Saturday, 22 October 2011

what's in a name?

Sometimes a 'buzz word' is actually just a term that arises out of a need for it due to the lack of it. The terms I'm thinking of include, 'Tarot therapist,' 'Tarot life coach' and 'Tarot counsellor'. Some quarters may note the lack of expertise required to professionally describe oneself as a counsellor or berate the pretence involved in attempting to distance oneself from a more mainstream community, but the fact remains that new terms for what we do continue to be applied because they are necessary.

Although 'fortune teller' remains a widely understood and accepted term, many of those putting divinatory methods to use today -including yours truly- don't feel the umbrella term includes them. Getting into bed with semantics here, a fortune is a force beyond human control which consciously governs our lives favourably or unfavourably (or usually a combination of both). Fortune doesn't relate easily to the concept of making our own luck and carving our own fate. It's more of a term for soothsayers and psychics of the belief that they can lift the veils between worlds or times and see what has already been written. It also isn't particularly suggestive of the extent to which I use Tarot for therapy. Predictions, in my readings, are based on probability according to the circumstances, not visions or portals into the beyond.

So, what is my title? Well, I call myself an intuitive Tarot reader. Tarot is somewhat of a loaded word but reclaiming it does mean having to use it. Tarot is the name of the tool itself but it also leads people down all kinds of mental rabbit holes that tend to lead them out into the wrong places. Just the other day a friend's brother, upon seeing that I was reading an article about Tarot online, came out with, 'You're not into that Tarot crap, are you?' It took a twenty minute conversation to clarify with him what I use Tarot for and what I definitely don't think it can be used for, and he wasn't even a potential client.

So, the introductory title alone doesn't cut the mustard when it comes to giving a heads up as to your style and methods. The most important thing to remember is that most readers have quite a lengthy section on their site regarding their beliefs, style of reading and what to expect. Although these passages may at times seem verbose, they serve a very useful purpose. Tarot is an animal with many different faces and people turn to it and show interest in it for vastly different reasons so you need to be clear.

As for a sub-heading - they can be risky. Yes, I'm an intuitive reader and yes, I do want to stress to clients that I use the Tarot as a therapeutic tool, but I do not want to go into dishonest territory by calling myself a therapist or counsellor. These are terms that most of us feel can be harmlessly self-appointed when we're describing our positive character traits, but when you're taking money for a service, honesty is the best policy. When people read the word 'therapist' they expect that it's intended to mean 'qualified', 'certified' etc. So, if you're not, don't use it. Stating that you use the Tarot as a therapeutic tool is not the same thing as asserting yourself as a therapist. In order for people to get what they pay for they need to know what they're paying for.

What have I done to be allowed to state that I can use the Tarot as a therapeutic tool? Well, for one, a hell of a lot of reading. I follow the Jungian principles when it comes to Tarot and I've spent the best part of a decade learning about how to make the most of the cards as a device for clarity and support. More importantly, I've received good feedback from clients who've found my readings helpful. Which is always nice.

Terms like 'Tarot life coach' can be taken in a number of ways but at least they're an instant signal for potential querents which communicates to them what your stance is. There's obviously a world of difference between a 'Tarot life coach' and a 'gifted psychic' - the two readings are going to be completely different and will glean different results. However, when you're looking for the best way to describe your skill set and intentions, make sure you don't go overboard and start professing yourself to have expertise of any kind without proof. Then we'll all be happy.

(There are plenty of online accreditation opportunities which, for a fee, offer readers the chance to be legitimately termed a 'Tarot therapist' amongst other titles. I'll probably write a separate post at some point looking into the pros and cons of such services.)