Dawn was excited to go on her first ghost investigation. She came along with our group, Southern Ghosts, to check out the Moon River Brewery in Savannah. About 15 minutes into the investigation, we heard a loud thud on the second floor. Dawn had dropped to her knees and was sitting on the floor like a limp ragdoll. She had a far away look in her eyes.
On another occasion, while investigating the Myrtles Plantation, Maria, one of our gifted psychics, encountered an angry male entity and was physically pushed to the ground and knocked unconscious.
Okay, my fellow ghost hunters, what do we do in these situations? Fortunately, these types of dramatic encounters are rare. But let’s face it, we are walking into the unknown every time we investigate. Therefore, it’s important to have a plan in place when a team member is physically or emotionally harmed.
Here are some simple suggestions, and some tricks that may be new to you:
1) Get your team member out of the room where the incident occurred. If possible, take him/her out of the building.
2) Once out of the hot spot, your team member has a better chance of regaining full awareness. If dazed and confused, ask questions like, “What’s your name? Birthday? Today’s date? Where are we?”
3) Help your team member to calm down by leading him in some breathing exercises. Instruct him to breathe in through his nose and out through his mouth, like he is fogging a mirror. Do this about 5 or 6 times. If he is no better, lead him in another set.
4) If your team member is shaking uncontrollably, don’t panic. This is a natural response when someone freezes in the face of fear. We all know about the “fight or flight” response. Now you can add “freeze” to that list. The “deer in the head lights” image best exemplifies this reaction. Once out of danger, the person, or deer, will literally shake off the adrenalin that was pumping through his system. (Remember Dawn? She was shaking like a leaf after we got her out of the danger zone.) Some people may want to walk off this nervous energy. If so, go with them.
5) Encourage your team member to talk about what they experienced, remembering every detail.
The above simple steps will be very effective in calming your team member. But, if you want to be an even more effective Paranormal Paramedic, here are a couple of more techniques to add to your first aid trauma kit….
6) Sit across from your team member, and ask permission to hold their hands in yours. Gently squeeze his hands in an alternating manner…left, right, left, right…at about one squeeze per second. Do this while he tells you his story of what happened. Research has shown that when the hemispheres of the brain are stimulated in an alternating manner (by squeezing the hands back and forth) traumatic memories move from the “vivid memory” file in the brain to the “vague memory” file, thus rendering the event less scary and over-whelming to the victim. So, while your team member is recalling the memory of what happened, you as the paranormal paramedic will squeeze his hands back and forth, back and forth. Feel free to ask questions and details like how he felt when it happened and how he feels now. By doing this technique immediately after the event, you are helping to nip the effects of this trauma in the bud, and jump start the brain toward healing and processing. Walking also stimulates the brain bilaterally, so if your traumatized team member has chosen to walk off the nervous energy, go with him and have him talk as you walk. If you’d like to learn more about this trauma therapy technique, how it was originally developed and why it works, go to: http://www.emdr.com
EMDR stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing,” and stimulates the brain bilaterally by moving the eyes from side to side.
7) If you want to be an even better Paranormal Paramedic, you can add a second type of bilateral stimulation along with the hand-squeezing for twice the benefit. A trauma therapist in New York City, Dr. David Grand, has developed CDs with music and sound effects that phase in and out from ear to ear while listening with headphones. The team member will hear the music go back and forth from ear to ear. Couple this with walking or hand squeezing, and you will help to take the edge off the scary event even more. You can order these “bilateral” CDs for $30 each from Dr. Grand.
My favorites are “Inner Mirror” (which is mostly sound effects like rain falling and waves on the beach), and the music CDs called “Beyond Inner Mirror,” and “Separate Selves.” You could then toss your Ipod, with the downloaded bilateral music, in with all your other ghost hunting equipment when heading out for an investigation.
8) Go the extra mile and touch base with your team member about a week after he has returned home. Hopefully, he is no longer anxious and agitated. But, worse case scenario, if your team member is having nightmares, or is jumpy and nervous, or significantly affected in any way due to the experience, I would recommend that he seek professional trauma counseling. A convenient resource for finding a trauma counselor in your area is once again at www.emdr.com. Click on “Find an EMDR clinician” to locate a therapist near you. There are 40,000 clinicians world-wide who are certified in this bilateral trauma technique. This technique has many applications, including combat trauma, childhood trauma, phobias, and more. If you live in the New York City or Long Island area, I can highly recommend Dr. Grand.
Safety and trust are key elements for a successful ghost group. I would like to encourage every team of investigators to consider having at least one member being the designated paranormal paramedic. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them here, and I will gladly respond.
written by: karen