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COUNSELING ASTROLOGY #2

Article Originally published in the 1989 Summer edition of Aspects Magazine

 

First Contact with a New Client

Counseling starts during the very  first  contact  the  astrologer makes with a potential client.

This  article  explores  this  first  phase of counseling and also suggests what the astrologer should consider during and soon after the first contact with the person.

Most considerations concern the central question: "Is this  client for  me?  Am I the one who can truly be of help to this person at this time?".  The fact that the person has contacted you is not  a sufficient reason,  in  itself,  for you to assume you should work with that person.

Clients usually fall into one of three categories.  In  the  first category  are  clients  who look at astrologers as fortune tellers and expect their future to be predicted; these  clients  want  the counselor to decide for them what they should do.

The second category includes people who just want a "band aid" for their  problems.   They  are  usually  in  a crisis situation, and definitely need help and guidance.  They seek clear  solutions  to their  problems  but  they are not willing to really look at their lives and take charge.  If they get the help they want, they  will be back during their next crisis.

In my opinion, the third category consists of the most interesting clients for the counseling astrologer.  They may or may not be  in a  crisis  situation,  but  they  seek a sense of purpose, want to clear past issues, are attracted by  the  spiritual  dimension  of life,  and  are  willing to take responsibility.  Their enthusiasm for inner work  and  self-discovery  is  what  motivates  them  to contact an astrologer.

The client's answer to a few simple questions can help you  decide in  which  category she belongs and whether or not you are the one who can help.  If you decide your  mode  of  counseling  does  not match the person's expectations, if possible, you should refer the person to a colleague, who can do so.

The client's answer to "How did you hear about me?"  can alert you to  the  person's  probable  expectations.   A  referral  from   a long-time  client indicates the potential - but only the potential - for a motivation similar to that of  the  long-time  client.   A referral from a friend gives a good indication of what to expect ­if  you  know how well does your friend understands your work.  If the  client  found  your  name  in  the  Yellow  Pages  or  in  an astrological magazine, establishing a clear understanding with the client about your work is even more crucial.  If it is someone who attended  a  lecture  you  gave or read an article you wrote, this person may have a fairly accurate sense of  what  to  expect  from you.

 

So, no matter how the person heard from you, verify  the  person's motivations  and  expectations.  The question is simple: "What are you looking for in an astrological consultation?"  The answer  may be  a  long  silence  or  its  direct interpretation: "You are the astrologer, don't you know what I am  to  expect?".   If  you  get these  or  similar responses, be ready to help the person identify his motivations.

After  you know what the client wants and why, briefly and clearly explain what you do, and make sure the person understands you.

A few months ago, a friend, who has very little idea of how I work, referred her hairdresser to me.  Two days later I received a phone call from the  hairdresser.  She verified that I was, indeed,  an astrologer,  and  I  asked  her why she was interested in having a consultation.  Her answer was clear:

I am tired of being alone and want to know when I am going to get married again.

I asked whether or not she was currently in a relationship. The tone of voice  of  the answer told me she considered this a dumb question:

            No, this is why I want to see you.

I explained that I could help  her  understand  why  she  was  not currently  in  a  relationship and guide her into taking action to get into one if it emerged from  the  consultation  that  this  is really  what  she  wants.   I would not, however, make any type of prediction.  I would help her explore her concept of relationships and look at future trends  to  help  her  make  the  best  use  of upcoming energies.  As  I  suspected,  this  was  not  what  she was looking for.  She concluded our contact by saying that my fee was higher than  what she was expecting!

 

However, I had a similar experience later with  a  member  of  the Chamber   of   Commerce   to  which  I  belong  (as  a  counseling astrologer).  She was looking for trends in the  next  six  months and,   after  we  talked, chose   to  stay  with  her  New  Jersey astrologer.  A few weeks ago, she won the door prize I had offered and came for a half-hour free consultation.  We  are  now  working actively together, and she is taking charge of her life!

 

Another experience had to do with a referral from a friend who has a  good  understanding  of  my  work.   I  did not have to ask for motivations or expectations because she took  the  initiative  and asked me questions:

I am a Ph.D.  candidate in psychology.  Do you  think  I could  benefit from a consultation with you and what are your credentials?

 

I  answered  that  I  do  not  give  what  is traditionally called "astrological readings", that I do not believe in predictions, but that I help my clients get a better  understanding  of  themselves and  of  the  issues  they  are dealing with.  My credentials were "acceptable", so she came for  a  consultation.   Everything  went well  until  the  next day when she called me.  She felt I had not met her expectations and my credentials were not good at  all.   I regretted  not  having listened to my inner voice during our first contact.  It had been telling me not to get involved.

 

Once  you and the client agree on the purpose of the consultation, you should also come to agreement on the price and length  of  the consultation.  The astrologer's responsibility is to make sure she is   clearly understood   by   the  client.   Saying  only  "The consultation lasts one and a half hours and I charge so  much  per hour"  is  risky.   Chances are the person will remember the price mentioned, and not multiply by the time factor.   State  what  the total  amount  will be and ask specifically whether that amount is satisfactory.

 

Some astrologers set up an appointment during  the  first  contact with  a  new  client.   Other  astrologers  prefer  to compute the client's chart first and then set up an appointment  according  to the  client's  chart.   I  favor the first choice because there is always something going on in a person's chart, and  the  conscious motivations  of  the  person  and the astrologer often do not have much to do with what emerges during the consultation.

However, if I have  a  choice  of  appointment  time,  I  favor  a void-of-course  Moon  which, I believe, indicates a favorable time to  work  with  emotions.   I  want   energies   that   facilitate identifying   and  experiencing  emotions  during  the  counseling session.

The next step is  to  look  up  the  person's  birth  data  in  an ephemeris  or  to  compute  her  chart  in  order  to  do a simple comparison between the client's chart and your chart.  Even though you may have already set the appointment, the person may still not be a person you should counsel.  An astrologer  must  ask  herself the  question: "Can I honestly be a counselor to this person?  Can I be supportive?  Am I going to be able to hear what he or she  is really   saying?"    If   you   cannot   answer   these  questions affirmatively, you should refer the person to  another  astrologer and tell the person why you are doing this.

My  first  draft  of  this  article stated unequivocally: "Mercury square Mercury - forget it!  You will not  understand  each  other even  if  you  both think you are communicating very well."  Since then, of course, I have been working with a client  whose  Mercury squares  mine!   This  is  the  only  difficult aspect between our charts.  In addition, our charts show that I can support and guide her emotionally.  However, I frequently make extra  sure  we  hear each other - at least I think I do!

It is important to look not  only  at  how  you  can  support  the client's  transformation,  but  also at the effects the client may have on you.  For example, a client's Mars  conjuncting  my  Pluto will  make  me  have an extra look at the charts.  Pluto signifies power but also helplessness: without some other balancing aspects, a strong Mars on my Pluto may cause me enough discomfort when I am with this person to prevent from counseling this person well.

In  addition  to astrologer/client aspects between the traditional planets, ascendants, and mid-heavens, contacts with  lunar  nodes, East/West  points,  and  Vertex/Antivertex  axes, seem to help the client gain a  better  sense  of  purpose  during  the  counseling session.

Every potential client is a gift from the Universe.  This gift may be a delightful person,  well-motivated  for  self-transformation. However,  this  gift may also be an opportunity to accept that you cannot be "all things to all people", that you are not  the  right astrologer for this person at this time.

The next article will focus on getting ready for the  consultation and the first direct contact with the new client.

FRANCOISE-THERESE FRIGOLA uses the astrological chart as a guide to teach her clients to understand inner conflicts and inner strengths.  Her Master's degree integrates transpersonal psychology, astrology, and spirituality.  She writes and lectures on self-awareness and self-growth.  She is currently ISAR vice-president.

Other articles on Counseling Astrology by Françoise Frigola

  1. Listen, Listen, Listen
  2. First Contact with a New Client
  3. A New Client is Coming
  4. Leading the Client to Self-understanding
  5. When The Chart Says One Thing and The Client Another
  6. The Consequences Of Change
  7. From Casual Counseling To Professionalism
  8. Considering Ourselves Professionals

 

 

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