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Don't call her a psychic: 'Intuitive counselor' Susan King sets up shop at Hotel Bel-Air

At first blush, Susan King seems like the type of person you'd meet at a neighborhood pub in London after work: cheerful, bubbly, given to exuberant exclamation. There's nothing about her personality that gives you a sense of what she does for a living. She calls herself an "intuitive counselor" and sees clients several weeks a year at the Hotel Bel-Air (her next "residence" is scheduled for Nov. 4-9). A 60-minute counseling session costs $500.

What's the difference between an intuitive counselor and a psychic, channel, clairvoyant or medium?

Some words carry lots of unintended baggage. In Europe you don't hear "channel"; you do hear "medium." Mediums are generally people who say they can have direct contact with people no longer living. That's not what I do. I call myself an intuitive because I think it takes away any barriers and removes potential erroneous stereotyping. Intuition is something everyone "gets" and wants. I recall a business magazine article claiming intuition — or "going with their gut" — was the common denominator of the 10 most successful men in the United States.

So what exactly do you do?

When I meet someone for counseling or even just look at a photo of them, a visual image comes to my mind's eye. It's not like I go into a trance state or anything, or hear voices, like in the movie "Ghost," though I loved Whoopi Goldberg's Oda Mae Brown. This image just pops up when I concentrate on the person or their photo, and then I invoke some impressions. The client doesn't have to tell me any of their background.

When did you first recognize this talent?

I wouldn't call it a talent — perhaps an ability that has grown stronger over many years. ... In my teens — you're going to think I'm a nut case — I would sit in my bathroom a nose length away from the mirror for hours on end, looking for something inside me, because I was sure there was something there, other than body parts. I guess I thought if I looked long and hard enough, I would find my soul.

Did you?

Not exactly. But when I was 19, I realized I saw things other people didn't see. But I didn't know what to do with it. Because I am very practical and knew that it would be very hard to make a living as an intuitive — to say the least — I went into pharmaceutical sales for several years. It fit in with my lifelong interest in health and healing. Then somewhere in my mid 20s I was in an auto accident; the car rolled over and I bumped my head. That left me with a headache for five days. A few weeks later was when I really started to see things in a clearer light. At first it was frustrating because I saw all these images — like I'd see you on a hilltop surrounded by white flowers. It took me about five years to be able to interpret them, and longer to accurately predict which way things would go. That was when I thought this was my true calling.

So when you look into your own crystal ball, so to speak, what do you see?

I do not sit and focus on what is in my future; sometimes I just instinctively know when something is coming at me. I would rather walk the path of life and weather the seas as I walk toward them, without too much advance notice. I try to be in the moment with my own life.

health@latimes.com

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