|Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews|101 Healing Stories101 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started Using HypnosisA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyA Therapist's Guide to Understanding Common Medical ProblemsACT With LoveAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionBad TherapyBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBiofeedback for the BrainBody PsychotherapyBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBreaking ApartBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheChoosing an Online TherapistClinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Intuition in PsychotherapyClinical Pearls of WisdomCo-Creating ChangeCompassion and Healing in Medicine and SocietyConfessions of a Former ChildConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConfidingCouch FictionCounseling with Choice TheoryCritical Issues in PsychotherapyCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesDecoding the Ethics CodeDepression 101Depression in ContextDo-It-Yourself Eye Movement Techniques for Emotional HealingDoing ItE-TherapyEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveEssays on Philosophical CounselingEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingEveryday Mind ReadingExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFlourishingFlying ColorsHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Go to TherapyIf Only I Had KnownIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt’s Your HourLearning from Our MistakesLetters to a Young TherapistLove's ExecutionerMan's Search for MeaningMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessOf Mice and MetaphorsOf Two MindsOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical MidwiferyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePlato, Not Prozac!Psychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRecovery OptionsRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulSecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf MattersSelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapyStrangers to OurselvesTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyThe Art of HypnosisThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Education of Mrs. BemisThe Fall Of An IconThe Gift of TherapyThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Love CureThe Making of a TherapistThe Mummy at the Dining Room TableThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New PsychoanalysisThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Portable CoachThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Problem with Cognitive Behavioural TherapyThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Schopenhauer CureThe Talking CureThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe UnsayableThe Wing of MadnessTheory and Practice of Brief TherapyTherapyTheraScribe 4.0Toward a Psychology of AwakeningTracking Mental Health OutcomesTreating Attachment DisordersWhat the Buddha FeltWhat Works for Whom? Second EditionWhy Psychoanalysis?
by Peter B. Raabe
Review by Alex Howard on Oct 15th 2001
Here is a substantial and useful text that seeks to survey and assess the development of philosophical counseling. It is aimed primarily at the professional reader, including other counselors, though the interested layperson will also find it useful.
Part I is entitled 'Philosophy of Philosophical Counseling', Part II offers 'A New Model', Part III examines 'Practice'.
Peter Raabe cites Gerd Achenbach as 'the founder of the modern philosophical counseling movement' in 1981. Others argue that it began in the USA with Paul Sharkey, Pierre Grimes, and J. Michael Russell in the 1970s. Whatever their disagreements, though, philosophical counselors agree that, in applying philosophy to everyday lives and concerns, they are returning to its early roots and rationale.
Raabe quotes Martha Nussbaum, who argued that Hellenistic philosophy was 'an immersed and worldly art of grappling with human misery', and 'a way of addressing the most painful problems of human life.' He reminds us that John Dewey stated, at the beginning of the last century, that philosophy should be less academic and more concerned with the problems that confront a person in daily life.
Likewise, of Pierre Hadot, 'philosophy did not consist in teaching an abstract theory - much less in the exegesis of texts - but rather in the art of living.'
Philosophical counselors seek to leave the ivory tower of academic philosophy and become more immersed and worldly. How will they do this? What skills and qualities will they need? What theories and methods will they offer? How will they describe themselves? As philosophers that give counsel? As providers of counseling that is philosophical? Raabe's Chapter One 'Survey of Conceptions', shows substantial disagreement among practitioners.
He criticises Gerd Achenbach, I think rather unfairly, as succumbing to post-modern intellectual anarchy. Achenbach can speak for himself concerning the accuracy of this account.
Raabe does, though, provide overall an extremely useful survey of the theories and practices of philosophical counselors. He describes philosophy as, over the centuries, wandering into a 'stereotypical emotionless academic pit.' This leads to the obvious question 'Who would ever think of going to a philosopher for comfort?'
Philosophers do not have a reputation for being 'street savvy', emotionally sensitive, or even much concerned about the plight of ordinary individual mortals. Therefore, do they have the 'people skills' needed to function as philosophical counselors? The question is raised and it deserves more investigation.
Raabe considers that 'Very few philosophers with academic training in philosophy have the requisite personality or ability to apply their knowledge to the alleviation of suffering.' He asks, 'is it even possible to do penetrative philosophy in plain English? For most academics, he suggests, the answer is a simple and resounding 'No'.
He mourns, I think rightly, the divorce of academic philosophy from the language and concerns of society, its compartmentalization, its introversion, its abstraction, and its pedantry.
Philosophy must therefore be applied if it is to be alive and Raabe concludes that philosophical counseling can be differentiated from psychotherapy in four main ways: 1) Intentional teaching, 2) Transcendence of philosophical discourse from immediate problem solving 3) enhancement of client autonomy 4) the preventative or proactive element.
Raabe seeks to draw together the great variety of philosophical practice in a four stage model which he claims 'does a better job at tying together the diversity of "fibers" which constitute the practice of philosophical counseling.' Stage one, is a 'free-floating' listening stage. Stage 2 concerns attempts to resolve immediate problems. In Stage 3 the counselor becomes 'more explicitly a teacher'. In stage 4 'the client is helped to transcend the "mundane" chore of immediate problem resolution.'
I am not convinced that this four stage model ties together the varieties of philosophical counseling, or that they need to be tied together in one 'model'. Philosophy, it seems to me, is about being able to travel cross country, it is a kind of intellectual four wheel drive if you like. Philosophy is about breaking out of the confines of just one model or route. It allows people to 'look in' on modes of thinking. It frees us from the prison of having to 'look out' on the world with just one set of conceptual spectacles. That does not mean that it allows just any old thinking and action to equate with any other.
Raabe concludes with some case study illustrations of philosophical counseling in action. Its value is best summarised, I think, by the common expression Raabe hears from his clients: "I can see so many more options now where I thought I only had two choices before."
© Alex Howard 2001Alex Howard was a tutor in philosophy, counseling and psychotherapy for over twenty years before being drawn into the management of adult education. He has written five books, and many articles, about psychotherapy addressed to the lay reader as well as to the practitioner. His most recent, Philosophy for Counselling and Psychotherapy: Pythagoras to Postmodernism (2000) is published by Palgrave. In May 2001 he extended to an online practice of philosophical counseling and consultancy.