They claim to be able to open up the unexplored worlds of the subconscious and even the afterlife to people searching for answers.

Psychics are most often used as a source of guidance and wellbeing, but alternative therapist Gary Markwick, of Grove Road, North Finchley, may also have taken a hand in predicting the outcome of the forthcoming American presidential elections.

As a practising palm reader in Camden, he was approached by a national newspaper last month to read a hand print of Democrat candidate Barack Obama, 46, during his UK visit.

“It was really interesting. I knew it was a politician and I was told afterwards that it was a very accurate reading of him,” said Mr Markwick, who has also read the palms of celebrities, including the former Eastenders actress Gillian Taylforth and the television and radio broadcaster Phill Jupitus.

In his reading of Obama’s palm, he stated: “He will take on a new project that will affect his life and the lives of others in a big way.

“His success will reach a peak around the age of 48.”

He added: “The Middle East is showing up here.

I feel they are going to be involved with this part of the world in the future.”

But palmistry is only one aspect of Mr Markwick’s grasp of the paranormal.

Having studied reiki at Barnet College and wellness therapies in India, he is also a clairvoyant and holistic therapist. He believes the future of health lies in adapting psychic techniques to work alongside mainstream medicine.

As an expert in reiki, he says its healing principles can be adapted within hospitals and among nurses to improve patient care and promote a greater understanding and support for those in need.

The technique is said to work by channelling energy into a patient through touch to activate the natural healing process within the body.

“I want to help others to help themselves,” said the 56-year-old, who has been studying the skills for more than 20 years.

“At the moment, people are lost. They are searching for something and need to look within themselves to have that positivity, and more people are opening up towards this way of thinking.”

He added: “I want to teach nurses and get them to open up to the possibilities and powers of reiki. It will be a great benefit to them and make it much easier for the medical profession to move forward.

“If the nurses know the technique, they can heal at the same time as raising their level of consciousness, making them more aware of what is going on around them in the hospitals.”

Coming from a family of eccentric magicians and performers, including a grandfather who once jumped from a plane in a straight jacket, he has always believed he had a natural psychic ability.

“I read psychic cards with my grandparents and was always aware of spirituality although I never knew how to use it. But now, through training, I have learnt to channel that energy,” he said.

“I want to teach people how to heal themselves. We are all healers — we just don’t know how to do it.”

He admitted he always encounters sceptics, but argues his analysis and perceptions of events shows doubters there is scope for belief.

“I say nothing at all to the sceptics,” he said.

“I just give them the reading and look at their faces after, and their guard goes down.

“There is a delight in their face and a change in them. They often say ‘I didn’t believe in it but now I feel totally different,’” he added.

“I am very practical. I don’t go off and try to spook them — I am trying to promote positivity in their lives through being a therapist.”