Vain is the word of a philosopher, by which no mortal suffering is healed. Just as medicine confers no benefit if it does not drive away bodily disease, so is philosophy useless is if does not drive away the suffering of the mind.
Epicurus, fragments whose source is uncertain
The Essential Epicurus
Does philosophy have anything practical to offer?
Philosophy is often thought of, especially today, as an abstract, theoretical discipline, however, historically, philosophy was much more than this. Think back to Socrates and his famous dictum, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’. His, and subsequently many other philosopher’s main concern, was how to live a good life. This approach to philosophy has resurfaced again and again, first with Plato and Aristotle, then later with the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans, and that’s just ancient Greece. Outside of Europe, the Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu and others were turning their reflections towards similar questions and in a similar way. The practice of philosophy is committed to the view that we are each a valuable resource for thinking about questions and problems we may find ourselves faced with. Human beings have a natural capacity for reflection and reasoning, that others who have thought about these same philosophical issues before us may be able to help us with.
What is Philosophical Coaching?
Philosophical coaching is one-to-one philosophical conversations with one of The Philosophy Foundation’s accredited philosophers (all have a minimum of a BA in Philosophy and have completed our training in philosophical enquiry). Philosophical coaching uses critical enquiry to help unpack problems you are faced with, to help you work through difficult decisions or moral dilemmas and to help you come to a better understanding of an issue you want to explore.
Philosophical coaching can help you think more clearly about decisions you need to make (e.g. whether to go back into education or make a career change), or can help you think about value and meaning in your life, such as, ‘does the work I do align with the values I have’? It is akin to life coaching, but comes with critical thinking tools and reflective practice that you can use to help make decisions in the future, without necessarily the need for more coaching. In this way it is enabling you towards autonomous thinking.
Philosophical coaching can help you with relationships, career and education decisions, personal values and priorities, conflict, strategy and leadership.
During a session you will enter into a conversation with one of our philosophers, they will ask you guided questions and talk through philosophical ideas and methods that can be used to help you come to a decision or reflect on your ideas more deeply. The aim is to help bring you to greater clarity, insight and understanding through philosophical method(s) and sometimes also through the ideas of others: what might Plato, Friedrich Nietzsche or Simone De Beauvoir bring to bear on a problem you might be faced with? Our philosophers are not there to offer advice or to teach philosophy in the traditional way, but to facilitate your explorations by providing reading, methods and conversations relevant to your interests and concerns.
Although a number of our philosophers are trained counselors, please note this is not counseling, but conversations that can help you to reflect on personal or professional issues currently facing you.
If you would like counseling we recommend Tim LeBon who is a cognitive therapist and philosophical counselor and the author of the book Wise Therapy.
If you're interested in Philosophical Coaching, please email Emma and let her know what you'd like to talk about, and she will be in touch to arrange a meeting. The first session is free and there is an initial conversation had prior to the first session to make sure this is right for you.
All matters under discussion will remain private and confidential, and all data will be treated in the same way.
I've worked with Peter for three coaching sessions now and must say that he has helped me through navigating the personal complexities of my life. His exceptional ability to ask questions that reach the heart of the problem with empathy and compassion has brought about insight and perspectives I've not considered. I highly recommend working with Peter for coaching and looking forward to having more sessions with him.
I found it interesting, useful and exciting. Interesting because it prompted questions which I never thought about; useful as I can apply what I have learnt in my professional and well as my personal life, and exciting because of the unlimited variety of topics that could be discovered and explored. I can see how these coaching sessions could help me grow by supporting me in conceptualising and structuring complex problems.
The Philosophy Foundation would like to offer Philosophical Coaching to those who would benefit from it but cannot afford it. To this end we will be using a ‘pay-it-forward’ system, whereby individuals who pay the full rate for a session will be contributing to the full cost of a session for someone who needs help. This could be a young care leaver; a young person not in employment, education or training; a disadvantaged graduate; an ex-offender; someone experiencing homelessness or unemployment.
We can offer our sessions online via zoom, sometimes face-to-face sessions can be arranged.
We will have an initial conversation prior to the first session to make sure philosophical coaching is right for you.