Guy du Plessis  

Philosophical Counseling

I am a philosophical practitioner certified as a Logic-Based Therapist by the Logic-Based Therapy & Consultation Institute, an affiliate of the National Philosophical Counselling Association (NPCA). I offer philosophical counselling and consulting services online via Skype. 

According to the Preamble of the NPCA Standards of Practice, "a philosophical practitioner helps clients to clarify, articulate, explore and comprehend philosophical aspects of their belief systems or world views...Clients may consult philosophical practitioners for help in exploring philosophical problems related to such matters as mid-life crises, career changes, stress, emotions, assertiveness, physical illness, death and dying, aging, meaning of life, and morality".

My primary methodology is Logic-Based Therapy, but I also employ other philosophical practice methods, for example Socratic Dialogue, Philosophical Contemplation & Bibliotherapy. My personal approach is significantly informed by the philosophy of Stoicism, the work of existential philosophers (Nietzsche, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, & Camus) and existential psychologists (Frankl, Boss & Yalom), and the notion that basic existential needs are ontological. 

I do not op for providing optimistic or 'spiritual' platitudes for my clients, but rather assist them in finding constructive ways to accept and work within the limitations of their existential givens. I help my clients analyse and reconstruct their world-designs to best authentically fit their particular circumstances and vision for their future.

Below I provide an excerpt from a soon to be published article where I provide a brief overview of the methodology of Logic-Based Therapy.

Overview of Logic-Based Therapy

Logic-Based Therapy (LBT) is a form of a philosophical counselling method developed by Elliot Cohen (2003, 2007, 2013). He states that, “The keynote of the theory is that counselees disturb themselves emotionally and behaviorally by deducing self-defeating, unrealistic conclusions from irrational premises in their practical reasoning. LBT accordingly provides the critical thinking tools for constructing counselees’ faulty reasoning; identifying and refuting its irrational premises; and constructing philosophically enlightened antidotes to these premises, guided by a corresponding set of “transcendent virtues…” (Cohen, 2013, p. ix).

Simply put, LBT assists a counselee in improving psychological flexibility and resilience. Psychological flexibility refers to an individual’s ability to the extent to which a person can cope with changes in circumstances and think about problems and tasks in novel, creative ways. Psychological resilience is defined as an individual's ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of social disadvantage or other highly adverse conditions.

Apart from the LBT counsellor/consulting helping counselees refute fallacious thinking the counselee is taught metacognitive skills that improves metacognition. Metacognition can be understood as an individual’s ability to critically analyse how they think, having relatively high self-awareness and control over their thoughts and developing appropriate thinking strategies at daily living. “LBT accordingly provides the critical thinking tools for constructing counselees’ faulty reasoning; identifying and refuting its irrational premises; and constructing philosophically enlightened antidotes to these premises, guided by a corresponding set of “transcendent virtues”… (Cohen, 2013, p. ix).

It is important to note that LBT should not be understood as a psychological approach, because these approaches “look for causal explanations for mental processes whereas LBT examines logical arguments for their soundness…It is thus a humanities discipline whereas psychological approaches are social science approaches. Broadly speaking, the humanities are interested in epistemic justification, that is, the justification of knowledge and value claims. The social sciences seek to find the causal laws that determine mental processes” (Cohen, 2016, xxii).

The methodology of LBT is defined in six steps: (1) Identify the emotional reasoning; (2) check for fallacies in the premises; (3) refute any fallacy; (4) identify the guiding virtue for each fallacy; (5) find an uplifting philosophy that promotes the guiding virtue; and (6) apply the philosophy by implementing a plan of action for the client. According to Cohen (2016) these “six steps provide a rational framework for confronting problems of living” (xix).

Cohen (n.d.) points out that although LBT has a clearly outlined and sequential methodology and that it is not rigid and dogmatic and requires a fair degree of meta-philosophical creativity on the part of the LBT counsellor/consultant. He states that "[t]he philosophical theories LBT utilizes are sundry and diverse…Which of these theories are put into practice is largely a function of what is congenial for the counselee, that is what resonates with his own intellectual lights. So, within broad limits of rationality (as defined by LBT’s list of fallacies) and of what is likely to work for individual counselees, LBT avoids proselytizing for particular philosophical views (p. 3).

It is refreshing to note the emphasis LBT places on willpower, which in itself can be seen as a guiding virtue and philosophical antidote to the deterministic bias that prevails in psychotherapeutic models, the social determinism that underlies studies in the human and social sciences, and the victimhood mentality that is so pervasive in contemporary culture (Du Plessis, in press). Cohen (2016) states that LBT "maintains that people have the capacity to exercise willpower in order to make constructive changes in their lives…This includes, within limits, the ability to overcome tendencies to overreact behaviorally and emotionally to external events; as well as the ability to suspend, or change primary emotional responses to situations that may be creating problems for clients (for example, traumatic events)" (p. 176).  

References to be found in a soon to be published journal article, An Existential Perspective of Addiction: A Logic-Based Therapy Case Study. 

My Personal Philosophy Library

Here is a link to my philosophy book collection in my personal library (Library Cat Database), which my clients can peruse to explore philosophical literature to be used for bibliotherapy. 

Each book is linked to the Library Thing Database which provides reviews and some background information of the book and author. (I am yet to catalogue my psychology, eastern philosophy, fiction and science collection).