Philosophical counselling is an extension of philosophical consultancy which focuses on outcomes of an emotional or psychological nature. Philosophical counsellors help people in distress or confusion to evaluate their worldviews and reorient their emotional dispositions, without applying diagnostic labels or imposing clinical treatment programmes.
Philosophical counselling can have profound psychological benefits. Counsellors engage in dialogue about personal problems, predicaments and values, addressing the issues of concern in a professional and respectful manner and reflecting on the best ways to act or adjust. Often philosophical progress can alleviate the sources of stress and anxiety more directly than courses of medication or programmes of psychotherapy. For many people, this is a personal breakthrough.
Existential Counselling focuses on the individual's lived experience and examines the nature of their worldviews and the meaning of their emotions, promoting philosophical reflection and a coherent purpose in daily life. It is a humanistic and phenomenological approach to counselling, which encompasses insights and methods from many philosophical paradigms. It takes its name from the nature of the problems it addresses rather than from the Continental doctrines of Existentialism; it is independent of particular philosophical paradigms. For an accessible summary, see Emmy van Deurzen's "What is the Existential Approach?".
LBT is an extension of rational emotive behaviour therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. It assumes that emotions embody the conclusions of practical syllogisms, and attempts to identify and correct flawed premises. Read more in Elliot D. Cohen's "Philosophical Principles of Logic-Based Therapy" (Practical Philosophy, 6:1).
In addition to their philosophical education, philosophical counsellors require advanced training in counselling theory and practice.
For SPP recognition as a philosophical counsellor, candidates must hold a philosophy degree and postgraduate qualifications specifically related to philosophical modes of counselling. A suitable course is offered by the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling: the DProf in Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling by Professional Studies. The doctorate is accredited by Middlesex University and it confers eligibility for professional membership of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). It includes theoretical modules in psychology and the philosophy of well-being, as well as practical modules in existential phenomenological analysis and a dissertation project on a philosophical theme in counselling.
Short courses in Logic-Based Therapy are offered by the Institute of Critical Thinking in the USA, with an option for distance learning. (Note, however, that the ICT's certificates are not formally recognised by statutory agencies.) Prospective participants who do not already hold qualifications in counselling should be able to demonstrate a prior professional interest in mental health issues.
Practitioners who wish to provide philosophical counselling as a clinical therapy for emotional and psychological disorders must be accredited practitioners of mental health psychology. The SPP recommends the DCPsych in Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy by Professional Studies, which leads to Chartered Membership of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), and eligibility for registration as a Counselling Psychologist by the Health Professions Council (HPC). (A supplementary module of Human Sexuality is required for recognition by the UK Council for Psychotherapy.) The British Psychological Society's Graduate Basis for Chartering is a prerequisite for this course: eligibility is normally conferred by a degree in psychology, though graduates in other disciplines with an advanced education in psychology may be eligible for recognition under the special case criteria.