Thursday, September 29, 2016

Was Socrates a Philosophical Counsellor?

This was my talk to the 5th Internal Conference on Philosophy in Practice at Oxford in 1999

Socrates has been cited as the most important precursor of philosophical counselling (Schefczyk, 1995). Certainly Plato's portrayal of Socrates, as a philosopher who uses dialogue to help people examine  their lives, inevitably invites comparisons with philosophical counselling.  Yet  there are also apparent differences in the context, assumptions, purpose, style and technique of Socrates and many modern philosophical counsellors. This paper aims to explore both these similarities and differences.  To provide a focus,  Euthyphro (Plato, 1959),  a relatively early[1], short, two-person dialogue concerning one of the participant's  "problem in living", will be discussed in the context of philosophical  counselling. Although it is recognised that  Euthyphro was written by Plato and may be largely fictional, it will be instructive to consider the dialogue as if it portrays Socrates at work accurately. In so doing it is hoped some light will be shed Socrates, philosophical counselling and the relationship between them.

Click here to download PDF for free access to the full article

Socrates, Philosophical Counselling and Thinking Through Dialogue                                                             Tim LeBon

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Listen out for doubts

Some clients may tell you if they have any doubts, directly. They are the easy ones.
The harder clients are ones where the doubts are less obvious
This may show in a small hesitation, in a slightly unsure tone of voice. Look out for these and check out what is going through their minds
Doubts might raise themselves as questions which indirectly show doubt. Such questions might seem innocuous enough
"Do you have clients as complicated as me?"
"Have you dealt with cases like this before?"
Best to empathise  with the doubt, ask what is behind it rather than take it too literally or brush it side.

Sometimes doubts manifest as statements
"I've been reading this book ... [which suggests a different explanation or strategy]"
"I'm feeling better this week so maybe I dont need therapy".

Again, look at the pros and cons of this ideas - and go back to your formulation, your understanding of what is keeping the clients problems going