Philosophical Counselling?

Counselling seems to have become the property of mental health practitioners. It immediately signals to a paradigm that is their reserved propriety. And yet, the study of the human mind, neither originates with them nor is it their exclusive domain of study. Philosophy in the Western tradition dating back to ancient Greek philosophers finds the birth of all notably intellectual endeavours. Aristotle is credited with having clearly delineated disciplines of study with accompanying methodological domains. Granted we have witnessed huge evolutionary progress in our understanding of the human psyche but this has been a collaborative enterprise, the insights of which can be catalogued amongst neuroscience, philosophy of mind, psychotherapy, psychology, social anthropology, sociology and various schools of thought and intellectual currents within each of these disciplines.

Counseling, consultancy, mentoring, these are all in the widest sense pedagogical activities. Guidance, advise, support and decision making strategies are not specific to mental health practitioners. In fact, if memory does not fail me, the term was first employed by Carl Rogers in an effort not to define the domain specific to psychology and psychotherapy, but rather to distinguish his humanistic orientation from the more clinical diagnostic orientation of other practitioners at the time. I’m not at liberty to trace the history of the use of this term but speaking to the general application of the term, even within a professional context, the most common application is not in psychology but in law. Lawyers offer counsel, they are in fact, counsellors. The point I wish to make is that when a term is employed within the professional context, and amongst fellow practitioners the generic use of a term is common. Lawyers and psychologists would refer to themselves and their practices as counsellors and counselling respectively. Yet, within the broader context of the general public one would have to be more specific to say legal counsellor or psychological counsellor, in which case philosophical counsellor should be welcomed.

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