What I value about philosophical counselling is that it focuses on ways of connecting to what matters and reconnecting to what was valuable but felt lost. After several traumatic experiences, it’s felt like I was cut off from the things that are important to me, and that I might never find them again. This kind of counselling points me in the right direction and suggests that maybe all is not lost. It takes the best of philosophy (a determination towards truth, engaging with reality, questioning how we should act and relate to others) and works with it in concrete situations and with specific concerns, leaving aside the unnecessary abstractions and quibbles that characterise so much of academic philosophy.
"Maria de Moura"
I have grown increasingly weary of what is done to clients’ experiences of themselves and the struggles that they face. I wanted to think about my existence rather than have my own symptoms explained back to myself. And so, I thought to return to a philosophy in practice – the original therapeutic inclination, perhaps. I found it more difficult than I thought I would – to just be with myself rather than explain myself away. The silences are the busiest moments in the sessions, the moments when I want to talk myself out of myself. I have to resist filling the silence with the compulsion to do the very thing I set out to avoid – seek explanations rather than experience things as they are.
Jason Ross
Counselling psychologist
It’s more like free-form, word or idea associations full of symbolism and metaphors. We have fun sometimes and enjoy ourselves in the way that meanings unfold. I feel ‘met’ by you in a way that becomes embodied as a sense of deep connection and of someone who is supporting and exploring positively and without prejudice. You might add a story that meets what I have been trying to express and expands on it. There have been times when that sense of being understood keeps me buoyant for a very long time. Occasionally you pull a sleight of hand with your observations, opening an entirely new and unthought-of perspective from what I might have been struggling with or trying to explain. In doing that, you open up what might be a narrow defended attitude and just allow the light in to give that aha! moment.
Helen Douglas helped me think through the most difficult – and retrospectively most correct – decision of my life.
Timo Xolani Freeth
Medical doctor, musician and writer
It was important to me that the person I spoke to had some understanding of my Buddhist inclinations when trying to live my life. What I learned over time was that the view can be much broader. Together we look at what is arising from different viewpoints. In psychotherapy, the conversation could be shaped by the theories and labels I think.
Helen has a wonderful way of being present with humour and skill and a gentle patience. I went to her with questions about what to do with my life. I came away remembering my loves and stories, and with insights into how to choose what I do with honour and presence. Helen is incredibly thoughtful in all senses of the word.
It is useful to have a guide who stops us in our tracks and checks our beliefs. What are our assumptions? Why are we doing things that circle us back to the place we try to leave?
In philosophical counselling, my own present morals, ethics, principles and beliefs are the basis by which my issues are dealt with. This is much more direct and quick than having to delve back into the “he said” and “she said” of the past, or just talking about emotions.
On the basis of my brief but positive experience: good critical listening with insight into, and concern for, ethical values in political context.
You were someone I could really tell everything to – different from a friend who I might worry would think me mad, or who I might be embarrassed to tell certain things to – but I liked your calm acceptance of whatever I was saying/feeling.
Artist, teacher, entrepreneur
The return to, and refining of, basic principles brings the clarity I need to stay true to my ethics whilst charting a way through the incredibly complex political, social, economic and personal context of South Africa.
Environmental activist
I’ve had deep insights through understanding my strengths and capacities, rather than focussing on stresses and insecurities. And I also related to the spiritual side of my values, discovering archetypal images, almost like fairy tale figures, that are helpful to me. There are different paths.