So, you’ve decided to seek integration support. Whether you’re trying to decipher a confusing journey or looking for someone to help you explore a specific domain of your life through psychedelics, it’s vital to do your due diligence on who that person is. Not every psychedelic integration coach or therapist will be a good fit for you, and it’s worth spending the time to find someone who is able to meet your needs and provides the safest container possible.
In order to find the right coach or therapist, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. We’ve put together the top considerations to help you find the right psychedelic integration therapist or coach for you.
Deciphering the Credentials of Integration Providers
The number of abbreviations and letter combinations that can come after an integration provider’s name can be confusing for individuals seeking support.
The most common types of formal training include psychiatrists (MD), who can diagnose mental health conditions and prescribe medications, and clinical psychologists (PsyD, Ph.D.), who also undergo extensive training to obtain a doctorate and provide therapy, amongst other things.
Integration coaches or therapists may do Master’s degrees to become a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) or licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT). Qualified LPCCs can provide counseling for mental health conditions or emotional issues, while LMFTs treat mental and emotional problems in the context of an individual’s family or support network.
A psychedelic integration coach or therapist may also come from a social work background, and be classified as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). LCSWs have a Master’s degree and can undertake training to be able to provide therapy. They may also take into account their client’s families and communities, and integrate this into their approach.
In addition to seeking out a licensed professional, you might also want to look into psychedelic integration coaches. While coaches are not governed by an overarching regulatory body, many bring a unique skill set to their practice which allows for deep integration. Coaches may be trained in modalities such as somatic release, breathwork, and mindfulness. Read more here on the differences between a coach and a therapist.
Specific Expertise of Therapists and Coaches
When looking for an integration coach or therapist to help you on your path, it’s vital to consider your specific needs and how the expertise of a provider may match up with them.
For example, if you’re seeking support for a mental health condition such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or an eating disorder, it’s important to make sure the provider you choose has experience treating these conditions. If you’re looking for someone who can advise you on certain medications and contraindications, a licensed psychiatrist or clinical psychologist would be best equipped for that.
The expertise of a provider might also extend to other types of goals and intentions that you have for your integration process. If you’re seeking integration support to help you perform better professionally, improve your self-image, or work on your relationships, for example, there are therapists and coaches out there that can help with those specific domains too.
Make sure to ask any potential provider questions about their experience and expertise, and outcomes they’ve seen in previous clients with similar goals.
Considering Belief Systems
For those who identify with different religious or spiritual belief systems, it’s important to consider whether knowledge or experience of that belief system is something that’s important in your integration provider.
It might be the case that you simply need them to be open to those beliefs, or instead, you might prefer that they have a deeper knowledge of that framework.
“I think there’s a case for niche integration providers who understand your existing spiritual framework,” says Liam Farquhar, integration specialist, legal psychedelic guide, and founder of Brighter Pathways.
“Look for someone who is open, who will meet you where you’re at, who isn’t prescriptive, but then if you have an existing spiritual or religious framework, it might be helpful to seek out someone who understands that well,” he explains.
Shared Lived Experience
In a similar sense, an individual seeking healing through psychedelic integration support may prefer the person who holds that container to have certain things in common with them, whether race, sexuality, gender identity, or other. Those who come from marginalized groups may feel more comfortable with a specialist who understands that experience on a personal level.
“People of color, particularly Black individuals, have specific types of trauma (e.g. ancestral trauma) that not all facilitators have the understanding or capacity to handle,” says Robin Divine, founder of Black People Trip and psychedelic facilitator for Black womxn.
“Having a provider with a shared lived experience is useful because we don’t have to spend emotional labor to educate them on the impact of racial trauma if it comes up during our psychedelic session,” she explains.
If you’re evaluating whether an integration specialist is suitable to support POC on a psychedelic journey, Divine has some tips:
“I recommend that clients ask these questions to address basic competency:
- Has the facilitator had any training that specifically addresses racial trauma?
- What prior experience has the facilitator had supporting POC clients in the psychedelic space?
- Has the facilitator done their own ancestral work or anti-racism work to address potential cultural biases they may have?”
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Trust Your Intuition
You can find someone with all of the qualifications and certifications in the world, but if their presence doesn’t feel right, then they’re not the person for you. Try to meet the provider in person or over a video call before making any commitments to get a sense of their personality and communication style, and ask your own questions.
“It should feel right in your body,” says psychedelic integration coach Leia Friedwoman. “Take the time to find a practitioner who’s right for you. Consider watching videos or listening to podcasts where they are featured to get a sense of them. Some coaches even offer a free consultation call to prospective clients,” she explains.
“Therapists usually don’t self-disclose as much as coaches are likely to, due to ethical codes which prohibit them from crossing certain professional boundaries,” adds Friedwoman. “While one person may feel more held by that increased professionalism, another may prefer to work with a coach who can feel more ‘human,’” she says.
Finding Available Therapists or Coaches
When it comes to the logistics of finding psychedelic integration providers, there are a few online resources that may be helpful. For example, Psychable is an online directory of legal psychedelic practitioners, which includes reviews, retreats, and events related to psychedelic healing. Psychedelic.support also offers a directory of providers of a variety of therapies, as well as community groups and courses.
It’s helpful to narrow down your criteria and write a list of everything you’re looking for in an integration provider – this might include things like gender, therapeutic experience, cost range, and special expertise. Going into the process armed with a vision of what your ideal provider would look like will help you filter through the coaches and therapists out there to find the most suitable one for you.
Finding the right psychedelic integration coach or therapist may take you a while, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor to make sure you get the most out of your psychedelic experiences. If you’re wondering how you might evaluate a coach or therapist, take a look at our article on What it Takes to Be a Good Psychedelic Integration Coach.
And if you’re interested in learning more about psychedelic integration as a potential career path, check out our complete ebook on entering the field of psychedelic integration therapy and coaching.