10 Psychic Abilities in Plain English

Considering having a psychic reading conducted, especially if it’s your first time, usually brings a feeling of excitement and anticipation, but it can also bring some trepidation. After all, how do you know who to go to? Psychics have different abilities – which affects how they perform readings and how they interact with the information they receive through them, as well as with you. So where do you begin? Let’s start with reviewing different types of psychic abilities. In other posts, we’ll take a look at different types of psychic readings and what you can expect from them. Let’s get started!

When you think of the term “psychic abilities,” any number of terms might come to mind. Many people immediately think of ESP, which is a very broad term that basically means the ability to perceive things outside the realm of the basic five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. So “psychic abilities” and “ESP” are both blanket terms for the same general idea. When you start thinking in more specific terms, however, there are a lot of different ways in which to go.

Psychic abilities run the gamut from astral projection to divining the future, speaking with the spirits of the deceased (both those trapped here in the physical realm as well as those who have moved on to another plane of existence), and manipulating objects with the mind (aka telekinesis). We could go on for days, looking at all the different types of psychic abilities, but we’re going to focus on just one area today.

People consider psychic readings for a variety of reasons – seeking guidance or information about future events, gaining knowledge about situations or past events, or gleaning answers to specific questions. There is a myriad of ways this can be accomplished, but let’s look at 10 of the most common psychic abilities that are used within this realm.

Let’s start with the three main “clairs,” which are related to and used in combination with pretty much everything else on our list.


Clairvoyance is the ability to clearly see what cannot be seen by the human eye. It can include future or past events, or even spirits that have moved on to another realm of existence. These “sights” are seen in the mind’s eye and can come in different ways, depending on the person. Sometimes they are a single image and sometimes they are moving pictures, kind of like a snippet of a movie. They are most often symbolic, necessitating some interpretation of their meaning.


Clairsentience is the ability to clearly sense the energy and physical and emotional states of people and/or places, whether or not they are in close proximity. People with this ability can often have a good sense of people’s thoughts as well, but they are not “mind readers” per se. People with this ability are empaths (see empaths below), but not all empaths are clairsentients.


Clairaudience literally means “clear hearing,” and it refers to the ability to hear messages from otherworldly sources which can include spirits, angels, and even one’s higher self. These types of messages are usually in words, but can also include music or other sounds. They are typically heard within the mind, although sometimes they are actually audible.

Psychic empathy

Empaths feel the energy and emotions surrounding them. Most people can empathize with other people to a certain extent. For example, if a friend or someone you know has experienced a romantic break-up or the death of someone close to them, you have had that experience before and you know how it feels, so you can relate to the emotions they are experiencing. There are many people who deeply feel the emotions and energy of people around them, which can be emotionally and physically draining experience, especially when they are in large crowds. Psychic empathy, however, extends not only to living beings, but also to the spirits of those who are no longer living but are lingering in the area for some reason.


Psychometry is a skill that allows someone to gather information about someone or something through touching or holding an object. Jewelry, especially jewelry containing crystals or semi-precious or precious stones, is a very popular item used for this type of reading, although it can be any object that was or is used or worn frequently. Note that I didn’t say the object must be owned by the person the reading is about, because what is read is the energy that has mingled with the user/wearer – not the owner. A psychic who employs this ability may be able to feel emotions, hear sounds, experience smells and tastes, or see images involving the person most physically related to the object.

Automatic writing

Automatic writing is a form of communication and can sometimes be considered a form of channeling. While automatic writing is sometimes performed in a trance state, it can usually be done by completely clearing the mind, relaxing, and allowing someone else to take over the writing reins. Some writers feel their own hand doing the writing, while others have the feeling that someone else has taken control of their writing hand. The writer is unaware is almost always unaware of what is being written – they are simply the vessel another is using to communicate.

Mediumship and Channeling

Mediumship and channeling go hand in hand, but while channeling always involves mediumship, mediumship does not necessarily (and often does not) involve channeling. Mediums mentally receive communication from non-earthbound entities, and then relay that information to the person seeking the communication. Information can be received as words, emotions, sights, sounds and/or smells, and it is the responsibility of the medium to relate the information with as little personal influence as possible.

Channeling involves the medium not simply mentally receiving the spirit’s communication, but actually allowing the spirit to enter their body and communicate directly with a living person. Opening oneself to these types of communications can be dangerous for mediums and those around them, as the spirit they want to contact isn’t always the one that comes through. Mediums need to be very careful to protect themselves before attempting to contact the spirit world.


Postcognition is the ability to see or have knowledge of past events without having been there or having any other way of knowing about them. This type of ability is often what is used by psychics who help law enforcement gather leads or even solve “unsolvable” cases. In a psychic reading, the psychic may be able to use post-cognition to see events and pass on knowledge about them to help someone discover what happened or better understand a current event or situation they are experiencing.

Aura readings

The practice of reading auras, unlike other abilities on this list, has nothing to do with communicating with spirits or answering specific questions. Aura reading looks at the energies surrounding your physical body in the here and now and can provide insight into who you are and who you want to be in spirit. It can actually be quite intense as the reader will sometimes see not only the current state of your energies, but also symbolic images, memory pictures, and spiritual beings or the energies of people who you are closely emotionally attached to. Aura readings help you connect with your own energy and make you aware of unwanted energies or blocks, which you can then work on releasing so you can make the best choices and become the best you.

Just like physical abilities, people who understand their psychic abilities and practice them regularly will be more solid and stable in their use. So when you’re looking for a psychic to go to for a reading, make sure the person you choose knows how to use their skills accurately and safely. It’s not bad form to ask how their abilities fit with the type of reading you want to experience. And if you are interested in developing your own psychic abilities, go to reputable information sources to ensure your own safety and success.