By Angela Salazar
Updated May 16, 2016 @ 11:30 am
Monica the Medium lead
Credit: Freeform/Rick Rowell

It happened by chance (as a supernatural encounter should, I suppose). I was at an event chatting with trend forecaster and all-around lifestyle guru Jane Buckingham. Somehow the conversation turned to Monica Ten-Kate, a 22-year-old medium and college student who lived in Buckingham’s guesthouse for a brief period of time. The two women both have television shows on Freeform, which is how they came to know each other. Buckingham couldn’t stop raving about Ten-Kate, better known by her show name, Monica the Medium, and her uncanny ability to connect with people who have passed. My curiosity was piqued, so Buckingham immediately connected with Ten-Kate’s representative. An appointment was scheduled and within a few days, Ten-Kate was sitting in InStyle's Los Angeles office, making believers out of six jaded editors.

Monica the Medium embed 1
Credit: Freeform/Rick Rowell

The Private Reading
If you’re like us, you’ve probably seen Ten-Kate’s show or something similar, like Long Island Medium (TLC) or The Hollywood Medium (E!). It’s easy to dismiss the on-air readings as staged encounters with well researched clients—until you have one yourself.

Ten-Kate did an in-depth private reading with me before diving into the spirit worlds of our entire group. “I will feel, hear, sense, and see all at the same time,” she explained about her process of receiving messages. “I’ll hear a sentence or a couple of words and then I’ll see symbols as part of my ‘spirit dictionary,’” or her accumulated knowledge of spiritual imagery.

For the intimate one-on-one session, Ten-Kate and I sat in a private room. She asked that we take a moment to close our eyes and quiet any outside noise so she could better connect with the other side. After a minute, she began scribbling in her notebook and telling me who was “stepping forward.” (Note: Her publicist arranged the meeting so Ten-Kate claimed she did not know who she was meeting with in advance.)

First, she acknowledged that I had strong grandparent energy around me. OK, so all of my grandparents have passed; not hard to guess. But what came next was too specific to be coincidence. Seeking validation for the messages she was receiving, she asked if I had one brother. Check. She asked who the “M-A-R” female name was. My mom. She felt strong pressure in her forehead and asked if my grandmother had Alzheimer's. She did. Shocker: My grandmother apparently wanted to discuss my romantic life. Ten-Kate brought up some points that were so spot-on they would have been hard to guess, even if she had done a thorough background check. She also spoke about personal family dynamics that just would have been impossible for her know, and used language that definitely sounded like my grandmother’s.

In an odd twist, Ten-Kate then mentioned a spirit stepping forward who was unconnected to me but was connected to someone else in the office. She said that sometimes spirits will try to relay messages through any person they believe can reach their loved ones. This man, who gave his exact name, would have been connected to a colleague who no longer works at InStyle, and his message was extremely personal and specific to her. So I will be passing it along because, who am I to say if it’s real or not? Perhaps it will bring some healing either way.

Finally, Ten-Kate asked if there was anyone I was hoping to hear from that had not come through yet. I gave a name and within minutes she was rattling off details of a friend’s untimely death. Again, too specific for her to have guessed or to have known from any prior research.

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Credit: Freeform/Rick Rowell

The Group Reading
Nearly wiped out from all of my spirits—namely my strong-willed Italian grandmother—Ten-Kate made no promises for our group reading. “To connect to spirit takes so much energy,” she said. “So, I shouldn’t try to force anything.” But as soon as our staff members were gathered around her, she began zeroing in on people and delivering details about their deceased family members.

Did your father own snakeskin cowboy boots? Did he have lung cancer or emphysema? She asked our bureau chief, who was brought to tears as Ten-Kate named family members (often by name) and significant mementos. As she did so, a few things seemed slightly off, and she casually dismissed them as “for someone else.” Soon, she turned to the staff member sitting next to our bureau chief and dove into her family history as well. Turns out, those mismatched details from our bureau chief were actually like crossed spirit wires, meant for the person sitting next to her. It’s what Ten-Kate calls “piggybacking,” when the messages coming through are actually for a person in close proximity to the person having the reading. This time she rapid-fired family connections, illnesses, and personal details (cowboy hats!); things none of us could have possibly known but that held great significance for our coworker. Basically, blowing everyone away with her uncanny abilities, just as Jane Buckingham had described.

When asked how she discovered her talent, Ten-Kate told us, “At first I thought I might have a brain tumor or be schizofrantic or something, but over time as I realized it brought so much healing to people, I saw that it was a positive thing. When it started happening with strangers I was like, ‘Ok, this is not a coincidence or a lucky guess, this is happening.”

Still not convinced? Judge for yourself by watching Ten-Kate’s show tonight.

Monica the Medium airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Freeform.