Psychedelic Integration Therapy
If you're planning on using psychedelics, and want help along your journey, this post will provide introductory information and the answers to frequently asked questions.
We are in the midst of what has been called a “psychedelic renaissance.” Research and interest in psychedelic substances is booming, with various books, interviews, research studies, and conferences popping up regularly. Due to the increasing popularity and interest in psychedelic substances, some people are electing to take substances such as MDMA, psilocybin, or ayahuasca of their own accord, despite their illegal status.
Many people report choosing to take these substances for their mystical, growth, or healing potential, or just for fun. Given this, I am pursuing training in psychedelic therapy and integration for therapeutic use. This blog post is meant to serve as an introduction to psychedelic therapy, as well as provide information about how I practice.
Challenges of Psychedelic Use, and How Psychedelic Integration Can Help
While there are many positive benefits you may have heard anecdotally, in research studies, or in books, there are also some risks. Many substances may evoke intense feelings, paranoia, panic, or physical discomfort, as well as other uncomfortable symptoms. Those who are not properly educated on these side effects or how to sit with emotional discomfort may not be fully prepared for their experience.
Some people may also be unclear about their intentions for taking substances, or not totally confident in how to make meaning of their experiences in a way that is helpful for them. Additionally, the reported researched benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy are inextricably linked to the preparation and integration sessions that are provided in clinical studies.
Psychedelic integration therapy meets the need for intentional preparation, clarity, harm reduction, and proper integration of both challenging and helpful experiences. It helps people who are choosing to use these substances to have the most beneficial experience possible. As a therapist, I aim to help people make meaning in their lives, befriend their emotions, connect to something “bigger” than themselves, and feel more integrated and whole inside. Psychedelic integration helps me meet these intentions while helping clients evaluate and reduce risk if they choose to use psychedelics.
Useful Definitions to Know
Psychedelic preparation: Psychedelic preparation work includes clarifying intentions and motivations for using substances. It helps clients in their decision-making around psychedelics. It also helps clients gain more clarity on the research available. **Psychedelic preparation in a therapeutic context is legal.
Psychedelic harm reduction: Psychedelic harm reduction is a non-directive, non-pathologizing, and non-judgmental approach that supports clients’ own autonomy and decision-making while reducing the potential for harm. **Psychedelic harm reduction is legal.
Psychedelic integration: Psychedelic integration helps people process and make meaning out of psychedelic experiences they have had, especially as it relates to their original intentions, problems they are wanting to work on, and their life as a whole. Psychedelic integration sessions help clients to create or find meaning from their experiences to promote overall wellbeing. **Psychedelic integration is legal.
Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy: Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy involves psychedelic preparation, harm reduction, and integration, as well as therapeutic support while someone is on a substance. Currently, most psychedelic substances (besides ketamine, which is technically a dissociative anesthetic, but is often considered a psychedelic substance) are not legal outside of research trials. Therefore, the only legal way to access psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (other than ketamine) is through participation in a research trial. The laws around this are changing in some states, and may continue to change. I will do my best to update this post if/when laws change, but please double-check the current legal status on your own.
Sacred ceremonies that involve substances: These are events that involve a ceremonial and/or spiritual context where psychedelic substances are offered in an individual or group setting. Since most psychedelic substances are not legal in the USA, most ceremonies happen either underground (illegally) or abroad. Some ceremonies include legal substances (like cacao ceremonies).
Recreational trip: Recreational trips involve taking psychedelic substances for fun, pleasure, or leisure, alone or with others. In most cases, this is not currently legal in the USA.
Microdosing: Microdosing involves taking a sub-perceptual dose of a psychedelic substance, such as LSD or psilocybin. To date, there isn't much research on microdosing, but users tend to report that they perceive enhanced creativity and healing benefits. **Microdosing is not considered legal in most cases in the USA.
Trip sitting: Trip sitting involves having someone, either a friend or someone with training and experience, to be with you while you are under the influence of a psychedelic substance in order to support you and reduce risks. Trip sitting is not something I am able to legally provide.
What I Do and Do Not Offer
Due to the current laws around psychedelic use, I do NOT provide psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (besides ketamine), sacred ceremonies with illegal substances, recreational trips, or trip sitting. However, I CAN offer psychedelic preparation, harm reduction, and integration.
**An important note: please do your own research on the current legal status of any substances you are planning on using. I may have left out some substances I do not know, you may be located in a different state or country, or the laws might have changed since I wrote this post.
At this point, you may want more clarity on what I can and cannot do as a psychedelic integration therapist. This information is provided below.
What I Can Do as a Psychedelic Integration Therapist
I can help you find and clearly understand your motivations and intentions for taking or not taking a substance
I can guide you to be aware of the current legal status of different substances, to the best of my knowledge
I can educate you on the current research regarding different substances in clinical trials
I can provide you with a supportive, non-judgmental, and non-directive approach that will respect your autonomy, support healthy decision-making, and reduce harm
I will aim to to increase safety and reduce harm if you decide to take a substance on your own
What I Cannot and Will Not Do as a Psychedelic Integration Therapist
I will not advise you to take a specific substance. I will also not tell you which substances are right for you
I will not advise you on how much of a certain substance to take
I will not tell you about retreat centers or practitioners, either in the USA or abroad, who you should work with
I will not tell you where to obtain illegal substances
I will not provide you with illegal substances
I will not sit with you as a trip sitter or a therapist while you are under the influence of a substance (besides ketamine or any other substances that have been legalized)
How I Offer Psychedelic Integration Therapy
At the time of writing, I do not offer psychedelic integration therapy as a stand-alone or short-term service. I offer it as part of a wider therapeutic relationship. This is because I like to take the time to get to know my clients and help them make sense of their psychedelic experiences within the wider context of their healing and growth work.
How Transpersonal Therapy Aids in Psychedelic Preparation and Integration
I practice transpersonal therapy, which is holistic. It includes not only the mental, emotional, relational, and physical aspects of the self, but also the spiritual aspect. Many psychedelic-assisted and psychedelic integration therapists include transpersonal methods in their approach. This is because transpersonal therapy embraces and emphasizes the mystical side of the human experience. Since many people report having mystical experiences while taking psychedelics, transpersonal therapy is is uniquely positioned to help people integrate their experiences.
Under the transpersonal therapy umbrella, I offer Internal Family Systems Therapy, Depth Hypnosis, and Applied Shamanic Counseling. Under a holistic umbrella, I offer TRE and mindfulness. With a combination of these methods, I am able to help you access non-ordinary, or altered, states of consciousness substance-free (NOSCs).
Benefits of Transpersonal Therapy
Promoting safety and emotional wellbeing: All of these methods can help people learn tools that help them feel safer in their emotions and bodies. This is helpful during psychedelic experiences and for general emotional wellness skills in daily life
Preparing for an altered state: Some people find that Depth Hypnosis, IFS, and Shamanic Counseling can help prepare them for the altered states of consciousness they will experience using substances
Providing familiarity with NOSCs: Since transpersonal therapy frequently helps you access NOSCs for therapeutic benefits, I am no stranger to the "wacky and weird" experiences people may have on substances, since they can be similar to dreams, shamanic journeys, hypnotic states, or IFS work. Therefore, transpersonal therapy helps train you to interpret mystical experiences, which can help you prepare for and integrate them. This is a trait pretty unique to transpersonal therapy that isn't included in other therapeutic methods, and something I love about it!
An alternative to psychedelics: Other people are interested in the psychedelic experience, but do not want to engage in illegal substance use. These people may find that substance-free NOSCs are a good substitute for psychedelics
Integration support: Others find that substance-free access to NOSCs helps them integrate their psychedelic experiences
Overall therapeutic support: Substance-free access to NOSCs can be beneficial in future therapy work, whether you plan on continuing to use substances or not
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you going to judge me for taking psychedelics? No. I take a non-judgmental approach in all of my therapy work. I will not shame you or assume that you have a problem. I am aware that scientific research exists that supports psychedelics for their healing and growth potential.
Are you going to tell the cops that I’m using psychedelics? No. As a therapist, everything you tell me is confidential, including illegal drug use. The only limits to confidentiality are if I believe you or another person is in danger (ie, you reveal suicidal or homicidal plans, or that an elder or child is being abused).
Are you going to convince me to take a psychedelic? No. Just because I offer psychedelic integration therapy does not mean I encourage or push psychedelic use. My intention is to help you in your own decision-making process.
Are you going to convince me NOT to take a psychedelic? No. Again, I support your own autonomy and decision-making process. If you are planning to take psychedelics, I will ask you questions to help you gain clarity on your intentions and safety measures.
I heard that (insert substance) will help with my (depression, trauma, anxiety, relationship issues, etcetera.) Can you tell me if it is a good idea to take it? As stated above, I will never tell you that you should take an illegal psychedelic substance. I understand that some people want a professional to tell you what you should and shouldn't do, but this isn't something I can provide. However, I can educate you on the scientific research and harm reduction, if you do decide to take them on your own.
If you told me information in our session about clinical trial outcomes or any other information about psychedelics, does this mean you think I should take them? No. I am merely equipping you with knowledge that you are then responsible for taking, or not taking, into account as you make your decisions.
Will you sit with me while I take a psychedelic to provide therapy or emotional support? Psychedelic-assisted therapy and psychedelic integration therapy are two different things. Since psychedelic-assisted therapy is currently not legal (outside of ketamine or clinical trials), I do not offer therapeutic or sitting services.
But why? Isn't it more effective if you are there with me? Whether it is more effective or not, it is not something I am willing to provide. This may change if/when the laws do. Stay tuned!
Okay okay, I guess you can't be there with me. Can I meet with you after I take a psychedelic to help me process my experience? Yes. You can meet with me when you are no longer under the influence of a substance. This could be the next day or later.
How many psychedelic integration sessions will I need? Most clinical trials involve several preparation and several integration sessions. I use this as a benchmark, but if you want more or less sessions, I support your autonomy. You may find that you are continuing to integrate your experience for months or years, and if you continue therapy for a while, you may find that your psychedelic experiences continue to resurface and make more sense as you continue your inner work journey.
I've read about the benefits of psychedelic therapy for severe and treatment-resistant issues, such as depression and PTSD. This is what I need help with. Can you help me? I too, have read about these benefits, and I'm excited for new developments in the field that can support people with these issues! Some studies have shown benefits for severe and treatment-resistant issues with substances such as psilocybin and MDMA. It is important to note that these benefits were shown with a treatment team, screening process, prescribing psychiatrist, preparation sessions, several psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions (often with co-therapists), a special set and setting, and integration sessions. Unfortunately, these substances aren't currently legal to the general public outside of clinical trials. Therefore, people electing to use these substances outside of clinical trials will be doing so illegally, without a prescribing psychiatrist, often without an established treatment setting, without a screening process, and without psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. As noted elsewhere, I do not provide psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy with substances that are currently illegal. The only thing I can provide is preparation and integration. This is a different set-up than clinical studies, and may produce different results. Those who are planning to use these substances for severe and treatment-resistant issues are urged to use caution and to have appropriate supports in place before using substances. As a therapist, my primary goal is your safety and wellbeing. Depending on the severity if your issue, my stance may be that it is out of my scope or that you would need more help than is currently legal to use substances safely. My ability to help you will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but please be aware that I may not be able to help you if I think you need a higher level of care. I generally work with clients who feel functionally stable and have coping tools and skills in place before doing deeper work. I tend not to work with crisis situations or severe mental health issues, since these are often best helped with a comprehensive clinical team. I am a one-woman show and I cannot provide the level of care that a treatment team can. You may be able to find another provider who feels more confident in this area. Things may change as these substances become legalized, so stay tuned!
Will you tell me how much of a substance to take? No, I will not.
Can you help me gain clarity on whether I want to take a substance on my own? Yes, I can! I provide unbiased support in your own decision-making process.
Can you help me learn things or put things in place so that I can make my planned psychedelic experience as safe as possible? Absolutely! This is a major part of psychedelic preparation.
I had an experience with a psychedelic substance already. Can you help me make sense of it? Yes. This falls under psychedelic integration. You are not required to have done preparation work in order to do post-experiential integration with me, although it is encouraged.
Will you tell me where to find the substance I want? You can obtain ketamine legally for medicinal use at some clinics. You may be able to access other substances by participating in clinical trials. Other than that, I do not provide any referrals or resources that will help you find illegal substances. I am firm about practicing legally.
I am planning to take ketamine infusions at a clinic. Can you help provide therapeutic support during or after my sessions? I am currently in the process of expanding my knowledge about ketamine. Please reach out to me to discuss whether I am currently offering this option. I may be able to provide support during sessions, either in-person or via telehealth.
Can you give me ketamine? I am not a psychiatrist (meaning I do not prescribe medications). Therefore, I cannot give you ketamine. However, you can find a ketamine clinic that may be able to prescribe it for you. A quick google search of “ketamine (your location)" should yield some options for you.
Can you help me access altered states of consciousness legally? Yes, absolutely. I can do this through depth hypnosis, shamanic counseling, dream work, or internal family systems therapy. All of these methods involve accessing altered states of consciousness for their healing, growth, and mystical potential. They do not require substances of any kind. They may be a good alternative if you decide you do not want to take substances illegally.
I want psychedelic integration help, but I'm not interested in therapy. Can you meet with me just a few times? At this time, I am not offering short-term psychedelic integration-only work. I prefer to fit psychedelic integration into a wider therapeutic context. Therefore, I am willing to work with you on this if you are a pre-existing client of mine, or are intending to commit to several sessions (ideally 12+ sessions at minimum).
If I'm under the influence of psychedelics and I'm having a really hard time, can I call you? Unfortunately, no. This is because I do not function as an on-call therapist and I may not see your call or be available when needed. Luckily, there is an organization called the Fireside Project that provides a free psychedelic support crisis line. Their number is (623) 473-7433 and you can call or text them for support.
What training do you have? I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in Missouri and a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Illinois. I am also level 3 trained in IFS, a certified TRE provider, I hold a certificate in Depth Hypnosis, and I am a Certified Applied Shamanic Counselor. Additionally, I have taken classes and workshops on IFS and psychedelics, 2 psychedelic integration and preparation classes (one from more of a clinical perspective through Fluence, and the other from a more transpersonal perspective through The Foundation of the Sacred Stream.) I am also currently enrolled in the Integrative Psychiatry Institute's year-long Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy Training, which will certify me as a Certified Psychedelic Assisted Therapist, as well as qualify me to be a MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapist through MAPS. While I am currently learning and expanding my knowledge, there may be limits to what I know. I do my best to serve you within my expertise and scope of practice.
Now that you know the basics of psychedelic integration therapy, you may feel confident in reaching out to me for help. If so, please fill out my booking form here. Please mention that you are interested in psychedelic integration support. If you already know which substances you're wanting to engage with, please include that information as well. Thanks for reading!
I have completed a training course in Psychedelic Integration Therapy through Fluence, Preparing and Integrating Plant Medicine Experiences through the Foundation of the Sacred Stream, and an Intro to Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy for IFS practitioners class. This blog post is informed by these trainings, as well as my other therapy trainings. It is written specifically for people wanting to pursue PIT with me. The information here may or may not be applicable to PIT with other providers.