At the beginning of my career as an astrologer I took a set of exams. They were a serious business, with a high failure rate. Fortunately I passed at the first try, and got my diploma in astrology.
When I got this diploma, I had to accept a code of ethics. I haven’t got it to hand, but there was mention of confidentiality. I am obliged to respect my clients’ confidences, and if I break these confidences I risk losing my diploma.
Of course a diploma in astrology doesn’t count for a great deal, and anyone can practice as an astrologer, without having to be regulated by a professional body.
Nonetheless there’s an element of self-regulation. If you reveal your clients’ confidences your reputation is going to take a dive pretty quickly.
Confidentiality doesn’t just apply to the details of the consultation. It also applies to the consultation itself and whether or not it actually happened. In my opinion you can’t say that a client consulted you, unless you have their permission. Which is a real pain if you have as a client someone who is famous and newsworthy, and you’re frantic to boost your reputation.
However confidentiality does have its limits. An astrologer can’t respect a confidence if doing so would mean that they infringed the law. So if an astrologer becomes aware that their client has committed, or is committing, a serious crime they probably have no legal or moral alternative but to alert the authorities.
The astrologer must also break confidences if they believe that their client is liable to hurt themselves or others. This is a pretty unlikely scenario, but I suppose someone with serious psychological issues might mistakenly consult an astrologer, when in fact they should be going to a psychiatrist.
Yet if neither legal issues nor physical safety are at stake, the astrologer must respect all confidences. In this light, I’m reminded of what Confucius said, as quoted by the Richard Wilhelm version of the I Ching (e.g. Arkana, 1989):
Where disorder develops, words are the first steps. If the prince is not discreet, he loses his servant. If the servant is not discreet, he loses his life. If germinating things are not handled with discretion, the perfecting of them is impeded. Therefore the superior man is careful to maintain silence and does not go forth.
Copyright © 2010 Archie Dunlop
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