If you’ve been reading tarot long enough, at some point you may encounter a client on the verge of a breakdown.
Whether the client is having a panic attack, reacting to a personal tragedy, talking suicide, or posing a danger to others, a client in crisis-mode can rattle even the most stoic reader. You need to be prepared to handle this scenario should it ever arise.
I’ve been on that side of the tarot table on a few occasions and it’s never easy. It requires great sensitivity, common sense, and a grounded presence.
Here are my recommendations on what you need to do if a tarot reading turns dramatic:
Remain calm. Put on your listening ears and be 100% present. Sometimes people just want a safe, non-judgmental place to release. You can be that, provided this is not an escalating situation and you can remain centered.
If the client is in tears, let them cry. Don’t feel a need to “fix the situation.” Just be present. Offer a tissue if necessary. In some cases, reaching out and touching their hand may be perfectly fine. (If crying makes you uncomfortable, you may feel compelled to change the subject – don’t.)
If you decide to continue on with the reading, be mindful of the words you use. An innocent remark or interpretation could be a trigger for someone in distress. Be honest about what you see but use compassionate lingo.
If they get angry and blame you or the reading for their state, take nothing personally. It’s not about you. Just remind them that you care and continue to offer your support.
Refer them to the proper help. You should give them the names of at least three mental health professionals so that they have options to choose from.
DO NOT try to take the role of a licensed therapist. This is not your job and it poses legal and ethical problems. Let them know that you cannot legally assume this role. Once again, give them referrals to the proper help. Make sure you protect your business by having a disclaimer on your site that clearly states your work is for “entertainment purposes only and not a substitute for psychological help.”
If you are frightened, or if they are having trouble communicating, do not handle this alone. Seek help immediately. Call 911 if necessary.
In some cases, you may want to contact other sources of help. This could mean contacting a loved one – or reaching out to local mental health authorities. The client may end up being very angry at you for this but if there is a threat of violence or suicide, this may be your only option. Although strict confidentiality is important for tarot readers, if someone’s life is at stake, you’re going to need to break that.
Sometimes, you may have to end the session or refuse to serve the client, especially if you feel at risk. Good boundaries are essential. Set yours and stick to them.
A situation like this can leave you shaken. Do energy work after your sessions to restore your balance. Give yourself some time to gather your self and get back on track.
Lastly, send them as much love and light as you can. If you have a strong relationship with the client, reach out later to see how they are doing. Care. We’ve all been in difficult situations and sometimes what we need more than anything is simply the presence of someone who cares.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” ~ Plato
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2014
National Alliance for Mental Health: http://www.nami.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Youth Crisis Hotline
(800) 442-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National US Child Abuse Hotline
Planned Parenthood Hotline
(800) 230-PLAN (230-7526)
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)
National Domestic Violence/Child Abuse/ Sexual Abuse
Abuse Victim Hotline
National Institute on Drug Abuse Hotline
National Help Line for Substance Abuse
image from stock photography
On the other side of the coin: How To Read Tarot When Your Life is a Mess