Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Life Consulting

I really like helping people solve their problems. I really like to help people understand the world better. I certainly don't claim to have all the answers -- but I do have a great many questions. And sometimes it is the right questions we need to hear.

We have all heard of therapy -- it's based on the current psychological theories and can involve a psychiatrist or a therapist or a trained therapist. There is also philosophical therapy -- it is based on the questions philosophers have asked over the millennia. Lou Marinoff calls it "therapy for the sane." There is also literary therapy, which attempts to do something similar to philosophical therapy, but with literature. And there are people called "life coaches," where the aim is to help people achieve certain goals in life.

Now, what is "therapy"? Therapy means "curing" or "healing." A therapist is attempting to cure or heal a person of what ails them. The psychological therapist of their mental "disorders," the philosophical or literary therapist of their dis-ease with life.

"Consult" comes from the Latin word for "to discuss." Consultants are thus professional people with whom you can discuss a matter or situation. The consultant gives you feedback, provides you with an outside perspective of the situation, and then allows you to do what you wish with the information.

Sometimes people just need to sit and discuss things. They may need to discuss their job situation. Or their home situation. Or their frustrations with their autistic child. Or their writer's block. Or any number of other things. And wouldn't it be nice to be able to discuss those things with someone who can point you to the right things to read or who can ask you the right questions or who can make you think about things from a new perspective?

A life coach is trying to help you realize a goal. A life consultant is not necessarily goal-oriented.
A therapist is trying to cure or heal you of something. A life consultant is just a discussant; any healing will be done on your own, and if your consultant's consultations led you in that direction, great.

The key is to provide as judgment-free discussions as possible. The key is to lead people to greater understanding. It's what great teachers do. It's what practical philosophers do. It's what the humanities are all about. It is what I would love to provide people.
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