Sunday, April 29, 2012

[PL 211] Philosophical Counseling

In discussing the value of philosophy, my students and I discussed whether or not philosophy has any therapeutic benefits. I mentioned the idea of philosophical counseling. For example, The School of Practical Philosophy and the American Philosophical Practitioners Association (APPA) advertise themselves as offering some sort of philosophical counseling to individuals.

A few interesting questions came up:
  • Counseling is not something to be taken lightly; people's lives are at stake. Psychologists, for example, have to undergo extensive training before they can treat individuals. What, if anything, makes philosophers qualified to counsel people?
  • The APPA seems to have a three-day certification training for philosophical counselors. Is this sufficient training before one can provide counseling?
  • If the APPA itself is in charge of training, and there is no oversight by an independent body, should we find this kind of training as suspect as training in, say, Reiki? (See also Penn & Teller video below.)
  • Has philosophical counseling been studied--in the same way that other treatments are studied--and shown to be an effective and safe treatment? If not, should it be studied before it is offered to people?

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