One of the country's leading philosophical counsellers, and chairman of the Society for Philosophy in Practice (SPP), Tim LeBon, said it typically took around six 50 minute sessions for a client to move from confusion to resolution.
Mr LeBon, who has 'published a book on the subject, Wise Therapy, said philosophy was perfectly suited to this type of therapy, dealing as it does with timeless human issues such as love, purpose, happiness and emotional challenges.
`Wise Therapy, is part of a series aimed at promoting an integrative attitude as its ethos. Among all the many perspectives of psychotherapists and counselors, philosophy needs to take its place and needs to find its voice. Tim LeBon has provided an effective means by which counselors can bring philosophy into their work with clients' - APPA journal
`Tim Le Bon's Wise Therapy is a comprehensible and well argued book dealing with the practical therapeutic applications of philosophical research that may well be of interest to philosophers but -- as the author himself intends -- will be of most obvious benefit to therapists and counselors, both by informing their dialogue with clients in new ways and by helping them become more informed about ways to resolve the ethical dilemmas arising within the context of their own work' - Metapsychology
`A fascinating workshop for therapists and clients, backed up a thorough degree if philosophical acuity' - Journal of the Society for Existential Analysis
`I strongly recommend the book for philosophers as well as practitioners, teachers, students and supervisors in counselling and psychotherapy' - Self and Society
`Provides some additional and valuable arrows for the therapist's quiver' - Irvin Yalom, author of Love's Executioner
`Like Aristotle, Tim LeBon examines what is said and extracts what is best from it…. There are many fascinating exercises designed to bring out and enlighten the client's values, conception of the good life, well-being, happiness, pleasure, and the proper place of reason in life…. Wise Therapy is well written and engaging. The case histories are illuminating examples of therapeutic techniques at work, the thought experiments are well designed, and the philosophical position adapted from the internal debates of the philosophers is level headed…. I recommend it highly to philosophers with an interest in counselling, and psychological counsellors with an interest in philosophy' - Jeff Mason, The Philosophers' Magazine
`Tim LeBon has… authored a text which should become a staple on the philosophical counsellor's bookshelf…. Wise Therapy is a concise, well-written book…. His ability to relate philosophical concepts to counselling concerns is admirable and attests to the skill and knowledge he possesses as a working counsellor. But, by far the most important part of Tim LeBon's book to PC is the last chapter, "The Counsellor's Philosophical Toolbox"' - Craig Munns in The Examined Life
` Tim LeBon has done a good job of offering practical approaches to some of the most important and vexing issues that arise in counselling…. Tim LeBon's book contains helpful suggestions, practical information, and useful examples, and would make a good addition to the library of any counsellors willing to allow philosophy to turn mere client sessions into wise therapy' - Peter Raabe, Practical Philosophy
Wise Therapy is an original and practical guide to how philosophy can benefit counselling and psychotherapy. Tim LeBon argues that therapy, informed by philosophy, can help clients make better decision and achieve emotional wisdom. He uses philosophical approaches to explore issues of right and wrong, the emotions and reasons, well-being and the meaning of life, and develops a 'counsellor's toolbox' of techniques that can help practitioners apply the wisdom of philosophy to good therapeutic practice.
For counsellors who may find philosophical approaches to therapy useful, this work addresses key philosophical topics - the emotions, free will, the meaning of life and ethics. It is jargon-free where possible and assumes no previous philosophical training.
From The Independent, 16th November 2004
Plato is my agony aunt
It was the end of a love affair that broke her heart. Could the wisdom of the great philosophers show her how to be happy again? Claire Smith tries a novel form of therapy
"The unexamined life is not worth living," Socrates said. Nor is the life you're left with after your boyfriend has left you for another woman - at least, that's how it felt in October last year when mine broke rank and went off with an art student from Cleveland, Ohio. We were over there for the opening of his new art exhibition. He'd flown over four days before me and had met her at a party. Supposedly, they "connected".
The five months that followed were a roller-coaster of confusion, vitriol and despair. I knew there'd been problems in our relationship. We saw the world very differently; he delighted in the charm of the ordinary, I wanted maximum divinity. He walked; I galloped. He drank tea; I loathed the stuff. But, along the banks of the Thames, we'd made a promise to always stick together. Our love was something unique: "transcendental", I called it. And besides, we recycled. Surely a commitment to save the world would save our relationship? Alas, no.
So there I was, a woman scorned. Hell truly hath no greater fury. And what made it worse was that I still believed in our transcendental love. If I wanted to change the way I was feeling, I needed to alter the way I was thinking. But how? A few bottles of wine and a sharp blow to the head might have done the trick. Fortunately, there's an older, more trusted way of turning your head on its head that counsellors are starting to use: philosophy.
The idea of employing Plato as an agony aunt was begun in 1981 by the German philosopher Gerd Achenbach. Although philosophy spends a lot of its time asking real-life questions that affect real-life people - What is happiness? And is it always wrong to lie? - most of the debate goes on in ivory towers. What Achenbach and subsequent philosophers including Tim LeBon, the chairman of the UK's Society for Philosophy in Practice, wanted to do was "give practical application" to this gigantic library of great thoughts.
So how does it work? Like most types of therapy, you sign up for a set of sessions. "Two would give you a new perspective on one issue; six would help you to make a major life-decision, like a career change; with 12 you can start to rethink your entire life philosophy," explains LeBon. Each session lasts 50 minutes and costs £50 - and, no, you don't have to have any previous knowledge of philosophy.
"If you think of Friends, it would suit Ross and Chandler more than Joey," LeBon says. "It's for anyone who wants to make their emotions more intelligent. Or for those who have tried other kinds of therapy, and want something more cerebral."
The first session begins with the patient venting off about whatever's troubling them. The rant over, the counsellor then picks out some key concepts that are crucial to the problem - in the case of heartbreak, it is love and happiness that come hurtling to the fore - and then gets the patient to define what they mean. So, what is love? What is happiness?
To kick-start the patient's thinking, LeBon describes what a great philosopher had to say about it. In my case, he tells me what Plato wrote about love in his Symposium: that to stop man fighting the gods, Zeus decided to cut each human in two, so they would lose their strength. "This, then, is the source of our desire to love each other," Plato said. "Each of us is a 'matching half' of a human whole, because each was sliced like a flatfish, two out of one, and each of us is always seeking the half that matches him."
This method of probing what we might think are "obvious" ideas, such as love and happiness, was devised by Socrates in the squares of Athens. "The only I thing I know is that I know nothing at all," he boasted. What Socrates showed was that although many of the thinkers of his time thought they knew what justice, happiness and goodness meant, their understanding was tied in to their personal agenda and world view, and, what's more, when pushed, their ideas often contradicted themselves.
A bit like me on love. Whereas part of my understanding of love was something that gave life meaning, made it worth living and bound us together, I also believed that true love was "transcendental": that it was out of this world, and it didn't matter if the two people who loved each other couldn't get along in the day-to-day. Love was bigger than the mundane.
But when it came to the next stage of the therapy, critical thinking - "to check out whether your assumptions stand up to examination" - I walked head first into a contradiction. If I think love's purpose is to make life worth living, but then say it's irrelevant to daily life, surely my two ideas of love are not compatible?
As the cogs in my brain start to creak into motion, I feel myself taking a step back from my predicament: thinking about how I've been thinking. This idea I had of transcendental love might have started off as a romantic dream. But when the relationship stopped working, and I found myself feeling trapped and frustrated, I used it to justify the mechanics of a relationship that just didn't work in the daily grind. I used it to lie to myself....