I'm sure many of us would agree that reading for people with mild through to severe or clinical mental health issues is a difficult path to tread.
The reason I want to talk about this is - often there is no indication that someone is suffering form mental health issues. There is no point at all in wrapping this up neatly with "I don't read for people suffering from psychotic episodes, self harm or in an abusive relationship" because they may not tell you.
You might say as a tarot reader- wouldn't I know anyway. And the answer is "often, yes" but
#1 Not until I start the reading.
#2 I have read for many people suffering form severe mental health issues who are very good at masking it. Not for any underhand reason, just because that is how they live day by day.
So after working with several clients now who have struggled with severe mental health issues- this is my advice. I am not an expert in mental health, I don't claim to have all the answers. Just sharing my thoughts.
#1 Assume anyone could have mental health issues. Even work colleagues & close friends may be struggling in ways you are not aware. Always assume your client could be depressed, suicidal, or taking medication for any number of mental health reasons.
#2 If reading where a client can see the cards try to start with a "gentle" and possibly more "main stream deck" even if only for 3 cards. I use the DruidCraft deck to open, then move onto Rider Waite.
I'm just suggesting you leave your Deviant Moon or Zombie deck until you know your client is comfortable.
#3 Head straight to "difficult" cards first if they crop up in a reading. I know every card has a blessing. but if you are reading for a client that literally believes her mother is evil & trying to kill her- and the spread has the Devil & 10 of swords- she will not listen to a word you say until you explain what those cards mean.
In her head she is now detaching form your reading, and using the images of those two cards to validate her own fears.
This may seem far fetched- but honestly stranger things have come up in readings (and sometimes they have been true!)
#4 Check in & make sure your client is understanding what you are saying. A key warning sign for me is a client that is simply engaging with the cards and not listening to me, or a client hat just keeps talking at me- not conversing with me about the reading. In this case the client is looking for validation of their problem (usually another person) and not here for help or guidance.
If I see this is happening I really try & make eye contact, slow the reading down, and go over the cards one by one. Trying to stop the internal validation & bring out some interaction.
#5 It is important to consider how you will act if your client is at risk of harm (either to themselves, to some-one else or from some-one else). This will depend upon where you live, and what services are available.
If I think there is a serious risk of harm I talk about it openly, and ask. I am aware of services available & will always recommend a client seeks professional help.
I have peer support from professionals that are expert in this area and often check in after a client to see if I could have handled it better. Not sharing their details- but rather how I dealt with the reading.
If I am doing ongoing work with a client who has a mental health diagnosis I check in that they are up-to-date with any medication, counselling and the like. I ensure they see me as a member of their care team, not a mental health expert. I now have a fair number of regular clients that I work with in this way & really enjoy the work.
#6 If you read tarot- educate yourself on mental health issues. Many people seek a tarot reading as a last resort when desperate. Some may seek a reading because they want someone else to control their decisions, or they are seeking validation for something that friends & medical workers will not validate.
There is no point in saying "I won't read for people with mental health issues"
They don't wear badges.
They need, and deserve our help just as much as the next person.