‘I’ve had my share of very healthy skeptics over the last few years and sometimes they walk away transformed and sometimes they walk away with a new idea or perception of what I do,” says Trish Woods. “After all, my job as a medium is not to change their beliefs. If the spirit world or God decides to change their beliefs during a reading, that’s between them and God. I’m here to serve them on an earthly level from the spirit world. It’s not my job to change their minds; it’s God’s job.”

For those who think what Woods and others like the TV medium Sylvia Browne have to offer is, well, a crock, think again. Attend one of her readings and see for yourself. Woods communicates with those in spirit world on a regular basis at the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health in Skillman, where she will do a group reading on Sunday, November 17, at 3 p.m. She also does private readings for small groups at private homes.

“The easiest way to describe what I do, is I’m a psychic but also a medium,” Woods says in a phone interview from her Bridgewater home. “I am a psychic but I don’t combine the two at the same moment. Psychic work is about your life and mediumship work is about the after life,” she says, or the spirit world.

Woods was raised in a Presbyterian family in Bridgewater, but lived all around the U.S. with her family. Woods’s father worked for U.S. Steel and another wire firm for a time and then retired from the circulation department at the Courier News. Her mother is very active in the Presbyterian church, directing handbell choirs.

Woods says she was one confused teenager and had a difficult time growing up and assimilating into the working world, she says, until she learned how to turn off the images and voices in her head. No, she wasn’t schizophrenic, she learned after some time and a lot of personal turmoil. Rather she was a psychic and had the ability to communicate with the dead. “I was a rotten teenager, and I was confused and it affected (my parents) in a most unhappy way.”

Asked how she found about her innate abilities to both read minds and communicate with spirit world, Woods says her mother’s father had the ability to play music by ear, and her mother is “extraordinarly intuitive, making lying to her nearly impossible. The only way you get away with lying to her is if she lets you.

“I didn’t realize the thing I had was from anybody else. It’s kind of like being gay. You have a thing, you don’t know what it’s called, and finally somebody points it out to you,” she says, recalling as a 19-year-old, she knew a boyfriend had cheated on her because she saw an image of him with another girl.

Woods was a smart teenager but by the time she was 19 or 20, as she continued to see things and hear voices in her head, she thought she was nuts. For a couple of years she partied and tried to obliterate the images she saw and the voices she heard, “but that didn’t work very well. Around that time I was hanging around with some people who were of a more spiritual nature. One day a gal showed me how to read with a deck of cards and then I started seeing things in my rear view mirror and seeing dead people. So I went all over the country looking for help, to Texas, to New York State, and to California. Everyone I met knew less than I did, and they didn’t have the answer to control what was going on. Finally I went to a retreat in Barbados given by John Edwards, and there I met Robert Brown, who’s referred to as the medium’s medium.” Brown lives in Great Britain when not on the road.

Brown became a mentor and helped Woods to learn how to shut off the images and voices in her head at times when she didn’t need the distraction.

At the time, she was in her early to mid-20s, working with computers in the financial services world. She says that Brown “helped me to work with my gift, because I found I couldn’t function. Once he showed me I could control my gift and manage my own participation with the gift, I was able to turn it off and recharge my spirit battery. Once I was able to do that, I was really able to serve and help people,” she says.

Woods has been working as a psychic and medium full-time since 2002, when she left one more in a procession of jobs in the financial services field. Shortly after meeting with Brown in Barbados, Brown got Woods to attend an international week of mediumship in Austria. “That’s where I got the training I really needed,” she says. “I had to learn how to shut it down when I was not working. The only times you should be open is when you’re reading and working for others, teaching, or meditating.”

What does Woods make of people like Sylvia Browne and others who show up on Larry King and Montel Williams “I don’t know Sylvia Browne, and I haven’t had a reading by her, but what I can say is that she and the mediums who are out there in the forefront, on TV, they are opening people’s eyes. They have to have some form of the gift or they wouldn’t have gotten where they are,” she says. “They are doing a job that is not easy and they are taking it on the chin [from skeptics] and frankly, they don’t care.

“Robert Brown’s teacher once said to him: ‘If you’re going to do this kind of work, you need the hide of a rhino and the sensitivity of a deer,’ and he passed that on to me.”

Typically at the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health, Woods meets with a small group of people and goes around the room to read for each of them, receiving messages from their dead relatives. She will occasionally startle someone to the point of tears with the clarity of the messages she is receiving from the other side, but if it helps people work through their grief, the session becomes therapy.

Her suggestion to most people who miss close relatives and friends? “My advice is that you deal with your grief and get out of denial with your grief. Most people stay in denial with their grief, and because of their grief issues, they don’t know their loved ones are present,” she says. “God is just God. He doesn’t do things to us. He’s just there to hold us up when life is painful. Life is beautiful but God is there to hold us up when life gets hard.”

As for those who remain skeptical after seeing one of her readings Woods says, “When we both get to the other side we’ll have a good giggle about it.”

Trish Woods, Medium, Saturday, November 17, 3 to 5 p.m., Princeton Center for Yoga and Health, Route 518, Skillman. $75 (limited to 12 people). www.pcyh.org or 609-924-7294. For more information visit www.trishwoods.com.

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