In July 2005, my wife, Susie, and I were introduced to the Burgstahler family who had lost their son, Taylor, in a tragic lake accident. When Taylor's mother, Lori, asked my wife how we were able to cope with such a loss, Susie pointed to faith and also talked about our experiences with credible mediums. Unbeknownst to us, after we met with Lori, she consulted a "store-front" reader in hopes of connecting with her son. This proved to be a big mistake as Lori was subjected to a horribly distressing and despicable experience.
The supposed "medium," who allegedly reads ruin stones, told Lori that Taylor had "not crossed to the other side" and that he was "not in the light."
Adding to the insult, this charlatan told Lori that her deceased mother-in-law "had a dark side" and that she had "taken her son" after he passed. This statement made no sense to Lori as she recalled her husband's mom being a very nice person during their one and only meeting, shortly before her mother-in-law's death.
The callous woman then proceeded to say that Lori had "a negative energy attached to her," resulting from a "curse" that someone had put upon her. For good measure, the hoaxer said that Lori's house was cursed as well. (While curses were being thrown around, I suppose she might have well received her money's worth...)
These preliminary statements paved the way for the woman's punch line. Miraculously, this all-knowing mystic offered a way to correct this cosmic mayhem for modest sum of $750. In exchange for her nominal fee, the woman offered to eliminate all negative energy, thus clearing the way for Taylor to cross over.
Lori was emotionally distraught after this event and hurried home where she broke down. Wisely, she never again returned to see the con artist. Instead, she picked up the phone and called Susie, asking if she might be able to recommend any "good" mediums. In turn, Susie offered the names of two trusted individuals.
Unfortunately, frauds like the woman referenced in this story fuel negative impressions associated with mediums, providing fodder for debunkers who assert that all psychics are of the same ilk. So with such cases in mind, one may wonder how to find a credible medium. How can a person "separate the wheat from the chaff?"
My first recommendation is to seek out a psychic-medium based on a referral from a trusted source-such as a relative, friend, or a co-worker. Then before proceeding, ask the referring individual a few specific questions about their reading, which may reveal the true ability of the medium.
Ask the person whether the medium knew anything about them prior to the reading. To avoid what is known as "front loading," or "warm reading," it is best to attend such a session with the medium having little or no advance knowledge about the sitter.
In booking an appointment, people are typically expected to provide their name, which is understandable. That said, I have known several people who utilized a pseudo-name to avoid any chance for front loading, yet the medium still performed very well. As a result, I have great confidence in these mediums and gladly refer people to them-since they have proved their legitimacy beyond any reasonable doubt. Whether or not you choose to use your real name is up to you but I don't recommend deception as a course of action. The medium may be willing to accept your first name alone if you can provide assurance that you won't "skip out" on the appointment so you may wish to pursue that angle.
I know a few trusted mediums that prefer some advance communication with the sitter, to facilitate a preliminary discussion about what they want from the session. I am okay with this if the medium's abilities have been proven under controlled conditions, or if you have complete confidence in the source that referred the medium, but this should be the exception. As a rule of thumb, when it comes to obtaining a pure reading, the less information that is available to medium, the better.
The best psychic-mediums typically start by providing information on their own without asking a lot of questions. Lesser mediums tend to ask the sitter more questions, so they can focus their (sometimes-vague) answers in the same direction. It is fine for the medium to ask what the sitter wants out of the reading but if they begin to probe-asking too many questions about birth-dates, marital status, children, or names of family members-it is typically not a good sign.
As a real-life example, I had a phone-session with Sally Owen in 2006 that included a number of remarkable validations. Sally entered the reading knowing very little about me, yet it didn't affect her ability to deliver solid, meaningful information.
Among her hits, Sally stated, "You must have a son on the other side." She then referenced one of my son Brandon's toys, "You know those little jack-in-the-boxes that have the hand crank and then the jack-in-the-box jumps out?"
Sally then noted that Brandon showed her where other toys had been stuffed into the jack-in-the box, "...put something in the clown in the box."
This was a striking affirmation. As a young child, my son Brandon possessed such a jack-in-the-box toy and he inserted other small objects inside, so he could watch them pop out after turning the crank. This activity never ceased to amuse him-Brandon would break into laughter every time the jack-in-the box emerged, accompanied by toy-shrapnel. What an obscure piece of information...and impossible to research.
Once you have selected a medium and scheduled an appointment, it is important to follow certain steps to avoid the possibility of "cold reading." The term cold reading refers to a practice whereby a person reads body language, interprets voice-tones and related emotion, asks general questions, and then modifies their responses based on sensory input including sitter feedback. Some legitmate mediums will start with an exchange with the sitter that helps them get going, which is understandable but they should be doing most of the talking.
If you are meeting with a well-regarded medium, you shouldn't have to worry about the possibility of cold-reading but you may choose to take precautionary steps for your own sake-especially if you are naturally skeptical. This will lend an added sense of validity to the process when you reflect on it, keeping you from second-guessing things later on. It is also important to remember that mediums are sensitive people and if they feel threatened or excessively challenged, it could be detrimental to the quality of your reading. So if you choose to be guarded, make a point of being friendly and positive when meeting the medium. This is easy to accomplish prior to the reading as you can set them at ease, explaining that you look forward to the process and that you are open-minded.
To ensure the best chance of contact with a deceased loved one during a mediumship reading, I would suggest that you send out "thought invitations" in advance of your appointment. This can be something as simple as a prayerful thought request, or you may choose to think of it as a form of telepathic transmission.
And if it is okay with the medium, I suggest that you record the session-preferably with a digital audio recorder, which provides higher-quality audio output than a magnetic tape device such as a cassette unit. If you cannot record the session, I recommend that you take copious notes. Recording is preferable to note-taking however, as it will allow you to stay more engaged in the session and not worry about multi-tasking. Most readings occur in rapid fashion and you will likely have difficulty digesting all the information unless you log it in some fashion.
Now you may ask, "How do I find a qualified medium?"
This can be a challenging issue for the average person, especially those who find this topic new or foreign within the scope of their life experience.
You may initially assume that you have no sources for a reference but you might be surprised to learn that someone you know has already consulted a psychic-medium. If they have done so and are able to indicate satisfaction with the experience, you may wish to ask them for a reference.
Some people simply won't have access to a credible reference and for this reason I would like to recommend a few other suggestions that might help.
The "Windbridge Institute" has launched a certification process to identify mediums who meet certain criteria, validating their ability and authenticity. To see their listing of certified mediums, consult the Windbridge website.
In a similar vein, a converted skeptic named Bob Olson offers a list of recommended mediums on his web site, bestpsychicmediums.
My advice is to talk to people you know and trust, looking for solid recommendations, or to consult the resources noted above. Otherwise, if you choose to embark on your own without a recommendation, buyer beware!