arguments, or exposes assumptions, or detects logical fallacies – then it is philosophical.
I find this a very strange idea. Is logic the main thing which we learn in a philosophy department? Is critical thinking the main thing we find in books by Plato or Seneca or Kierkegaard or Bergson?
Obviously not. Philosophers do not simply ANALYZE ideas – they CONSTRUCT ideas. Throughout history, philosophers constructed rich and complex theories – theories of knowledge, theories of art, of love, of freedom. These theories help us make sense of life, they inspire us to look in new ways at our world, they help us address basic life-issues.
Of course, sometimes these thinkers use logical analysis, but this is not their main point. Philosophers use critical thinking – but no more than physicists or biologists or psychologists or economists or lawyers. ANYBODY who builds theories or explanations uses critical thinking (logical analysis). There is nothing especially philosophical about it.
This is an important conclusion for philosophical practice. If you do a logical analysis of your counselee's personal problems, then this does not make your counseling "philosophical." If your discussion-group does a logical analysis of a political situation, this is not yet "philosophy." Your counseling, or discussion-group, may be wonderful, but it has no special connection to the historical discourse that is called "philosophy."
Constructing theories about basic life-issues is what all philosophers do. But the words "constructing theories" are too rigid. Some philosophers – think of Bergson, Buber, or Nietzsche – do not build rigid theoretical structures. Rather, they "weave" or "compose" ways of understanding. And what they compose is not exactly "theories," but more generally "networks of ideas."
In summary, let me combine my previous reflection (philosophy deals with basic issues of existence) with the present reflection (philosophy weaves network of ideas): In order to do "philosophy," you must, at the very least, weave networks of ideas which address basic, general issues of existence.
But what exactly is a "network of ideas"? This question deserves a separate reflection.