Feng Shui & Ethics
As a feng shui consultant, I have heard my share of horror stories about the practices of other feng shui consultants. I know of one consultant who told a client that she would never sell her house unless she used that consultant’s services, which were marked up at an astronomical rate. I’ve heard of “experts” who have instilled fear in their clients about the futures of their family and their health, and I had a potential client ask me whether tarot cards were absolutely necessary as part of her consultation because a previous consultant had used them and told her that they are (they’re not; reading tarot cards is its own specialty that has nothing to do with feng shui).
There’s a reason that Angie’s List is so popular: certain plumbers or housecleaners or painters are going to work for certain people better than others. And, just like in any other service-based profession, this applies to feng shui. Not all feng shui consultants are the same. There are many schools and disciplines of feng shui, and because of that, different practitioners will approach a problem differently. This is great because different clients will resonate and connect with different consultants and schools of thought. That’s what makes feng shui so interesting and multi-faceted, but it can also open up an opportunity for unethical behavior.
Why Feng Shui is Unique
Feng shui, like other holistic or energy-based practices, is unique in that it is not a discipline that is super amenable to being governed by a society or board. Although there are some main tenets of feng shui that every consultant will be versed in, knowledge is not standardized across the board for everyone. And since most consultants work out of their homes and travel to others’ homes or offices to perform a consultation, we don’t require permits or much oversight to do our jobs.
But unlike with some service providers, there’s another element to the consultant-client relationship in feng shui that needs to exist in order for it to be successful, and that is trust. Simply, you need to trust that your practitioner is working in your best interest, takes your particular situation and feelings into account, and understands the importance of the recommendations they may make. Having a feng shui consultation can be a vulnerable experience, and in feng shui, we’re dealing mostly with that which you cannot see but can sense. While you may know that a certain room or part of your house doesn’t feel right, you can’t necessarily explain why (unlike when you have a leaky pipe, you’re VERY aware that there’s a problem and it’s typically quite clear what that problem is and how to fix it). Because feng shui deals with the unseen, it can be easy to get taken advantage of or made to feel fearful of the consequences of not doing something or of doing something in the wrong way. (Cue feng shui PSA: feng shui is not meant to be a punitive or fearful practice! It’s about adjusting certain elements in your home so that you can function at the highest level.) And while most feng shui practitioners I come across take what they do very seriously and work hard to provide accurate and authentic recommendations for their clients, it’s helpful to have some guidance in how to spot the untrained.
Do Your Homework
There is a way to prevent against tangling with the wrong practitioner, and that’s by doing your homework and trusting your intuition around who you let into your home and life. The International Feng Shui Guild (IFSG) is a membership-based organization that helps to advance the practice and teaching of feng shui and protect against unethical behavior and bad business practices. It also keeps track of and ranks the various schools of feng shui. Checking to see if a potential consultant is a member of the Guild and which school they received their certification from are good ways to ease any fears you may have around professionalism and qualifications. Upon joining the Guild, all members (like myself) must sign a Code of Ethics, which helps to ensure that we adhere to professional standards and work in an ethical manner.
Here are a few of my favorite guidelines and ones I believe are tantamount to me doing my job appropriately and maintaining solid and authentic relationships with my clients:
Consultants shall act in the best interest of their client to ensure the best possible outcome.
The professional manner of consultants towards clients should be positive, supportive, and competent, without making unsustainable promises about the outcome of any consultation.
A consultant should never instill fear or put pressure on clients, their family or staff by arousing unsubstantiated fear or anxiety for their health or well-being. Consultants should not exploit vulnerability or ignorance or abuse trust.
Member consultants shall provide professional service and behavior (whether paid or unpaid) to the public and clients, ensuring their safety physically, spiritually, and psychologically. The consultant commits to maintaining integrity, dignity and honesty and upholding the highest reputation of the IFSG and of Feng Shui.
Check out the full Code of Ethics here.
Don’t Worry and Trust Yourself
Obviously, you can never guard yourself 100% from unethical service providers. We’ve all (unfortunately) been hoodwinked or taken advantage of at one point or another. Luckily, when it comes to feng shui, there’s a way to ease your concerns: make sure the consultant went to a school that’s recognized by the IFSG, make sure the consultant is an active member of the IFSG, and trust your gut! Anyone who makes you feel fearful or anxious is probably not the right consultant for you.