by Virginia Carraway Stark
Don’t jump into this with both feet. Realize that there are serious legal ramifications to any claims you make and that you have to educate yourself before you get going.
It is essential to make sure that anyone involved with your team signs waivers and that you have permission to do research or investigation wherever you choose to start searching for proof of the paranormal. You need to find out what your local laws are. Each country and state has different rules for any sort of investigator. In some places you must even obtain a license before claiming you are a paranormal investigator. Anyone involved in your investigation must also meet this criteria and must sign legal waivers.
Find out if you need and/or qualify for insurance in your area. Have you considered what happens if something goes wrong? What if you or someone else hurts themselves and is unable to return to their regular job and life? Practice care and concern for yourself and for the people who enter this partnership with you.
Once you find out what is legally required of you and your group, start filling out paperwork. Be prepared that paperwork can take time and there are often fees that accompany it. This step cannot be skipped and you must follow these rules in order to start your own group.
Step Two: Figure out who is going to be doing this with you.
You will need to have people to watch your back and to know where you are. It isn’t so much a worry over being eaten by a ghost that is a concern as possible interactions with other humans, animals both domestic and wild and being in rickety, isolated and decrepit locations where it is easy to get injured.
Make sure that the people who you team up with are people you can work with during tense situations. Decide if you really trust them. It’s not enough to think they are cool, you are relying on these people to be legally and ethically responsible as well as entertaining during long nights investigating. Find out if you need to do criminal background checks to qualify for licensing or insurance requirements and make sure that everyone is eligible to work with you before committing to working together.
Choose people with skills that will be helpful in your research. Do the people you plan on working with have any education or verifiable dealings with the paranormal? Are they diligent and scientific in their approach? Do you trust them to only report truthful evidence and not seek out drama?
Once you have figured out what skills everyone can contribute to the group, check also to en-certain that you have a well rounded set of people. Are you all active and fit? If not, are you prepared to take measures to help anyone with any special physical needs?
Does anyone in your group require medication? Make sure that their medication can be safely administered on site or that they are not ‘field’ agents. Is anyone a diabetic? Have any allergies? As a group your health and well-being depends on all the members being taken care of and you need to know the limitations of your members as well as their strengths.
Every group needs rules. Before you start investigating your group must come to an agreement on the rules and agree to obey them to the best of their ability. These rules are for safety but they are also to keep things working smoothly. Set up a chain of command so that someone who knows the legal ramifications has the final say in whether your group should proceed with any given action. These rules should be based off your groups dynamics, skill sets and the laws of your region. If you cannot agree to the rules as a group you are not a working research group. Work out these disagreements before going out in the field and acting unprofessional or even dangerous. These rules will determine your clients impression of your group and your professionalism will determine whether you get recommended to other clients or repeat clientele.
You need to really think about first aid and the possibility that someone may get injured. It’s a good idea if at least one member of your team be qualified in first aid but it is a better idea if everyone takes a basic first aid course. One of the reasons it’s a good idea for everyone to be trained in first aid is because it is a possibility that your first aid attendant may be injured and no one in the group may know how to take care of them and prevent further injury or even death. Have a first aid kit and keep it somewhere accessible. Keep access to a cellphone or radio and be able to call for help if the worst should happen.
Assemble Your Equipment
You should have done enough research at this point to know what equipment you are going to require and what you can afford. Once you have all of this together it’s time to…
Get the Word Out
Your group is all ready to go, now you just need some places to investigate! Maybe you already know of some likely haunted locations. If you have permission to go to these locations then start there! Otherwise it might be an idea to take out an advertisement and start a web page.
Web pages are great because there is plenty of space for you to detail the particulars of your group, your qualifications and backgrounds so that someone who might be interested and need assistance will have an idea of who they are contacting. Be honest if you are new to the paranormal field or if this is your first time investigating. People will be more forgiving of any mistakes you may make if you let them know that your team is just starting out.
Network With Other Teams
Your team doesn’t have the answer to every problem and some clients may be difficult to work with due to personality clashes. Don’t try to do it all yourself, talk to other teams if you don’t know the answers and ask for help if you think you’re in over your head. The National Paranormal Society is a great place to meet with other professionals and to learn from each others experiences. You can even advertise your group with them.