In its application to psychotherapy, astrology is primarily used as a diagnostic tool rather than as a form of treatment. Because every chart is unique, astrology functions as a diagnostic assessment device of unparalleled richness. Many therapists are beginning to use astrology as a diagnostic tool because of the advantages it presents over traditional psychological tests. Since it is based on an external frame of reference, the chart offers a character portrait that is entirely independent of test responses as occur on traditional psychological questionnaires, thus eliminating any possibility of response bias by subjects who might unconsciously wish to manipulate their scores. Whereas most diagnostic tests provide a flat, static profile based on a quantitative assessment of various personality attributes, astrology presents a qualitative assessment of psychic structure based on psychological processes in interaction (i.e., conscious and unconscious dynamics, areas of repression and conflict, pathways of sublimation, projection, and the like). Thus, the horoscope more closely approximates the psychic geography that therapist and client are exploring.
Because it is based on external referents that are observable and predictable, therapeutic astrology provides an objective reference point to balance the subjectivity of the therapeutic process. Whereas traditional tests are restricted to linear measurements that fragment the personality into a multitude of traits, motives, needs, factors, and scales, a horoscope depicts personality as the overall pattern of behaviors resulting from the unique organization of its underlying variables. Here, again, it is superior to devices that are limited to measuring parts of the personality because such assessments cannot offer an integrative picture of the whole person.
The dysfunctional extremes of zodiacal signs can be precisely correlated to some of the major diagnostic categories of traditional psychology. Generally, however, astrology does not reduce people down to preformed categories with pathological diagnoses. Rather, a chart enlarges one's sense of identity and creates a sense of possibility. Astrology suggests that the individual is not merely a consequence of multiple impinging factors, such as genetics or environmental conditions, but is a mirror of the living universe. The hermetic doctrine of the macrocosm and the microcosm provides the philosophical foundation of astrology and is a counterpart to the modern philosophy of holism. In this view, the psyche is not merely a whole for itself but is also a part of the greater whole that reflects it. Psyche is isomorphic with cosmos. This explains, in part, why human beings are capable of evolving toward communion with the source of individual existence.
Not only does astrology present a comprehensive portrait of the psyche in all its rich complexity, it is also capable of looking backwards into the past or projecting forwards into the future. Astrology is a diagnostic time machine that allows the therapist to gain access to psychological events that span the period from birth to death. For example, by examining the transits and progressions for any year of the life the astrologer is able to discern clues to traumatic events that might have occurred in early childhood, or project into the future and target periods when the individual is liable to face new crises. Such projections do not just predict a generic crisis, but a crisis of a specific type and duration. A chart assists the therapist in both diagnosis and prognosis, for where it symbolizes inborn conflicts, complexes, and areas of repression, it also points to latent potentials and areas (and times) of probable growth. In effect, the chart can be seen as a symbolic map of the process of self-actualization.
An astrological chart has one further advantage over traditional diagnostic schemes. While every assessment device is capable of describing the personality of its subject, traditional tests do nothing to illuminate the specific types of objects that the individual is likely to encounter. In astrology, however, each symbol of the chart is a corollary to both an intrapsychic process and an environmental condition. This means that a chart presents a portrait not simply of the individual, but of the individual in dynamic relation to an environment. Because subject and object define one another, the environment is seen as a reflection of the psyche to which it adheres. The advantage of such a conception is that it shows how interpersonal problems are precisely mirrored in intrapsychic structures. Astrological indications of interpersonal problems are not of a general type, but of highly specialized relations with potential marriage partners, children, authority figures, financial institutions, religious organizations, friends, employers and employees, and just about any other type of relation.
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