In brief, your role as the therapist [or any helping professional] is to create a safe space, empower your client, protect your client’s spirit, and to see a wider perspective.” —Hakomi Institute Code of Ethics preface
There are common points in time during which people may look for a psychic reading or a card reading. It’s usually one of two possibilities:
- They are going through a period of difficulty, or
- There is no terrible difficulty, but they are ready (overdue!) for a change.
The card reader in these moments serves a role that most of the querent’s friends and relatives cannot fill: to provide a different and possibly more objective view of the querent’s dilemma.
No matter which above scenario brings a querent to a reader, the reader is expected to bring expertise, insight, and possible solutions. In some cases, the psychic or spiritual perspective is the main draw.
With Power Comes Responsibility
Helper and helpee, reader and querent, counsellor and client–all these are relationships in which the seeker seeks the helper’s expertise or insight. There is a potential vulnerability on the part of the seeker sharing their puzzle or struggle. This behoves the reader or helper to observe their responsibilities that come from their position to influence and educate the helpee.
These responsibilities include:
- Respecting privacy
- Basic kindness
- A safe, validating, and non-judgmental session (or in counselling, called “unconditional positive regard”)
- Knowing your stuff and providing beneficial information
- Keeping personal opinions and projections out of the session,
- Respecting the querent’s time, values, beliefs and comfort zone, and
- Not prying beyond what is willingly shared.
- Empowering the querent
- Opening doors and options
Finding a good Tarot reader or spiritual healer can be like finding a therapist; and therapists are, generally, trained and licensed (I’ll get back to this in a moment). This isn’t a black mark against new age or witchy helpers such as Tarot readers and energy healers, but it’s still a bit like being in the wild west.
I found myself jumping from Buddhism into new age workshops and literature in 2011 and still find myself half in it. In hindsight, I would not have gone to trained psychotherapists without having gone through new age healers first–basically, because I hadn’t thought things like trauma, PTSD, or emotional and narcissistic abuse applied to me. I also came from a background in which emotions were weakness and mental health access stigmatised–where one was judged and shamed for even needing professional help, no matter if disorders were even found. Seeking help was weakness; it meant you were oversensitive, defective, and not stoic enough. Toxic masculinity and self-loathing reigned.
New age, mind-body-spirit, and spiritual resources got through to me because it was new and wasn’t as hated in my household as psychiatric help, with which we were already familiar. The psychiatric treatment for one family member was expensive and troublesome but necessary for their serious lifelong disorder. Though it was largely unsaid, it would have been beyond shameful to have needed psych help for more than one black sheep in the family. I didn’t want to be the next failure.
New age was a safe place for me in that, unlike my life before and outside it, none of my struggles or metaphysical questions were invalidated. If I wanted encouragement and hope, I got that in spades.That was especially new and precious to me. If the positive and loving messages came from spiritual sources, they surely outranked and were more true than the toxic conditioning I got from most actors in my mundane reality.
So I still deeply appreciate and see the worth in spiritual experiences. And I believe spiritual journeys can open new worlds inside and outside of ourselves.
But, I don’t think all guides into these new worlds are equal. And I can’t help but say this with some amusement because I was a bona fide Licensed Heritage Guide from 2008 to 2013.
Back to the subject.
The Power Differential
Hierarchies of age, rank, race, earning power, socio-economic brackets, roles, and expertise are the water we swim in in society. Conformist and authoritarian cultures operate on power differentials–we can be considered “rude” or overstepping just by questioning the opinions of those ranked “higher” than us, sometimes regardless of who actually holds the expertise on a topic.
Still, the expertise is assumed to be held by the person holding the role of consultant, teacher, coach, lawyer, professor, therapist, mentor, senior, parent, and so on.
And a power differential may be there between a reader and querent, even if a reader or healer may not be conscious of it or want to believe that it’s there. The power differential grows with clients who are vulnerable, deferential, people-pleasing, and/or unpractised in discernment, ie. they may hesitate to parse out information that is either irrelevant or contradictory to their experience.
It took me a long time to realise that while I readily filter out false notes and unhelpful advice given to me, not everyone operates with a discerning or critical eye. (My habit of filtering info and tagging keywords for further research came from my teenage speedreading years and journalistic training. And they might have protected me from the occasional “bad reading” and New Age’s worse sins.) But, in the wild west, there are medically untrained healers and teachers who advocate going off medication, even when they’re for managing chronic health or serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.
Licensed therapists are trained not to give questionable health advice. Grandiose faith or spiritual healers may not feel bound by the same professional ethics.
(My own experiences in this are what lead me to study counselling psychology, so as to have a proper grounding and comparison between what psychotherapy offers, versus spiritual teachings. My interests are typical Uranus-Midheaven in Scorpio and North Node-Pluto in 9th house stuff, if we wanna drag astrology in here.)
- The Power Differential and Why It Matters So Much in Therapy
- Do Therapists Really Have More “Power” Than Their Clients?
Code of Ethics
In 2016 I got to know of, and correspond with, the International Psychics Association. I admire what they do, and their work is probably more relevant now with the growing interest in psychic, new age, and astrology services. The IPA Code of Ethics manages to be short (8 points!) while covering most of the basics. Examples:
Readings may make reference to legal and medical issues but are not to give legal or medical advice.
Members will respect the privacy of their clients and offer a confidential service.
Members will respect the free will of all individuals and will not offer to influence another against their will, such as promising to bring a person to love them.
Members will not promote nor offer to remove curses nor the effects of other maleficent magic.
(Have I met readers/healers who broke these ethics? Yeah. Different post: Tarot readings: The Good, The Bad & the Ugly)
It’s still the wild west! The list of responsibilities I provided above outlines my obligations, while I further expand on my empowering style of reading here: Better Questions for Empowered Tarot Readings.
If you have questions and suggestions (or stories!) on this topic, drop a comment below.
Note: This blog post was originally “The Responsibilities of the Tarot and Oracle Reader” and first posted in June 2017. It has been updated in 2022.
Cover photo: https://www.pexels.com/@cottonbro