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Did You Ever Consider Consulting a Philosopher?

Some problems people have may be helped by consulting a professional philosopher

There is a new breed of helping professional in the mix that has recently been getting some press. These new kids on the block of helping professionals are known as philosophical consultants. While they are relatively new to the current professional climate of helpers (beginning in the U.S. with the founding of the National Philosophical Counseling Association in 1992), they have a history dating back to ancient Athens when Socrates practiced philosophy in the marketplace. Unlike mental health practitioners, these helpers do not look for and diagnose mental illnesses or disorders. Instead, they address problems of everyday life that human beings, as imperfect beings living in an imperfect world, confront. This blog briefly describes the nature of the service offered by philosophical consultants, namely those certified by the National Philosophical Counseling Association (NPCA), of which I am co-founder and current Executive Director.

The NPCA, the premier professional association that regulates philosophical consultation in the United States, publishes a list of examples of the sorts of practical problems that philosophical consultants can help people address:

  • Moral issues
  • Values disagreements
  • Political issues and disagreements
  • Writer's block
  • Time management issues
  • Procrastination
  • Career issues
  • Job loss
  • Problems with coworkers
  • Disability issues
  • Financial issues
  • Retirement
  • Aging
  • End of life issues
  • Midlife issues
  • Adult children of aging parents
  • Problems with family
  • Family planning issues
  • In-law issues
  • Breakups and divorce
  • Parenting issues
  • Becoming a parent
  • Sibling rivalry
  • Finding out one is adopted
  • Falling in and out of love
  • Loss of a family member
  • Loss of a pet
  • Friendship issues
  • Peer pressure
  • Academic or school-related issues
  • Rejection
  • Discrimination
  • Religion and race-related issues
  • Entertainment-related issues
  • Technology-related issues

NPCA certified philosophical consultants have masters or Ph.D. degrees in philosophy and are trained in a modality of a philosophical practice known as Logic-Based Consultation (LBC). The latter, which I began to formulate as early as the late 1970s, provides a dynamic framework that helps people address problems like the above ones. The NPCA also trains mental health practitioners in the Logic-Based approach who wish to integrate philosophy into their mental health practices.

Philosophical consultation is:

  • Short-term help consisting of one to three one-hour sessions
  • Focused on a specific problem for which the client seeks help
  • Applies philosophical theories and methods aimed at helping clients address the problem at issue
  • Develops a plan of action for constructive change based on these philosophical ideas
  • Relatively inexpensive, ranging from $80.00 to $150.00 depending on the experience of the practitioner

The NPCA also publishes a directory of philosophical practitioners, many of whom are philosophical consultants. Most do online (“teleconsulting”) as well as face-to-face consulting.

The philosophical approach does not require clients to have a background in philosophy. Most people have world views that are philosophical in nature, and the NPCA certified consultant is trained in helping clients to identify, clarify, and consistently apply their world views to make constructive life changes. Often, it is irrational ideas such as the demand for perfection, that obstruct philosophical thinking. The philosophical consultant trained in LBC can help clients to overcome such irrational thinking, construct rational goals and philosophies that align with their world views, and overcome the inertia (or cognitive dissonance) that obstructs the road to constructive change.

Philosophical consultation is not right for everyone. Those who have diagnosable mental disorders require professional help from licensed mental health practitioners. But many people simply have an everyday problem they want to address. Do you have a problem like one of those mentioned above? Perhaps a philosophical consultant may be a suitable choice for you.

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