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COUNSELING ASTROLOGY #3

Article Originally published in the 1989 Fall edition of Aspects Magazine

This article is being revised

 

A NEW CLIENT IS COMING

In the previous article, we explored the very first contact with a prospective client -- how to know whether to accept the person as a client or to refer her to another astrologer, and how to set up the first appointment. This article describes the preparations to be made before the arrival of the client and the beginning of the consultation.

You are expecting a new client, and it is time to get ready for the consultation.

I  know of astrologers with over thirty years' experience who work for two to three hours  on  a  chart  before  they  see  a client. It is important to take all the time you need in order to feel comfortable with the consultation.

I find that if I work a long time on a chart before I meet the client, I tend to start forming judgments  about the  person,  her issues, and the cause of her issues. These judgments can undermine my purpose in counseling astrology -- to guide the client through the self-discovery process rather than telling her about her issues. So I usually work on the chart until I get a good idea about the apparent psychological  background  of the client.   I look  at apparent areas of strength and areas of conflict.  Using the progressed and transiting  planets,  I  look for  the  areas that have demanded the client's attention in the recent past and present, as well as those that will be doing so in the near future. During this process, I do my best not to make any decisions about the person I am about to meet.  I need and want to meet the client with  an  open  mind,  for  the  chart  indicates only potentials; I do not know how the person has used these potentials nor the person's level of self-awareness.

 

Some  astrologers  proceed   methodically,   starting   with   the Ascendant, its ruler, the aspects to the ruler, etc. My experience  is  that the first aspect I notice is often a good clue to the basic issue that surfaces for the client during  the consultation.   Other  aspects seem to build themselves around the first one I notice.  If the consultation is cancelled and  I review  the  chart for the rescheduled date, the chart appears very different to me, and I may well start my preparation with a different aspect.  It is another day  and it embodies different energies  for  me, as well as for the client.

 

How  do  you  remember  all  the  aspects?   Some astrologers have training and experience, plus an  excellent  memory, that allow them to identify the aspects  as they work with the client.  Other astrologers have more of a visual memory and therefore draw the aspects on the chart, usually  using some means to differentiate the aspects (varied colors or varied types of lines).

While you prepare for your client, a wealth of  information  comes to  you  about  him. If you are afraid to forget what you have found in the chart, take notes and keep the information you found handy during the session. You  will not necessarily tell the client all you "see" nor relate it in the  sequence  in  which  it came to  you. As we will see in future articles, discrimination in sharing information is a key to good counseling.

Recording the consultation is a must.   You and your client discuss many important issues  in the course of an hour or two. There is no way the client can remember it all.  If the client is reluctant to have the conversation recorded, discuss the reasons.  Most such clients will say that they do not need it and will remember everything.  If so, gently point out that, as we listen to the same recording several times, we hear it differently each time simply because we are in a different state of mind.  Suggest that the conversation be recorded and the client can do whatever s/he wants afterwards.  However, if the client expresses privacy issues do not record!  Similarly, in the middle of the consultation, a client might ask for the recording to be stopped: do so immediately.  In most cases, the current topic will make the reason quite obvious, but do not hesitate to talk to the client about the reasons if you are not sure.  The client may be holding a secret that needs to come out in the privacy of the consultation.  When the topic changes, do not forget to ask the client if the recording can be resumed and do so upon agreement.

As a professional, the astrologer has the responsibility to provide a good quality recording of the session. Good quality 90-minute cassettes cost 50 cents to $1.50 each.  You should invest in a good dependable cassette recorder; you can pass on this investment to your clients by raising your consultation fee  a few dollars.

Many astrologers give the client a hand-drawn chart on preprinted ornate wheels; others provide a computer-generated chart. My practice is to give the client not just the natal chart  but a professional looking folder.  I use a  clear report cover. The first page contains the client's name  and  birth  data  in a prominent place, plus my name, address, and phone number.  The second page is an overview of my concept of astrology.  Then comes the computer-drawn chart (natal and progressed to the day of the consultation).  The  last  page  is  a  list  of  dates at which psychologically significant events  may  have  occurred  in  the past.  The total cost of the folder runs between 25 and 50 cents including the cost of paper and photocopying.

If  the  client  is an astrologer, depending on the experience she has, I include other data such as  relocation  charts, solar-arcs, mid-points, Arabic parts, asteroids, etc.  I give enough information to be useful, but am careful not to overwhelm the beginner.  Whatever you choose to  give the client must have a clean, professional look. Prepare a handout you are proud to give. Your handout enhances your personal image and the image of astrology in general.

Have everything ready before the client comes in order to avoid unnecessary tension for both  you and your client.   In  other words, plug in the tape recorder, have cassettes, note pads, ephemeris, water, and whatever else you need assembled as conveniently as possible.

Having the room, the chart, and your material ready is only  the external preparation.  Being ready on an inner level is equally important. You need to be as clear as possible within yourself before the client arrives.  When you are concerned about a personal issue, do your best to work it out beforehand.

If you are processing so many emotional issues within yourself that you sense you cannot clear them to give your full attention to your client, do not hesitate to call the client and reschedule. A doctor with a contagious disease would withdraw from practice until he is not contagious.  Strong emotional upset is also highly "contagious", especially in a counseling situation.  Briefly explain to your client  that you are not up to seeing him for personal reasons. In most cases, you will receive a very appreciative response because the person realizes that you practice what you teach.

 

On the other hand, suppose you have an issue that is not totally clear and it seems that this new client is working on a similar issue. If you know you can give your client's process full attention and keep your own issue in the background, consider giving the consultation and make special efforts to keep an open mind. It is possible that the client's work will reveal the solution to your issue. You may hear yourself say something about the client's situation that applies equally to yourself, or the client may say something, or share an experience, that is exactly what you need to hear.

 

Most astrologers would agree that the consultation is a mutual learning situation where they learn from the client; it is always a two-way street. Being open to a specific spiritual or psychological learning from a consultation simply shows a more conscious respect for that mutual learning opportunity on the part of the astrologer.

Being with a client means being ready to be fully there as a person for them. Therefore, our own process is always 'on line' during a consultation, but it should be definitely in the background.  If you suspect you would consciously or unconsciously manipulate a consultation to further primarily your own process, it is time to consider canceling and rescheduling.

Now everything is ready. You are at peace with yourself. The client rings your door bell.

Let's be human and recognize that, no matter how used to meeting people we are, our adrenaline level   usually runs at least a touch higher as we open the door.  Considering that you are going to be the key to a totally new experience for the client, her adrenaline is probably also running higher than usual, whether she acknowledges it or not.  In addition, traffic may have been terrible; she may have had trouble finding your address, etc.  In any case, she may not be centered, and it is your responsibility to bring her, as much as possible, to a calm, centered, open place.

As Californian (!) as this may sound, after my client is comfortably seated (I may or may not offer a cup of coffee/tea, or a glass of water), I start by leading the client into a short meditation/relaxation exercise. Many clients, not used to this practice, are surprised; others are delighted.

My explanation for this practice varies with the response of the client. The basis is always the need for the client   to leave the traffic jam, work issues, family problems, and whatever else behind and to be completely present.  I also suggest that he does his best to let go of all the questions he may have had in mind to ask. Letting go of expectations allows the psyche to organize these questions the way they need to be addressed.  With most clients, I suggest they attune to their spiritual/religious beliefs and ask for guidance for both of us.  I often add that I need a minute or two to be sure I am completely with the client. Depending on the client's knowledge of these matters, I lead him through the meditation, or I let him do it by himself.  In any case, I take time for myself to experience the energies of the person, and to consciously open myself to the coming session.

It is now time to start recording the consultation. Most astrologers make one recording and give it to the client.  I have the equipment to make two simultaneous recordings, and experience has shown me that it is smart to do so!  Before starting the recording, I explain to the client that one recording is for her and the other is in case something goes wrong with the first one. I explain that I keep the second tape for about a month and then recycle it.  At times, I also want a recording because something of importance may come up during the session, and I may want to do further work with it for the client or for myself.

 

Starting the recording with today's date and the circumstances of the recording can be useful for the client.  In addition, this information should be on a clean label on the cassette.

How much astrological verbiage should you use during the consultation?  The easiest way to know is to ask the client how much she knows about astrology and how interested she is in it. Some clients do not want to have anything to do with the astrological "stuff"; others want to understand how the information is derived from the chart.  Without transforming the session into a class, this information gives the astrologer a framework in which to express herself.

Now is a good time to explain your concept of astrology with more detail than during the initial contact. Briefly but clearly explain what astrology means to you, define it in your own words, and make sure the client understands.  Even though I make a special effort to explain clearly my concept of astrology during the first client contact, I recently had a first consultation where the client expressed surprise at my stating that I do not believe  the planets rule our lives!

Whatever way you choose to handle all of these preparations, I believe that they are important in creating a conscious environment, a clear and safe space where communication is at its best for the good of the client and of the astrologer.

The next article will take us into the heart of the matter, guiding the client through self-understanding.

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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