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Tips on Starting a Paranormal Team

The PPA receives many requests from people interesting in starting their own paranormal teams and the number one question they ask is, how do we get started? Well that really depends on what type of group you are interested in becoming and what you want your team to evolve into in the future. Lets first take a look at some of the more common types of teams that are out there.

Types of Paranormal Teams
The most common type of paranormal team, and most rapidly growing type, are "Ghost Hunting" teams. Largely made popular by the numerous television programs about ghost hunting, this type of team is more of a hobby based group where like-minded people get together with the common goal of traveling to reportedly haunted locations to try to experience and/or document ghostly activity.  

A second type of paranormal team falls under the category of "Paranormal Investigators" or "Paranormal Researchers".  This type of team engages in a little more in depth type of investigation where investigators look into the claims of a haunting, often for clients, to try and determine the cause for those claims, whether it be paranormal or normal.  Some teams try to verify a haunting by documenting evidence that backs up witness accounts, while others try to debunk as many of the claims as possible to see if what remains could be considered a real haunting or does the reported activity have natural causes. Additionally, there are variations of these teams who may go into an investigation very objectively and without the goal of proving or disproving the activity but taking a look at what they are able to document, along with witness accounts, and seeing where the evidence leads to.

A third type of paranormal team is known as a "Paranormal Resolution Team".  This can be a mix of an investigatory and resolution team or strictly a team focused on resolving paranormal issues for people.   The PPA falls into the category of investigation and resolution.  We not only take an in-depth look at a reported haunting, but also have the goal in mind of resolving the issues for clients who want the activity to end. Typically, resolution based teams work with metaphysical practitioners, such as psychic mediums or energy workers, or clergy and other spiritual based people to help bring closure to a haunting or attachment.

Lastly, there are researchers from the scientific community
, typically tied into colleges and universities,
who are conducting hardcore studies on the environmental conditions surrounding paranormal activity to try and understand what is happening when a paranormal event occurs and why.  Some of these events are closely tied to what quantum physicists are finding in lab settings where controlled experiments can be more adequately conducted.

Picking team members
Once you have decided what type of team you would like to start off as, you need to begin thinking about who would best fit the positions that you would need to fill.  It's often beneficial to add members that come from a wide range of educational and occupational backgrounds, and even faiths, to get a wider variety of resources and ideas to pull from as a group.  The PPA has staff members ranging from total skeptics to psychic mediums to give the broadest viewpoints of what may be taking place at any given location.  It also helps to add members who are versed in the use of electronics, building construction, photography, audio engineering, ect., and it can't hurt to have professors or physicists on board if you can be so lucky. When the PPA was developed, it was important for us to have as many people from professional occupations on board to give clients a better respect and appreciation for our members who would also be taken more seriously by the scientific community and anyone else who would closely be watching this field. It may be tough, in the beginning, to get a lot of good people on board but with time and a sincere interest in looking at the paranormal in a very intelligent way, it shouldn't take too long to get good people on board who also have an interest in seeing what it is all about for their own personal insight.

It takes time and money to build up a great stock pile of investigative equipment.  When first starting out, stick with the basics and work up from there.  An audio recorder is a must!  The largest amount of evidence collected by investigators comes in the form of EVP's or Electronic Voice Phenomena, recorded on audio recorders. There are some very good recorders that will work just fine that can be purchased for around $35 and won't break the bank.  Obviously the higher end recorders will give you much better clarity and quality of sound but they also cost more. There has been a lot of evidence collected on cheaper recorders that do just fine for someone starting out. A camcorder with Infrared capability is also a great tool to start with, along with an EMF meter and a digital or 35mm camera. Get to know how this equipment works in normal settings by playing with them under a variety of whether and environmental conditions so you know what is normal or not once you move into a haunted location. You can build your equipment inventory from there.

Website and Social Media
If you decide that you want to start a website or social media page, you have to once again look at how you want your team to be received based on what type of team you want to be.  If you someday want to assist people looking for help with hauntings and other types of paranormal issues, I recommend that you keep it as professional and educational as possible and stay away from the Gothic and Halloweenish looking backgrounds with lots of ghouls and skeletons covering the pages.  You want to be taken seriously, not looked at as hokey. If your goal is to go out and see what you can find and don't care about helping people, by all means, go wild and decorate it up any way you want to.  One word of caution; avoid going into haunted homes under the premise that you can help the clients if you can't and if you don't have the resources to fully understand the problem or stop the activity. Unless a client is only looking for documentation of evidence, it won't do a scared family any good to have a team come in and show them proof of a haunting and not have a plan to end it. It often can make the situation worse. Stick to public areas until you have built up enough experience in dealing with residential hauntings and working with clients and have the resources in place to resolve the activity.

Books and Ghost Hunting 101 Classes

I have often been asked if there are good books to read or classes to attend that are good for beginners.  I always respond, all of them!  Even the bad classes and books have a certain value in them. The best way to learn is by doing and learning and making mistakes. The more thoughts, theories and ideas you have to draw from, the more you will figure out your own style of investigating and know what works and what doesn't for you and your team.  Every team should be a work in progress for as long as it is in existence and constantly learning, trying new things and evolving with each case. Some people may disagree with this but after you have been doing this kind of work for a while, you will know what works and what doesn't.  There are literally hundreds of ways to do this kind of work and until researchers find the ultimate means of communication with a ghost, any method can be worked on and tested in the field and new methods of research looked in to. It is helpful to work with an already organized team for a while to see how they operate and offer you training of the basics. Don't take anything at face value when it comes to evidence in this field and always verify every single event independently. Listen to the witness claims of activity but keep in mind, people may be misperceiving what they are seeing. Stay objective, be objective, remain objective, and did I mention, STAY OBJECTIVE!  Come to an educated conclusion of your findings on each investigation based on everything you know and don't jump to premature conclusions.  Sometimes it takes a long time to properly gather enough information at any given site to come to a reasonable conclusion one way or another.

These are just a few tips to get you on your way to starting a new team and I wish you luck on your journey. Ask a lot of questions, don't ever presume to know everything because most of us don't. As soon as you think you have something in this field nailed down, it changes. Be respectful to the living as well as the dead. Don't be cocky and think nothing can't hurt you. Know your limits! Learn some spiritual or psychic self-defense techniques and use them! It never hurts to say some prayers of protection before and at the end of an investigation because you don't want to bring anything home with you and that can happen. Be patient in your endevours, surround yourself with good people and you will succeed as a group. And by all means, have fun!

By Mark Keyes

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