Philosophical coaching

Psychotherapy treats your illness. Philosophy addresses your well-being. When you have questions, but not problems to be fixed; doubts, but only true believers to turn to; friends but no one to talk to, — let philosophy be a companion in your search. No ready-made answers on a menu, not preconceived solutions to typical problems: only compassionate ears and skill in co-inquiry.

It only sometimes looks like coaching.

Public participatory philosophy has been re-conceived as games of competitive  persuasion. The first concrete instance is a board game called Tug of Logic. Tug of Logic is a game for 2-7 players that involves articulating and establishing shared reasons for and against a controversial proposition chosen for dialogue.

Philosophical consulting

Bringing philosophy to bear on creative entrepreneurial and pro-social projects. For businesses, non-profits, and professional organizations, philosophical dialogue and rethinking games and exercises provide unique training opportunities that can facilitate new perceptions of persistent problems. Recommended when the problem is not knowing the problem.

Philosophical practice is the use of philosophy to address personal or organizational problems and to live better. It is usually provided in the form of dialogue or other guided or provoked reflection. Philosophical practitioners also work with and within organizations to address issues related but not limited to: education and training, mission and vision, culture and values, conflict, strategy and leadership.

Philosophical coaching

Philosophical coaching is a main form of philosophical practice. At its heart, philosophical coaching helps individuals to articulate confused feelings and gain insight into one’s own mind and habits. In doing so, individuals can refine their thinking about a subject, disabuse themselves of misconceptions, and create a system of thinking or values which will help with a particular problem. The benefits of philosophical coaching are multifaceted.

Philosophy coaching will help you to ask new questions; to see problems from many angles, not just your own; to reflect on priorities; to explore injustices and conflicts of values; to reflect on uncritical thinking, and to challenge unreflective thinking. Passing through philosophical difficulties can open new opportunities of thought, emotion or action that otherwise remain unnoticed. Don’t go to philosophical coaches for answers, but for help thinking through the conundrums of contemporary existence for yourself. Philosophy offers multiple long histories of competing traditions recording how people have thought in the past. But these traditions are not accessed for their own sake, but only when they are relevant to questions clients bring pertaining to their future, and ours.

Issues that can be addressed and helped through philosophical coaching include:

  • Family, love, relationships, parenting; separation; divorce
  • Work, career, life-direction, self-image, work-life balance
  • Loss of job, loved-one, health, purpose, confidence, orientation, spiritual direction, identity
  • Value-conflicts, real-life dilemmas, priority setting, social or institutional injustice, unfair status quo, communication failure, or cultural misunderstanding and appropriation
  • Education, training and self-improvement, whether individual, corporate or professional

Philosophical coaching is comparable to career or personal coaching, or may even resemble spiritual advice. Use of philosophical methods distinguishes philosopher practitioners in this field from others. Philosophical coaching may take the form of short-term intensives aimed at achievable goals, or of longer-term seeking that involves, for example, independent reading of specific key texts in diverse spiritual and philosophical traditions.

Individual sessions dealing with subjects of a personal nature, philosophical counselling or therapy is often beneficial when personal or existential life events provoke a need for reflection or transformation, and require us the re-examine our priorities and practices. For example, relationship difficulties, problems at work, personal loss, illness and misfortune are typical subject matter for philosophical counselling.

It is not uncommon that the problems that present themselves as psychological have origins beyond the individual, for example, that a conflicted or perverted value-systems troubling a client is not their own, but prevails in the wider society, in the market, or the ethnic, corporate or political culture which the client is subject to. The alienation and suffering belongs to the client, but these subjective effects have external causes that do not belong to the psychology of the individual; in such cases, psychological help alone will not suffice. A philosophical approach can focus on the social, political and ethical dimensions of world problems, going beyond the usual concerns of psychologically-based therapy. Philosophical coaching may take various forms, comparable to secular pastoral care, political counsel, or ethical consulting. Psychology need not enter into it at all.

Philosophical consulting

Philosophical practice also exists as philosophical consulting, comparable to and sometimes taking the organizational, leadership or ethics consultations. Philosophical consulting is ideal for professional organizations seeking critical thinking and dialogue training opportunities for its members. It may involve assisting a community, academic institution or other organization to arrange public participatory dialogues, or exploratory philosophy sports meets, to reach out to a specific community or client-base, or help manage change or conflict during leadership changes or other reshuffles.