Virginia resident Pam Jenkins has been seeing New York psychic Carmen Harra since 2002, but with the economy in trouble, her inquiries have turned from trying to contact her deceased relatives toward questions about her financial future.
Facing possible foreclosure on her home, she asked her most trusted adviser, Harra, for some insight about the situation.
"I would take her advice over any financial planner and any lawyer any day," Jenkins said.
She said that her financial stress resulted from the fact that she'd got caught with a subprime loan after refinancing her home to add a pool.
Jenkins, who mostly communicates with Harra via telephone, was ready to pack up and leave her beloved residence because of the foreclosure troubles when Harra gave her a boost to stay and fight for her home.
Though Harra said she saw issues surrounding the home, the psychic added that she thought Jenkins was not supposed to go.
"'You're supposed to hang in there, and this is all going to turn around in your favor,'" Jenkins said Harra told her.
With those suggestive words, Jenkins had the confidence to persevere. Her situation hasn't been resolved, but so far, Jenkins has kept her home.
"[Here] we are some two years later, still in that house against a whole lot of odds," said Jenkins, who is a court reporter.
Harra, who has been in the business more than 25 years and sees on average 1,000 clients a year, said she is careful about the advice she gives.
"It's a lot of responsibility. You take someone's life in your hands, so you have to be very careful about the kind of advice you give someone like Pam, who is about to lose their home," Harra said.
Reaching Out for 'Intuitive' Answers
Harra said for her clients, money is now the No. 1 topic.
"Everyone is sort of afraid," said Harra, who claimed to have had intuitive abilities her entire life. "They ask a lot about money and they are very concerned about their investments. They are concerned about their homes. They wonder if they will be able to keep their homes; and they wonder why this is happening, and when is this going to end and how is this going to transform into a better life."
A Psychic Boom?
Harra is just one of many psychics who claim clients are focusing more on their financial lives during session.
Some, like Maryanne Fiedler, a marketing director for an online network of about 160 psychics, believes the down economy has the psychic business booming.
The company's average sales are up 7½ percent when compared with the same time last year, said Fiedler, who is not a psychic.
"We have 10 percent more new members that are calling Psychic Source. More of our existing members are getting readings," Fiedler said. "So certainly, we can say the economy is having some effect on people who are reaching out to psychics for advice or counsel.
"People are calling them more often now to talk to them about their concerns about their career, their concerns about the economy," Fiedler said.
Fiedler said her soothsayers are not giving financial advice or suggesting to anyone how to invest their funds.
"Instead, they are helping them make decisions about perhaps what they should be considering when it comes to changes in their career or changes in their economic situation. They are really helping to relieve anxiety," she said.
While not all psychics said business is booming at the rate the economy has been sinking, New York psychic Farusha said people now ask fewer questions about their romantic life and more about their financial prospects.
She said people come to her because "they want a different insight into what is happening in their lives. They want hope. They want to avoid certain pitfalls."
One of her clients, New York City resident Lori Lupo, is worried about losing her job because her company has been downsizing. Lupo headed to Farusha for advice.
"I lost half my retirement portfolio," Lupo said. "I wanted to retire in three to five years, and now it looks like I am not going to."
"What if I lose my job? What if they force me into retirement? What am I going to do then? What kind of job can I get to continue the lifestyle I am used to?"
Lupo said Farusha has been helping her figure out the answers to her questions.
"She helps me by giving my life direction. She helps by making me feel more confident," said Lupo, who added Farusha is almost like "a life coach."
Companies Turn to Psychics
Now companies, too, are looking for a little extra intervention in the form of psychics.
Laura Day, who prefers to be called an "intuitive" rather than a psychic, said high-end businesses are seeking her aid.
She said she advises up to five corporate clients at a time, and the service doesn't come cheaply. Day charges $10,000 monthly for her services and claimed her intuitiveness has served her well in her own financial life.
"I took all my money out of the stock market -- and at the time, the person who does my trades for me thought I was being ridiculous, crazy and oh so female," said Day, who pulled her funds out of the market March 22, 2007.
She also said she advised her clients to do so, and she said all of them listened.
Critics Cry Fowl
But critics contend that looking to the stars for answers to your financial future can simply be a waste of money in this most frugal of times.
"By going to a psychic, very often what you are doing is putting a Band-Aid over this feeling of panic," said clinical psychologist Bonnie Jacobson.
Jacobson said that relying too much on soothsayers can be destructive.
"It's never in your best interest to think someone other than you ultimately had the important answers for your own life. It's always dangerous," she said.
Day, the intuitive, agreed.
"I think people should be very wary of [a] psychic off the street -- especially in times of crisis," she said. "You want to trust standard issue techniques. You want to be very careful, you don't want to fall prey.
"Unless someone is tried and true, you should take what anyone says with a grain of salt," Day said. "Don't give up your own judgment."