Residual hauntings are those types of hauntings that you hear about when noises such as footsteps or actions such as an apparition walking down the hall happen in a location on a set time. This set time could be at a certain time or day to mark some anniversary close to the event of the spirit who is there.
These types of hauntings occur due to energy being released into an environment and the matter in that environment holding onto it. Over time, the matter slowly seeps out this energy as a sponge loses water and these events or energy imprints can be perceived by humans. Some people are more inclined to pick up these events than others. Types of perception include auditory, olfactory, and visual.
An example of a residual haunting would be if a man got up exactly at 5 a.m. each morning, went downstairs and cooked himself breakfast for an X amount of years. When the man passes away, a new couple moves into his house and soon begin to notice the sounds of footsteps down the stairs around 5 a.m. and smell the scent of breakfast soon after.
Residual hauntings are not able to communicate with the living since they are nothing more than an energy imprint.
Crisis apparitions are the most common type of apparitions that are told as personal stories and hit home the hardest. These are also the shortest type of "hauntings."
Crisis apparitions are the soul or spirit of a loved one coming back to their loved ones to just say goodbye. These usually occur within 48 hours of the death of the loved one. However, these visits come from spirits that may have died years before hand and the reason for these visits is to help guide the living loved one with a certain experience such as a long grieving period, upcoming change, or just prelonged stress from daily duties.
These usually happen in dreams or the waking state, which is the state of consciousness that you are in when your eyes are starting to close or just opened from sleep. Spirits find it easier to contact the living because not only do you lower your "social learning walls" (the perception walls that a person puts up because society's values have made you think that way; i.e. ghosts do not exist) and the section of your brain that is active during the dream state is also active in most psychics. Basically, you switch your thinking pattern for the ability to receive information in a passive state rather than a conscious assertive manner (having the ability to filter out information that is given to you).
How do you know if you have had a crisis apparition dream? These types of dreams usually will stick with you more than others. Usually people will forget these dreams but if you have a visit from the spirit world, you will have the dream stick with you for hours after you have it. You may want to check on information in this dream and see if it has any value for you in the waking world. These visits may happen to a person due to the spirits need to say goodbye, deliver a message, or to give guidance to the living.
Portal hauntings and mysterious doorways are the most discussed and controversial type of activity that one can find in a haunted location. Many people think that these are doorways from one parallel dimension to another.
These doors are opened due to the extreme release of energy such as that from a soul unexpectedly being ripped from a body. This can be done by a traumatic event such as a extreme murder or unexpected fatality.
These types of hauntings are said to have a constant, unexplainable cold spot in the area where the door is. Often times when photos are taken, vortices are spotted and this is due to the energy swirl that is causing this rift in the fabric of the two dimensions.
But that is the theoretical explanation and as we all know, ghosts are a very controversial subject when it comes to theories, which holds about 95% of all we know about spirits and ghosts.
For a more detailed description of a portal haunting, check out Troy Taylor's explanation at his website.
The Traditional, or sometimes referred to as an Intelligent, haunting is the most commonly talked about haunting phenomena, although it doesn't happen all that often.
The spirit is often referred to as a personality of someone once living but has stayed in this world after the living flesh is long gone. The cause of this parting of personality and flesh is often the direct cause of a traumatic event such as a murder, suicide, or because of some "unfinished business." Sometimes the spirit sticks around due to the strong emotional ties it still believes it has in this world such as love or anger.
The spirit may also exhibit what is called by many to be the Sixth Sense effect where a person dies but doesn't realize it. The spirit will continue to resume its life as if it never had ended and thus causes problems for anyone living that shares the space with this entity.
So simply put these ghosts are the soul, or the energy remains of the human body, after the living flesh is gone. These interactive spirits are often thought to be the work of the devil and evil but that isn't always the case because not everyone in life was evil. How they were in life is the way that these types of ghosts will be in death.
If a person was mean in life, they often are "negative" energies that can be quite interesting. These are the types of spirits that can on occasion cause harm to the living such as bruises, scratches, lacerations, and physically tossing objects at living organisms. This is probably why this type of spirit is the most talked about! These types of spirits exhibit "poltergeist-like" activity but are not technically poltergeists.
So how are these types of spirits released or "busted?" Well after a bit of investigation and research, you should find out the history of the location and most importantly who lived there in the past. Once you pinpoint who could be sticking around to haunt the location, you may be able to figure out why they are still there. Sometimes psychics can help you get information but be careful when you deal with psychics! You may get false information if you don't get a genuine psychic or sensitive.
So now that you have figured out why the spirit is at the location and who they are, you get to play the role of spirit psychologist and work with the spirit past its ethereal ties. Whether it is a message to a loved one, finding hidden objects, or helping them get past their anger, most of the time you will get rid of the spirit once you complete a mission for them and remove their ties to this plane.
If this doesn't work, it would be a good time for the current occupants to seek other help from local clergy or to just simply declare to the spirit that this is now their home. If the spirit is not a nuisance, the family may just be okay living with the spirit which is the easiest possible solution.