April 19, 2024

Assumptive Questioning

Creative Connections & Client Communications
Assumptive Questioning

This is a short excerpt from The Creative Astrologer—Effective Single-Session Counseling [see “Books” on this website], from the vitally important presentation of questioning techniques (pages 76-78). It is so very, very important, this skill. –I hope you will study this book and learn the techniques well.

The fourth [among several key techniques] way to ask the direct question is what I call the “Assumptive Question”: “What was the big difficulty, vacuum, estrangement or fear here, in your relationship with your father?” might elicit something like, ”My father was garbage. He was never there when I needed him, and when he was drunk he would beat my mother, and…” or ”Can you imagine that I was the one sent out to find him when he didn’t come home …it was horrible how … he was around but totally passive…” [Actual responses.]

In the “Assumptive Question,” I am assuming that the relationship with the father in the case at hand was problematic or non-existent, and the words I suggest here, “vacuum, estrangement or fear, ”cover the three general variables in Saturn-retrograde situations (or, indeed, squares from Saturn to Sun or Moon), being out of the picture, there and passive, or tyrannical. By assuming that this is so, the astrological process gains authority and the astrologer can gain credibility. (See please, Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology, pages 35-44.)

The assumptive question also avoids the defensive first response that is often given by clients not being readily honest or trusting about the paternal feelings long past (or any other issue): “Well, my father worked so hard and he was always tired, and …” When I have had to let that defense register, I knew that I would return to the same issue later, when the discussion would have loosened up (trust, disclosure). I can say without any exaggeration that the Saturn-retrograde insight has been valid for 98% of all relevant cases in my experience —significantly, not just more or less—in the last twenty-five years.

Recently, I shared a consultation with a client with the Moon in Cancer in the 4th House. This Moon was very nicely sextile to Saturn. But Saturn, ruling the 10th and the 11th, was in square with Mars (ruler of the Ascendant), and Saturn itself made a quindecile to the Ascendant. –There is much tension here in the early homelife, impeding the champing-at-the-bit ego-development potentials with an undercurrent of anxiety about being loveable, self-worth problems, etc.

My client defended her family at incredible length, with enormous understanding to boot!; she went on and on and on. As the defensive statements continued though, the protective words began to evaporate; what then started to emerge were statements like, “My father was scared of opportunity, and that goes back to >I/I> parents. [More defense.] Even now, in his seventies, he says to me, his college-educated daughter doing very well, that maybe I should give up what I’m doing and drive a limo, because I have such a good personality and that job would be secure!”

My plan was to listen to it all, to let reality emerge [letting her unconscious get comfortable with trusting me]. It was truly remarkable. This lady had her Mars (in Sagittarius, by the way, arch opinionation) squared the Nodal Axis. I asked, “Alright, what should we be discussing about your mother?” [note the words and sentence structure] And again, the defensiveness started: “Well, she did the best she could, and I understand, now that I became a mother … Of course, I love my mother, but I do not want to be like her. They were afraid of everything.”

My client was visiting with me about a major job plan (the 10th House issues of the parents became very important as background to the 10th House profession discussion). She had a history of underachievement that was extraordinary. I pointed this out to her, and she replied, “I always put myself lower than others (total Western orientation). I then suggested, “All this defensiveness, all this rationalization is designed to preserve whatever security there was, because you need it so desperately at all times (Moon in Cancer), and not open yourself to insecurity.”

This was a primal explanation. She agreed. There was a way open then to objectify, and we went on to assess the state of security in the Now, and to plan strategy secure on that base rather than on the base her parents had provided.

It seems so simple, but such deductions, such insight is often elusive. The creative astrologer must listen to the client most creatively.

Here is a sampling of “assumptive questions” for several key astrological measurement references: the answers will almost always be substantively revealing, leading strongly to significant disclosure and important discussion:

2nd House: “What was the event or time period you would point to for when you started having self-worth problems? How do you see those problems related to the situation now in your life?”

11th House: “What was the event or time period you would point to for when you started feeling unlovable? How does all that focus now in your life, in your relationships? What has perpetuated those feelings?’

9th House: “What did your parents have to say about your education plans when you were nearing eighteen? Why do you think you had this precipitous marriage at nineteen (check arcs and transits at this key time of life), which interrupted your education? How did that time then set up the times now?”

10th House: [besides the myriad parental references] “How does your job fulfill you? What is missing?”

7th House: “How does the tone of your relationships now fit the tone established in your early home? What was the model back then for the situation now?” Or, “How does your marriage fulfill you? What is missing?” Or, “What is it that you think you have sacrificed to keep your relationship alive?” [[Whatever part of Self, the individual-need profile, has been sacrificed is usually a powerful lure away from the relationship in order to regain that part.]]

Or, “What was the purpose of the marriage?” –And remember, the parental axis is also the axis of the in-laws, another echo of a marriage and the spouse’s parents extending one’s own parental situation, i.e., the escape is not completed. And all of this, in marriage, is taken on within the vow to remain together for the rest of life.

Moon in the 6th House (usually workaholic): “How does your overwork fit in here?” or “How does your overwork tie in with your fear of intimacy at home (involving significator tensions among the 2nd, 5th, 11th, and 7th Houses)?”

Tr. Saturn Return (looking back): “What were the currents of change, probably affecting your job, in this six-month period (leading up to the Return)?

Moon-Pluto, and/or hard Nodal contacts: “What can be said here about the mother influence in your development –smothering, competitive? Please share that with me. What was the essence of the parental modeling in your early home?”

You can see the questions leading from evaluation in the past to reevaluation in the present. This is extremely important because, as the creative astrologer listens and learns the client’s reality, she or he is making connections within a scenario of development, which must be looked at once again objectively. The creative astrologer will be asking for, reflecting a new evaluation of these considerations in the light of information viewed afresh.

Of course –and it embarrasses me to have to write this caution here—the astrologer can not just make a list of questions, string them together, and expect to have a meaningful (and ethical) consultation. There must be careful analytical preparation and an alert posture to make creative links among questions, to put feelings and values together with events. This shows the client that you have a purpose in the development of the discussion. I find myself saying often, “We are going to see that …,” and I regularly recall that objective; “It is important for the decisions that lie ahead.”

**Please see as well, “Counseling”, Archives: The Art of Questioning, July 15, 1999.

[[If I may please say so myself, The Creative Astrologer is a hell of a book, and, if you are doing horoscopes for people, you have everything to gain by having a copy for your study and development! ]]