So you have requested an investigation of your location. You have seen it done on television, but what REALLY happens? This brief outline will explain what to expect, why it is done, and maybe give you some insight on how an investigation is really conducted. It's probably not what you think!
First you have probably submitted a request, either via phone, e-mail, or maybe directly from a website such as this. Next you expect the team to arrange to set up a time and spend the night searching for whatever is manifesting itself in your home. Of course they will find something and after a couple hours be able to tell you how to deal with it. Case closed,right?
Not hardly! First of all, forget everything you saw on TV, no SERIOUS investigator works that way! Here is what to expect based on methods I have used in over 35 years of work. Doing a thorough investigation takes time. Expect it to last several days to weeks. Some active cases can extend for years. The case itself, not the investigator determines the time frame. Of course complicated cases may have parts resolved while new evidence reveals additional directions to go with subsequent sessions. And yes, some can be resolved quickly. Those are often the ones which turn out to be not paranormal at all; rather just some common event being misidentified or not understood clearly. Let's take a look at the typical progression a case may take.
You submitted the request, giving contact information. Also you have included the basic observations or effects you have noticed along with some general conditions that may have been present. The request form has provided fields to include these data. The next step is to expect a phone call from the investigator to gain more insight into exactly what is happening.
Not all investigators take on all types of cases. Based on what you have told him, your investigator may opt to refer you to another team or investigator. This is the point where that determination is made. After all, if you case involves a spirit or ghost, it would be a waste of time to deal with a team whose primary interest is in Bigfoot claims. However there are teams who do all types of investigations. In some cases these teams have certain members who specialize. One purpose of this initial contact is to pair you, the client, with an investigator best suited to your particular case.
Another issue that will need resolved is exactly what you expect of the investigation. You may at times feel like you are on trial with some of the questions asked. In a way you are. Consider there are several factors that may enter into the case related to your expectations. For instance, the purpose of an investigation is to objectively find out what is happening. Preconceptions also may influence what you may relate. The investigator must separate solid evidence from any subjective impressions or beliefs you may have. The questioning here will aid in doing this. After all, a serious investigator seeks only the truth. If you simply want someone to confirm your house is haunted then you really don't want answers. There are plenty of scammers and other such teams out there you can pay to come in and tell you that! No serious paranormal investigator wants or needs to waste time doing that!
Thus the basis for the initial phone call. Once this is done we can move on to
The Initial Interview Phase.
This interview is done either by phone or in person if it is practical to do so. The process will delve into the details of the case. The investigator will ask numerous questions, some may even seem repetitive. This is actually a continuation of the initial phone interview only now the investigator has had a chance to put together questions more directly related to your case. He also may have done some historical research related to your location. All this is taken into consideration.
But keep in mind the serious investigator is looking for facts, not suppositions. He is going to concentrate on the common or mundane explanations first. A door slams because a breeze moved it or it is unbalanced. A light goes on or off because of electrical issues. Voices come from outside or via heating ducts. And orbs are dust. The reason the investigator approaches it in this manner is simply because 90% of cases are explained in just this manner. They are NOT PARANORMAL in nature. So the odds are yours will fall in this category as well. However I said 90%, not 100%. That does leave a few which do rise above the mundane. The way they do is by the evidence they leave. The door is checked and found to be plumb and square with no possible breeze present. The power is turned off at the source and the light continues to flicker. Everyone is accounted for and still the voices are heard. And that orb shines by its own light, photographed even without a flash used. For sake of this discussion we will assume the situation rises above the mundane. So we move to the next stage in the investigation
The Second Interview and Site Visit
This involves a site visit and walk through. Sometimes this is combined with the interview if an in person interview was conducted. If that contact was done by phone, arrangements were made and we arrive at this phase. The walk through is where the investigator familiarizes himself with your particular location and how it may relate to the events in question. As in the interview phase, often common or mundane causes may be revealed when seen in person. And just as above, resolution may be made. If so, the case is closed, summary reports are made and given to you.
But what if it isn't so easy? What if no cause is readily observed? This is actually not uncommon. Often the interview and site visit find nothing obvious. Then we have to go on with the investigation to determine any conclusions. Isn't this where the team comes in with all their gear? Not Yet... We move on to
The Actual Investigation
This is where YOU, THE CLIENT gets involved. Obviously activity happens in its own time, not on demand. The investigator can't be there 24/7. But you are. Therefore the investigator works as your personal consultant, advising you on what to do and how to capture evidence. The first step you take is KEEP RECORDS. You will be advised to keep a journal of anything that happens. That will include not just what happened but when it happened, who was present in or near the area, weather conditions outside and environmental conditions inside if they apply. You also will note what you were doing at the time, sleeping, smoking, how long since eating, any illness, stress factors. All of these, plus as detailed of a description of the event you can make. And of course, if you can get any pictures or audio of the event that helps. Then call the investigator to report it. Your investigator will advise you as this phase progresses.
Often all that the investigator can do is add your report to your case. It may seem like he is doing nothing constructive but actually he is building a file which may point out any commonalities. Is it always raining when the event happens? Or is it only while you sleep? All this is helping to isolate factors that contribute to the events you experience. It is why cases take time to properly be investigated and why the TV investigators methods don't work. They fail to dedicate the time required to find REAL answers. Instead they just go off and make claims of ghosts when there are none.
So when do I bring out the fancy equipment? That depends on the case. I may have a camera or an EMF Monitor to do a sweep of your location. But that is mostly just to rule out possible contamination or get a general visual record as a baseline. Example, suppose you experience repeated electrical issues. Obviously I can't be there all the time so again it will be up to you the client. But what I can do is provide a means of capturing the evidence even if I'm not around. So I may install a data logger on the affected devices or outlets in your home and show YOU how to operate it. And when the event happens next I will return and pick up the equipment with the data it captured. Or in the case of visual evidence I may leave a camera set up on site. You will be in charge of operating it and capturing the data. If the event happens you notify me and I will come and review the evidence gathered.
The point here is rather than show up with a truckload of equipment, only that which is required for your particular case is made available. (Why waste time taking a lot of pictures if the event is limited to electrical disturbances?) Serious investigators may have a lot of expensive gear available but much of it is specialized and seldom does a large cache of equipment catch anything anyway. Most investigation involves using one's own eyes and ears, not a lot of flashing lights and hocus-pocus.
Another fallacy promoted on TV has to do with when the investigation is done. Suppose you have doors slamming at 3:00 in the afternoon. Why on earth would I want to investigate that at night? TV investigators do it for the "Spook Factor" Two factors determine when real investigators investigate. They are when the case dictates, and at a time convenient to both client and investigator, in that order. Besides, even if the event only happens at night, why would one want to handicap themselves by doing it in the dark? Turn ON the lights! It's how real investigators work, anything else is simply Hollywood hype.
By now a couple things should be clear. First the case itself, not a set list of protocols, determine the exact methods used in any case. Thus it becomes impossible to give a list of methods, 1, 2, 3, etc. Every case is different so the protocol will change. But the basics as outlined here remain a constant. Secondly, the investigator is your consultant on your case. He can't be there every minute so YOU, as the client, have to do a lot of the legwork yourself. He will advise and be available if and when needed. He will also analyze any evidence captured. But you are the one on the front line. There is no "Star" of the show to show off his talent. It is a joint effort between the investigator and client to resolve the case.
Resolution Of The Case
Unlike TV, there is no "Final Reveal" where all answers are laid out in front of you. Instead since you, the client, have been involved from the beginning you are probably already aware of how things have been going. You have an idea what is happening since most evidence was probably directly submitted by you anyway. But as the investigator, if something is resolved, I will write up a report on what has been determined. It will include any analysis I have made of any evidence obtained. I will attempt to draw what conclusions can be validated by facts.
However some cases are ongoing. Sometimes one thing leads to another. If that happens you will receive a series of reports as things progress in the case. Any time something significant is resolved I will provide a report covering that issue. It may be revised in future summaries should additional data be obtained. Thus the reason a case is kept open until a final and conclusive resolution is made. And also why many cases can go on for an extended period of time. One thing simply leads to something else. But eventually the truth will come out, provided one keeps an objective mind and is critical of all evidence obtained or analyzed.
In the end it is up to you to accept or reject the findings. You of course are free to bring in anyone else you want if you find something you disagree with. All I ask is you apply the same level of critical thinking and demand proof of any alternative theories or claims others may make. And examine your own objectivity with regard to what you want from an investigation.