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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.