Some coaches and coach trainers like Eben Pagan distinguish between a consultant and a coach. What’s the distinction? Does it apply to a coaching philosopher vs. a consulting philosopher?

The distinction is between hiring someone to do something for you, which is a consultant, and hiring someone to teach you how to do something, which is a coach.

In the case of philosophy, this distinction is most usefully applied to a company’s hiring a philosopher as a consultant as opposed to an individual’s hiring a philosopher as a life coach.

For example, a company may hire a consulting philosopher to clarify or review their practices with respect to, say, hiring procedures or sexual harassment procedures. The goal would be an ethical one of ensuring that the company’s policies are fair to everyone.

Similarly, a company might hire a consulting philosopher as a speaker or trainer to help employees understand how to deal with prolonged unwanted emotions or how to reduce stress. The goal would be the productivity one of increasing their employees’ happiness. All employers have the sometimes very difficult task of attracting and keeping good employees.

happy employee

By way of contrast, an individual who wanted to learn how to dissolve prolonged unwanted emotions or how to reduce stress might hire a coaching philosopher as a teacher or mentor.

I’m a certified life coach. Yes, I’m also able to talk with groups and review policies. I was a professor for 32 years and am used to speaking in front of groups.

However, my main focus is to help individuals live better emotionally. Obviously, it’s impossible to fix someone else’s emotional distress; we are all in charge of our own emotions (whether we like it or not!). What anyone who is suffering from prolonged unwanted emotions such as grief, shame, anger, or fear is able to do is hire a qualified life coach to guide them from emotional distress towards happiness.

Since the focus of philosophy is wisdom, living well, it doesn’t make much difference whether you think of a helpful philosopher as a coach or as a consultant. The end goal is the same.

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Dr. Dennis E. Bradford