Things to Remember
By Tina Carlson

In the last few years the internet has become saturated with people who have started investigation groups.  Whether this is because of the boom it has seen on TV, or whether activity has increased it is hard to say.  Regardless of the reasons why, here are a few things for the people seeking help and the ones attempting to give it to remember.


For the people seeking help…


1)         Documentation is great.  If you have activity going on in your home, record it.  Buy a diary, keep a notebook, keep a log on your computer, have a camera ready, have a video camera set up and ready to go, leave an audio recorder in the room with the activity.  Any one of these can help you determine whether you need to call someone to come to your home. 

2)         You don't need to buy a bunch of equipment to determine whether you have activity in your home, just being observant and noting things can help do this for you.  If you are experiencing a shadow at the same time every night take notice.  If you are hearing something strange but cannot pinpoint its origin, write it down.  If you feel a breeze blowing through your home, but there isn't a source you can locate, make a note.  If the overall general mood of your home makes you uneasy, make an entry on your computer. 

3)         You can do research into your home and the property it is built on.  First start with the internet.  Most cities now have a crime map that tells of happenings by zip code or even by street names.  I would start with that.  Perhaps a major crime such as a murder took place in your neighborhood on even on your property before the building was created, that may cause the activity that is occurring now.  Going to the court house, or place in your city where property records are kept can be of help as well.  Getting the names off the land title can lead you to a tragic love affair, a spy ring, a vice presidents home, or an unsolved crime.  The possibilities are endless.  If the land title leads to nothing, try the newspapers to see if they have anything in their archives.  Also speak to neighbors who have been around a long time. Perhaps a rumor from 40 years ago can lead you to why your home is possibly haunted now. Remember that the land is as old as time, if you don't find anything, that doesn't mean your house is not haunted.  Something may have occurred before records. 

4)         Something you own may also be related to the haunting.  Perhaps a family heirloom, an antique, or a piece of second hand furniture or piece of jewelry..  Not all old things have ghosts, and not all ghosts belong to old things either. 

5)         Do not resort to activities that may make the situation worse.  Ouija boards, séances, automatic writing, anything that challenges a spirit to make itself known when you are not trained to handle the outcome can be disastrous.  It can make a relatively calm haunting turn into a hurtful, mean, and disgruntled haunting that will make everyone in the house miserable.

6)         Research a group thoroughly!  I cannot stress this enough.  You wouldn't buy a car without looking it over, you wouldn't go to a doctor who had only been in med school for 6 months, why let a stranger into your home without checking them out first?  I am not just talking about the internet.  The internet is filled with lies and misleading statements.  Get word of mouth and recommendations from family, friends, workmates, on the group you are asking into your home.  Newer groups may need more experience, check how long they have been around.  Older groups may have become complacent or close minded to new thoughts.  Also keep in mind that just because they may be a member of a known paranormal family does not automatically make them the group for you.  Religion, personality, reputation, and an overall feeling that you receive from them will help determine whether they are going to be able to help you.  A good group will always put the clients' needs first.  Try to arrange a meeting with them before inviting them into your home.  This is crucial.  A smiling face on their website does not mean that they do not have ulterior motives to get into your home or that they have your best interests in mind. A website here today, might be gone tomorrow leaving no trace, I have seen it happen.

7)         The size of the group does not exact quality.  A group of twenty people does not necessarily mean they are experienced or have any field training. On the same note, a group of 2 may not have the man power to cover all the hot spots or equipment in your home.  Again research into the background of a group is key here. 

8)         After you have made a decision to invite a group to your home, I would suggest that you pick a night where you know you won't be overly tired after a long day at work or just home from a trip. Try to arrange for it to be as normal night in your life as possible. Also try to pick a night where you think you will be comfortable, not rushed due to a busy day the next day.  A change in your normal day will make the atmosphere in your home change and may cause the activity to slow or even to stop. Nights are preferable for most investigation groups. However if you notice the activity occurs more during the day, do not hesitate to arrange for a daytime investigation.

9)         If entirely possible arrange for sleepovers for the children in your home.  Investigators do not want to frighten the children by something they say or do.  Most children are scared by what is happening and a bunch of strangers coming into their home at bedtime and possibly through their bedrooms, might make them even more uneasy.  Or find a group that is experienced with how to explain to children about ghosts..  This is crucial as the last thing you want after an investigation group leaves is to have a child up all night scared to go to sleep.

10)        Pets should be kept to one area away from the rooms with the most activity if possible, while the investigators are in your home.  False positives on any of the equipment pieces due to animals running through the room are something you and the investigators do not want.

11)        If at any time during the contacting of the investigators or the investigation, or afterward, the investigators ask for money for services, drop them and contact another group. Just tell them that there are too many groups out there that do not charge and you will be contacting one of those.  Any group who asks for money are generally going to tell you what you want to hear because you are paying them for that service, not for solid proof that activity exists in your home. 

12)        Try not to talk too much about investigators coming to your house to search for the paranormal in the house.  Ghosts can hear you and this may change the activity.  They may be just as scared of being found out as you are to have them there and the activity will just stop.  Or in other situations, the clients report activity increased tremendously until the investigators arrived at the door and then it just stopped.  This happens! Please do not feel embarrassed, it does not mean that the investigators will not believe you. 

13)        One or two investigators may ask for a walk through and a description of the activity by room, or ask you to show them of any new or noteworthy activity since you last spoke..  Knowing what is happening and where in the home avoids any surprises later.  It also helps to point out things such as squeaky floor boards, or a door that will not stay shut.  Video of a door coming open on its own would be great, until we find out that the door won't stay shut due to a construction defect. 

14)        My group will also explain the equipment we use in your home.  This helps you to understand any readings or findings we may get.  Ask questions.  If you are curious about anything ask, we are more than happy to explain.

15)        If you can keep notes a few days before the investigators arrive.  This will help you to point out any new activity and may also help pin point a pattern of phenomenon, such as the light only comes on in the hallway when you are in the kitchen at 10 pm.  This will be great help to the paranormal investigators to recreate the variables that might make the activity reoccur.

16)        During an investigation what my group will do is ask if you would like to move from room to room about the house with us. This does not mean that you have to follow the investigators if you do not want to.  We do this for your comfort.  If you are uncomfortable with a group or they will not let you into a room with them, find out why. This is your home and if you feel like being there to observe you should be allowed to.  Remember though that group is there to conduct an investigation so we may ask you to not whisper or talk but just observe. Another set of eyes is always welcome, however whispering can lead to false positives which neither you nor the investigation group wants.  If you witness something, try not to get excited or raise your voice. Your excited voice may not sound like your everyday voice and may make us question the audio later. 

17)        If there are items in the house that are special to you, please make the investigators aware of them.  With cords and equipment being moved, we would be as devastated as you would to break a valuable. If at all possible put the items out of the way. 

18)        Nothing may happen right away in the home. Again this is normal. Spirits are for the most part shy and while they may be used to you, they are not accustomed to the stranger standing in your home talking about a temperature gun or EMF detector.  Be prepared, it may take some time before the paranormal activity begins.  Possible even more than one or two investigations will have to happen before the activity occurs while the investigators are there. 

19)        In most cases the investigators might give you an idea of their findings before they pack up their equipment, it will just be a general idea until we analyze the evidence.  Some groups do this and some do not.  Keep in mind that our statements may change as we view the evidence.  Nothing is set in stone as this is an ever evolving, ever changing science.

20)        As clients you should know that just because we may not find anything during our investigation does not mean in any way that there is or is not activity in your home.  We can only present our evidence to you.  It is ultimately up to you to decide based on everything involved whether you think you have paranormal activity. As investigators our evidence is circumstantial and just too many variables are involved to be able to tell anyone without a doubt that there is or is not activity in your home. 

21)        Please give the investigators time to analyze the evidence collected.  Most groups have many video cameras, many digital cameras, many audio recorders and many logs and to go through hours of these pieces of equipment and then go back with the positive evidence and compare it with all the aspects to eliminate any false positives takes time.

22)        When the evidence is presented to you and you have questions, please ask.  This is your house that is being discussed. We would rather you ask and understand the evidence presented, then to always have doubts or questions about what we believe to be evidence. 

23)        If you are uncomfortable and would like another investigation, tell the group.  Most groups will be more than happy to come back to your home.  Good groups are not only there for the science but mostly for the client and the clients well being and level of comfort in their homes.  

24)       Try not to base what you are experiencing on what you see on television.  Most of what you see has been edited from hours of footage and only the best activity taken from that footage.  Don’t let this stop you from picking up the phone and calling for help, or emailing a local investigation group in your area and asking questions.  The groups on TV have to keep their shows exciting for ratings sake and often have to do what the producers tell them to do. 

Investigation groups should try to remember these things…


1) When starting a group, remember that the best place to start is not a private home without experience.  Going into a private home that is not family or friends as one of your first investigations can be harmful to not only your group but also your clients.  Friends and family might understand if something goes wrong, but as a group you should start at a public accessed haunted locale to learn how to work as a group. To learn who best works the different pieces of equipment, who interacts best with the clients, who works best at filling out forms and activity logs, or who best to set up and break down an investigation.  The last thing a group wants to present is disorganization or even arguing while on an investigation. 

2) Always check with an owner of a property to get permission to enter a haunted location.  Even if it is a cemetery that does not have hours posted, it is best to contact the cemetery owner to ask if you can have access after dark.  Too many people have been arrested for not asking permission because they have seen the location listed on some website and forgot to follow this basic of rules.  A listing does not grant permission, just says that someone somewhere has felt that the area might possibly be haunted.  Permission from the owner will go a long way when a policeman is asking you why you are in an abandoned building after dark.  Written permission or a cell phone number of the owner might keep you out of a jail cell.

3)Self advertising and word of mouth is going to be the best way to get your name out there, so remember to conduct yourself appropriately. Put logos or names on your shirts, jackets or hats, but remember people are watching you. If in a public suspected haunted location, do not use bad language, drink alcohol, smoke, or roughhouse.  A potential client may not remember your first name but they will remember your logo and your actions.  If you conduct yourself in a profession manner, you will be remembered.

< style="font-family: helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">4)  You do not need to get all the most updated equipment to form a group or go out to get field experience. A notebook, and a flashlight, is what a lot of people started with.  Fancy cameras, recorders, or emf detectors will come in time. Learn the basics first and then you can concentrate on the equipment that comes with more in-depth investigations.

5) You don't have to lie about how long you have been a group to get your name out there.  If you conduct yourself with respect to the afterlife, respect to the clients, respect to your surroundings and respect to yourselves, you will get noticed and you will get contacted.  Too many individuals and groups have decided that tacking on years of investigating is a good thing. I can't tell you the number of times I have been asked to add a link of a new group, then when I revisit the group a few month later, suddenly the time they have been investigating has jumped by years or even decades.  Keep in mind that there is always a trail and if you begin by lying about how long you have been investigating someone always knows the truth. If you are willing to lie about that, how can you be trusted with evidence or in someone's home? Trust is earned.  Do yourself and your clients a favor and start out right by telling the truth. 

6) Surround yourself with people who are willing to work with you to make your group grow.  Many times when a group has worked together for a while they become complacent and start to rely on the friendship rather than what brought you together in the first place.  It is then the director's place to step up and get the group back to functioning and going in the right direction.  Your group is only as good as the people who are willing to work to make it so. 


7) The best skill a new group can learn is to work with each other and balance your skills off of one another.  Learning how to voice to each other what you are feeling is a great group builder. But I personally feel that the best thing a group can learn is to trust each other.  Ghost investigations can be dangerous sometimes and learning to trust the feelings of your group and know without a doubt that you have each other's back in any situation. 

< style="font-family: helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">8) Get yourself a free website.  A website even with just your contact information will bring in clients searching for a group in your area.  A basic website with some of the things you do while in a clients home will bring in even more clients.  < style="font-family: helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">

9) Respect the afterlife.  Remember the dead were once living people and retain all the same personality traits and emotions as they had in life.  If you go out to antagonize, provoke, or disrespect the afterlife you can expect repercussions.  To want to do this for any reason means you are absolutely in the wrong field.  My best advice is to act like you are in your grandma's house.  If you treat any possible spirit you are trying to investigate with respect, you will get respect back thus yielding better evidence. 

10) Learn to protect yourself and your group before during and after an investigation.  This can mean an opening and closing prayer, or anything that your group believes in.  For example my group uses a prayer before going into a cemetery, a clients house, or a known haunted location but we also use a white light technique that makes us feel more protected.  Whenever we feel a little uncomfortable in any location we will also use prayer.  You can do anything that makes you feel comfortable.  Even a group pep talk will help.

11) Know your surroundings.  If you walk through a cemetery during the day before the nights ghost hunt, you will get to know the terrain and possibly where spots are that you feel may get active later.  Back to the protection aspect of your surroundings, I carry a snake bite kit in my bag along with a First Aid Kit.  I know that there are snakes in the places my group and I go and I prepare for that circumstance.  In my bag I also carry pepper spray for a couple reasons.  We have been on a case in a neighborhood that most police would not venture at night. Also wild animals in the middle of nowhere are just as affected by pepper spray as wild animals in the worst part of town.  Be aware of not only natural noises but people around you as well.

12) Take notice of everything.  A simple chill or goose bumps could mean that the temperature has changed around you indicating a spirit, or it could just possibly be wind.  Before you head out to a location in the open, you should listen to the weather report.  Make note of the expected temperature, wind speed, any anticipated precipitation.

 13) Volunteer your time.  Taking a couple hours out of the month to clean a cemetery, repair fences, rake leaves, or picking up trash is a great way to get yourself and your group noticed.  Contact the owners of the cemetery, abandoned property, foreclosed house or anything reported to be haunted and see if you can do anything for the owner to help clean it up during the day.  Establish yourself with a good reputation and then see if you can investigate the property at night.  A little hard work and some elbow grease can yield some great rewards.

14) Dave and his group have suggested joining a Historical Society.  Just letting the local Historical Society know you and your group exist is a great way to get into properties that may not be available to anyone.

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15) If you are just in this for the thrill or chills, please do not go into private homes.  Stick to the public locations, you can really cause harm to private citizens by going into their homes just for the scare when they are expecting help and understanding in their situations. Every home haunting is different and felt differently by the home owners.  I have known clients on the verge of abandoning their homes, or even divorcing because of the stress the activity has caused them and their families.  A thrill group is best left for ghost tours and walks.  You should have some level of paranormal training and know how to help clients in a haunted home before turning on a video camera and going into a strangers home. Not only is it dangerous to the client but also to you as the investigator. Without training you do not know how to protect yourself or your group.  < style="font-family: helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">

16) Keep in mind that you can go to the most haunted location in the world and never pick up activity.  This can be caused by a few different reasons.  A) The spirits do not want to interact with you. Do not take this personally.  Every spirit has their own personality, just like we do. The spirit in the location may only want to talk to someone in their age bracket, who knows how to play cards, who has a great smile, red hair, the list goes on and on.   B) Or they just may not want to interact that day/night with anyone. It happens more often than not. C) Or it may be a residual haunting and the conditions are just not right to produce the activity. D) Any of the above or more.  There are just too many reasons to list why a spirit does not want to interact, but do not use this as an excuse to antagonize, threaten or bully a spirit.  These actions have become the norm on some reality shows but can get the novice investigator into real trouble.  Spirits are just people without bodies and can get just as angry as anyone you yell at or call names.  The old saying comes to mind, you'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. It just means that you will get a bigger reaction by trying to find something the spirit is interested in and being nice, then trying to make the ghost mad.   < style="font-family: helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">

17) Meet the clients at a neutral place before going into their home if possible.  Again this is a safety issue.  We call it a preliminary meeting.  It allows the client to get to know you a bit and you get to know them.  The clients want to be assured that you aren't out to have some fun at their expense and you need to know that you are not walking into their environment under unsafe conditions.  Try to meet at least the afternoon prior to going to into their home. This gives the clients a chance to talk after meeting you and to back out if they so desire.  You want them to feel as comfortable as possible at the investigation.  < style="font-family: helvetica,arial,sans-serif;">

18) Try to explain step by step what you are going to do while in a clients home.  This helps to alleviate some of their concerns that you are there to help them, and some of the clients curiosity as well.  This is most likely the first time they are letting someone into their private world of activity, so letting them know how you do things will definitely help them to understand that you are serious in what you are going to do.


19) Listen.  Just listening to a clients concerns and experiences that they have had with the afterlife will help them.  Many times they have kept all activity a secret and now that they have found someone to talk to about what they are going through is a huge relief. Try to be understanding of the clients circumstances, compassion is the key here. If you smirk or laugh out loud by an experience the client is relating to you, it can make the client distrust you and it is very disrespectful. They are confiding in you and looking for answers. Conduct yourself as you would a friend telling you a secret. 


20) Sometimes it helps to tell the client a little background of your own experiences with the afterlife.  I make it a point to always tell how I got interested in ghosts and how it has led me to investigations.   Just knowing that you have had experiences with ghosts will help a client open up more of what they are experiencing. But remember you are there to hear about their haunting, do not make it all about you and your experiences, give them a little background and if they have questions they will ask. In fact encourage them often to ask questions or ask them if they experienced anything like what you have while telling your story, it may help the client open up more to you. Going into an investigation with as much knowledge as possible will help you in your investigation.


21) When entering into a clients home do not make a big deal if the house is messy.  Many times a client has been embarrassed by a load of laundry on the bed, or a layer of dust on the cabinet.  Clients are real people and we all have messes at one time or another in our own homes.  We make it a point to tell the clients at our preliminary meeting not to do a clean up before we get to their home.  We are there to investigate a haunting, not inspect housekeeping techniques.  Again though be aware of your surroundings.  We once walked into a house of a hoarder.  It was dangerous not only to the client but to our team.  We had to respectfully decline the investigation due to tunnels through household items to get from one end of the house to the other. Sometimes even a preliminary meeting will not warn you of these types of situations.


22) Here is a big one that is a personal peeve of mine.  Do not ask for money! Before, during, or after an investigation do not ask for money for services, gas, lodging, evidence or cleansing.  Most of the good investigators come into this field because they have had experiences of their own and want to learn more about the supernatural or help others.  They are not in the field for fame or fortune.  I have said this before, but the same questions that are being asked now about ghosts have been asked for 100's of years. The same evidence is still being collected about a science that has yet to be proven or explained to the point of being believed by everyone.  This evidence is circumstantial at best and can be dismantled by the most persistent skeptic and there are lots of those skeptics out there.  So charging a fee for evidence or a service that includes taking a few photos, walking through a house, and talking into a recorder is ridiculous.  Most clients at the end of an investigation will offer some sort of pay to the investigators. Turn it down unless you have said from the beginning that you take donations.  Do not extend your hand first though. Let the client offer it.  And do not take more than the client can afford.  We have been in a house where we could tell that the family was down on their luck.  The client turned around at the end of the evening and offered my team money when we could tell they were having a hard time putting food on their table.  We turned it down, in fact my team turns down all monetary offerings.  Not all groups can survive without donations, but do not get greedy!  If you are in the field of the paranormal for the money you are in the wrong field.


23) Fame!  It is a lovely thing, but do not come into this field of the supernatural expecting to get a TV show, a movie, or a book deal.  It doesn't happen for most groups, but unfortunately looking around at the websites out there a lot of emphasis is being put on media mentions. In fact it has become common practice to submit a groups link to the Shadowlands that lists media mentions first instead of what they can do to help people.  Where just 10 years ago it was a great thing just to be involved in helping people with personal hauntings, now it seems like the field has changed to what TV show can I get my group on.  Many times on these shows, they embellish the activity to get good ratings.  Very few places have activity every few minutes like on TV, so embellishment does occur.  This, to me, is misleading the public to believing that if their home doesn't have activity happening as frequently as on TV then it makes them hesitant to pick up the phone or look at the internet to find help. Very few people make money in this field and it is fleeting.  Many paranormal TV shows have come and gone, and then you never hear from those groups again.  It is one thing to get your name out there and the message that ghosts do exist, but at what cost?  Sometimes it will boil down to fame versus integrity and where you and your group will draw the line.


24) When delivering the evidence to the clients, be prepared to explain everything.  Remember these people do not go out to investigations all the time.  Just telling them what the evidence is may not be enough.  You should explain what you collected and where.  View the photos with the clients, if possible let them listen to the evps.  Let them give you their opinion on what they see and what they hear.  If it differs from yours be prepared to change your mind.  What you may hear as Mommy, may actually be Bobby, or Tommy which might be a personal connection to the client. One option to consider, my group gives a copy of all video and photos collected during the investigation. That way the clients can view it at home. We think of it as a fresh set of eyes. The client is advised that they can call us with any questions or sees anything on the DVD that we may have missed.


25)  Keep in mind if you did not find any evidence while at the client's house, or if you found natural causes for some of the activity that the client has reported, does not mean that the house is not haunted or that you "debunked" the home.  Dave does not like the word "debunking" and neither should a good investigator.  You have probably heard it before but it stands stating again, you get to leave after spending a couple hours in a house.  The client has to stay. You may have found a natural cause for some of the activity, but the feeling that the house is still haunted is still there.  You may not have been there at the right time to catch the activity as evidence.  Another thing that may have happened is that the spirit may have set up the evidence to make it look natural.  Ghosts are capable of almost everything in death as they were able to do in life.  So anything is possible.  Just do not be too quick to tell the client their home is not haunted, just state that the evidence you were presented with during the investigation does not prove without a doubt that their home is haunted.  Debunking should be left out of an investigators vocabulary.


26)  Ask what the client wants to do now.  Be prepared to do another full blown investigation.  Most clients just want someone to validate their experiences with the possibility that ghosts do exist.  Yet some others want someone to tell that there isn't a ghost in their home.  Again all clients seem to want someone to listen to them. Above all they need to be told that most ghosts are not here to hurt them or even to scare them.  They just want someone to notice them or the things they do in their very lonely world. They want validation too.  Never dismiss a client until you have done everything you can possibly do for them.  You may go into a clients home 3, 4 or 10 times before the spirits get used to you being there and then you will get the best evidence.

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  These are just my hints, tips, thoughts and opinions on what I feel clients should look for in an investigation team and what good investigators, researchers, hunters, and hobbyists should keep in the back of their mind. All we can do is share our thoughts and ideas to keep this science of the paranormal growing.  The day we close our minds to new ideas is the day we become the skeptics and not the believers.







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