The Tarot is a collection of images of archetypes — concepts common to our shared human experience — that show up in different cultures in different forms. For example, all cultures have images of a Creator/Destroyer, the Journey, the Hero, & Death/Rebirth. These archetypes are readily found in religion, myth, & stories. (Can you think of a good film or book that doesn’t have those in some form?) Images are the language of the unconscious, just as words are the language of the conscious mind.
We live in a very conscious-mind culture, & imagery (& music, or poetry, which is a way of using words to evoke the imaginal) is a way to get below/beyond just the logical, rational normal way of doing things. It’s a way of accessing the relational aspect of consciousness, where we can connect things &create understanding in ways that our “thinking brain” doesn’t. A Therapeutic Tarot reading is about a specific question, & the way the cards are laid out specifies a different aspect of the question in each card position; the cards are drawn, & the archetypes are synchronistically shown in relationship to each other.
What happens then depends on the purpose of the person doing the reading. Some people want to foretell the future (which I don’t do, since everything that happens between “now” & “then” can & does change the future); some people want to tell people what they want to hear. I like to have a dialogue about what the person sees in the cards, talk about the archetypal meaning, discuss how that relates to his or her inner & outer life (especially inner), & how she or he might use & apply this insight to make better choices or to create changes in how to do things that might improve his or her life.
When integrated into psychotherapy, Therapeutic Tarot can add richness of dimension into your own healing or growth.