Creative Connections & Client Communications
Counseling Insights: May 31, 2004
Qualifying Generalizations for Disclosure of Values
Three very strong maxims in the art of conversational, consultation dialogue are as follows: the first is except in special summary situations never to ask a question answerable by “Yes” or “No”, which can stop the conversation dead in its tracks. (See Counseling Insights: July 15, 1999; October 29, 2002; December 20, 2002; see The Creative Astrologer).
The second is that no event has a value until the client gives it value (see Notebook: August 31, 2001).
And the third is “Qualifying Generalizations.” How often do you hear the client evaluating a life situation by using the words “always, never, everybody, nobody, every time, it never fails”? “Nobody liked me in my teenage years.” [An excuse for low motivation.] “My mother would always, always criticize me whenever I started to feel good about myself. I hate her for it still.” [Perhaps displacement onto the mother of frustration with a non-supportive father, whose sanctity must be preserved. The father never came to the rescue or to “the balance point”.] “Everybody at work has something out for our boss.” [Self-justification] “This is the way life is: I always get the short end of things.” [Self-pity to attract commiseration.]
Letting these kinds of statements go by because they come off your client’s tongue easily is to endorse them further! They are spoken easily because they have been well practiced for too many years. By the astrologer saying, “Nobody liked you? Who was your best friend among all the ‘nobodies’?” you begin to defuse the smoke bomb. [Note how two questions are being asked; one dispelling the other.] Your client can not avoid clarification and explanation.
“You are actually saying that your mother never had even one good thing to say about you. When did she support you? Tell me, please.”
These may seem like very small points, but they are rational probes, stimuli for major disclosure from the client. They support the application of astrological guidelines and clarification of significances for your client. Your client gains objectification, and the practicality of all this is to adjust behavior, attitude, and hope for the future. In this way, you can begin to get to the reality of the situation rather than be swallowed up in the self-deprecation too well routined in your client’s self understanding.
When people make generalizations about their individual sphere, the world, they then begin to extend those generalizations to others. “Nobody liked me as a teenager” easily becomes “Nobody at work seems to care what I do.” These self-deprecators (a powerful 2nd House, 11th House crisis, etc.) are taking value judgements about themselves and applying them to other people. If the client generalizes into a pseudo-factual condition: “I’ve come to the conclusion that marriage is stupid, not worth a damn.” You must challenge this gently: “For whom is marriage stupid and not worth a damn?” ------“Sex is unimportant, really.” For whom is sex unimportant?”---“My husband knows what I want, and I’ll just wait him out!” --“How do you know that your husband is aware of what you want? --The key response pivots are “For whom are …” and “How do you know that …”, “What if things weren’t really as you say they are, what would be the state of affairs then…?,” and “If that could be adjusted, what would come out of it?”
Remember: the response to your evaluating interrogation will reveal the values and realities of your client’s needs.
Disclosure is essential. Astrological consultation is not a one-sided performance by some Svengali magician astrologer with a conical hat! Disclosure links astrological guidelines to the reality experience of your client. Disclosure is hard for anyone. It’s scary. We hold back for fear of criticism, rejection, abandonment [please see the major study of this in The Astrology of Intimacy, Sexuality & Relationship”]. People feel better when they “disclose.” For example, what is the Catholic sacrament of Confession? The Protestant Witnessing”, getting something off your chest, the weight off your shoulders, owning up to something, etc.?
We feel better after disclosure because it implies trust of the other person, invites a close relationship, an intimacy, alleviates feelings of guilt, and clarifies personal values. Society actually works against disclosure in a Saturnine way: it isn’t considered proper to talk so much or so openly about yourself. So we are fearful of criticism. On the other hand, it is fascinating to see Saturnine or Saturn/Pluto configurations with the Aries Point: skeletons in the closet then do come out very easily. The pains and fears are worn on one’s sleeve! [Recall Judy Garland’s awesome Saturn-Mercury square on Aries Points! The world was witness to her pain.]
The psychotherapeutic literature is filled statements of the “How did you feel about that” category. The follow-up then that really works is, “I appreciate that. Thank you. But what if we look back on this this way….?” Notice how we are setting the difficulty into the past while we are approaching objective evaluation and attitudinal/behavioral change for the future! Think these conversational cues and pivots over carefully. Listen for them in your family and work conversations and, of course, in your consultation dialogues. Try the probes and adjustments. You will be rewarded as your astrology comes to life vividly; and so will your client! **A fine text about this subject is by Mackay, Davis, and Fanning; New Harbinger Publications,Oakland CA ISBN #1-57224-022-9. "The Communications Skills Book."
Next Update: June 30, 2004