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 FRANCOISE FRIGOLA, M.A.

 
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COUNSELING ASTROLOGY #8

Article Originally published in the 1991 Spring edition of Aspects Magazine

 

Considering Ourselves Professionals

 

This column explores the consequences of considering ourselves true professionals.  It addresses the issues of ethics, finances, professional competence, and responsibility toward our profession.

 

A few days ago, I received an unusual phone call from a woman. She had seen my name in the Yellow Pages and wanted some advice following a consultation with another astrologer.  Her question was direct: "Is it feasible for an astrologer to predict the death of a close family member?"  My response was equally direct: "No!" The answer was a thank you which felt full of relief.  I added that the astrological chart can show major life transitions, but can never show actual physical death.  As we continued talking, sensing this woman's awareness, I said a few words about symbolic versus actual physical death.  We ended up talking about the ethics of predicting the time a person would die.  I made it very clear that I consider such a prediction totally unethical.  She was very angry and wanted to take some actions against the astrologer.  I suggested she write this person a letter.

 

As I made that suggestion, something happened inside of me.  I suddenly became concerned for the astrological profession if she decided to make a big public fuss about the issue.  This woman needed to do something for herself, she needed to voice her anger. However, while supporting her, and making a suggestion, I may have been in denial about the conflict which was arising within myself: such an action is totally unethical and unprofessional, therefore the astrologer has to be told so; however, if a big deal were made publicly that reflects on the astrological profession, I would be suffering from it too.

Within days of this event, a similar and more direct conflict arose.  A friend contacted me with some anxiety stating that she had just consulted an astrologer who computed her ascendant as Pisces and her Moon in Libra while for years she had believed her Ascendant to be Aquarius and her Moon to be in Virgo.  Listening to my friend, it seemed that she was going through an identity crisis: "Who am I, a Pisces rising or an Aquarius rising?  And what about my Moon?"  What was most disturbing to my friend was that the astrologer's description of her felt "right on."  She, indeed, recognized herself during the consultation but had always believed in her Aquarian and Virgo qualities.  I offered to compute her chart.  She was born on the East Coast during the winter 1942; therefore, the time zone for her birth was EWT which gave her an Aquarius ascendant (EST computed a Pisces ascendant). Her Moon, however, at 28 Virgo 50, could not have changed from Virgo to Pisces in one hour!  I reassured my friend and she later told me that the astrologer was going to call me because she wanted to learn what error she made.  I was happy to help and agreed to talk to her.  The astrologer called and stated that she was very new at astrology.  She told me that, until recently, she had used her computer software to calculate charts for a friend of hers who was handling the delineation.  She was very open and understood her error.  She also felt that my friend knows so little about astrology that she could have misunderstood the Moon sign, which is possible.  Then she added something like: "I guess I know just enough astrology to be a danger."  Again, there was a conflict in me.  I wanted to tell her: "Yes, I believe you are a great danger at this point and need much more training before you even dare interpret a chart for anyone else."  But who am I to judge, who am I to decide whether a person I do not know is capable or not?  How many of us have done correct delineations with the wrong chart?  I heard myself partially copping out about confronting her, yet sincerely answering: "At least you are aware that you can be a danger."

 

In the wake of these two events, I reflect, more than ever upon our professionalism and ethics.  It might be advantageous to explores the issues so that each of us can pay attention to the response our inner voice to the suggestions presented here.

 

I want to suggest that we prepare yourself before giving any consultation.  This means questioning our ability to help that particular person, questioning our own emotional state, centering ourselves the best we can so that our personal issues interfere as little as possible with our delineation.  An astrological chart is the map of a person's psyche, a map of a person's soul, a map of the Sacred;  it must be treated as sacred.

I would like to think that every teacher and lecturer in astrology would remind their students of the sacredness of our work and of the ethical issues associated with it.  Even though many of you may be aware of it, I would like to quote here the Code of Ethics of Aquarius Workshops:

I will always endeavor to represent a positive approach to the practice of Astrology and will maintain ethical and professional standards.

I will only interpret a chart as 'natal horoscope' if it has been erected from the accurate time, place, and date of birth - unless I inform the client that the chart has been rectified by acceptable astrological or alternative methods.  In interpreting a chart verbally or otherwise, my conclusions will be drawn from astrological analysis and will be completely relevant to the science of Astrology.  My reading of any progressions will be based on directive methods and awareness of the free will rather than a predictive premise.

As a counselor, I promise to keep confidential all information entrusted to me by my clients.

I will use astrology as a tool to recognize the potential of life consciousness as a creative force, and not for self-seeking or prurient purposes.

If you agree with the principles of this Code of Ethics, take a moment to reflect on its meaning for you.  Have you always followed these practices?  If not, what practice did you ignore and when?  How do you feel about your actions?  Do you recognize why you deviated from the code?  Have you made a conscious decision to behave in accordance with the code?

Personally, I would like to add several points to this Code of Ethics.  They concern the areas of finances, professional competence, and responsibility to the profession.

First, let's look at the ethical aspect of our finances as it is connected to our responsibility to the profession.  I believe we ethically should charge a fee that conforms to the professionalism of our practice:  we are consultants like they exist in many different disciplines.

 

Referring to the experience with my fiend described earlier, I do not know how much my friend's astrologer charges for a consultation.  However, my friend said that she (my friend) ought to have a consultation with me and asked me how much I charge. I answered that I charge $100 for one-and-a-half hours - which is what I believe the market can bear in my area for my specialized astro-psychological service.  My friend looked a touch surprised and said that she could not afford this amount at this time.  Her reaction made me wonder how much she paid her astrologer.  I thought that the fee must have been rather low, which would go with the fact that the astrologer clearly stated that she considers herself a beginner.

It is not the first time someone has been surprised by my fee ­which I do not consider high at all compared to some colleagues. I have heard countless times that astrologers are still charging $40 or even $20 for a one- or even two-hour consultation.  Is this what we are teaching the public to expect from us?  I even encountered someone who was surprised that I charged anything at all!

 

How can we be taken seriously if we do not value our services in the same manner that other professionals value themselves and their work?  Many of us may feel like we are in a double-bind situation: "I am a beginner or an amateur; therefore, I do not know enough to charge a 'professional fee."  My reaction to such reasoning is this: if you feel you do not know enough, if you feel you may be 'dangerous', do not give consultations, continue to study, ask your instructor to teach you the specifics of consultations, go over her chart with her as if this was a consultation, practice and practice before you start seeing clients.  When you feel you can delineate a chart in a professional manner, then hang your shingle and charge a

professional fee.  In other words, ask yourself: "As an astrologer am I worth $80? $100? $200?"  When, from the depth of your guts the answer is a clear "yes!", you are ready to give consultations and to do so in a professional manner.  You owe this not only to yourself, not only to your clients, but also to the astrological community at large.  Every one of your actions is a reflection of and on the astrological profession.

It has been my experience that those who claim that astrology is of the spiritual world and should not be rewarded with money either have a low self-image or have other sources of income - or both.  In either case, they are not helping astrology as a profession.

 

The issue is the same for our teachers and instructors.  They ought to be paid professional fees.  I received a well-deserved "kick in the butt" a few months ago from a preeminent astrologer because I had accepted to talk at a conference for free.  The preeminent one did not hear any of my so-called "reasons".  She said: "I do not care.  When you give a professional talk, you ought to be paid for your professional work!"  She was right, and I have learned my lesson.

Here again, sometimes we are in a double-bind situation. I have noticed that few astrologers can, or are willing to, pay for their training.  As a program chair for Aquarius Workshops, I recently organized a lecture and a one-day workshop by an internationally known astrologer. In most professions,  attending a lecture by a speaker of that caliber would cost at least $30 and at least $100 for a one-day workshop.  How much do associations charge in most cases?  Often it is $5, $8, $10, or a maximum of $12 for a lecture and $20, $25, or $30 a one-day workshop.  With so little intake there is no way an association can pay a speaker the deserved professional fee nor take care of the traveling and lodging expenses as other professionals require.

 

Now I know that not every one considers him/herself a professional.  Many of our members just love to study astrology for their personal growth.  To these I ask the question: "How much do you spend on other hobbies? How much is your personal growth worth?"

 

I also believe that when necessary, exceptions should be made. There are emergency cases.  There are times of crisis when we need to help each other.  I do see clients at reduced rates in such cases.  However, I am also aware of the psychological binding that such a special fee creates for the client who may well feel she "owes" you and who, unconsciously, resents you for it.  In these cases, I advise the client to consider passing my gift later on to someone else in whatever form is appropriate when the opportunity arises.

Another aspect of our responsibility to our profession involves keeping up to date with what is happening in our specialty within the field of astrology.  As we are looking specifically at counseling, I would recommend investigating other methods of counseling others than talking with the client.  There are numerous experiential approaches which are enriching and fun in both the field of astrology and the field of psychology.

 

Specifically in astrology, I believe that to be recognized as a professional we need to be kept abreast of astronomical discoveries and, little by little, incorporate them in our work. Few Western astrologers would consider delineating a chart without Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.  Since the discovery of Pluto, however, there has been many more discoveries which have been computed in astrological terms: the asteroid belt, the novas, super novas, black holes, comets, etc.  It is already difficult for the public to understand why the tropical astrological view of the sky does not match the actual astronomical planetary positions.  If astrology does not stay up to date with astronomy, how much longer will we able to call astrology a science?

The ethical principles go way beyond our contacts with our individual clients.  We owe ourselves, our profession, and the public, to value ourselves, to respect ourselves, to train ourselves, and to live with our times.

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 Aquarius Workshops' program chairperson, ISAR's vice-president, and a member of AFAN and AAP.

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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