By Kay Taylor
The art of addressing difficult issues shown in the chart may be one of the most challenging issues that consulting astrologers face.
Astrology is a symbolic language. We learn through study or personal and client experience what these symbols may mean, yet there is a range of possibilities for each planet and sign to manifest in actual reality. When we add to the mix aspecting planets, there are many scenarios possible, connected thematically but potentially different. When the theme is easeful, it’s not too challenging to evaluate and discuss, and the client is generally forthcoming.
However, when we see the potential of painful, traumatic experiences the client may have had—or may still be repeating—we need sensitivity and skill to address these themes in a way that supports the client and does no further harm. We want to speak truth, but we need to be sure the client is open and stable enough emotionally to explore the painful or complicated memories.
When a client is in psychotherapy, normally the therapist will wait for a number of sessions to build trust before confronting trauma or sabotaging patterns. As astrologers, we often feel the pressure of time and expectations of performance. We might only have that one session—an hour or two—to completely unpack the client’s life, psychological nature, and future. Yet the client in their first reading may have absolutely no idea how much the astrologer can know about them. They may have set up a session out of curiosity, expecting something just a bit more specific than Sun sign astrology. They may be shocked to discover the astrologer knows more about who they are than almost anyone in their lives.
How do we know if the client is ready for self-examination?
Some clients begin the session by sharing intimate details about themselves as they set the stage for their session. Immediately they ask deeper questions. Others sit down with arms folded across their chest, expecting to give no more than name and birth data. The attitude is “give me your best shot—let’s see if you can nail it!” Most clients fall somewhere in between, relatively open, giving you a few background details, asking honest questions, but also waiting to see if they can trust you.
It takes time to learn how to assess challenging chart details and deliver an interpretation in a clear and empathic way. It’s helpful to take a Consulting Skills training, such as the program OPA offers.
Meanwhile, until you take a training, or to refresh your skills, here are five key strategies for difficult chart issues:
1. Consent – Check in with the Client
Do not launch into sensitive topics without checking in with the client. If they ask you a specific question, you can assume they’re ready for the answer. But if they don’t ask, tread lightly into the subject.
“I imagine you’ve been having some intense issues in your primary relationships during the past two years. How has it been for you?” Or, “Would you like to explore the childhood themes shown in your chart? It looks like it was rather challenging…”
It is not our right to force our beliefs on a client, including what we think they need to know from the chart. On the other hand, we could be negligent if we completely ignore the strong themes of their life, or likely possibilities they will face in the future. There must be a balance.
2. Use the Language of Possibilities
Unless we have scientifically proven 100% certainty (which of course we don’t because the chart is complicated and free will does exist to some degree) we cannot make definitive statements. Besides, people are able to hear us with less defensiveness when we soften our language to allow them to accept or reject, or to fine tune our suggestion. Use words like possibly, maybe, could be, normally, often or potentially. This empowers the client.
3. It’s Not a Monologue
A consultation should be interactive, not a monologue. You don’t need to prove you know everything, and luckily these days more and more clients are educated consumers who know a good reading is an interactive process. A person’s consciousness is not visible in the chart. We need to talk to our clients—and listen between the lines to their questions—to know how they are experiencing their astrological potential. If it is not possible to have a conversation for some reason, it’s best to mention the range of possibilities to allow for the expression of their free will.
4. Let Go of Attachment
Please don’t argue with clients! If they don’t resonate with what you’ve just said, it may be a matter of your interpretation of the symbols, or their unique experience. Either way, they are the master of their life. Their perspective matters. Double check their birth data to make sure it is correct. If they still don’t connect to the interpretation, let it go. Maybe hasnt come up for them yet. Maybe they don’t see that quality about themselves now but will later.
Mars in the 9th house rules my chart. When I was younger, several astrologers told me, “Oh you must love foreign travel.” The truth was I was a single mom with small children… I wasn’t going anywhere. Once the kids were older, yes, it turned out I loved traveling. At the time of the readings, I couldn’t see past school lunches and the next bill to pay.
5. Empathy and Compassion
Empathy and compassion are the medicines that facilitate healing in every reading. When you hold the client with compassion, knowing we’re all doing the best we can on this rocky road of life, you are able to convey true empathy. You can see the client as a whole being, working with their unique challenges, with you as a guide—an equal with a special skill that might facilitate them to make empowered choices. The way you word your astrology will be affirming and empowering, and not judgmental, fatalistic or critical. It’s important to avoid sympathy too. This can imply that you feel superior and sorry for them.
To sum up, we can see a lot in an astrology chart. We don’t have to tell a person every single thing we know in the first sixty minutes after we’ve met them. We are relative strangers in a uniquely intimate situation. Follow their lead. Stay heart centered. Listen deeply and trust your intuition to guide you to the right words for the moment.