(c)12-2-2014 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
Setting and respecting boundaries has been a theme on Skywriter since I started it in 2010. We’ve talked about how the concept applies to our connections with family, friends, and coworkers. We’ve discussed related topics like codependency, enabling, and bullying. At the end of this post, you’ll find links to several past posts on the nature of boundaries.
As those posts discuss, the astrological signatures of bad boundaries often involve some combination of Neptune, the Moon, and Pluto, as well as their associated signs, Pisces, Cancer, or Scorpio. With Neptune now in its own sign, Pisces, boundaries in the world at large are harder and harder to discern and to maintain.
Only recently did it occur to me that we’ve never discussed how crucial it is for a professional astrologer to establish and maintain clear, healthy boundaries in sessions with clients. Many of us hold sessions in our homes, creating an informal atmosphere that can be comforting and cozy, yet can lend itself to overly relaxed boundaries unless we are watchful. It’s important, therefore, to remember that in the session you are doing counseling, whether you have the background or not. Like all counseling sessions, the client is paying you to listen attentively, without an agenda of your own, and to focus on their present problems in order to gain helpful insights.
Many of you have taken psychology and counseling courses now. At the most recent United Astrology Congress, I was gratified to discover that 25 of the speakers had gone on to get counseling credentials. Another helpful course of study would be coaching credentials since ‘life coach’ appears to be the credentialed helping profession on the rise that interfaces well with spiritually-oriented healing practices and the digital age.
Whether you’re able to afford that sort of training or not, you can learn to establish and maintain professional boundaries by reading materials like those available below and participating in the discussion that follows. The knowledge can help you avoid serious boundary breaches that all too often occur in astrological practice.
What sort of breaches am I talking about? In the letters to my astrology advice column in Dell horoscope over the past 20 years, there were many appalling stories of harm done by astrologers with bad boundaries. In the running for the all time worst was a very old school astrologer who gave a young, nervous and vulnerable first-time mom a reading of her newborn’s chart, which contained an 8th house stellium. She gleefully informed her, “Your baby boy is going to grow up to be a sex maniac!”
What spurred me to write about this topic now was something I heard recently. In compliance with professional confidentiality guidelines, I’m not at liberty to discuss this breach beyond this paraphrased statement:
“I went to a local astrologer to throw light on my relationship problems. She proceeded to go into an emotional tirade about her own marital woes. It went on and on. What little interpretation of the relationship patterns in my natal chart she provided was heavily influenced by her own bitterness toward men. I left feeling ripped off. She should have paid ME for the session! I’d think twice before I ever went to an astrologer again.”
In essence, boundary violations really are a violation of trust, and one that the person violated has trouble letting go of. Unfortunately, the loss of trust not only extends to the person who did it, but taints the credibility of whichever field they practice….it would be hard to see astrology, energy work, or essences as a trustworthy mode of healing once someone does that to you.
How and Why Bad Boundaries Arise in an Astrology Practice
Since there are few forums or formal courses to ease the transition from astrology student to professional, the question of how to set and maintain healthy boundaries in an astrology practice largely goes unaddressed. (The exceptions I’m aware of are higher level online courses at Kepler College of Astrological Arts and Sciences and the International Academy of Astrology.)
As a result, astrologers may unknowingly cross boundaries or allow their own boundaries to be breached in astrology sessions. As a rule, this happens when a client’s problems mirror and evoke the astrologer’s own unresolved issues and unhealed wounds.
It’s important to have self-awareness about the parts of our own history that can still be stirred up in ways that can bleed through to the session. Doing as much healing as possible on that history is important so that you can deal with the client’s concerns in a centered way.
It’s also important to know which parts of your own chart represent that history. As you prepare for the session, find the contacts between your chart and the client’s to the areas in question. If tough transits are activating those contacts, you’ll need to be very aware of things you or the client might do or say that would infringe on boundaries.
Let’s say that natal placements or transits in the client’s 3rd house are stressful ones, and there are chart contacts between the client’s and astrologer’s 3rd house. Any of the astrologer’s own sibling issues, past or current, may be triggered, making them respond as though clients were siblings. The astrologer may feel a need to be the Big Sister or Brother who fixes or “saves” the client, so he or she becomes anxious and overprotective and feels that they must tell the person how to manage their life.
A Guide to Better Boundaries
One common way that astrologers lack healthy boundaries in their work is to allow their relationships with clients to become codependent. A chapter of my ebook, Counseling Principles for Astrologers goes into codependency and its implications for practicing astrologers in depth. Download the chapter here: 2014 Ch7 CPA.
Handling boundaries effectively in sessions is crucial at a time when so many clients are under extreme stress from the transiting Pluto-Uranus square, Neptune in Pisces, and Saturn in Scorpio.
Here are more boundary-related situations commonly met in astrology practice that the book discusses:
Many difficult clients have serious boundaries problems of their own, making it hard to conduct a session. The material about the initial phone call from a potential client shows how to assess whether it’s wise for you to work with them and how to reach an agreement about what the session will cover.
What if the client is more than a client—handling challenges that can arise in doing charts for friends, family, or people from other areas of your life.
Boundary and ethical questions that arise when a third party’s chart is involved—the person’s significant other, teenage child, or young adult. How your own childhood may be played out in the session. Working with young people, and respecting their right to confidentiality.
Developing a network of healing professionals and other resources that you know and respect so that you don’t feel you have to meet all the client’s needs in a crisis. Therapies indicated for various astrological types.
Order Counseling Principles for Astrologers here: moonmavenpublications.com.
Readers, please share your own thoughts and observations about setting boundaries in astrology practice in the comment section below this post. We can all learn a great deal about this crucial issue from the discussion. If you’re an astrologer, share your thoughts and any experiences like this that arose in your practice. If you’re a client, what did the astrologer do or say that felt like they were crossing the line?
Update: the discussion in the comment section is profound and sheds more light on the kinds of things that happen that are damaging to the client. Come and join us.
IMPORTANT: NAME NO NAMES AND REMOVE IDENTIFYING INFORMATION SUCH AS BIRTH DATA. THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN PROTECTION, AS THIS IS A PUBLIC FORUM.
Next: Awful Things Astrologers Say to Clients plus a guest post about boundaries in astrological sessions: Issues that Come Up in Astrological Consulting: Practicing Healthy Boundaries.
More Skywriter Posts Related to Boundaries:
- What your Astrology Chart Says about your Boundary Issues
- Boundaries 101 ~ A Course for Neptunians
- 6 Common Misconceptions about Boundaries in a Relationship
- The 3 Major Ways of Setting Boundaries—Which Type are You?
- Boundaries 201–Ten More Tips for Neptunians
- Neptune in the 11th House–Setting Boundaries in Friendship
- Boundaries and Friendship — Are You and Your Friend Codependent?
- Feeling Drained by a Relationship? Cut those Psychic Cords!