When Chip Coffey was a small child, he knew he had a special ability: He would anticipate the phone ringing in his house, and he knew who was on the other line. By the age of 10, he was giving private psychic readings.

These days, Coffey, the great-grandson of a famous Native American medicine woman, has honed his abilities for a career in the growing field of paranormal communication. He is one of the most renowned psychics and mediums in the country, and he is a regular guest on TV programs like “Psychic Kids” and “Paranormal State.” His new book is “Growing Up Psychic,” a memoir about his own experiences as a child blessed with an unusual ability, mixed with observations about the numerous psychic kids he’s helped in his career.

Here, Coffey fielded my questions in his only interview with the South Florida press.

Is your job fun?

It’s the best job in the world, and I have the best boss in the universe.

Who’s your boss?

God.

Is it still an exciting job? Is it something you can get jaded doing?

Wow, that is a good question … my job is still fun. I love my job – the idea that I can in some way facilitate helping people to push forward with their lives or find healing or comfort or to grow in some capacity. I think, like anybody, there are days that I’d rather be doing something else than working, but I think that’s normal and typical with anybody. Those days are few and far between, because I do love what I do, and I feel like I’m living my dream. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do at a time when I’m supposed to be here, and I feel blessed by that. 

For the psychic kids that you write about in your book, do you transcend being a medium, and do you have to take on the role of therapist for them as well?

I don’t know that I want to use the word therapist. I’d rather use ‘mentor.’ I mentor the kids. We had mental health clinicians there to take on the role of therapist, but I tried to be a guide or an educator or a friend or a mentor to these kids and help them and their families to be in a better place after we work with them than they were when they began the process of working with us.

Why do children seem to be more sensitive to the spirit world?

You used a great word – I think they’re less jaded sometimes. As we get older, we get so absorbed in this third-dimensional world. We get assaulted by technology and wrapped up in things that are going on around us in this third-dimensional world, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because I think we came here to experience life and the human existence. But I think that might be one of the reasons. I don’t necessarily know that I have an answer, but that may complicate things sometimes for being able to establish some communication with another dimension like the spirit world.

Part of your book is also about skeptics and nonbelievers. How do you deal with them?

I’m a skeptical person. I don’t buy everything hook, line and sinker. I’m somebody that says, “OK, show me, or let me experience it, or let me see for myself what’s going on.” The problem I have with most people who label themselves as skeptics is this: They don’t fit the classic definition of skeptics. They basically want to be aggressive or derisive toward those who have a different viewpoint or belief system than they do. They tend to be offensive in a lot of instances and aggressively pursue their own agendas, and harass other people who think or believe what they don’t think or believe. That’s a problem. I’m not here to convince or convert anybody to my ways of thinking. You’re given a brain for a reason. Use it! Form your own belief system. Form your own opinions.

And that’s the problem I have with skeptics or disbelievers as a whole. They can’t understand the whole concept of, “It’s not necessary for you to believe what I believe or vice versa.” How do I deal with them? For the most part, I try to ignore them, and that isn’t always easy. They can be very aggressive and very vocal.

Because you’re such a public figure, do people stop you on the street and request free readings?

Not often. People are pretty respectful. Sometimes they’ll ask for a photograph or an autograph or whatever. I get asked mostly on Facebook and Twitter. People will ask me for psychic advice or readings, and I just politely tell them that I don’t do that – it’s what I do for a living, and I direct them to my website if they’d like to avail themselves of a reading with me.

If someone thinks they have an ability to communicate with the other side, how do they perfect that ability?

I don’t know that there’s one prescriptive method for being able to do that. I think there’s a variety of different ways. I’m a strong proponent of “Ask and you shall receive,” and be patient with it. Some people are going to be excellent at it, and some people are rarely, if ever, going to get something. Why is that? I don’t know. But it’s just the way it is from my experience. Be open to it. Be open to receive information, not necessarily to constantly be wanting it or craving it, but just kind of let it happen when it happens and be open to the experience if it does.

Some people take classes, sit in psychic circles, or listen to CDs and watch DVDs about how to make this happen, or read books. I don’t know if there’s a training class on how to do this that’s definitely going to work, but as with anything else, I tell people to try everything until something works, and just be happy with what you get.

Can we communicate with spirits who have already passed on to the other side, or are all the ones we can speak to grounded here in a state of limbo for a reason?

I believe there is a strong difference between a ghost and a spirit. I think that when we die, the essence of who we are, which I call the soul, departs the shell or the body. And when that happens, there’s a decision to be made to complete the process of continuing on to the spirit world, summerland, Heaven, whatever you want to call it. Free will does not end at death. For a variety of reasons, some souls, when they know that they’re dead, when they are faced with the challenge of staying put or moving ahead, some souls think, “Oh crap. I’ve not been the most exemplary person in my life. I’ve done some things that I’m not proud of. I’m going to be judged harshly whenever I get to wherever I’m going. I’m going to stay put, or family members are grieving, or the soul feels like it has unfinished business. Whatever the reason, some souls elect not to finish that transition, and some because they don’t realize they’re dead. That’s what I call a ghost.

A spirit, however, is an entity that I say has gone, ‘I’m OK with what’s happened here.’ They may stay on the Earth plane for a while, but then eventually they’ll make that transition and go to the light, go to Heaven, go to the spirit world, and they often do come back to check in with the living world, those that they loved or places that they’d been. And that to me is a spirit.

I personally don’t encounter a lot of earthbound energies. Maybe it’s just me. But I hear a lot of people say, “We’ve got to help this person cross over.” How are you going to do that? If they’re in spirit and they can’t figure it out on their own and you’re a human being, how are you going to help them cross over? I think that’s a process that they’re going to do, and maybe it’s a process of their own soul’s evolution that they need to stay here and finish up some unfinished business, and then hopefully continue on with the process.

As good as you are, have you ever been wrong about a sense that you’ve gotten about a place or a person?

Oh, sure. I don’t ever profess to being 100 percent correct. I’m not all-knowing, all-seeing. I leave that job up to some thing, some energy, that’s bigger and better than I am.