These last few months I've noticed a trend - or should I say that I've noticed it before, but it didn't really "click" with me until now. That trend is the number of times I hear a client tell me that they had another paranormal group come and investigate their problem, but that 1) they literally ran out of the house, never to be heard from again, or 2) they did the investigation, but provided nothing for the client to act on.
Is that right?
If you represent a paranormal investigation group or team that does not offer resolution of some kind to the client, then why are you doing it? If you run away from a location you're investigating (literally), what does that say about the field of paranormal investigation? I mean, let's face it, even Scooby-Doo resolved cases!
Let me be clear. If you formed a group to have fun over a few beers - state that on your web or Facebook page. Don't string along someone in fear for their lives just so you can have a good scare. Those people live there - Every. Day.
I know because I lived in a haunted Officer's Club for a while and it was terrifying. People call you to help them, not to document the problem and 'skip town.' This is NOT what being a paranormal group is about. It's about helping people resolve the issues, not just saying, "Yeah, you got an issue." The client doesn't need you to tell them that (even if their issue doesn't turn out to be paranormal).
So based on this, here are my "rules" for calling yourself a paranormal investigation group:
1. Honesty is the best policy. Be clear on your web/FB page and in conversations with potential clients what you actually do - or do NOT do. Don't misrepresent yourself just to get into someone's house to do an investigation.
2. Be proactive. Maintain a list of resources you can refer a client to if during your investigation you determine that they need additional assistance. The list should include demonologists, transpersonal psychiatry resources, clergy, reliable psychics and mediums, and other specialists.
3. Follow-up. If you do an investigation, get back with the client with results. I can't tell you how many times I have heard a client say..."I had X here and never heard anything back from them." Be honest - if you didn't get anything, tell them. If you haven't had time to review the data yet, call them and let them know you're still working on it. I can't imagine living in a fearful and stressful state, opening my home up to strangers to investigate, and then never hearing back from them. Not acceptable. Ever.
4. Form a network. There is altogether too much competition among paranormal groups. We need to form a network and work together to leverage our expertise and help people with haunting situations. If you find yourself undercutting or competing with another group, it's time for you to reconsider the reason you started a paranormal group in the first place. Again, refer back to Rule #1.
5. Share methods and technology. If you've found something new that works, share your findings. Unless you're going for a patent or the Nobel Prize in parapsychology, your work should be used to help other teams in their investigations. If you use someone else's method or idea, give them credit for it. It's called "attribution" in the academic world - don't steal it or represent it as your own work or idea. Ever.
6. Resolve it. One way or the other, it's on you to offer solutions when you take on a client for an investigation. Sometimes, you can resolve it as an "other than a haunting" case. Great. Other times, you may need to conduct a blessing or clearing ceremony or call in a psychic medium to resolve it. In a few cases, you'll need to refer the case to a specialist or colleague for resolution. Even if it ultimately can't be resolved, it's your responsibility to make every effort to attempt to resolve it. Period.
As professional paranormal investigators, I hope these 'rules' resonate with you. There are simply too many people getting into this "field" that have no interest in it other than as a source of entertainment. That's fine if they stick to exploring abandoned asylums or prisons, but it's not o.k. if they are taking on clients with real problems - people that truly need our help. What do you think? Does your group follow these rules? I'd love to hear about it and add you to my resource list. :)
I would be happy to discuss the issue of resolution and look forward to your comments (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
And be safe out there!
Carol A. Pollio, Ph.D.