I Didn’t Know How Hungry I Was… Until I Was Being Fed
Then I discovered I was ravenous and wanted even more! I’m talking about the Peer Group Supervision experience I had on Saturday, April 10th, in California hosted by the gracious Dvora in her lovely Calabasas home.
Pull Up A Chair
Imagine having about five other astrologers listen intently while you tell them about a particularly difficult or puzzling reading you had with a client. A reading that left you feeling uneasy, guilty, puzzled, angry, or worst of all, incompetent and out of your depth. A couple of the astrologers ask you clarifying questions and then you sit back and listen to what each astrologer has to say about your experience. Braced for criticism, what you hear instead is encouragement, empathy, advice, confirmation, laughter. With each word, you feel a place inside you fill up that you didn’t even KNOW was empty, and your whole body relaxes.
Then it’s another astrologer’s turn to tell about their uncomfortable client experience, and you have the deep pleasure of listening and giving back. The group leader, (Bob Mulligan in this case, who kept us all laughing and eager to learn more), keeps everyone on course, asks questions, makes comments, starts off the meeting with his own story, and guides the group to make sure everyone has a chance to share.
How Was I Fed?
First of all, I felt seen, heard, understood and...relieved. The suggestions I received were confirmation of many of my own thoughts, and a situation that had been bugging me for over a year was resolved. I even got a little “script” I could use with the particular client I had shared about. Furthermore, I was able to see what mistakes I had made with another client that I didn’t even talk about. I felt more clear on what I did that WASN’T effective, what I did that WAS effective and had direction on what to do in the future, all of which boosted my confidence.
Finally, being able to give feedback to another astrologer was satisfying in itself, because I got a chance to use my own experience and expertise to be supportive, which brings up the point that it’s a lot easier to see another person’s issues than it is to see my own. Having other astrologers to talk to when I’m too close to something is invaluable.
Not Quite Enough
As practicing astrologers, we all know that doing readings, consultations, or sessions (pick the word you like), means connecting with the client in order to be helpful and effective, without the client or yourself being harmed in any way. Sometimes though, things don’t go as well as planned and we really wish we had someone to compare perceptions with and to get some objectivity. Maybe it’s not confined to one particular consultation with a client, but the relationship itself feels off. It could be you unintentionally crossed a boundary (the dual-relationship is an especially easy mistake to make), and are now having problems because of it, or maybe you feel manipulated by a client, and are not sure if it’s just your imagination or how to handle it if you are being manipulated. Sometimes, in fact, being an astrologer and talking to clients about their lives, can feel pretty risky when we don’t know for sure how to navigate the pitfalls. Clients often think we are god-like, or “psychic” and take anything we say very seriously (even if you ARE psychic, the client’s expectation of what that means can be very different than the reality of it).
A Little Indigestion
I’ve had the uneasy experience of having a client tell me I said something to them that I don’t even remember saying. It’s even more disturbing to hear that what I don’t remember having said, they’ve remembered and thought about for YEARS! Yikes. My point being, with this kind of responsibility, we can really use some support, and with little guidance available to us in the field, it’s easy to make mistakes, to second-guess yourself constantly or get too stressed out to be effective. Though you may be solitary and fiercely independent by nature, having community that you can share your often lonely professional challenges with, is a deep blessing. The great thing is, the TYPE of astrology you practice matters not one whit, so there is no competing and comparing.
The format is simple:
- Talk only about readings that have already taken place, thereby preventing the meeting from becoming about getting free readings or free astrological instruction. We can help each other this way if we want to, of course, just not in this setting.
- You have to have at least a basic understanding of astrology and to be actively giving readings or counsel to people based on astrology charts.
- There needs to be a leader who has been OPA certified to keep the meeting on course, ask the right questions, and to make sure that everyone gets a chance to share.
- Everything about clients is strictly confidential, no names are spoken and the client names on the charts are blacked out. We even go so far as to not share a chart about someone who is a public figure that can be recognized by their chart. This part of the meeting is not ever recorded.
- The feedback we give each other is positive and helpful in nature. No attacking or belittling allowed. Suggestions and advice can be offered, but not forced on anyone.
- The group stays small, from 5 to 8 people, and it can be an open group or a closed group that opens up to new people once a year.
If you’ve ever been involved in a group process before such a Mastermind Group, Toastmasters, any of the 12-Step programs, or group therapy, you know how magically effective they can be. The group spirit takes over and every member grows faster and goes farther than they ever could on their own. With the Peer Group Supervision experience, a large portion of the pleasue is that you get to speak astro-babble as much as you want to and everyone gets it!
Is It To Your Taste?
If you’re wondering if you and your practice could benefit from the Peer Group Supervision experience, don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself. You don’t have to go back for seconds if you don’t like it. But I believe that, like it did for me, it will fill you up as it whets your appetite for more. For more details on how it works and why this kind of model, go to Bob Mulligan’s article about Peer Group Work.