Frequently Asked Questions

How can you help me?

Your feelings are intertwined with your ideas, beliefs, and values. Sometimes, especially during a time of internal conflict or struggle, it is difficult to decipher what you truly value and how to remain grounded in it. A philosophical counsellor is trained to be a good listener in order to help you interpret what path is right for you. Your counsellor’s role is to approach your concern with no agenda and to help clarify the nature of your quest. Often, clients benefit simply from having their situation understood fully and explained by a wholly non-judgemental person who provides space to explore your subjective world.

What happens during a session?

Every session is different and tailored to each individual client. However, some things you may expect are:
- Examining underlying assumptions, attitudes, motives, and emotions.
- Checking the sources of underlying beliefs.
- Working to articulate and understand emotions to assist in dealing with them.
- Striving to identify and clarify goals, values, and concerns: Who are you really? What is it that you are really looking for? What is important to you?
- Potential discussion of philosophical insights and referring to relevant philosophical works.
- Practicing feeling your feelings and using body attunement to "think" through difficult situations.
- Some situations might require mind-regression or relaxation techniques to access tensions or memories or wisdom within the body.
- Working through a goals book for structured progress.
- Developing powerful affirmations to reprogram destructive core beliefs.

How does this differ from other forms of counselling?

Philosophical counselling does not presume that everyone with a difficulty or problem potentially has a psychological or psychiatric issue; rather, it presumes that life presents challenges and difficulties for normal, healthy people, and that those challenges can be overcome through the right kind of support and advocacy. Philosophical Counselling is non-diagnostic - clients are assumed to be engaged in a human search for understanding, new approaches, and/or meaning in life. A philosophical counsellor helps a client to fully formulate their concern and offers various options for addressing that concern, without diagnosis, judgment, or pressure to conform to any particular worldview. In this sense, Philosophical Counselling, while therapeutic, is educational rather than clinical in nature.

What if my problem isn't strictly philosophical?

Any subject can be talked about philosophically and nothing is off limits. If your concern involves making a decision, a relationship issue, feelings about love or friendship, family conflicts, professional dilemmas or career changes, questions of belief, faith or religion, depression, problems of a moral or ethical nature, including sex, or substance abuse, the search for meaning, a sense of identity, or simply the desire to examine your life, you may feel free to discuss them openly, in a non-judgmental, objective, philosophical framework.

Do I need to know philosophy?

No formal philosophical education is necessary. But "the love of wisdom" (which is what philosophy literally means), should be accessible to ordinary people. A good philosophical counsellor will engage in a dialogue which involves useful rather than formalized language. The important point is that the philosopher and their client communicate, and mutually understand one another, in these exchanges that the client is encouraged to think philosophically and, importantly, to reflect on and share their experiences.

Does it involve reading philosophical works?

There is never a requirement to read philosophy. However, if a client might benefit from reading a particular philosopher’s work it may be suggested. Some famous or even lesser known philosophers can be immensely inspiring, comforting, and instructive.

I have heard you characterize your approach as a "feminist phenomenological" approach, what do you mean by this?

The gift of feminism, as I see it, is that it teaches us to be aware of power issues in social structures, or social interactions. So my version of a feminist approach is one that recognizes that social forces, and social assumptions, affect and shape our experiences and how we interpret them. Contemporary feminism allows us to "problematize" how one might manifest themselves as a woman or a man in this society. It recognizes that we can have a different sense of self, depending on how we interpret our identity in relation to our social class, for example. Feminism and psychology recognize that there are social power imbalances that negatively affect some more than others again in relation to how the individual has internalized their social(-izing) experiences. Phenomenology, being a branch of my beloved philosophy, refers to the study of human experiences. We want to look at experiences clearly with as few science-limiting, or society-limiting interpretations as possible. We want to look at how the individual experiences some things and we want to look at why they experience it the way they do. It is like a pure psychological investigation without the trappings of psychological categories and normative organizing structures. So I think this kind of approach helps with purer yet empathetic investigations with my clients.

How do you characterize the therapeutic relationship?

Obviously, I want to move away from a traditional patient-doctor relationship. Philosophical Counselling, as I live it, is a co-creative, mutually honouring process and is directed based on the goals and values of the client in collaboration with the therapist’s guidance. It is a relationship that teaches subject-specific thinking; it works from understanding why you do what you do; a deep understanding of your innate and chosen motivations and this process works with the client’s individual and unique ways of learning and thinking. The huge success of this process is also evidence of the fact that Philosophical Counselling is also very sound in terms of producing results. It is therefore a good mixture of art and science. I address client-specific mental health issues in wholistic and philosophical and scientifically rigorous ways. Philosophical Counselling cultivates wisdom in life, not mere coping with life. Survival is not good enough, we must thrive, and aim for enlightenment and wisdom wherever possible. It is not about being optimistic or positive, it is about aiming for best understanding and truth.

What are your qualifications?

My doctorate is in Philosophy with a specialization in psychology and psychological theory. I specialize in epistemology, value theory, metaphysics and feminist and social philosophy. I am a certified member of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association (APPA) and was the first of four Canadian counsellors to be certified by the APPA. I am also a member of the Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals and the American Psychological Association (APA) - Division 24: Society for Philosophy and Psychology, which encourages and facilitates informed exploration and discussion of psychological theories and issues in both their scientific and philosophical dimensions and inter-relationships.

How long are the sessions?

Individual sessions are 1 hour, couples and families are 1.5 hours, and groups or organizations can be customized.

Can I receive counselling by phone or internet?

Yes. I have had great success working with people through phone and online consultations.