Blank Slates & Transparency: A Personal Accounting

For someone who works in a counselling capacity, I have found many edges in terms of training and transparency and where they meet.

Here are a couple:

As a student of psychotherapy some years ago, I was taught that as a therapist-in-training, I had to be a blank slate. I was asked to practise under a different name, in case my clients searched for me and found that I was a tarot reader.

Then what would they do? And what would happen to me, and my “blank slate” persona?

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The Emperor – the keeper of personal authority. Card from The Röhrig Tarot deck, created by Carl-W. Röhrig © US Games, Inc.

I told my training facility that I would not — that doing so sets up an indelible split in the psyche, the very thing that therapy is wanting to repair.

But what defines “therapy”? And is there only one way to heal ourselves and each other?

And how could I be whole if I were expected to divide myself into two parts?

No. Tarot reading would *not* be my dirty little secret.

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Next, as a tarot reader and counsellor who practised under one name, I was expected not to divulge anything of my own process, my own journey into my psychology, my sticking points, my neuroses. My flaws, my wounds.

I wondered whether pledging not to bring my whole self into the therapy room was as simple as following a well-established code of conduct that seeks (and fails, in my opinion) to remove the therapist’s own issues from the room — or whether it pointed to something else: an intention to masquerade as ‘the ideal parent’ — the one who knew everything and who could do no wrong. The one who would be the reparative force that would heal the wounds of my clients, who looked to an authority who would be constant and flawless.

I can see where that ideal-parent construct can heal. Hell, my heroes and heroines based their psychospiritual healing capacities on taking that exact stance.

So what would happen if I weren’t that? What if I were to eschew the blank slate in favour of something else?

Can working with tarot, and can working with counselling, allow for what so many other modalities — the scientific method, in particular — already allow for: being human? Being limited? In other words, not being the final authority on knowing?

Can I be human, limited, flawed and still be a tarot reader?

Can I execute my duties, and fulfil my passion to accompany people on their own journeys, while asking — perhaps sometimes requiring — that they question everything, me included?

I hope so.

I hope that flaws and weaknesses lead people to knowing that no-one can give them what they are looking for. They can only get that from themselves.

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Paediatrician and analyst D W Winnicott said that the good enough parent was the one who was able to gently disappoint their child, so that the child could then take the reins in their own life. Anything else created a dependency that stifled growth and the maturation process.

My wish: that I do not create dependencies with my clients — including not creating my own dependencies on my clients.

Because this is what I know:

No-one is more wise about what is needed in your own process than you are.

No-one has the capacity to know you more than you can know yourself.

Only you can construct the inner window that sheds light on to your own soul.

Everything, and everyone, else are window decoration, whether they enhance, embellish, or obstruct.

The window, however, remains, and you are its keeper.

2 comments On Blank Slates & Transparency: A Personal Accounting

  • These are some of the most authentic words I have read. You ultimately are responsible, own your power. It is nothing that can be given to you, it is already there. Thank you for your thought provoking post!

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