The Unique Transpersonal Perspective that Astrology Can Provide in the Psychotherapy Setting
Before I ever became a psychotherapist, I used to give astrology readings and also taught beginner astrology classes. After becoming licensed I hesitated to include anything about astrology on my psychotherapy website. I had worked so hard for this license and just wasn’t sure if including astrology on my website would undermine my credibility as a psychotherapist. In the end, because my practice is in California, I decided to take the risk. If any place would be open to bringing an astrology component into psychotherapy, it had to be California! So far I’ve been really happy I made this choice.
Often, around a client’s birthday, I’ll offer to do a birth chart and/or transit reading. While some clients have no interest in the astrology piece, more often than not people are curious. It’s fine if someone isn’t; I get that this can be just too “woo woo” for some folk! However, for the client who is open to the unique transpersonal perspective that astrology can provide, they are often delighted. They feel seen in a whole different way, they get a unique slant on an old problem, or they are able to view their difficult situa5on in a new light. All this happened for my former client Sarah*. I will illustrate how using astrology in psychotherapy can be useful, using Sarah’s story.
Sarah was a 29-year-old who came to see me for issues around depression due to a recent breakup. She was in a high-paying tech job but was miserable and hated it. She was considering moving back to the east coast where she had more family because she felt lonely and isolated in San Francisco.
I outlined my particular astrological philosophy to Sarah: I don’t see planets as “good” or “bad.” Planets are more like energies that enter our lives at particular times. It’s important to work with these energies to reap the maximum benefit. All planets have a gift or lesson to teach us. If we’re feeling more of the shadow side of a planet, it helps to know this so we can focus instead on how to tap into this gift or lesson.
I also explained to Sarah that there are many different ways an astrology chart can be manifested. For instance, if Sarah had a twin sister, her sister would have practically the same birth chart, yet her sister might manifest her chart in completely different ways from Sarah. In other words, although an astrology reading is going to tell us a lot about who a person is or what kind of year they’re going to have, there’s still a lot of free will in terms of how things play out. This is mostly dependent on the choices we make.
I calculated both Sarah’s birth chart and her transit chart. The birth chart shows the exact location of the planets at the moment of birth. This chart shows personality traits and also specific gifts and challenges inherent in the person. The transit chart, on the other hand, shows where the planets are in the sky today and how they are specifically affecting the birth chart. The transit chart depicts the areas of ease, flow, and good luck in a chart and also the areas of challenges or even hardships. Most people are interested in having me read their transit chart because they have a problem in a specific part of their life or want to see what this year will bring.
Sarah was in the middle of a classic astrology transit called the “Saturn return.” This is when Saturn returns to the exact degree it was at the moment of your birth. Saturn takes about 28 years to go around the chart, so most people will get their Saturn return in their late twenties, give or take a year or so. In order to know the exact date of your Saturn return you need to have it calculated. This is usually done by an astrologer, although there are probably ways to find this out online, too.
The Saturn return can be a game-changer. If you’re not quite in the right relationship or career, chances are your Saturn return will be when that relationship and/or career changes or even ends. I like to call Saturn “the builder of the zodiac” because it can help us build supportive structures for whatever part of our chart it’s cruising through. If we find ourselves in the wrong relationship or career, then Saturn can also help us restructure this area of our lives.
For Sarah, just hearing this helped. She stopped beating herself up for not making the relationship work out and began to acknowledge the ways her lover had not been quite right for her. She also saw how she often found herself in the caretaking role with her lovers and how she would make excuses for their lack of consideration of her needs. A lifetime pattern of caretaking in her relationship began to reveal itself. This tendency in relationship also showed up in her birth chart, with Neptune in her house of relationship. While Neptune has a wonderful spiritual and creative side it also has a strong shadow side that can show up as self-sacrifice or martyrdom. Sarah saw how she had played out the savior/martyr dynamic in most of her relationships. This was an eye-opener for her. As a result, she was able to start focusing on bringing in relationships that were mutually supportive and nourishing, instead of one-sided relationships where she was doing all the caretaking.
As for her career, she stopped seeing herself as being “a failure” because she didn’t love it and started to question if this job was really the right fit for her. I saw in her birth chart that she had a lot of strengths in working with people and thinking creatively. Sarah started to apply for jobs that were focused on these areas and ended up getting a job working with a design team. Although she was still in tech she was now interacting with people daily and receiving acknowledgment for her ability to think “outside of the box.” She was capitalizing on her strengths and talents and as a result started to excel at work.
This is one example of how astrology can be useful in a psychotherapy setting. I hope Sarah’s story gives you a sense of how it might be applied. When I had my first astrology birth chart reading at 16 years old, I remember thinking the astrologer must be psychic. She was naming things about me that no one ever had and that I had barely even named for myself! I remember feeling so seen. It felt like just by her naming these parts of me they started to come forward. It was a very empowering experience. This is yet another way astrology can be applied. While not necessarily for everyone, astrology in the psychotherapy setting has its place as a useful tool. Will it be useful for you? The best way to know is to try it out. Give yourself the gift of the stars in 2018! Try something new and get an astrology reading with a recommended astrologer.
* Name changed for purpose of confidenAality.