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