I grew up in a house where things like psychics, Ouija boards, and spirits were “normal.” My mom has always claimed she’s seen spirits and UFOs, and used to let me listen to tapes of psychic readings she’d had. So it should come as no surprise that she was the one who bought me my first palm reading from a man at the Canadian National Exhibition. I was 13, and I loved it. I walked away feeling like I’d truly been seen.

As I got older I started to learn more about divination and the occult and started to seek out guidance from different types of readers. I also had a range of experiences with each of them. I’ve had readings from people I truly believe have a powerful gift, and I’ve had readings that left me feeling disconnected and confused.

According to some of those more disappointing readings, I should, by now, be living in Las Vegas with a much older man. I should also be living in the UK, working in media. And I should have received a cheque for $1,400 in September, 2012.

Instead, I’m still in Toronto, still with my same (younger) man, and still waiting for that cheque.

But the right reader can leave a truly positive, profound impact on your life, no matter what’s happening at the time. If you’re thinking of seeing a psychic, here are some tips to help:

1. Know what you want.

To make sure you hire the right person and get the most out of your reading, it’s important to know what you hope to walk away with at the end of your session.

Do you want a better understanding of who you are, what patterns you need to overcome in your lifetime, what your true calling might be, or how to heal some old wounds? Maybe you’re more interested in your past life, or in connecting to someone who has passed away.

Or do you want a predictive reading that might tell you if marriage, kids, or a new job are in your future? Not all readers actually offer to tell you your future, so if this is what you’re looking for, make sure you’re clear about it. Knowing your own expectations can help avoid disappointment.

2. Understand what’s out there.

Directories like YellowPages.ca and Yelp list intuitive services under the broad category of “Psychics and Astrologers,” even though not all readers will actually call themselves psychic. This is where knowing what you want to get out of a reading will be helpful. If you’re looking for healing, a reiki treatment might be an option to explore. If you aren’t sure you’re ready to believe in psychics, astrology might be an area for you to look into. And if you are looking for personal empowerment, consider a shamanic practitioner or tarot reader.

3. Ask questions before you book.

Send an email first to ask how a reading with them might work, and how they might be able to help you. A true professional will always put your best interests first.

4. Ask around.

Most readers have testimonials on their websites, but you might also want to ask your friends and colleagues if they have any recommendations. You might be surprised by who you discover through word of mouth.

5. Don’t shop based on SEO alone.

The right reader for you might not pop up on the first page of your Google search. Take your time and consider your options.

6. Trust your gut.

Pay attention to which readers you feel most drawn to. Read some of their blog posts to see how they communicate their ideas, or check out any videos they’ve posted to hear their voices. Regardless of how many testimonials someone has, or how many Yelp reviews they’ve acquired, at the end of the day, the person you feel is calling to you is the right choice to make.

And remember, if something doesn’t ring true for you about a certain reader, or you don’t feel connected to what they’re offering, it’s probably best to move on to someone else.

7. Know that readers come from a range of backgrounds.

It’s common to see people talking about being a 3rd generation psychic, or a practicing witch, or “top” in the industry. There are also a lot of very good readers who are self-taught and have no psychic lineage. One type of background isn’t necessarily better than the other. Again, find the one who makes you want to say, “Yes!” and go from there.

8. Question guarantees.

Some readers promise “100% accuracy,” but it’s important to remind yourself that no matter what comes up in a reading, you always have free will. And if you’re not comfortable with the idea of knowing what might be happening to you a year from now, try a reader that focuses more on empowerment and self-awareness – this will help you tap into your own skills and personal power, rather than making you feel locked into a specific outcome.

9. Expect to be asked questions.

Readers won’t know everything about you. When you book with someone, they might ask a little bit about you, or why you want a reading. Don’t take this as fishing: often, these questions come up because they want to make sure they tailor the reading to meet your needs in the moment.

10. Don’t make price the first priority.

A $100 reading might not necessarily be better than a $60 reading. The best reading I’ve ever had was at a psychic fair. I paid $35 for it and predictions were still coming true 10 years later. Again, go with a reader who you feel comfortable with and who will be able to best suit your needs.