An Introduction to Transformative Tarot Counseling
An Introduction to Transformative Tarot Counseling: the High Art of Reading explains the author's own reading techniques, aimed at helping querents and clients through their own process of change.
By Katrina Wynne
eBook - 81 pages - Published by Sacred Rose Press
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
“Transformative Tarot Counseling” – that says it all! Tarot truly done is a form of counseling, even if the intent behind the reading is divination. It is indeed the “High Art of Reading”! Wynne defines “Transformative” and “Counseling” as follows:
“Transformative – allowing change to emerge. It is the process by which magic can occur. Magic is the fine art of changing from one form to another, moving from the known through the unknown, bringing the unconscious to light.”
“Counseling” – the practice of interacting with others in an affirming and supportive way. The skills utilized in this style of working with Tarot reading respects the client’s wisdom, and boundaries, allowing a deeper experience of the cards.”
This 81 page book makes a dynamic statement for Tarot as a tool of empowerment. It honors both the reader and the client, and allows them to both see the cards through the eyes of the client. The issues involved are the client’s, the understanding is the client’s, and the actions to be taken are up to the client. The reader is there to assist in the process.
Insight and integration are the goals of Transformative Tarot Counseling (TTC). Wynne writes: “The goal of a Transformative Tarot Counselor ™ is to provide a safe and professional environment to afford the client the opportunity to go as deeply into their process as they choose to proceed, within the “scope of practice” of the reader.
In her chapter on “Tarot Magic and Change”, Wynne defines a reader’s “scope of practice” as knowing when to refer a client to an appropriate and effective healing or helping professional. She also recommends that it is in their best interest for readers learn more about counseling skills and ethics, so that they are better able to understand the delicate role that a reader occupies when serving the public, and so that they understand their limitations.
Personal note – I wholeheartedly agree! Every reader needs to develop a list of professionals that can be used as recommendations for their clients as appropriate (issues of elder care, substance abuse, rape, depression etc.
The Tarot is at heart a transformational journey – the Fool’s Journey, a journey of individuation. It transforms through the use of symbols and imagery. Wynne calls this the “Sacred Journey of the Soul”. She then goes on to discuss Israel Regardie’s connection between magic, psychology, and individual transformation. He defined the basic stages of magic as (1) Divination, (2) Evocation and Vision, (3) Invocation, and (4) Initiation. At the end of this chapter there is a thought provoking section on how these four stages of magic appear in a reading.
The “dialectical method”, developed by the 19th century philosopher Hegel, is then discussed. Here we see the concepts of Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis. In reference to a Tarot reading, this describes the dynamic tension brought out during a reading between the client’s issue(s), what the reading presents, and new concepts/ways of looking at the issue(s) that are developed from the reading. Wynne makes a very important point when she notes that each card has the potential of evoking a response from the client.
Throughout this book Wynne gives working examples of how the concepts she is discussing actually work in a reading. This is of great benefit to experienced readers, as well as those who are relatively new to reading the Tarot.
The chapter on Jung and Alchemy talks about the process of individuation as defined by Jung, as well as the archetype of the Shadow (the hidden parts of our personality that we are afraid to look at, our fears). The Shadow is often viewed as repressed or suppressed energy that can show up in a reading. In looking at the two types of readings she discussed earlier in the book, Wynne notes in this chapter that the insight-oriented reading style (basically an interpretive style of reading) stops at the Albedo stage of the alchemical process. The TTC method offers an experience of the cards message, and supports the transformative potential of the client (and the reader).
One of the most important chapters in this book, if not the most important chapter, is on counseling skills. It is one thing to understand the Tarot (or any modality that functions as a tool of empowerment), it is a totally other thing to be able to work with a client in making best use of that modality, and doing so in an ethical manner. In this chapter, Wynne discusses counseling versus predictive reading styles, following or leading the client in a reading, engaging the client in their own reading, employing the skills of patience, the ability to listen well, the reader being aware of their own psychic impressions, transference, compassion, and more.
In her chapter on ethics and responsibilities, Wynne addresses the responsibility to honor the needs and boundaries of the clients. She also emphasizes the need for each individual reader to develop their own ethical guidelines. I loved that this chapter was broken down into for areas: (1) ethical guidelines, (2) power dynamics, (3) boundaries, and (4) legal issues. Examples are included throughout this chapter that help make it easier to understand this material.
Sample readings are presented so that anyone working with this book (yes, one works with this book, one does not just read it!) can put the information presented to actual use. All levels of readers will benefit from these sample readings. Wynne has also included a short write-up about how to follow the TTC reading process, which I find very beneficial.
At the end of the book is a bibliography including books and online resources. This small book is the beginning of a much larger process... I encourage anyone that wants to bring more depth to their readings (including readings for themselves) to include this book in their library! $copy; Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.
Review by Kathleen Meadows
I don’t buy many Tarot books. Maybe one or two a year. I’ve been working with the Tarot for more than 35 years as a reader and I’ve taught it for more than 20 years. Rarely is a new book put on the market that has information I don’t already know. I’m not being prideful, just honest. When I read the synopsis of Katrina’s work however, I thought, “Now this book might have something new for me!” Unfortunately it didn’t.
Having said that, the lack of informative material for me is only because I also have a strong background in Jungian psychology (a Master’s degree in the Psychology of Religion), counseling (I was a practicing psychotherapist and counseling instructor for a number of years) and tarot. I could have written the book myself. Hats off to Katrina however, for doing so! This was an enormously challenging book to pull together. Rather like trying to stuff a freight train into a rabbit hole.
Katrina has wandered into territory which is daunting in scope. She has condensed volumes of information into one small book written predominantly for the lay person. She has identified the most salient pieces of information that a Tarot Reader would find useful and she’s acted responsibly. Tarot readers are not counselors. There are umpteen aspects of knowledge and experience that lead to the creation of a best practices counselor. People study it for years. Becoming a qualified Jungian therapist can take upwards of ten years. Obviously that’s not what Katrina is aiming for in her book.
I assume her central intent was to stimulate the reader to ponder the parameters of ethical conduct (much as a psychotherapist must) and how to read the Tarot with a responsible awareness of its power to transform. A tarot reading can have a life-altering impact. Like a psychological tsunami, a reading can alter the way a client thinks about themselves and loved ones; how they feel about their lives and choices, and well… their destiny path. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times.
As an aspiring or experienced reader, you will be well served to make yourself aware of that. In my advanced workshops, I focus heavily on psychology. Psychology of women, psychology of psychic reading clients, working with difficult clients, shadow work, permeated my teachings. You really need to know yourself to insure you aren’t tainting your readings with your own wishes, ideas, and prejudices. Katrina provides solid guidelines to help you with this.
I think An Introduction to Transformative Tarot is a good place to start. She dedicates a chapter each to “Counseling Skills and Awareness” and “Ethics and Responsibilities for Readers” which I think every perspective reader should read and know.
I would put this book on my recommended reading list for anyone studying to become a Tarot reader for others especially. I’d use it to generate class discussions. If you are a part of a tarot study group, I’d highly recommend you put this book on your list of things to do. Thanks to Katrina we all have a nicely written, condensed book to serve this purpose!
Kathleen Meadows, M.A, is a Certified Tarot Grand Master with 20 years reading and teaching the Tarot from a feminist perspective.