By Armand Diaz, PhD.
In Planets in Therapy, Greg Bogart lets us in on an open secret: a lot of psychotherapists are interested in astrology. Many therapists use astrology, although because of concerns about client reactions and professional issues, some use it surreptitiously. There’s an uneasy relationship between the two disciplines, and psychologists – already trying to prove that they aren’t a soft science – often try to keep their distance from their older sister discipline.
To find someone who is both astrologer and psychotherapist isn’t especially difficult, although locating someone who is strongly proficient in both might have its challenges.
Greg Bogart fills the bill, and his book not only integrates psychology and astrology, it stands as a great introduction to contemporary astrology. Bogart begins with a distinction between the fatalistic astrology that is so strongly rejected by modern minds and the humanistic astrology that developed in the 20th century. He shows how humanistic astrology does not simply present static character traits, but dynamic energies that can manifest in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of possibilities – an understanding crucial to a truly psychological approach to astrology.
The book covers a great deal of ground. In fact, it could have probably been two or three books. The first section of the book is an introduction to psychological astrology. This section is helpful for both people with no background in astrology and astrologers who want an overview of the psychological approach. In the second part, Bogart goes on to introduce humanistic and transpersonal approaches to astrology.
Next comes a section on using astrology within the therapeutic context, a section that is important for understanding how astrology and therapy can be combined. Following is a section on relationship astrology that explores interpersonal dynamics. Predictive techniques make up the next part of the book, and Bogart shows how prediction need not mean fatalistic pronouncements. The final section of the book gives examples of the foregoing material in greater depth, although the book is liberally peppered with interesting and relevant examples.
The relationship between psychotherapy and astrology is not without challenges. Astrology, like psychology, is a very broad discipline. Not all astrology clients are seeking psychological information – some want to know a good time to buy or sell a house or apply for a job, for example. Among those clients who do have more interest in psychological matters, most would not actually have a clinical diagnosis that requires professional psychological intervention. It can be a tricky line for astrologers to navigate, and Bogart does a fine job of helping to define the differences.
Planets in Therapy is written for astrologers and students of astrology, and particularly for astrologers who are therapists, but Greg Bogart manages to provide a solid overview of astrology in the process so that anyone can read and learn from the book. Someone with an interest in therapy who is approaching astrology for the first time could not find a better introduction. Psychotherapists who are open to the idea of including an astrological perspective – at least some of the time – will benefit immensely from the book, while astrologers who wish to know more about the therapy process will find great depth in Planets in Therapy.
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