Shedding Light on Psychic Practice

A public information service to help you understand what ethical psychics do
by Robyn-Marie Butt & Ava Nixon Broadhurst


As professional psychics concerned about ethical practice, we’re thrilled with the increasing openness we’re observing towards what we do. More people are recognizing the practical spiritual insights which psychic counseling can offer when they’re feeling in need of special guidance or at a crossroads in their lives.

At the same time, we’re disturbed that our profession may be acquiring a profile which, while higher than ever before in our culture, paves the way for misleading magical beliefs and unethical behaviour. This in turn may breed a certain kind of unhealthy passivity in clients searching for meaning in their lives.

We’d like to offer the public eleven simple guidelines to help you use sound judgement when choosing a psychic for a reading.

First, know the terminology. If you don’t understand how the psychic works, do some research. Phone and ask, ask others, investigate.

Some common terms:

Phone-in psychic lines advertising “for entertainment only” mean just that. There is absolutely no guarantee that the person you contact is genuinely psychic. You may be paying steep prices to someone hired for a gimicky chat line whose job it is to keep you on the line making you feel heard and seen while minutes & dollars tick by. While most reputable psychics do phone readings for practical reasons, they should also work in person (and probably prefer it), and should be booked & paid in advance.

Know that when watching a ‘television psychic’ what you are seeing has been previously video-taped and is not currently live; therefore it may well have been edited, spliced, rearranged, and indeed, loosely scripted and rehearsed. As of 2010 there are more & more decent psychic shows, fortunately. We liked John Edwards and we like the Long island Medium – they’re the real deal. Any psychic who’s the real deal will have an entire professional reading life outside t.v. However it’s important to know that, as with many game shows, the players or the people in a so-called audience may be actors recruited through a talent agency who have been given a rough script of their part and are being paid to follow it. We find particularly distressing the tone of dependency which some television psychic shows (and psychic phone lines) tend to promote – as if to say that, if you have a good relationship with your t.v./phone-in psychic, you don’t need to work on creating a good relationship with God, your family, your neighbour, or your own insights and common sense.

Ultimately the litmus test for a t.v. or any psychic should be how much the psychic spreads integrity, help & love rather than suffering, fear, or upset. Remember – if the psychic looks powerful by contrast to a gullible or ignorant audience, this is not ethical psychic practice. In ethical psychic practice the client is always offered insight & empowerment in as kind a way as possible.

“Tarot readings” & other card readings refers to the throwing and reading of tarot or other divining cards, a special card deck used in what was originally a very old system of divination. We have great respect for the Tarot. Understand, as well, that it is a science which one can readily follow and exercise for oneself using any special deck (available in specialty bookstores), and the accompanying written guide. Reading the Tarot is not a psychic gift (see below for definitions of psychic “gifts”). Having said that, those who practice it regularly may become very proficient and insightful in its application, and some reputable psychics use the Tarot as an extra tool which helps focus or assist the psychic’s own gifts.

Again, however, like all systems of divination it should be used to assist or clarify; it is not a substitute for developing good judgement and sensitive listening to one’s own inner voice of wisdom. Like psychics, the Tarot should be consulted when you feel confused and need some objective input.

A “psychic gift” refers to one or more of the following. They are called “gifts” because, like a talent for music or painting or mathematics, the gifted person was born with the ability and has had it in some form since childhood; or discovered it in adulthood through spiritual practice such as meditation and service to humanity, or prayer. A psychic gift may also come to the fore after a head injury or brain illness. (Note: all people have these gifts to some degree; psychics have them to a degree which allows the psychic to practice professionally because the gift can be of service to others.)

Psychic gifts may be:

Clairaudience – the psychic seems to “hear” valuable insights on behalf of the client.

Clairvoyance – the psychic experiences seeing things relevant and helpful to the client.

Clairsentience – the psychic feels in one or more of her/his five physical senses things relevant and helpful to the client.

Scrying – the psychic sees symbolic images in everyday things – such as in the leaves in the bottom of a teacup – which s/he interprets in a way that offers insight into the client’s life situations.

Psychometry – by holding an object, the psychic can ‘hook up’ to the higher self of the frequent user[s] of the object.

Pastlife readings – the psychic is able to see and experience scenes of the client’s past incarnations which can be helpful to the client now. (This is different from “past-life regressions”, which are guided meditations the leader takes you through so that you yourself experience the past-life memories.) A good pastlife reader should interpret the past life shown, mining it for useful insights into the client’s present life.

Some psychics act as mediums for the spirits of the departed. A reputable psychic medium will help bring closure between the bereaved and the departed, but will NOT encourage any sort of ongoing, dependent, relationship between the two.

Other psychics are gifted as spirit clearers or ghost whisperers. They are able with divine help to dialogue with – in a sense ‘counsel’ – stuck spirits, enabling them to move on to their proper realm (‘into the Light’), where they can find peace. This also brings peace for the living!

Others who may or may not technically be ‘psychic’ act as Channelers of other entities while in a trance or semi-trance state. We suggest the exercise of careful, grounded good judgement to evaluate the results of such readings. As with any specialist you might consult, there can be ethical and unethical entities channeled.

Any reputable psychic may use several or all of the above gifts at different times in the course of a reading.

Again, note that the above are “gifts” in the sense that while all of us have intuition which can guide us & increase steadily if we will listen to it, in a psychic this normal capacity is highly developed – the difference, say, between most of us enjoying ourselves at a dance, and someone else being a paid soloist for the National Ballet.

Second: an ethical psychic will be able to tell you under which Spiritual Master’s protection s/he works. Please excuse our foray into metaphysical shop-talk, but this is one of the most important things to find out about your psychic professional. If a psychic regularly interfacing with non-physical energies & events does not know the protection of a master soul, this psychic’s practice is at worst potentially dangerous and at best, not as good as it could be. Regardless of your own belief system, a good psychic must have one, and must be involved in active spiritual practice. Ask about the psychic’s spiritual practice. An ethical psychic will have no problem answering. This has nothing to do with religion per se. Nor do you have to share the psychic’s views. You just have to feel confident that the psychic’s spiritual practice makes her/his psychic work valid for you. And if the psychic claims protection of too many masters – well, what kind of work would YOU do if you were serving too many masters?

Third: most ethical psychics practice charity, give some time for free, or give some of their fee to a worthy cause. Many also run prayer or meditation groups, or act as mentors to students in spiritual study with them. Ask about these sorts of activities.

Fourth: check the fees before you book. Check several local psychics’ fees; the fees should more or less match. Higher fees may mean someone is very experienced and in higher demand. If so, you’ll be able to find that out. Otherwise, high fees may mean you are paying too much. The best litmus is your own pocketbook. Remember however that psychic work can be intense for the psychic & normally cannot be practiced 40 hours a week without leading to dangerous exhaustion. Psychic fees reflect this reality.

Fifth: generally speaking a gifted psychic should not NEED cards, objects, or special, unusual behaviour from you, including unreasonable levels of trust. Gifted psychics, given permission by the client, will always receive at least some of their information simply by sitting still and listening for insight from their own Spiritual Master and their own or the client’s higher self/spirit guide/angel.

Sixth: reputable psychics are concerned with the best possible way to serve their clients. It means a great deal to them that they are not just doing a job: they are serving humanity in a meaningful and special way.

Seventh: psychics do not ‘know it all’. If they did, the spice would go out of living. Though what ethical psychics do is subtle and insightful, they do not literally ‘read your mind’. They are given knowledge of some things about you, both significant and entertaining; however a reputable psychic will neither search for personal information, nor use it, nor pass it on to the client, without the client’s express request. A psychic who flashes private information at you on first meeting you is most likely using his/her gift to show off, and is not practising ethically. (The exception is when he or she may have been driven to speak out as a service to you.)

By the way, psychics do not ‘know it all’ about their own lives, either. We do get insights; and we still have to empower ourselves to listen, then live foward one day at a time, just like you.

Eighth: reputable psychics know that their gift comes from God, and that they are not in charge of it. Therefore they avoid using their gift to spy on others for a client, to aggravate conflicts in a client’s life, or to create pain, fear, or suffering. A reputable psychic’s desire is to guide clients to understanding which will help them transform the negatives in their own lives. A reputable psychic will never exploit you.

Ninth: understand that fate is not set in stone. We are born to this world creatures of choice. Our choices activate patterns of outcome. Yet a significant subsequent choice by either you or someone in your close personal or family circle can change the operative pattern quite dramatically. Our choices always implicate others as well as ourselves, whether we recognize that or not. Therefore choose wisely. Never, ever, give over your own common sense and good judgement to anyone, psychic or otherwise. When you find yourself in need of counsel, search carefully for the right counsellor, psychic or otherwise; listen to that person’s input; ask yourself whether it resonates for you, seems insightful and wise; then make your own choice, and take responsibility for your own actions. Anyone who offers to relieve you of this responsibility is unethical. Any time you want a psychic or any other person to relieve you of having to take such responsibility, you may be operating from a point of ignorance, fear, or simple laziness, and you need to rethink your motives.

Tenth: reputable psychics also know that the future is a sacred thing. Any utterance which may lead a client to fall back and stop living responsibly, or which unduly ‘leads’ a client or fosters dependancy on the psychic, is not ethical. Though generally this is not needed, in extreme cases, if necessary to prevent over-dependency ethical psychics will limit the frequency with which a client is allowed to consult them.

Eleventh: above all, ethical psychics do not indulge in showmanship or boastful anecdotes. To them, their gift is natural; they do not encourage clients to think of them as fantastical, god-like, or special. A reputable psychic works with truth, not superstition. A reputable psychic is interested in spiritual education rather than in her/his own personal buzz. Most of them prefer quiet private lives and will rarely volunteer conversation about their work! Their most notable everyday qualities will be their active devotion to love and service.

In closing, these pointers are not intended to criticize others’ practice. Our hope is that this discussion will assist you in making wise, informed choices.

As long as you show up prepared, willing to take responsibility for your questions and the outcome of the answers, there is much help available to you from Spirit through an ethical pyschic counselor!

Enjoy your psychic professional. S/he is there to offer you unique, informed, highly useful assistance with your daily life and your relationships with God, yourself, & others.
God Bless You and Live Well!


– Robyn-Marie Butt*, Ava Nixon** Woodstock, Ontario
(April, 1998. Expanded & updated May 2001, November 2010.)
*Past-life readings, psychometry, clairaudience, clairvoyance,
clairsentience, mediumship, channeling, spirit clearings
**Scrying (teacup readings), psychometry, clairaudience, clairvoyance,
clairsentience; specialty in crime