After the Incense Has Cleared: A Real-Life Look into Professional Psychic Work

Scott Hirsch
Believe in their gifts or not, but psychics are real people with unique responsibilities
Dispel your skepticism for a second. Say you believed in psychics. It would follow, then, that you’d be willing to tell them your innermost concerns. Your yearnings. Your fears. Your grief over a lost spouse, or desire to speak with a deceased child.

Now pretend you’re the psychic sitting across the table. It’s a lot of responsibility.   

Listen: you may or may not believe in psychic powers. But their clients do—clients, it should be noted, that include politicians, doctors, and leaders of industry alongside the everyday heartbroken, searching, and bereaved. It can take a toll. 

“A lot of mediums are very sick. They have autoimmune diseases, diabetes. It’s because of the stress.” 

So says Joanne Gerber, an accomplished psychic and medium with bona fide scientific credentials. A participant of the University of Arizona’s VERITAS program, a PH.D-helmed integrative research program that studied the connection between science and consciousness, Gerber will quickly disavow you of any flaky, cartoonish images you may have of psychidecs. Grounded, fact-seeking, and forthcoming about both the legitimacy and struggles in her field, she, along with 2 other well-respected psychics—former radio host Glenn Klausner and popular author Laura Scott—agreed to speak about the real, day to day duties of a professional psychic.

“The work is very, very sensitive, very deep, very personal,” says Gerber. “You’re really prying open a person’s life....there’s a lot of sadness.” 

If your default image of a psychic is a bejeweled entertainer sitting behind a beaded curtain, you might not be alone. But we wanted to get a picture of what the job actually entailed, from psychics who take their work seriously and in turn work with serious issues. 

What does a psychic do on a day to day basis? What does a good day at work look like? Or a bad day? How do they prepare before seeing clients? Or relax when they get home? 

Most people turn to psychics to learn about themselves. Here at we reached out with the hope of learning more about them, and the answers we received were nuanced, insightful, sometimes devastating, sometimes funny, and yet other times surprisingly relatable to anyone who’s had to work for a living. Believe in their gifts or not, but psychics are real people with unique responsibilities. Read on for a closer look at how they do what they do. 

Visiting the Other Side: And You Thought You had a Rough Commute 

Call it spiritual jet-lag. One common theme that came up during our interviews was the strain psychic work can put on a practitioner: deftly juggling emotions, navigating energies, traveling back and forth between past lives, future events, and sometimes other realms. It’s bound to leave you wiped out, to put it lightly. 

How does one cope? 

“It’s important to keep yourself healthy,” says Gerber. “It’s really important. Really important.”

The repetition speaks volumes. Gerber knows many colleagues who suffer physically from the demands of the job. When she first started out, she found herself becoming depressed from the burden of absorbing others’ emotions. One of her early teachers taught her that, as psychologists do, mediums must learn to create boundaries for themselves to protect their emotional and physical wellbeing. 

Scott agrees. A psychic of more than 25 years, she authored the volume of the popular The Complete Idiot’s Guide series on divination, and today boasts a clientele that includes politicians, celebrities, and even law enforcement and military personnel. (All 3 psychics we interviewed refused to reveal the names or identities of their clients).  

“An hour with a client could mean several hours of recovery time for the healer,” says Scott.

Meditation and yoga keeps many psychics and mediums grounded.
Credit: Shutterstock

So what does that recovery time entail? 

Gerber emphasizes staying healthy. She meditates, takes walks, practices chakra work and yoga, anything “to release energy.” 

While some people start their work with a cup of coffee, medium Klausner begins with an appeal. Before every session, the frequent talk show guest, who’s appeared in The Washington Post and on ABC and NBC, sits down for “meditation to receive messages for the highest good of everyone involved.” 

Maintaining a state of receptivity, of being prepared to give your client whatever they need, seems to require conditioning that borders on that of an athlete. “I’d never eat a steak dinner before doing a reading,” says Gerber. “I wouldn’t be able to lift my energy.” 

What Kind of Person Goes to See a Psychic?

You may be surprised. 

“I get a lot of the decision makers,” says Scott. “People in positions of power find great value in seeking out good quality help and support.”  

Gerber and Klausner, too, have clients ranging from everyday civilians to celebrities and recognized politicians. But none of them let their clients’ statuses influence their work.

“I have read several celebrities,” says Klausner, “and they are just like us, much more than people realize.”

“I don’t count my clients as statistics,” says Scott. “As a humanitarian, I take it in stride that all of us need help from time to time. My job as a Channel for Healing is to hold a safe space for that.” 

She sees herself as a channel for clients with all types of needs, and sees her clients’ needs as all stemming from a common place: the “on-going triggers impacting public consciousness.” Whether they’re famous or not, she welcomes each client as a unique individual with a universal need for clarity and guidance.

What topics, we wondered, garner the most attention during psychic readings? 

Though matters of love, career, and destiny are regular topics, the most common seem to center around deceased loved ones, and especially deceased children. 

After 9/11: Psychics in the Time of Tragedy

Most Americans of a certain age remember where they were on September 11, 2001 and the days that followed. It turns out that many were consulting with mediums. 

By September 12th—just a day after the attacks—Klausner, who’s based in New York City , was sought out by dozens of families seeking support, healing, and reassurance about their lost loved ones. His specialty in connecting the living and the dead made him especially appealing to those directly affected by the attacks. In fact, he spent the next 3 years helping families of 9/11 victims communicate with their loved ones and find a sense of closure.

2004 memorial, New York
Credit: Wkimedia Commons

Even those not directly affected by 9/11 sought solace in psychics during the aftermath of the attacks. The event was certainly, to borrow Scott’s term, a trigger that impacted the public consciousness of every American. Scott too saw an uptick in clients following the events of 9/11, and not all of them were families of the victims. While many came to her, too, to see if their loved ones suffered, there was a surge in general clients who hadn’t been directly affected but were simply trying to make sense of it all. 

Think Psychics Are Aloof? Think Again

You may imagine them as belonging solely to the inner realms. But psychics, by necessity if not by choice, are hardly immune from the ongoings of the outside world. 

As with doctors and therapists, psychics often see the effects of current events filtering into their work. All 3 psychics we interviewed spoke of how national and global events are likely to influence the tone and content of their consultations. When there’s a war, upcoming election, or economic recession, for example, clients tend to turn from esoteric questions towards more practical matters. Which makes sense. Turmoil on Wall Street or in Washington is bound to unsettle people and influence their decision-making processes. Many turn to psychics in times like these to assuage their fears and gauge their next moves.  

According to Gerber, today’s political atmosphere is particularly ripe for psychic turbulence. In the last few years she’s noticed an influx of people seeking guidance on decidedly more political matters. 

“I have a lot of people that are afraid because of all of this division going on here,” she says. Green cards have been an unlikely topic in her recent readings. “I have a lot of people calling asking are they ever going to become a citizen.” Another common topic these days, she says, is people inquiring whether it’s safe or not to travel. 

As tension and divisiveness continue to dominate the headlines, it’s safe to say that psychics will continue to be a source of comfort and guidance for people unnerved by the state of the world.  

What If a Psychic Sees Something Negative?

People visit psychics for guidance, insight, reassurance and such. That doesn’t mean it’s a psychics’ job to tell them what they want to hear.  

All 3 psychics were unanimous in stating that they don’t withhold information from their clients, even if a reading reveals something less than positive.

Says Klausner: “The tongue has no bones, and if a departed loved one tells me something negative for a client, I will reveal it especially when it can be of help to a person/persons.”

“I can’t say I filter information,” Geber says. “Sometimes you have to say things in a certain way. If I felt someone was really sick, or had cancer, I tell them I can’t diagnose them—I’m not a doctor—but I intuitively feel that they need to go to a doctor right away.”

Says Scott: ““My work is to relay information in a way that’s empowering. Information is shared with the goal of clearing up confusion and promoting  healing—so regardless of what is seen, it must be used for good.”

What was really surprising was that oftentimes, the negative energy they were dealing with wasn’t coming from a sickness, past life, or a deceased relative—but another psychic. 

Psychics, it turns out, are often tasked with clearing up the negative energy created by previous psychics. Both Gerber and Scott related the frequent need to remove bad energy left by an unqualified practitioner that had come before. 

“I help do a lot of clean-up work for clients left by other readers with ungrounded, dissociative, fragmented information,” Scott tells us. 

“A lot of times I’ve been involved in doing repair work,” says Gerber. Clients have come to her saying that another psychic had discovered curses placed upon them, and asked for exorbitant fees to remove them. “Our field is infiltrated with all kinds of strange, not so honest psychics that are riding the bandwagon,” Gerber says.  

How does one avoid that?

For Gerber, it means evidenced-based work. Before becoming a psychic, she says she was “a business-like, left-brain person.” In fact, she was a business major when she first became interested in Spiritualism. But the left-brain part of her never left. Wholeheartedly against easy generalizations, she takes an evidentiary approach to her work, offering her clients as much certainty as possible that a connection has been made: 

“When I meditate to connect to the other side with loved ones, I ask them to provide evidence, to provide certain information that can validate that they have survived the change called death.”

For Scott, doing research, avoiding fads, and finding practitioners with legitimate conviction are important. “I don’t chase fads, or work in an on demand format — I work by phone appointment only. Clients work with me by phone during normal business hours. My website offers a wealth of information about my experience.”

The Patrick Swayze Effect?

If you’re going to talk about current issues and the role of the psychic in society, then naturally the conversation’s going to turn to pop-culture. Writers have been drawn to psychics and psychic phenomenon since the early Greeks at least, and there’s been an upsurge in entertainment featuring psychic characters, from the groundbreaking Crossing Over with John Edward to scripted dramas such as Medium and the Mentalist. To what extent have these sleek, prime-time depictions influenced the work of today’s practicing psychic?

“I was around back then, when the movie Ghost came out,” says Scott. “Hollywood may both expose people to the work, as well as create misperceptions.”

Patrick Swayze and his wife, Lisa Niemi on the red carpet at the 1989 Academy Awards, March 29, 1989.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
According to Scott, pop-culture convinces people that psychic abilities are simply a ‘gift’ and require no work. “Asking, “how can you charge for a gift?” is a misplaced question,” she says. “We don’t question other professions where ‘gifted’ individuals are compensated for their talents.”

Klausner has been asked to bring a client’s lover back to life via magical spells, an idea he quickly rejected as being out of the domain of a real, professional psychic. As both psychics admit, pop culture has the ability to steer interest towards their field. But it’s just as capable of creating unrealistic and even harmful misconceptions.

“An ‘on demand’ culture has driven an industry of on demand readers,” says Scott, who refuses to let Swayze, Bruce Willis, or NBC executive influence her work. “I don’t chase fads.” 

Scott Hirsch
Scott is a content writer who has worked as a special education teacher, lifestyle writer, and researcher. He enjoys literature and travel and believes that a sense of wonder and curiosity is the key to living a fulfilled life.