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The Role of the Counselor in Validating Paranormal Experiences
By Casey Unger, MA, LPC
TFC Founder

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). For those of you who do not know the mental health field, the role of the LPC is basically that of a master's level therapist or psychologist of sorts. I currently have 11 years in the mental health field to my credit and I split my time doing 50% psychiatric diagnostic work for 3 community mental health centers and 50% private practice counseling. Many things have influenced my decision over the years to enter the field of counseling, psychology, and later parapsychology. As an only child growing up amongst much older adults in a huge Victorian home which was also an ex-funeral home, I quickly and reluctantly became immersed in a bizarre world as unexplainable events took place nearly every day. These events would frequently happen not only to family but guests, friends, and later boyfriends and news of these bizarre events in my childhood home and its dark history quickly put a damper on my social life, thus earning me the nickname, "Morticia."

At a tender age, I became aware that there are many things that occur in our world that we simply cannot explain. I must also say that in the 16 years that I lived in my home I was never physically hurt by any of these events. After a while I began a dialogue with the entities when they would act up and simply ask them to "Cool it." I can also truly say that to this day paranormal activity does not rattle me and I do not fear it. I limit my fears to the living who are much more destructive. This is not to say that I do not possess a healthy degree of apprehension at times in situations involving the paranormal.

In addition, as a Catholic and as one who believes in the concept of Purgatory, or a holding place where souls are basically in limbo and are being purged and purified of earthly transgressions in preparation for their passage into Heaven, I can justify paranormal activity. I believe that some souls pass so quickly or tragically that they do not yet know that they have passed. And for whatever reason they are keeping themselves in a limbo to complete some earthly task or duty or that they are so wrapped up in a life role or injustice that they cannot let go in order to pass. In psychological terms, we would label this, "unfinished business."

Although I am not a physics scholar, I do believe that somehow events happen with such force and power that they somehow record into the environment and play over and over in time like a video loop and tend to bleed over from other dimensions. In line with the previous statement, I profess that this is why funeral homes and cemeteries are such hotspots. These are places where spirits may linger over bodies in a state of confusion, not yet letting go or knowing of their own physical deaths.

In summation, I have seen a lot over the years. I have seen apparitions, been touched, seen objects move, and the list goes on. I still do not discuss a lot of things that have happened to me. Needless to say, being immersed in such events from a tender age can make one feel alone, different, weird, and quite naturally contributes to constant ostracizing from peers who call you crazy, psycho, and a freak.

Aside from the aforementioned facts, deep psychological pain and depression originated in my childhood years from areas other than the paranormal and has been quite a hurdle to overcome. This I will not discuss because it would utilize a volume of books equivalent to a set of encyclopedias. The point I am trying to make is that due to all of this pain and feeling so alone all throughout my childhood and teen years, I made a promise to reach out to others and let them know that they are not alone and that someone understands and cares. This I have done through getting two degrees in psychology and a license to counsel.

I have encountered many crackpots and psychotics who report paranormal experiences but are simply not credible. Here's what I believe to be true……Through my experiences I will say that about 80% of what people report as paranormal can be debunked as something totally nonparanormal. I believe that people with psychic ability do exist but are actually about one in every thousand people who claim to be psychic. I do believe that "paranormal frequencies" from spirits, events, etc. can in fact be picked up by certain people. I believe that God does not make mistakes and that He does in fact give people these abilities. I could go on to cite biblical passages that tend to support these gifts of "prophecy" and "discerning of spirits" from God. However, that is another essay in itself. Of paramount importance here is the undeniable fact that there are countless credible and decent people who experience and report paranormal phenomena. And as a paranormal researcher, I frequently encounter people who are terribly ostracized and alienated because of paranormal experiences. All too frequently these people are terrified to speak out and get support and help for the stress associated with these instances.

This is where I come in as counselor. First and foremost, I reach out to them and, most important of all, validate their experiences. As a counselor or in whatever capacity one is in, the biggest dampers to a person's self disclosure are judging them, labeling them, making fun of them, preaching to them, condemning them, and ultimately not giving weight to what they are telling you. In the field of counseling, self-disclosure should be avoided for the most part but in my capacity as a paranormal researcher I disclose my own experiences in an effort for the client to see that I too have experienced what they are experiencing and that I have been in their shoes. It helps to give a name to these phenomena to let the individual or individuals know that there is in fact a name for what they are experiencing that has been given through many others who preceded them and have also experienced the same.

Next, I address and seek to normalize feelings experienced by those who encounter the paranormal. These emotions include: self doubt, feeling isolated, fearfulness, apprehension, uncertainty, fear of judgment, and the list goes on. It becomes very important to let the persons know that these are perfectly predictable and understandable emotions to have in light of having their world turned upside down by bizarre and unpredictable events in a world prone to ridicule of anything outside the realm of what is called normality.

It next becomes of utmost importance to try and explain to the client as best you can the types of phenomena along with the reasons and theories behind paranormal unrest. The individual(s) may be feeling that they are evil or in some way deserving of what they are going through. In some instances there may be some type of delving into or summoning of evil including but not limited to Satanic activity. That is another essay. However, for the most part, we as well as most paranormal researchers tend to encounter normal, innocent, good-hearted people who are for whatever reason experiencing unrest. It is important to explain possible reasons for activity such as: remodeling a home, the fact that the home or place may be a hotspot with lots of history or tragic events that occurred there, unrest due to tragic death, etc. This knowledge becomes power and a beacon of light to them in the midst of their uncertainty.

It also becomes important to counsel people on the presence of clairvoyant ability of themselves or other family members that may be causing them to draw upon or pick up on these events. People must be made known that clairvoyant or psychic abilities exist and do not mean that one is crazy or evil. More sensitive or clairvoyant members of my team help with counseling these people on how to channel and deal effectively with their abilities, what to expect, and that they are not alone in their possession of these abilities and that they should be viewed as gifts, not curses or deficits.

Next, it becomes important to impart clients with advice on how to deal with paranormal phenomena. Especially in cases of evil unrest, it becomes important to urge clients to draw upon prayer, their faith, and ultimately intervention by clergy, if need be. In instances of extreme evil, it may even be warranted to move out. However, in most cases, evil tends to follow the family. This makes religious intervention of utmost importance.

In the vast majority of cases of paranormal activity, spirits mean no harm and tend to occasionally and playfully make their presence known. It becomes important to stress to the client(s) that entities may be hanging around to check on their old home or to go about their past life routines not knowing they are dead. In the case of child spirits, they may be innocently hanging around to play with other children in the home. Current living residents of the home may either wish to convince the spirits that they are dead, and with the help of paranormal researchers, help them realize this and resolve whatever is needed to pass on. On the other hand, if the residents are comfortable with this, they may communicate with the spirits that they are welcome to remain in the home under certain conditions and basically take back their home letting the spirits know that although it might have once been their home it is now someone else's and there are certain rules of they are to stay. This act functions as a sort of reclaiming of one's territory.

And finally, it is important to ultimately empower people by letting them know that they too, like the paranormal researchers they have consulted, have the power to communicate with spirits on their own and be their own research team. They are then taught what to do with recorders, cameras, and whatever other devices they may wish to use in further gathering data and validating their own experiences.

And last, but of utmost importance and very consoling to the client, is the act of communicating to them that you, their "paranormal counselor," will always be there only a phone call away for support should future issues or questions arise. Then they know that they are truly not alone.