My head and my heart

It was when I was in deepest pain that I was most grateful for being a philosopher. Reason doesn’t shield me from pain, in fact it leads me to root around and seek it out, but it does help me see where exactly it is coming from and in doing so helps keep my feelings in synch with reality. Even when my pain was overwhelming I have been able to straighten out the snags and kinks so that it wasn’t unbearable.

My favourite image of my head and my heart is inspired by “Driving with Miss Daisy”, with my head as the level headed chauffeur and my heart as the erratic passenger. Although the passenger is in charge the chauffeur is at the wheel. The chauffeur’s job is to take the passenger where she wants to go, which is not necessarily the place she asks to go so there is room for discussion in which the chauffeur points out the passenger’s earlier requests and the reality of their situation then saying “So now where do you want me to go?” Without the chauffeur to drive the car the passenger would be prone to getting lost and would face the choice between restraining herself and crashing; without the passenger the chauffeur wouldn’t have cause to go anywhere. My head gives my heart a buffer zone in which to feel freely and a clearer view of myself and the world, my heart gives my head purpose and direction.

So my experience has been that philosophising has been a powerful tool in maintaining my emotional wellbeing, the big question for me is how could philosophising help other people, most of whom won’t share my obsessive and reckless curiosity? This blog is part of my attempt to answer that question, my instinct is that philosophy has a lot to offer the practice of and as I train and develop as a counsellor I’ll be pondering that instinct and putting the results up here.

I’ve identified six key ways in which my own skills as a philosopher could be used to help others in a counselling context:

  1. Acting as a counsellor who happens to be a philosopher. If I carry on with my counselling training then this will happen no matter what. My philosophical tendencies have already come into play when I’ve asked questions during counselling skills practice. But more importantly those tendencies are also a major source of my emotional resilience, and with that my ability to put my ideas aside and stay fully engaged with clients as they find their own answers in their own way.
  2. Helping clients strengthen their analytical skills. Now we’re staying into the territory of Philosophical Counselling and rational approaches to therapy such as CBT. It’s an intriguing area and I’ll definitely be investigating those approaches to see what I can steal.
  3. Helping counsellors to help clients strengthen their analytical skills. Maybe in few years’ time I’ll get involved in providing counselling training in this field, but it’s not what I’m aiming for yet.
  4. Developing a rigorous philosophical framework for my counselling practice. This is what I’m working towards as I write; it’s one of the primary motivations of this blog.
  5. Developing a rigorous philosophical framework for other counsellors’ practice. A pipe dream; maybe my ideas will catch on, but there’s no shortage of counselling frameworks, so unless I stumble on some paradigm shifting ideas one more won’t make much difference.
  6. Helping other counsellors develop their own framework for their practice. That’s the other primary motivation of this blog. I hope that my posts will give you cause to question the way you see the world and that you will be moved to comment on what I and other readers have to say.
Leave a comment


  1. John Killeen

     /  3 July 2014

    Hi Pat. I read with interest. Digested with enthusiasm. But understood like a child. As a reflective learner, it takes me a bit longer to catch on. Look forward to the next portion. X

  2. brian killeen

     /  16 January 2015

    Hi Pat
    Unlike our somewhat slower brother I understand completly where you are coming from at least I would if I smoked and could get hold of some of those herbel cigs.
    Seriously though impresssve piece of work I have no doubt your clients will benefit hugly from you incites and as your framework develops it will be well received
    Look forward to reading and gradually digesting more


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