for individuals and couples
Philosophical counselling, or philosophical practice, began in Europe in the 1980s
and has now spread across the world. It takes its inspiration from the ancient
Greeks who used philosophy as a practical means to ease suffering and to live
When I began my practice in 2002, I imagined it as a hostel for travellers who
had become fatigued or disoriented along the way. It would offer some shelter,
companionship, local knowledge and direction. A hostel is not a clinic. There
is no doctor, no patient, no diagnosis and no treatment, only engaged conversation
about this particular life: what is happening, what is to be done and what it
Clients ("guests" or "visitors") come to me for various reasons. Sometimes they
are at a crossroads and want to consider their options. Or perhaps something happened
to take their feet out from under them. Some are battling with despair or depression.
It could really be anything - nothing human is outside of philosophy - but they
come because they need some help to face the question of their lives.
My role is to encourage guests to find their own way to the heart of whatever
is causing distress. The philosophical counselling relationship combines skills
of the mind (questioning and reasoning) and the experience of dialogue (speaking
and listening to each other with care and attention).
Philosophical counselling is not characterised by techniques or theories, but
by a commitment to consider each person's life situation as unique and significant.
It is at once a therapeutic, ethical, political and pedagogical practice. By clarifying
the meaning of our struggles and desires, its goal is emancipation from whatever
mental or emotional chains have bound us.
Philosophical counselling: The ethics and politics of life.
Ran Lahav interviewed me at the 13th International Conference on Philosophical
Practice (Belgrade, August 2014). You'll find it at the
The Philo-Practice Agora or on YouTube.