The Qualities Of A Good Medium Reading (From Someone Who's Had 50+ Of Them)
I have had over 50 private readings with psychic mediums. If you count group readings, I've had many more. No, I am not a psychic junkie. I'm not even especially spiritual. In fact, I'm a skeptic who, after losing my dad, began to examine whether there was any evidence of an afterlife. That involved, in addition to sorting through the research, getting many, many medium readings.
As you can imagine, the readings have been across the board in terms of quality. While most fell in the middle, there were definitely a few readings that stood out as "defy the laws of the universe" amazing and a few that felt as if I'd pulled a random person off the street and asked them to give a medium reading.
To give you insights into what an excellent reading looks like and what you should stay away from, here are a few highlights from my best and lowlights from my worst:
Information from good mediums is specific. The very first medium I went to was one of the best (and as with all my readings I took precautions to hide my identity, so, no, she didn't Google me!). She stated that my cat who had just died, the very sweet one, was with my dad. She got that my grandmother had lost a young child. She did not understand why my dad kept showing her the color green. That was his favorite color and he even had a small office room in our apartment that was all green.
The worst readings I've ever had were very general. One of the worst, once I told her who had died, after it was clear she could not get that, proceeded to give me messages from my dad. That would have been fine had the messages not been that I need to learn to trust and that I have work to do around letting go of old issues or anxieties, as well as other general messages that could apply to anyone.
A really good medium does not want you to talk very much. They usually will ask you to verify with a yes, no, or "I don't know." They might ask "Does that make sense?" or for you to clarify something very specific such as "Why is your dad showing me a red apple?"
In my experience, the information pours out of them, and the majority of it is highly accurate. (Note that no medium is ever 100% accurate despite what highly edited TV shows might make you think!) Good mediums want your loved ones to tell them the information, not to get the information from you.
During some of the "not good" readings, the medium would frequently try to engage in conversations to get information. When it was clear I was not going to give any information, they'd begin to flat out ask questions such as "What did your father do for work?" Or "Do you have any siblings?"
One question that is often asked in cold readings (a type of fake reading) is "Your father/mother/any loved one hasn't passed, have they?" That is open-ended, so if you answer "Yes, they have" or "No, they haven't," the medium will reply, "I thought so."
Yes, a good medium may be stumped, and ask you for some information but won't do that for the majority of the reading.
The best mediums deliver information with clarity. One of the best I've visited mentioned I'd just taken a trip and had flown JetBlue. One stated that my dad was with Bobby (the name of my uncle who also passed). During another great reading that I got with a group, the medium mentioned the name of my grandmother and then randomly, the name of her son's (my uncle's) boat—although he did not associate it with a boat.
In one of the worst medium readings of my life, the information provided was foggy and had no specific meaning. For example, the medium opened with a message she claimed was specifically for me, stating that "As you release old reckless behaviors or confusion, it will be easier for you to trust your instincts and to feel secure ground beneath your feet." And that "Underneath your knowing you can also feel things." Yes, I could apply meaning to these statements, but they didn't feel especially relevant to me personally.
In that amazing first reading, the woman not only gave facts; she captured my dad's personality. As the reading was coming to a close, she suddenly looked surprised and laughed. She explained she'd asked my dad if he wanted to tell me he loved me, and he replied, "Eh, she knows what I think of her." She had never had a deceased loved one reply like that before. That was 110% my dad! In fact, many times when I would tell him I loved him and he wouldn't say it back, I would get angry. He would laugh and say. "Oh come on! You know what I think of you."
In a particularly bad reading, the medium, along with telling me my dad loved me (a fairly safe guess), stated he was around me, he knows I miss him, he knows I'm sad. Obviously, those are either unverifiable or could apply to almost anyone. If she had said those things along with accurate information, that would have been fine. But she did not.
The best mediums fill their readings with factual details. One described the brown wooden dresser in my parents' room with a missing gold handle. A few mentioned my dad's work and hobbies. My grandfather's work. Names. The number of kids in the family...verifiable facts.
When it became clear to one medium that I was not responding to the general and cliché "life wisdom" my dad was apparently sharing with me, she tried to intimidate and shame me. In a condescending tone, she stated my dad was telling her I needed to learn to trust. She continued that I am so overly left-brained, clearly to a fault. She also let me know that with these kinds of abilities, if you try to get proof, only false information will come in. She stated she was also a healer and helping me work past my need for proof. Even in my deep grief, I had to chuckle at the pure absurdity.
Price, in general, means nothing. Some of the best mediums I've been to charged very low rates while the one who was "healing" me of my need for proof was one of the most expensive mediums I've visited. That amazing first reading when my dad would not say he loved me was one of the most affordable. Some of the most expensive, though, have also been some of the best.
One affordable medium once let me know that I had a curse on me preventing me from thriving. She could remove it with magical candles that happened to cost $300. If a medium ever tries to say you have a curse they can cure or upsells at all...run.
Like price, celebrity endorsements mean nothing, aside from really good PR. Some are deserved, and some are not. That "healing me from proof" one had some celebrity endorsements. That amazing first one did not. And there are other very low-key mediums who were among the best I have ever seen.
However, there are endorsements that carry weight. The Windbridge Institute and Forever Family Foundation put all mediums they certify through testing to help assure they are genuine and highly accurate. And if you find out a medium participated in research at The University of Virginia–DOPS, they are most likely excellent.
The bottom line.
None of the above recommendations are meant as absolutes, but they speak to my experience. Whenever you get a reading, I'd recommend recording it, stepping away for a few days, and then coming back to it and factually writing down each point the medium shared.
Even if you end up being really disappointed by a reading, don't lose hope. As the skeptical William James said about the medium Leonora Piper, whom he studied: "If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn't seek to show that no crows are; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white.”
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Liz began examining if there was valid evidence of an afterlife in 2015 following the passing of her father. She wrote a book and created a podcast that will both be launching in late 2021 on the topic entitled WTF Just Happened?!: A sciencey-skeptic explores grief, healing, and evidence of the afterlife. Her writing has appeared in Thrive Global and The Huffington Post.