Most people I meet for the first time in a social setting are genuinely interested in learning about what it’s like to be a psychic medium. Some try to mask their skepticism with a generic, polite-but-guarded response.

Others get a look of panic across their face and ask, “Are you reading me right now?”

It’s a great question. But the answer is: no.

I don’t know what you’re thinking or how you’re feeling. I’m not having conversations with your loved ones on the Other Side.

When I’m not in reading with a client (also referred to as “sitter”), I close off my intuition as much as possible. If I fail to do that, I would be bombarded all day by people on the Other Side, speaking with them, and sensing their feelings and energy. I’d never be able to focus on anything for long — not to mention it would be exhausting!

Only during readings, whether for large groups small groups or individuals, do I shift into a level of openness that allows me to tune into my intuition.

What’s It Really Like to Be a Psychic Medium?

I’ve been a professional medium and psychic for over 12 years. I am honored to do the work I do and am passionate about mediumship. But like any other professional, I have good days, off days and frustrations.

A good day is when I feel like I’m really in the flow. Details come through with great clarity. Connections feel strong. Sometimes, family members send messages with profound meaning to the sitter. Sometimes they share an inside joke that makes us laugh. Sometimes they simply share a seemingly insignificant observation that lets the sitter know they’re still connected. These are magical moments in mediumship.

Related: When Little Details Mean So Much: Love From the Other Side

Every so often, though, I experience an “off” day, where things feel less clear for me. The process isn’t working the way I would like it to work, and connections don’t feel as strong as they usually do.

And yet, the readings are still really good. I’ve learned to trust when those situations happen, to just keep going, because the sitters still validate the quality and information of the readings. Fortunately, these off days are few and far between.

There are, of course, some occasional frustrations that come with the territory. For me, it’s when people only want to hear what they want to hear. This doesn’t always match the information coming through during a psychic or medium reading.

It’s also frustrating when someone wants to connect only with one specific person who has transitioned. For example, a sitter may only want to hear from their spouse, but not their parent or aunt. While it’s normal to want to hear from that one person, rejecting or discarding whoever else is connecting can actually break the connection to the Other Side.

Loved ones on the Other Side will connect in the order they decide, not in the order we want. I do find that in almost all cases, the person we do want to hear from also wants to connect with us, and they do — just not necessarily as the first person in the reading.

Familiar Faces

Just as people here have different personalities and levels of energy — some quiet, some with big energy, some funny, some analytical, some overtly affectionate, etc. — they carry those qualities with them on the Other Side. These are the characteristics I often feel in the early part of the connection.

Related: Five Common Questions About Relationships on the Other Side

I really enjoy meeting all these different people; it makes my life so interesting! I never know who I’ll connect with — and what will come up — so every reading is, in a way, an adventure.

If I’ve done more than five or six readings with a sitter, I often remember their loved ones. There does come a point when, if I feel I know too much, I’ll refer them to another medium so as not to compromise the objectivity of the readings.

There have been times when I’ve gotten a sense of familiarity, but without any specific memory of a person. Then the person on the Other Side tells me that they “know” me. That almost always means that I’ve connected with them before.

Can I Leave My Work at the Office?

All ethical professionals try to maintain healthy boundaries. Mediums are no exception.

Even though I try to close as much as possible, things do get through once in a while. But can you imagine how the woman behind the cash register at the grocery store would feel if I blurted out, “Your late husband Joe says hello … he’s doing great on the Other Side and sends his love”? The poor woman might have a heart attack — or call security on me for suspicious behavior!

Generally speaking, though, it’s very easy for me to “close out.” I only open up to connect with the Spirit world when it’s time for a reading. Otherwise, my default is to keep it closed off. The only exceptions are for my family and loved ones, as well our guides (they have an open invitation to communicate at any time!).

Over time, I have learned to respect my own work-life balance and boundaries. It’s important to take mini-vacations or time off to “recharge.” Last year, on an extended family trip, I stayed “closed” to any psychic or medium readings the entire time. I truly believe that “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” and that staying healthy, balanced and strong allows me to be in full service of the Spirit world and sitters.

Yes, I am a psychic medium. Yes, I do see, hear and feel many things that others don’t. Yes, I do communicate with the Spirit world. I feel so honored to have this wonderful gift that allows me to be in service to my clients and to those on the Other Side.

But am I reading you right now? No, not unless we’re in a reading together!

Amy Utsman is a medium and psychic with over 12 years of experience. She is deeply committed to raising the standard of ethics and professionalism in her field. Learn more