Providing life-changing Philosophical Counselling since 2006, the Mind-Body Healing Centre is home to one of Canada’s first and leading philosophical counsellors: Patricia Arnold, PhD, who offers her counselling expertise for individuals; couples and families; groups; as well as consulting for organizations.
Supporting the journey to yourself...
During individual sessions we will engage - sometimes Socratic and always wholistically investigative - dialogues that aim to support self-discovery and authentic alignment between your best self and your actions in the world. We apply philosophical considerations to psychotherapeutic inquiries – somatic, emotional, and thoughtful - to engage deep self-understanding.
This dynamic and thoughtful form of investigation supports the client’s own best definitions and ideals of health and healing. Clinically speaking clients can expect tangible measures of their progress, which will include decreases in anxiety, depression and anger, and improvements in non-reactive, purposeful communication, for example.
Couples & Families
Cultivating the relationships you've always wanted...
I provide dynamic counselling for couples and families, empowering you and yours to explore individual values and motivations as well as those that influence how individuals relate to each other.
Together, we will engage new approaches to support authentic communication. This therapeutic environment facilitates sharing and exploring so that participants can engage the potential to understand themselves and their significant other(s) in deeper, more dynamic, and exciting ways.
Developing a greater relational understanding...
Groups can enhance what we achieve in individual therapy. Group work is a safe domain in which to practice being relational. Groups help us listen and tune into our grounded selves; our groups are 4-6 individuals in size and use the opportunity to work on and investigate topics together. These can be philosophical topics or otherwise.
For example, I have facilitated groups on inclusive identities and relationships, professional development groups, habit cultivation groups, and spiritual investigation groups. Subscribe to my newsletter to stay updated on upcoming cohorts.
Inspiring a wholistic culture of connection...
Ethics are important hot topics in progressive corporate environments. There is an increasing need for organizations to provide Philosophical Counselling, and philosophical investigative skills, to their employees. These engagements help actualize the facilitation of harmony and dynamic engagements in the workplace, integrating wholistic and humanistic objectives.
Philosophical Counselling can also assist corporations in developing positive public images. We support this by embracing a strong ethical base, then seeking coherence between values and tangible actions and communications. As a Philosophical Counsellor, I can assist your organization to resolve employee engagement; especially those that interfere with work and team performance. I also facilitate workshops and consult boards to improve corporate ethics, define and execute mission statements, and codes of ethics, or design training workshops, such as dilemma or integrity training.
Coherence of mind, body, and spirit...
Being a coherent self feels good. It feels better than being incoherent – i.e., out of sync with yourself. My extensive clinical experience allows me to claim that it is your best self that is the glue of coherence.
When your best values match your best intentions and thoughts, then the best actions often follow, and we just feel better. Therefore, we can think of discontent as alerting us to the need to be more coherent.
Freedom to create and direct one's life...
Having agency is core to self-reflective living. We create and engage our humanity by enacting our freedom. Wholistic freedom is coherent with one’s values. Philosophers who research freedom throughout the ages often claim that “the freer we are, the more human we are.”
The more we exercise choice in being ourselves in the world, the more agency we have. To have agency is to not necessarily be subjected to the outside social/peer, emotional, and conventional forces that instantiate and shape us. To have agency is to choose from your most aligned, most coherent self, how you want to be in the world.
Philosophical seekers learn and affirm that the individual does not have to be how our social forces instantiate, or shape, us. It is a rarity to be a free agent. We can be more and more free – by way of coherent self-reflection – and so we can be more and more human. In this way, freedom stands in relation to authentic happiness or eudaimonia. More self-actualized individuals enact more agency. Often, when we feel we lack agency, clinical symptoms like depression and anxiety can be signals to encourage more alignment with self.
Relating oneself to another self....
Phenomenologically speaking, empathy is a tool, and a cultivated skill, of therapeutic listening. To empathize effectively, the practitioner must aim to grasp the beliefs, approaches, and experiences that are characteristic of, and within, or that shape the individual. Practically speaking, this means doing a considerable amount of listening without judgment and aiming to understand deeply prior to evaluating. An effective philosophical counsellor places an individual’s beliefs in a social, experiential, and psychological context.
Thus, to say that empathy is an epistemological tool is simply to acknowledge that it is a way of attaining knowledge; real knowledge about another person’s way of thinking, reasoning and being in the world. When clients experience empathy they can open more easily to themselves and can more easily share empathy with others. Practically speaking, of course, empathy - and the care that in practice accompanies empathy - are key elements of psychological resilience, maturing and growth and, they make the world a kinder more understanding place.
Accurate and deep understanding...
One reason for providing a safe place in which individuals can share their reflections on their motivations, desires, and cognitive habits, is that safe places facilitate self-reflective insight and critical, yet kind, evaluations.
Philosophical Counselling relies on solid counselling and therapeutic practices, however where it is exceptional is in adding Philosophy and theory that is tailored to you and that you can apply to your life right now.
What You Really Need to Know
What you have read thus far might sound like a lot of jargon, however, what it really means is simply that if you are looking for a means to improve your quality of life and functioning, what you really need to know is that Philosophical Counselling works. Have a look at some of the testimonials.
It works because it honours where you are coming from and because there is not a formulaic response to the challenges being faced. Rather, I assess with you your gifts, and we set a course of action together that reflects you and where you are at.
I don’t believe in hierarchical therapy. I am not a therapist who needs to tell you what to do because I know best.
While I do have a lot of clinical experience and an exceptional amount of training and modalities from which to draw, I think because I know my discipline and practice well, I can be free enough to meet you in the places from which you are coming- because, really, it is all about you!
Philosophical Counselling relies on solid counselling and therapeutic practices, however where it is exceptional is in adding Philosophy and theory that is tailored to you and that you can apply to your life right now. Clients tell me what they find exciting is the way their minds and spirits expand when theory and thinking is seen to be relevant to them.
Often in life, we become numb to the beauty of daily living, we become reactors. We stop thinking and authentically feeling (i.e., knowing our feelings and trusting them). It’s true that society tends to condition us to be automatons; we’re better workers when we just follow the path of various social forces. But that’s only half-living. I believe that we are more fully human when we act with an intention that reflects the true and inner aspects of ourselves.
In Philosophical Counselling, the mind and spirit are re-invigorated, sometimes by transformational bodywork and sometimes by way of talk therapy.
In many instances the experience can be explained metaphorically in this way: the intellect draws a new outline or perimeter for the psyche and emotional self to grow into.
This description doesn’t mean that the process is only about the mind, because in truth, and in so many ways, the mind and body are one — at least the very minimal we can say about the relationships between mind and body is that they are significantly connected.
Many great teachers will tell you that there is infinite wisdom in the body, so we use the mind and body both to accelerate change and growth. I would love to show you how this approach is relevant to your life.
What is Philosophical Counselling?
I do not promote normalizing and numbing worldviews and instead aim to reclaim the self from the potential monotony of a disengaged day-to-day life.
For instance, many contemporary philosophers and mental health advocates feel that the agency to influence one’s own well-being and mental health can easily be taken from the hands of patients because thoughtful self-reflection and meaningful self-knowledge are not typically taught or encouraged. Whereas Philosophical Counsellors, by teaching and encouraging knowledge-based self-reflection, encourage agency and choice where possible and, in this role, they are important members of mental health teams, as well as mental health advocates.
In my clinical experience, and as a member of numerous healthcare teams working with medical doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists, I recognize the fact that many members of such teams do not have the time and/or (in some instances) the inclination to encourage these kinds of patient-engaged self-reflections. Nor should they. After all, guiding and supporting cultivated self-reflection is a specialty, just as psychopharmacology is a specialty. In my practice, with over fifteen years of clinical experience, I have shown the psychotherapeutically grounded practice of PC to be particularly effective in supporting the treatment of PTSD as well as anxiety and personality disorders.
Contemporary philosophers are rigorous students of the breadth of academic theory. As such they cannot help but work with, and appreciate the massive contributions of the recently differentiated fields of science: Medicine, Psychiatry, Psychology, Neuroscience. Many scholars in the field note that Philosophy and Psychology were a shared discipline until the late 1880’s when some – including, Charcot, James, Janet and Freud – facilitated the splitting off of Psychology from Philosophy. This split facilitated specialized knowledges by distinct means.
Psychology, notably, committed to scientific method in a way that Philosophy could not. Yet, Philosophy has a long history of influencing Psychology and since the 1900’s Psychology has a rich history of doing the same for Philosophy. The legacy and potential of this history is why the APA, Division 24 (Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology) recognizes the importance of these distinct academic fields working together to enhance each other.
In short, Philosophical Counselling is a growing field of practice and research and this fact is reflected in the growing number of joint Philosophy, Psychology and mental health programs as well as research initiatives bourgeoning internationally. It is a field of research that has evolved out of the shared history of the two disciplines.
Philosophical Counselling for Patients, Doctors, Psychologists, and Psychiatrists
Over the years – as I have a good rapport with the medical and academic community – many of my patients have been referred to me by their medical doctors. Oftentimes, these patients have been on medication and want to reduce or come off of it. I am not necessarily medication opposed and I work with many of my colleagues to evaluate the effects and benefits of medication for my patients; however, it is often the case that medication does not address the core causes of discontent. Philosophical Counselling, if you are willing to pay for it and do the work, allows us the time and space and non-normative – or not only normative, or consciously normative – engagement to go deep enough into your psyche to address the causes of discontent.
Happiness is possible and more and more happiness can be a part of life. Philosophical Counselling supports self-reflective and authentic happiness. It is especially rewarding for me to work with individuals who are living with PTSD. Finding authentic wisdom and happiness in integrating some of life’s more profound challenges is very rewarding work.
Life can be difficult and humbling at times and we can choose to learn to live wisely in the face of it. In Philosophical Counselling we look our particular lives in the eye and go deep inside ourselves to learn as profoundly and as deeply as each individual can, why they are going through the hurts, challenges and expansions they are living through. In PC, we look to see what meaning individuals will make of their experiences and lives.
As a researcher, clinician and academic, I specialize in psychological trauma recovery, which includes recovery from abusive relationships, loss of a loved one, near-death experiences, random injurious traumas, incest recovery, sexual-abuse recovery, rape, physical assault, and home invasions. I also specialize in sexual health issues including sexual identity and sexual lifestyle issues and challenges.
Philosophical Counselling – A Brief History
The term Philosophical Counselling may be new, but the practice is not. Socrates was actively providing Philosophical assistance as far back as 5th century B.C. The philosophical schools in Greece and Rome viewed philosophy as a means for addressing human suffering as well as social challenges. For the last two thousand years philosophers from Epicurus (who considered philosophy “therapy of the soul”) to Descartes (who counselled Queen Christina of Sweden) to Locke (who counselled the Earl of Shaftesbury), have used their philosophical insights to solve human problems.
Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering. ― Epicurus
The modern philosophical counselling movement is said to have reemerged in 1981 when Gerd Achenbach opened his practice in Germany to try and return philosophy to its original mission of addressing the everyday challenges and traumas of human life. He applied philosophy in private consultations creating a space for people to develop their own thoughts on matters of concern using philosophy as the foundation. This movement is growing and expanding to other European countries, Israel, India, South Africa, the United States, Canada, and South America.
Philosophy as Therapy
The practice, and discipline, of philosophy is rooted in the desire for human flourishing and happiness. The idea of a practical and compassionate philosophy – “a philosophy that exists for the sake of human beings, in order to address their deepest needs, confront their most urgent perplexities, and bring them from misery to some greater measure of flourishing” is an idea that can be traced back to the origins of the ancient practice.
Martha Nussbaum, for example, notes that:
The Hellenistic philosophical schools in Greece and Rome – Epicureans, Skeptics, and Stoics – all conceived of philosophy as a way of addressing the most painful problems of human life. They saw the philosopher as a compassionate physician whose arts could heal many pervasive types of human suffering.
They, and philosophers practicing today, see philosophy not as a detached intellectual technique dedicated to the display of cleverness, but as an immersed and worldly art of grappling with human miseries and challenges. What distinguishes philosophy from other contemporary forms of medicine is that we do not pathologize, or mark as “wrong,” human sufferings and challenges, but rather see them as an important part of life that can initiate learning and deeper understanding of one’s self and one’s world. As a therapy, its cures and remedies come from practices that are oriented to learning from, in, and in some instances, (metaphysically speaking) beyond life. The etymology of the word “therapy” references “change.” Thus philosophy is oriented towards wisdom and truth, so philosophy as therapy advocates a process of learning and changing into, or evolving into, your authentic, or truest, self.
Code of Ethics
As a certified APPA (American Philosophical Practitioners Association), APA (American Psychological Association) a member of the OACCPP, and the OAMHP and CRPO, I abide by a code of ethics. To read a version of the code of ethics I abide by, click here.