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Philosophy and Psychology were always best friends!

Date: 15/03/22 - 28/03/22

Author Name: Tejashwini Havannavar

Qualifications: BA Philosophy, MA Philosophy, Logic-based Therapy (specialisation in Philosophical Counselling)

Designation: Consultant Counsellor, ACRO Mental Health Services.

Word count: 875 words

Reading time: 9 mins

Reviewed by: Sareem Athar, Navya Peri & Mariyam Mohammed.



Psychology was not an individual discipline at least until the 1800s, I know, quite shocking?! (1). But let's fact-check where this stream finds its roots in…Philosophy! That's right (2). Rene Descartes, a Greek philosopher, came up with a theory, dualism, where he asserted that the mind and body were two entities that interact with each other to form an experience (3,4).



Asking questions, introspecting, and contemplating all these groundworks of mainstream counselling today have come from philosophy (5). There are two sets of philosophy; rationalism and empiricism, one that deals with logic and the other being sense experience, we see in our day-to-day lives that we often find ourselves stressed because of our mind being in one place and heart in another, we have often asked questions; like, “why me”, “I know in logic this sounds the right decision to make but my heart is not up for it, I feel stuck”, have we asked questions like these, we most certainly have! (6-8). What are these questions and where did this mode of asking, questioning, and interpreting come from…Philosophy! (9).



Now more than ever we see that people not only look out for a solution-oriented approach but a more sustainable; perspective-based approach to their problems (10). The guidance that comes from ancient wisdom by some great thinkers is still approachable, and understandable and they are not only preachy but also practicable (11). Applied philosophy plays a major role in reasoning out everyday problems like moral dilemmas, ethical dilemmas, and relational dilemmas. Reasoning, what we call logic in philosophy, is used for philosophical counselling, hence the name Logic-based Therapy (12,13).


Like the title suggests, philosophy and psychology are mutually inclusive, it has never been one against another or one independent of the other, because the characteristic of psychological counselling can differ, as it will, with every different domain of expertise but the foundations of counselling that psychology offers is from philosophy (14,15). Both of them can work together to give our clients the benefit of both worlds as a collective view of issues discussed (16). When people come with issues like a mid-life crisis, job loss, or finding it difficult to accept a loss, such issues can be easily dealt with by a philosophical practitioner not as a substitute for other mainstream counselling but as an efficient mode of coping to challenges faced by a person (17).




Philosophical practitioners deal with reasoning (18,19). We all make decisions or feel extreme emotions due to some fallacious reasoning, reasoning based on irrelevant statements that a person who is making these decisions would not be aware of, remember we all have used this phrase telling our friends that as a third person (20,21). I don't think what you're thinking makes any sense, this is because when somebody else, somebody who is not the experience but an observer can see your irrational thinking and can tell you how your thinking is causing a challenge in your life (22). So one basic distinguishing factor between a psychologist and a philosophical counsellor would be that as psychologists use a causal method to counsel issues, we use reasoning and logic (23). There are various tools that mainstream therapy, existential therapy, have incorporated Stoic philosophy, Existential philosophers such as Sartre, Neitzche, and Heidegger and their insights into counselling, so it seems like philosophy and psychology were best friends always, right? (24,25).



Philosophy and psychology have shared similar roots, both of them use scientific methodology to arrive at discussions and conclusions (26). Psychology is more experimental, it is hypotheses, tests oriented whereas philosophy is dialogue, intellectual, (27) and perspective oriented which gives flexibility in analysing people's explanations to their conclusions, for example when a person comes to a philosophical practitioner with stress/anxiety related to failing an exam, the client here states that because this subject is difficult for them and even in the last test they just managed to somehow pass the exam they have this fear of failing it in this test(28-30).


As a philosophical consultant, I would show my client how their reasoning sounds illogical by mapping out their statements with evidence (31,32). So in this case, I will show the client that they said that this was a difficult exam but they managed to pass which shows that they do put in the effort by studying as best as they can, and secondly finding a subject to be difficult is not equal to failing an exam because putting in more effort in studying by making the understanding process of the subject creative or by taking help from a friend or teacher can ease their feeling of difficulty (33-35).


So, you see what I did here, the client was assuming the future which lead to the anxiety of failing an exam, but as Epictetus, a philosopher, said, “the future is not to worry about because it is not what we can see, focus on the present and do the best of it, that is all we can control’(36-39).


So in such ways, philosophical counselling offers analysis, reasons out your way of thinking, sets you in perspective, helps you find solutions to things that are in your hands, and gives you a philosophical antidote (philosophical antidote: a theory by a philosopher that suits your interest to feel uplifted and get going and gives you a chance to feel better for a longer-term (40-43).


Audio-Visual Credits:


1. Photo by Marija Zaric on Unsplash

3. Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

4. Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash


REFERENCES


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