Mediums and psychics – How are they the same and different?

I am often asked how mediums are different than psychics.  I wish I could say that there is one “generally agreed to answer” to this question. 

To a large extent, I have found that the answer often depends on the area in which you are located (e.g., area within the United States, which country). There are definitely regional differences.

The following answer is the one that I give to my students. I have found that it helps them (a) see that there are both differences and similarities and (b) understand that there are many ways in which metaphysical work can be done.



Psychics are individuals who use “the clairs” to communicate with entities that do not exist in the dimension that we currently live in on the Earth plane. They need to use this form of communication or language because the entities do not have vocal cords. They communicate using energy.

The basic “clairs” include the following:

  • Clairvoyance = Visual images
  • Clairaudiance = Sounds
  • Clairsentience = Body sensations, smells (AKA Clairolfaction), tastes (AKA Claircgustation), and emotions (AKA Empathy)
  • Claircognizance = Thoughts (AKA Intuition)

The psychic can use these “clairs” to communication with ANY type of spiritual entity, including:

  • Angels and archangels
  • Guides
  • Ascended masters (e.g., Jesus, Buddha, Mother Mary)
  • Fairies and other earth spirits
  • Deceased loved ones (both human and animals)

Some psychics can also use the “clairs” to communicate with those who are alive on the Earth place but do not have the ability to communication verbally (e.g., animals, babies, those in comas).



Mediums are individuals who use “the clairs” (see above) to communicate. However, they are specifically targeting the souls who once lived on the Earth plane but do not currently exist in this dimension. This can include:

  • Deceased loved ones (i.e., people you have personally known during this lifetime)
  • Deceased pets
  • People you have never known but are related to you in some important way (e.g., a grandfather who died before you were born)
  • Famous individuals who you have never met (NOTE: This is relatively rare because the energetic bridge between the other side and those on the Earth plane is love.)

NOTE: Mediums most often connect with those who have crossed over to the light, but some mediums are able to communicate with those who have died but haven’t chosen to “cross over” yet. The goal in this situation is to assist them to light. Click here to read the blog post How to assist souls to the light.


Comparing psychics and mediums

If you read these two descriptions carefully, you will see that both psychics and mediums use the “clairs.” However, mediums specialize in working with souls who once lived here on the Earth plane.

Here is how I like to explain the difference:

  • All mediums are psychic.  Both groups use “psychic skills” (i.e., “the clairs”) to communicate with those not located in our present Earthly dimension.
  • However, not all psychics are mediums. This is because not all psychics choose to “talk to dead people.”

Here is another way that I explain it to my students:

  • The term “psychic” is a very broad category . . . much like an umbrella.
  • Underneath that “psychic umbrella” are many different specialists.
  • Mediums are one of these specialties. They choose to talk with deceased loved ones. But there are those who specialize in communicating with other types of entities, such as angels/archangels, guides, “earth spirits” (i.e., fairies, gnomes), ascended masters, etc.


Whether to seek the services of a psychic versus a medium

When deciding whether to seek out the services of a psychic or a medium, it may be helpful to remember that most psychics deal primarily with angels, guides, and ascended masters.  Some may occasionally connect with deceased loved ones, but that may not be their strength or interest.  Others psychics actually choose not to communicate with deceased loves ones for various reasons.

Mediums focus on connecting with deceased loved ones. Some may receive messages from angels, guides, and/or ascended masters, but perhaps not consistently. Other mediums truly do specialize in only communicating with deceased loved ones.

The bottom line is that you should do your research. Read the information the professional provides online and/or contact them to ask questions. In general, if you want a general reading and guidance about life issues, then seek out a psychic. If you want to connect with a deceased loved one, then make sure you are consulting with a medium who clearly has this as his/her focus.

NOTE: A relatively new term being used today is “Psychic Medium”, which is a way for a psychic to indicate that they can connect with both angelic or spiritual realms (e.g., guides, ascended master) and with deceased loved ones. However, make sure this is an accurate description of their abilities before scheduling a session.


Resources for those interested in learning more




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By Anne Reith, Ph.D.