Using Tarot in Therapy: How Tarot Can Help Your Mental Health
Tarot cards are something that has certainly grown in popularity in recent years, but they’ve been around for quite a while— centuries, in fact. But how many people know that these spiritual tools can be very helpful for therapy and mental health?
As a Pagan, I’ve been using tarot cards for a while. Even though I’m still not an expert at reading them, I like to pull out my trusty Thoth deck when I feel stuck or need help with a problem.
And as it turns out, that kind of practice can be integrated with other things— like therapy— to aid in mental health treatment and betterment.
I first stumbled across the idea of using tarot cards for mental health with my previous psychiatrist. She asked me if I knew any good books for learning, because she had heard about practitioners using tarot with clients and wanted to try it out.
After that, I realized that using tarot in therapy, and in other contexts, would be helpful for mental health. Since then, I have supplemented my therapy with tarot cards on multiple occasions, especially when confronting issues or decisions that were very difficult.
Of course, not everyone believes in things like tarot cards, and different methods work for everyone. But if you’re someone who believes in tarot in one form or another, using it for mental health could be helpful for you.
What is tarot?
Put simply, tarot cards (or just tarot) are/is a tool that has many uses, but most commonly for divination, art, storytelling, and spirituality.
Tarot cards come in many different forms, and each deck has its own symbology and meanings. The thing that ties them all together is the use of the cards, not their content.
As such, people use tarot in many different ways. You can try to do readings to predict things that will happen. You can use it to seek answers to questions that are plaguing you. Or maybe you just want to use tarot to help plot out that novel you’re stuck on.
However you use them, using tarot in therapy and for mental health can be a great tool. Let’s talk about some of the benefits it can bring.
Tarot and mental health
From spiritual readings to art pieces, all forms of tarot can be a helpful supplement to other types of mental health treatment. Here are some of the key benefits of using tarot in therapy.
They’re a new way to open dialogue
Much like visual art, writing, and books, tarot cards can be a new way to create and hold dialogue in a therapeutic setting.
If there’s an issue you find very hard to talk about, or don’t know how to explain, or just don’t know where to start, tarot can bridge that gap. It gives you an external representation of your thoughts, so you don’t have to create everything from your brain.
Through the use of tarot cards and/or readings, you can put words to things you might not have been able to otherwise. You can explain your feelings with assistance, and maybe not have to struggle as much to make your therapist understand.
And if there’s something you don’t know where to start with, Tarot can be just as helpful. Starting with an image on a card provides you a jumping-off point, which can hopefully help lead you into saying more about the topic.
The power of metaphor here is powerful too. Through the symbology the cards provide, you can explain issues in a different way, and give metaphorical examples for hard-to-grasp concepts. Whether as therapist or client, this can make tough issues a lot easier to talk about.
More control over the conversation
Another benefit of using tarot in therapy is that it gives you more control over where the conversation goes. How? By having a physical object to guide your conversation, you can keep it on track, and prevent unnecessary tangents.
Again, this is helpful if you find yourself lost for words, or getting distracted a lot. It provides a framework for approaching the conversation, so you can make sure it goes whatever way would be most helpful for you.
They’re a neutral tool
Tarot cards aren’t biased— they never sway in one direction or another. They’re simply a tool, one that relies on your own interpretations and meanings. So when thinking about tarot and mental health, you never have to worry that the tool you’re using will be biased.
Some books and other resources— although incredibly helpful— can be biased toward one mindset or solution. By using a neutral tool, you can instead focus on your own feelings and desires, and how that shapes your situation.
Can do it alone or with others
Using tarot in therapy doesn’t necessarily mean doing readings with your therapist: it could simply mean doing it by yourself and then discussing it (or not).
This means that tarot is a very customizable tool you can use to best suit your needs. Whether you want to use it in tandem with a provider or just on your own time, it can provide a great boost to your mental health practices.
Just another tool
At the end of the day, tarot cards are just another tool in your belt. Whether you use them for divination, deepening your spiritual understanding, or parsing out tough conversations, they are there to help you.
So don’t look at tarot as the fix-all for your troubles. Just think of using tarot in therapy as one more thing you can do to support your mental health.
Of course, no tool is perfect, and there are downsides to using tarot in therapy. I’ll mention some of them briefly, but for a more thorough dive into the pros and cons, check out this article. Here are some possible cons:
It requires at least one person to learn how to read tarot (if you don’t already know)
There’s always room for misinterpretation or miscommunication
It might not fit your beliefs and doesn’t really work if you’re a skeptic
Even with these downsides, the benefits of tarot are worth giving it a shot, if it’s the kind of thing you might believe in. And remember, it isn’t all about divination: they can simply be used as art or storytelling methods too.
Like I said, tarot is just another tool in your mental health toolbelt. If you want to use it, it can have a lot of possible benefits, and make talking about your mental health easier. If you’re considering using tarot in therapy, talk to your therapist about it and see if it’s something they’d be open to.
Do you have questions about tarot and mental health? Want to know how to read tarot? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know by leaving a comment below or tagging us on social media (@therapeutichealingjourney on Instagram and @llctherapuetic on Twitter.)