Sunday, August 28, 2011

Initial Ghost Hunting Forms

A ghost hunting team should always keep complete paperwork. The Initial paperwork you use helps keep your team organized. From forms where you record your initial interviews with witnesses to a grid map that shows the area or building(s), you need to investigate-- paperwork is essential.

My group has an initial packet that we use and keep with every investigation we do. An essential form in this packet is our permission/release form. We always have our clients—the owner of property and structure--sign a waiver that gives us permission to conduct the investigation. 

This form includes their name, phone number, address/name of the area we are going to investigate and the date of the investigation. On this form we also have a “release statement for liability” this statement basically lets the client know that if one of us is injured on their property, we will not hold them liable. The client signs this part of the form as well.

We also have a confidentiality form that clarifies what information my team can and cannot release. My team does reserve the right to use any evidence we capture, but we give our clients a choice as to whether they want their personal name or name of business used or withheld. 

If we investigate a private residence, we give our clients the choice of whether they want their name or pictures of themselves used. We encourage our clients to be present during our investigations, so we often have them on video, etc.

In cases of confidentiality we will sometimes put evidence, if any, we have captured on our web site, etc. But we do not release the location of the home or business. In fact, I request my investigators don’t even point out the area to their family and friends. 

Keeping the “trust” with clients ensures good word of mouth. This is very important, you do not want a present or past client to be plagued or bothered by what I call “looky-loos.”

Our first witness interview forms are a combination of both checklists and lines. On these lines is where we put more in-depth information. For example, we ask witnesses to describe what they remember about each entity they have encountered: appearance, location, time of day or night, etc. 

One question is when the activity started, how often it occurs, what activity is most pronounced, which rooms or areas have the most activity, have there been other witnesses, etc. Have voices been heard and what they said. 

We ask if other sounds have been heard or if objects have been moved? Has anyone has been physically touched or injured? 

We also ask the client if they believe the activity that has occurred is paranormal in nature. This is just a sampling of what we ask. We also have questions that probe for more in-depth responses.

On this same form, we ask our clients what their expectations are for the investigation. This question is critical because it allows us to realistically inform our client what we can and cannot do for them. This saves misunderstandings down the road. 

An example of this is the client who expects you to get rid of the activity. I always clarify that my team does not do this but that we have resources our clients can tap into if this is their wish.

As mentioned above my team uses a grid to draw out a map of the area or structure so we can keep track of the locations where the activity has been experienced in the past. This helps us decide where to set up our stationary equipment when we do the investigation. This information, by the way, is not set in stone. 

It is good to be flexible for sometimes this flexibility has helped us capture more evidence. We have found that if we use the baseline data that we collect at the beginning of our investigation—it helps us eliminate man-made causes--with this added information we can make a more precise decision as to where to set up our stationary equipment.

In future posts I will share information about how I train new members, some basic EVP questions they can depend upon, etc., and what kind of baseline data my team always collects during investigations.

Happy Ghost Hunting!

No comments: