People who read tarot professionally are sometimes faced with ethical dilemmas due to the nature of the questions asked to read on. People ask for tarot readings when they're faced with life's very difficult decisions, when they're emotionally distressed and looking for direction. Many times they are looking for a sign from a higher power, insider information from Destiny herself. Occasionally we are confronted with clients whose problems lie outside the scope of a reader's expertise and we have to ask ourselves when should we refer a querant to a professional?
Part of this dilemma can be alleviated by the reader's approach and how she communicates that to the client. As a reader, I try to empower those I read for. I rarely give imperatives from the cards because rarely do I see the cards being that bossy. What I see are pictures that uncover alternatives and opportunities that may have been looked over or missed entirely. One reader I know places a sign on her reading table that says, "The cards are in my hands, your destiny is in yours." Likewise, I place the querant's destiny squarely in their own hands and ask them how they plan to process this reading, how they see what the cards are advising, how they might proceed, etc. I ask them to think carefully about what the cards revealed to them and to ask me questions if they need to. I emphasize that the cards act as guides, not as authoritative decision-makers. This serves to demystify the information that comes from a reading, and encourages the querant to take what is said more in the vein of advice rather than edict.
As readers, we are human and fallible and we can misinterpret the cards and as a result give poor advice. Before becoming a tarot reader, I know I've handed out sorry advice a time or two in my life and I've taken poor counsel as well. However, it's always up to the person themselves to choose whether or not to act on the advice given, no matter if it is from a friend or a tarot card reading. When I'm reading, I interpret the cards as they present themselves. I don't really have a clue how what I am saying is affecting the other person until they respond. I simply tell them what I see, and if they choose not to respond, well, that's what they get, for better or for worse. The more interaction I have with a client, the better the reading will be and the more the client will get from the reading as she participates in the dialogue between us and the cards. For example, if I see depression indicated in the cards and the client acknowledges that they are indeed depressed, I can advise some help for that. Often the cards themselves will advise seeking professional help with the appearance of "mentor" cards such as The Hermit, The Hierophant, Kings and Queens. I have also had people ask for a reading to decide whether to invest in something, sell their home, to ask how their health is faring, or should they divorce their spouse and always I tell them not to base their decision on the outcome of the reading but to use the experience to give them something to think about and to consult a professional advisor before making their final decision. I don't think tarot substitutes for that help, but a reading can serve as an incentive for someone to take more control of their lives: i.e, to make that therapy appointment, to consult with a lawyer, go see that doctor, or take that course they've been thinking about. It's an adjunct to decision making, and I make sure those I read with know that. And that's not just butt-covering on my part, that's sensible. I have found tarot to be an invaluable tool for decision making in my own life but it's not a hotline to Destiny, God, or whomever you may believe is running the show, and it's not always up to date on the latest case law.
As a professional reader I know there are many misconceptions people have about tarot, about the skills of tarot readers, and about what they can reasonably expect from a reading. It is my job to help people, and I do that by helping them to uncover what they may already know inside themselves but may have been too overwhelmed or distracted to acknowledge. Readings often bring clarity to a really fuzzy situation and they can assist the client in taking steps on their own behalf to create their own futures and deal effectively with their problems. I nor the cards are a substitute for a professional in another field. When a reading is approached in this manner rather than in a "just tell me what is going to happen" manner, the client walks away from the table feeling a lot more steady on their feet and ready to face the next step.