Tarot’s Hidden Value as a Therapeutic Tool by Heather Hardison Ph.D

Written by: Heather Hardison, Ph.D. Published on: July 28, 2021

“People are flocking to tarot workshops, classes, conferences, and YouTube to learn how to read the tarot for themselves so they can finally address deep-seated issues that have previously felt unreachable.”

Self-reflection and inner shadow work have long been self-care practices and therapeutic techniques used in psychology to work through psychological distress for individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, and mood disorders, such as bipolar. Often therapists prescribe written homework assignments like journaling, drawing, role-playing difficult conversations, and even writing unsent letters in an attempt to bring these repressed or blocked emotions up from the subconscious mind to allow them to be processed and released.

The tarot is a tool that accomplishes all of these goals in one spread. Working with the tarot is like having a personal therapist rummage through your subconscious mind to find the memory, limiting belief, or irrational fear that is wreaking havoc in your life.

When I first started working with the tarot in the spring of 2018, I was astounded at how effective the seventy-eight-card system was at identifying the root cause of issues that had lingered for decades. With a shuffle and a few intentional card pulls, I was suddenly staring at the root cause and reason why all other interventions had failed. There simply is no hiding with the tarot! Tarot cards allow individuals to bypass the logical mind and drop down into the subconscious mind, revealing hidden truths. It also gives answers to problems that are the most resistant to change.

Tarot Allows Us to Address Deep-Seated Issues

Our inner critics lie to us to keep us off the scent of the underpinnings of the psychological symptoms from which we suffer. Tarot is a complex, intricate tool that can cut through all the smoke and mirrors to get to the heart of the matter quickly. This is so effective because it allows us to accurately address the root cause that is holding the unhealthy behavior or pattern in place. Only then can we attempt to clean the wound, treat it, and start the healing process.

After uncovering the root cause of the injury or wound, the tarot provides additional guidance and support by identifying ways to navigate the path ahead. This card system consists of both universal archetypes (twenty-two major arcana) and a range of human emotions and experiences (fifty-six minor arcana) and works as a therapeutic tool that busts through self-sabotaging behaviors, negative thought patterns, misconceptions about self and others, self-limiting beliefs, and underlying fears that keep us rooted in stagnation.

The tarot has been underutilized for centuries and is just now starting to come into the awareness of self-healers across the planet. People are flocking to tarot workshops, classes, conferences, and YouTube to learn how to read the tarot for themselves so they can finally address deep-seated issues that have previously felt unreachable.

While tarot readings are helpful, they are not meant to be a substitute for therapy. Psychotherapy is a very important process if you are dealing with a psychological or emotional issue that needs exploring. Tarot work simply offers you another supportive tool to help you access your subconscious mind to connect to hidden emotions.

A Three-Card Spread for Self-Reflection

In this example above, I use one of my favorite three-card spreads (Obstacle/Advice/Outcome) for self-reflection. Here, you can see that the Devil represents fear and illusion as the obstacle. Often the Devil card can represent our inner critic who regularly sabotages our goals. The Eight of Swords as the advice card shows that the blocks are created by self-restriction and can be tackled by taking the blindfold off and freeing yourself of these constraints. And the Ace of Swords as the outcome shows that if you are able to free yourself of these self-limiting beliefs and fears, it is possible to gain a new perspective and way of thinking.

As you can see, the tarot has a way of drilling down quickly to the heart of the matter to offer you guidance on how to improve your current situation. Utilizing this tool regularly can help unlock a whole new set of coping skills and resources for tackling any stressful events that crop up throughout your life. It is a powerful therapeutic tool to have in your toolbox.

Heather Hardison, Ph.D.

Dr. Heather Hardison is a clinical psychologist and is the host of the podcast, Healing Thru Tarot. Heather is a tarot reader/consultant and tarot blogger, shining light on the tarot as a healing and therapeutic tool. Her blog, custom tarot spread, eBooks, and tarot reading services can be found on her website healingthrutarot.com. You can find her on Instagram @healingthrutarot