London - When Catherine Chandler’s friend suggested she should visit a psychic counsellor last November, she was sceptical to say the least.
Like most people, for her the word psychic instantly conjured up images of crystal balls and caravans. But Catherine, 45, had suffered on and off with depressive symptoms for more than a decade and, as her friend pointed out, had said recently she was willing to try anything.
“When I was in my 20s I had treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system, which left me unable to conceive,” says Catherine, who lives in East Sussex.
“The illness itself was really traumatic and I had always felt robbed of my right to have a child naturally. Whenever a friend had a baby, it would bring it all up again and I’d become tearful.”
The recommended psychic, Susan Kennard, was not cheap — sessions cost £100 (about R1 700) an hour. “But I’d been feeling so awful, I didn’t see how it could make it any worse,” says Catherine. “My friend is incredibly down to earth — she works with computers and you wouldn’t expect her to be into this type of thing. But she kept saying how fantastic Susan was.”
The experience was transformative.
“It was quite incredible,” says Catherine, who lives with her husband Bernard, 51, and is a partner in their architect firm. “It was as if she knew me, without me even having to open my mouth.”
Susan is a qualified psychotherapist who uses her psychic gift to enhance her understanding of her clients, their pasts and the things that are troubling them.
“Within two sessions, the negative feelings had disappeared,” says Catherine. “I can only describe it as a feeling of lightness. The issues don’t go away, of course, but I felt empowered to handle them.”
You might think professional psychics have had their day — but they’re back, and they’ve had something of a makeover. Rebranded as “intuitive therapists”, they are increasingly sought-after by high-flyers for advice on everything from fertility problems to choice of partners and even business decisions.
Their clinics are based in hotels and luxury spas — both Harrods and Selfridges offer the services of an intuitive counsellor — and they use smartphones and Skype to have sessions with clients anywhere in the world.
Rather than talk to the dead, they claim to use their sixth sense to give ‘intuitive’ practical advice and personality analysis. Clients trade recommendations for them as they would personal trainers and hairdressers.
Catherine’s intuitive therapist, Susan Kennard, has clinics in Harley Street, London and Hastings, East Sussex.
She says today’s aspirational generation is more accepting of alternative treatments. In our competitive climate, they see intuitive counsellors as just another resource to help them succeed at work and in their personal lives.
“People want to explore who they are much more,” says Susan. “I work with people in the corporate world who want to know if they’re good enough, doctors who want to understand more about the soul, women who are struggling to get pregnant, people with cancer, or who are struggling with weight issues and smoking or phobias. I think there’s more acceptance now that we’re not just mind and body — we are spirit, too.”
Susan says her psychic ability allows her to tune in to her clients’ feelings; she also has visions of their future, although is cautious about sharing them.
“I think telling people their future takes their power to act away, but I might gently steer someone according to what I see, saying for example: ‘I feel it might be helpful for you to think about this’.”
Intuitives are already highly popular in the US. There, psychic Laura Day has made millions as a consultant to Wall Street corporations and actresses such as Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Nicole Kidman.
Now Britons are becoming just as interested in clairvoyance: according to a recent YouGov poll, one in four of us have consulted a psychic.
Susan King has been practising as an intuitive counsellor and psychic healer for 25 years, and her clientele includes the designer Karen Millen.
She says she’s never been short of business, but what’s different now is that people aren’t ashamed to say they visit her.
“Twenty years ago, I would bump into clients at dinner parties and events and they’d pretend they didn’t know me because they hadn’t told their partner or colleagues that they were seeing me,” she says. “There is more acceptance now.”
Susan says the popularity of intuitive counselling can partly be explained by a breakdown in community that’s led to a loss of identity. “We’ve lost our local pubs and post offices, and many people now live hundreds of miles from where they grew up,” she adds. “It creates a loneliness and emptiness.
“We’re all looking for a closeness with someone, a feeling of being known and understood.”
For today’s high fliers, another major appeal of intuitives is that they often resolve issues within just a few sessions, unlike more traditional types of therapy, which can go on for months or even years.
Enthusiasts say that because intuitives already have such a clear idea of what the problem is and what’s happened in their client’s past, they can offer targeted, practical advice more quickly.
Catherine Chandler agrees. After five “amazing” sessions with Susan Kennard last year, she consulted her again last month after suffering a panic attack at work, having become overwhelmed by a legal battle her husband is fighting and the death of her mother in February.
“After an hour and a half I was a completely different person. I know that if I’d gone to the doctor instead, I’d have been handed antidepressants and be on them for months.”
Intuitives believe that their abilities are only a heightened version of something we all have, and part of their work is teaching people to trust their own intuition.
Indeed, when Lucy Simpson, a mother-of-three from Hastings, decided to visit Susan Kennard for a session, she discovered that she herself has psychic abilities.
Lucy, 44, runs My Did That, a company presenting exhibitions of children’s art, and lives with her partner Peter, 39. She says: “I also run a networking group for women in business. Susan was a guest speaker a few months ago. I felt a real connection and decided to see her. I didn’t have any particular problems, but we talked about some family issues dating back to when I was young.
“Then, in one of our sessions, she said: ‘You know that you can channel’. And I did know — I do get visions and hear sounds — but I’d never really pursued it. I don’t have the messages all the time — I have to be tuned in, and almost meditating. Peter thinks it’s a load of rubbish but says he doesn’t mind if it’s what I feel I need to do.”
So is an intuitive counsellor really worth the money? Chris Fisher, professor of psychology at Goldsmiths, University Of London, and a leading expert in this field, says people have been drawn to psychics for hundreds of years, and always for much the same reasons.
“These kind of practitioners tend to do well at times of uncertainty,” he says. “Clients do come away feeling good about themselves, and some would say that, in itself, is worth it. I’m not saying these people are deliberate con artists — most of them are fooling themselves as much as anyone else.
“But we do know that when we’ve tested psychics under properly controlled conditions, they can’t do what they say they can do.”
However, Professor Fisher says intuitive counsellors can be dangerous, for example, if they misinform clients about medical conditions.
“In terms of the advice they give, it can vary and might be good, especially if they have qualifications in counselling, too. But it can encourage a dependency and ideally you want people to be self-reliant.”
Kate Turnbull, creative manager of Spafinder, a leading spa website, visited Susan King earlier this year out of curiosity and was surprised at how helpful it was.
“Susan showed me how to listen to my inner voice and trust my instincts more,” says Kate, 29, who lives in South-West London.
“It wasn’t gimmicky and I didn’t get bogged down in whether she had this magical gift. But there were some things she said that she just couldn’t have known — for example, that my father and stepmother had just moved to the US.”
As someone who works within the “wellness” industry, Kate says the current interest in intuitive counselling is part of a wider move towards therapies that work on your spiritual side.
“People are understanding that they don’t just have to take care of their physical health. We all get into negative patterns and we have a lot of power to change that.”
But Kate says she’d rather use the counselling as a tool to change the present rather than be told her fate. “I don’t really want to know my future,” she says. “I like to think that it’s in your hands.” - Daily Mail