How to Deal with Client-Reader Attachment

A Tarot reading is not psychotherapy but sometimes a reading goes just as deep as a counselling session. It therefore follows that, even when readings take place through the ether, clients can form attachments to their readers. This can, in turn, lead to unrealistic expectations of what role the reader should play in the life of the client.

The best defense against client-reader attachment is prevention. A couple of things that you can do to prevent forming an attachment with clients are:

  • Be very clear about what you are selling.
  • Treat clients professionally at every turn, being careful to not befriend the ones you feel greater affinity with. (Yes, attachment can work both ways!)
  • If you are doing Skype readings, don’t go over the allotted time.
  • If you are doing email readings, don’t get involved in an exchange with the client after the reading, other than to answer direct questions about the reading and/or to thank them for feedback.
  • Make sure that frequent readings are mentioned as off-limits in your Terms & Conditions.

Things/phrases to look out for that serve as a red flag for client attachment:

  • The client tells you that nobody else gets them the way you do
  • ‘Worshipful’ praise of your work
  • They tell you they feel close to you
  • They tell you that you share a special bond or past life relationship
  • Asking for another reading within a few days
  • They refer to you as a ‘guru’ or ask you to become their teacher even though you are not offering to teach as part of your professional services
  • They suggest/advise/seek to micromanage the direction you should take with your work (though you haven’t asked for their help). This is blatant emotional manipulation and usually starts after the initial professional boundary has been breached. When this happens, it is wise to examine how you have somehow been complicit in the breach

The reason for a strong instant attachment is natural. You are intuitive, empathic and able to pierce the veil with the help of the Tarot. This allows you to see what is happening below the surface in someone’s life. Funnily enough, this can have quite the opposite effect on some people – some run a mile because they wish to maintain their mask. When you do readings both online and in real life, and have had to deal with people falling off the face of the earth after a reading because they were freaked out by it, it can be tempting to latch on to the clients who praise you.

In my experience, the clients who are quick to form attachments have often been feeling as if nobody who is close to them in real life truly sees them. Sometimes they have a weak sense of self and the fact that you are boosting their sense of self by seeing what lies beneath can create an intense emotional high. It is understandable then that they want more but you cannot and must not be on tap for that – It’s called co-dependency when this happens and the client is appealing to your need to feel needed.

My theory is that in some cases, attachment happens because of transference, i.e. “the redirection of feelings and desires and especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood toward a new object.” You could be subconsciously perceived as the grandmother who saw the child when the mother didn’t, for instance. This would be a form of positive transference but the positive feelings can very quickly be exchanged for negative ones and you become identified (again subconsciously) with someone who rejected or abandoned them if you do not ‘play along’ and keep supporting them beyond the limits of your session.

I believe it is also possible that the client is projecting ‘Golden Shadow,’ on you as a reader – especially when someone comes to you because they wish to be doing what you are doing (or something very similar) for a living. Golden Shadow is a Jungian expression which signifies a repression of a positive trait which, if the client would own it for themself, would make them more powerful. The reason why people instead choose to project this trait onto someone else is because they fear their own power and how owning it makes them have to take responsibility/be accountable. A Golden Shadow projection, just like transference, leads to unrealistic expectations as well as admiration tainted with jealousy.

Either way you are a blank canvas for projections where the only real link between you and the client is client’s question and what has transpired in the reading. The problem in both cases is that when the projected expectations aren’t met, you usually get a backlash where the client seeks to project their sense of shame and humiliation onto you. This negative projection can, unfortunately, happen in public if the client has a particularly vengeful streak.

How to respond to the client attachment and excessive communication:

  • Be polite but firm. Keep the response brief, again by simply thanking them for the feedback.
  • Decline to read for them again too soon – refer to your Terms & Conditions so they won’t take it personally.
  • Dont’ be afraid to address the issue of professional boundaries if need be.
  • If the ‘rejected’ client lashes out in public (reviews, blog comments etc), do not take it personally. It is usually best to not respond at all at this stage.

There are grey areas, of course. What about reading for someone you’re already friends with? Because of potential boundary issues, some professional Tarot readers I know never read for friends or family members. Personally, I have no problem with reading for those people in my life who understand that it is a professional service I offer, and it is up to each Tarot reader to decide if this will work for them or not.

Have you ever had to deal with attachment issues? Please share in the comments!

Love and Blessings,

Lisa

Comments 6

  1. There is a spiritual gift called the gift of Mercy and I have found that many people in possession of this particular gift do work as healers and/or readers. Individuals with this gift are incredibly compassionate and have a knack for making others feel understood, valued and validated. Here:s the kicker: people with the gift of Mercy attract suffering people. Sometimes that suffering can be a mental illness, sometimes a spiritual illness and sometimes it can be any old Joe with a deep need for comfort or consolation. While some folks can receive healing and be empowered to move on with their lives, others turn into the situations I have seen described above.

    As a younger person, I used to wonder what in hell was wrong with me as the sorts of people who were attracted to me or who sought to keep my company were, indeed, suffering. What I learned was that this was actually a sign of what was right with me. I operate in the gift of mercy. That said, I have had to learn to use my voice and make my boundaries very, very clear. Interestingly, many folks with the gifts of mercy are also codependent, which means their boundaries are not always fantastic. I am fortunate to be a person who has a program (the 12 steps) which enables and empowers me to identify behaviors and thought patterns that do and do not work in my life. But this is not everyone’s story.

    While this is not the time for me to be self-employed, the God of my understanding has made it clear that I am being set on that path. I will be working with a community of like minded folks to provide Reiki and readings for people. I am not sure what else that will look like. But I absolutely love the idea of having terms and conditions. I have very strong ethics when it comes to my Reiki practice and my Tarot practice. Putting those ethics in writing will be fun for me. I had not, however, considered created terms and conditions for the work that is being delivered and I love that idea. It seems like it would be a critical component for any business like this.

    Do you, by chance, have your own terms and conditions posted on your website? Thanks for an insightful article!

    Victoria Ferrell
    12-Step-Tarot

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Victoria, yes, I agree with everything you say here. The important thing for us as healers and Tarot readers (because of the aforementioned possible boundary issues) is to know our limitations and when we need to refer people on. Studying counselling was very helpful for this. I hold a level 3 certificate in person-centred counselling and while it does not give me a license to practise in a professional capacity, it gave me a sense of where my limitations lie and when I need to refer someone on. I do have my terms & conditions posted on the site and people have to agree to them before they buy a reading service. You can find them here: http://angelorum.co/terms-and-conditions/

      You will do great going down the self-employment route!

      Love and Blessings,

      Lisa

  2. Hello, my name is Sybella and I have been running my own psychic business for many years now. However, no where has there ever been advice on this topic till now.
    I have had this problem many times and am never quite sure what to do. I had one musician who came to me to make contact with his recently deceased wife. He badgered me every night and day for more contact. He then started to think he could hear and see her but only around me. I eventually suggested he get bereavement counselling as I sensed his attachment to me was to get to the wife. It became quite scary when he started turning up without a booking and ringing me 8am in the morning. I had to block him in the end as I actually felt he was mentally unstable.
    I also have had people who come back again and again just for my company (energy) and they don’t really want a reading they want my energy and validation or for me to teach them Tarot cause they think they can do what I do.

    Another client I have wont listen to the reading he just talks over me and then asks me about something that I have just told him. VERY frustrating as he is incapable of actively listening,ie, Me, “this woman you like is using you and is involved with another man”. He replies,” but there is a chance she likes me though”?
    “No she sees money in you and recognises you are keen on her so she exploits you,”
    Yes but she could grow to like me? I mean she does like me really?
    NO! she is bleeding you financially dry she will never feel for you what you feel for her. !
    Yes! but if I keep helping her she will grow to like me.
    God take me now! Is normally how I feel at this point.
    Great article thank you.
    x

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Sybella, thanks for sharing your experiences about clients who can’t take ‘no’ for an answer. There is a difference between clients who become attached to you as a person and clients who are addicted to your readings. Have you safeguarded your professional boundaries in your terms & conditions? Have you written down your reader’s ethics so that you can refer to them easily when client’s start crossing boundaries? One way of protecting yourself from the reading scenario you describe where the client keeps asking about the other person’s feelings is to adhere to the ethics of the Tarot Association of the British Isles (that way you can refer to them and clients are even less likely to take it personally). A TABI reader never does third part readings, so even in the first instance you would decline to read about how a third party feels about the client. You can still read on relationship potential but maintain an ethical stance which means you won’t do ‘psychic spying’ on behalf of your client. I have been where you are, even though I trained with TABI. I left them for a few years and did TONS of love readings of the nature you describe here. I wish to God I hadn’t! It lowered my vibration and me attract more of the same. Furthermore, it wasn’t helpful to anyone. A truly helpful and empowering reading is NEVER about how a third party feels about the client. It puts the focus on the client’s life instead, what they are doing and what they could be doing to create positive change. I can’t address the issue with mediumship because I’m not a medium but I can imagine that would attract a lot of mentally unstable clients so even more important to think through your ethics/terms & conditions. Glad you found the article helpful and all the best for the future! Blessings, Lisa

  3. This is an excellent article Lisa, mandatory for tarot and other intuitive arts professionals yet again! While validation is absolutely essential and even life-changing at those dark times when no one gets it, the idea is to then strengthen that validation toward self-empowerment through a new focus or activity that can move them forward instead of staying stuck. I love your policies here! <3

    1. Post
      Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *