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 ASSAP paranormal investigator training course

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stephen



Number of posts : 88
Age : 49
Location : Carlisle, Cumbria
Registration date : 2007-08-29

PostSubject: ASSAP paranormal investigator training course   Thu 13 Dec 2007, 1:46 pm

Well it's been a couple of weeks, but a holiday in Amsterdam for a week was very good too!
But the subject of this mailing is my weekend in Loughborough studying to be a paranormal investigator with ASSAP - the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomenon. ASSAP can be found online and on facebook. The courses are run regularly throughout the year as a form of education and recruitment by what I found to be a very organised group of people. Places are limited, and the course was full with about 30 people this time, some staying at home over the weekend, others, like myself, staying onsite in simple accommodation. Our course trainers were Dave Wood and Nicky Sewell who are respectively the chairman and secretary, although each team of people was led by a team leader and a recognisable face from ASSAP. Hospitality was the order of the day from the moment I stepped off the train until I went home - throughout the course we were kept well supplied in sandwiches and snacks, plus all the coffee and tea we could drink throughout the day, and a fantastic full english breakfast cooked by the staff on Sunday morning for the one's staying overnight in accommodation near the training room - incredible value!

The weather was extremely cold, but the welcome was warm. At 10pm it was time for introductions and getting to know each other - Dave and Nicky expertly managed this, and early on it was apparent that I was part of a professionally run, yet relaxed, seminar. Introductions were made: some people were there to brush up their skills, as they were well known members (there was a whole team from Merseyside Anomalous Research Association), whilst other newer members were there to learn new skills. The course had people from all over the UK.

After introductions, it was straight into a tightly timetabled series of lectures, interspersed with interactive elements, such as Q&A sessions, to highlight what we had been told.
To begin with we covered the purpose of investigating: Thrill-seeking ang ghost hunts are not on ASSAP's agenda, and many a Sky TV show got a thrashing for its abuse of the witnesses and it's treatment of the paranormal phenomenon. Covering the next subject of ethics made it clear - never forget that few investigators see anything paranormal - you are reliant on witness testimony and be it ghost or alien, many witnesses are frightened and worried about their sanity. They may NOT share your enthusiasm for ghosts and aliens and the last thing they might want is to be told how exciting it all is and would they like the local press to report it - ultimately throughout the weekend it was drummed in that we are dealing with real people and real experiences, and we have a duty to respect privacy. Just because you think you are onto something doesn't mean you can trample roughshod over anyone - to be told that you cannot enter a property or interview a witness is the final answer, to be unquestioned: You have no special rights as an investigator and are not above the law.

To be able to carry out an investigation though is an opportunity not to waste, and we were given plenty of advice - from case studies to ethical tests to see what we should do in certain situations. During investigations it was highlighted that we are there to identify natural causes - the unexplained remains that, but natural explanations present themselves all the time. As an end to the first day it was good to keep our feet on the ground - the question of psychics being involved was brought up by investigators but well handled by the organisers ie test the psychics. Nothing should be taken for granted that would provide false results.

So ended an intense Saturday, but after a quick tour of the dormitory (for those staying overnight) it was off to the pub for a very nice meal and a chance to socialise with everyone - ranging from seasoned investigators involved with everything from ASSAP to SPR, to new members - one highlight being the organiser of a Viking re-enactment society regailing us with tales of his job as a film extra, including his stint on the Da Vinci Code and an up and coming 'viking' movie Faintheart! The night continued back at the accommodation, with tales of investigations and strange sightings. Trainees got to voice their interests and we learnt quite a bit about EVP that some investigators were interested in and had built ther own test equipment. We also got to celebrate the birthday of one of the leaders - Wendy Milner - who made a fantastic breakfast the next day for us all!

We all got up in time for a 9pm start(!) to learn about finding cases - from studying the media to questioning friends and relatives. After all it seems very often a friend of a friend will come up with a ghostly tale, yet that story goes no further - it is the investigators job to follow up any lead - any case could proved much needed evidence, or require investigating, if only to settle the matter as a natural event and put the witnesses minds at rest. We also learnt techniques for information gathering and equipment handling - ASSAP has a rule about scientific reporting and whilst this is difficult, due to the subject matter, it tries to avoid the pitfalls that plague the bad reporting that fills newspaper column inches and endless hours of tv. It was an insight into being rigourous and methodical in gaining information.

The afternoon was then spent with a mock case, as a basis for how to set up an investigation - which, if anything, reminded me of an elaborate Cluedo murder mystery, as the trainees got to interogate the course and team leaders (acting in character) as witnesses in a haunted house: That this was so well done that it was a testament to the groups professionalism. On a tight timetable it was a thoroughly enjoyable case, as we studied the evidence, interviewed the witnesses and planned, as groups, a method of investigation covering all the facets we had learnt - from ethics to methodology.

Our written notes were handed in at the end of the course for marking - no cheap certificates were handed out to mark the end of the course - as the next step to qualification is to undertake a real investigation and provide a written report on it. Only when that is approved will you become an ASSAP investigator, with the rule that you provide reports at least every two years, or undergo new training, to keep the quality of their work at its best.

In conclusion I thoroughly recommend anyone to join ASSAP and take part in their coursework - I can hardly wait for the official investigation for ASSAP trainees in March, though thanks to MARA I hope to go on an earlier investigation in February and begin to act upon my lifelong interest in the paranormal by actually investigating and helping others to understand what they may have experienced. If you have experienced anything unusual then, as with so many things, the more people you can tell the better understanding you may gain.

I hope that Mysterious Britain, in it's way, will help people to gain trust in what they believe and act upon it.
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Ian
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Number of posts : 771
Age : 44
Location : Carlisle, Cumbria
Registration date : 2007-08-24

PostSubject: Re: ASSAP paranormal investigator training course   Thu 13 Dec 2007, 3:54 pm

Sounds like you ad a great time Stephen Smile . I really, really must make an effort to get South and meet more ASSAP members. It's been many years since I went to London for my training course (15 at least). I can heartly recommend the association for anyone looking for a national group. I'm still an accredited Investigator, not sure if Dan is still on their lists but Stephen soon will be. Glad you enjoyed it mate.
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