RESOURCES: Psychedelic integration

Psychedelic integration is the process by which experiences with sacred medicine can be incorporated over time into one’s life in a way that benefits the individual and the community. Integration is one of the key concepts that animates the current reawakening of interest in the use of psychedelics for healing and personal transformation.

Just as proper preparation – attention to the set and setting — can determine how a person navigates the powerful and sometimes challenging experience of teacher plants and master molecules, skillful integration can help turn a jumble of images, sensations, disorienting and sometimes emotionally difficult moments into a coherent and meaningful exploration. It is the process through which the work is sealed, a sacred pause to ground the insight that’s gained, a way to capture the essence of the session before adding another big experience.

In December 2018 I completed a year-long training in psychedelics-assisted psychotherapy at California Institute for Integral Studies. After being suspended for three decades, renewed clinical research has shown that psychedelics can have a profound impact in treating a variety of mental, physical, and spiritual ailments. Based on the research that has already been done, it looks likely that these treatments will be approved for general usage in the near future, and at that time I will be available to work with patients who can benefit from these treatments. Meanwhile, I have training and experience in psychedelic integration therapy, helping individuals who use psychedelics for their own personal/spiritual growth to process their experiences in a safe environment.

Besides the treatment of concrete mental and physical ailments such as trauma, anxiety, and substance dependency, it seems clear that psychedelics also have potential for addressing the core spiritual and existential challenges of cultivating freedom, compassion, self-acceptance, and facing death without fear, which are values near and dear to my heart.

psychedelic illo by Adam Psybe
illustration by Adam Psybe

Sacred medicine ceremonies can release a backlog of emotions, and once the dam bursts, the emotions continue to surface after the ceremony when everyone’s gone home. For people with histories of trauma, the symptoms can get a lot worse when they start coming up. In that vulnerable state, it can be valuable to have someone in your life with whom you feel free and safe to talk through your experience, if not a close friend then a therapist.

After a ceremony, it’s important to rest, hydrate, nourish your body, and spend time in low-stimulation environments, especially in nature. Meditation is a useful tool for being still and paying attention to the emotions and sensations that emerge in the wake of a psychedelic journey. I’m available to help you cultivate practices for self-care and grounding, such as yoga, aquatherapy (warm baths, cold showers, swimming, surfing), acupuncture, physical touch (massage or simple holding/cuddling), and emotional awareness. It’s a good idea to pay attention to diet, gravitating toward comfort foods (warm soups and stews, root vegetables, beets, burdock root, dandelion root tea) and steering clear of those stimulants and psychoactive substances (alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines) that counteract the process of slowing down, grounding, and listening to the natural rhythms of your body.

The job of integration is to be present and to hold onto the perspective that an inner healing intelligence is at work while the process of healing unfolds.

Please note: Psychedelics are currently illegal outside of FDA-approved research settings. I do not recommend clients ever self-administer medicines of unknown quality as they can have serious psychiatric and medical ramifications. However, I do recognize the need for clients to process mystical experiences with a knowledgeable therapist. I also work with clients returning from indigenous contexts outside the US who have participated in sacred plant ceremonies. And I support the movement for cognitive liberty and those endeavoring to change the laws to make these medicines safely and affordably available to those who can benefit from them.

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