Guide to Psychedelic Integration
More people than ever before are embarking on journeys with entheogenic plants, fungi, and substances, whether on their own, within a community, or through psychedelic therapy.
Psychedelics and entheogens can catalyze immensely transformative experiences. However, these experiences are just a step on the journey toward healing and growth; the real work begins only after the trip subsides.
Falling back into old habits is part of human nature, even after experiences we can label as 'mystical' or 'life-changing.' In order to truly benefit from our psychedelic and plant medicine journeys, we must devote time and intention after the ceremony to acknowledge our insights and weave them into the fabric of our daily lives, or, more simply put, 'integrate' our psychedelic experiences.
Psychedelic integration is becoming a highly discussed topic in the plant medicine community. Done properly, this process can lead to lasting positive change in our well-being, intuition, insightfulness, and resilience.
In this guide, we aim to provide you with an in-depth description of the process of psychedelic integration and its emergence as a service offered by providers in the medicine space.
This guide is intended for those intrigued by the potential of psychedelics to catalyze healing and growth, and the most prudent ways to approach harnessing their therapeutic benefits. It should be used for education and harm reduction purposes only, and contains no advice about obtaining prohibited substances.
Part 1: Psychedelic Integration 101
When it comes to healing and transformation, one of the most important aspects of psychedelic healing work is the post-session or post-ceremony integration period.
During this phase most people return to their lives, many under the belief that the experience they'd had profoundly changed them. However, many discover that their problems haven’t gone away; negative behavior patterns re-establish themselves, and self-limiting beliefs continue to haunt them.
This is where psychedelic integration comes in.
Psychedelic experiences can reveal to us new perspectives on who we are, how we perceive ourselves and others, and how we view life and reality in general. They may make us acknowledge new goals and ambitions, and realize different ways of we can think or behave in.
In short, they can show us our potential, but it's up to us to do the work needed to actualize it.
Once we've had these experiences, integration is the process through which these insights, beliefs, and behaviors are manifested into our daily lives. Psychedelic integration makes psychedelic realizations tangible and actionable.
The period following a psychedelic journey is an opportune time for integration. Cultivating mindfulness, reflecting on the experience and how it relates to our lives, releasing trauma, reinforcing empowering beliefs, and aligning them with healthier habits are just some of the many actions integral for psychedelic-borne healing and growth to truly set in.
After psychedelic experiences, however, most fail to create enough space and maintain their intention for enacting positive change; some choose to take on this vital process alone, yet many are unsure how to go about it; others decide to hire a professional — a psychedelic therapist or coach — whose support can help them keep limiting beliefs and other dysfunctional patterns at bay, while solidifying positive ideas into more permanent thoughts and habits.
The Importance of Psychedelic Integration Work
Whereas psychedelic preparation and guiding take place before or during psychedelic experiences (such as managing set and setting), psychedelic integration happens after the experience itself, often over the course of many months or even years.
One of the most important aspects of psychedelic integration is not letting crucial elements of the experience fade away, but rather examining them and mining them for valuable insights. This has the added benefit of harm reduction in the event of a difficult journey.
Without intentional devotion to the process of integration, psychedelic experiences, however awe-inspiring or instructive we may have perceived them while they were taking place, can be almost as quick to evaporate from our consciousness as dreams are.
Integration is a complex and vague psychological process, one that many psychonauts overlook or underestimate. Yet, its importance cannot be understated — it is the glue in charge of piecing back the fragments of a psychedelically dissolved self before they float away.
The Intention Behind Integration Work
As each person's psychedelic experience is individual, so is their integration process. For some, integration may focus on a broad aspect of life, such as social relationships, communication, honesty, work, or health. For others, it may involve specific relationships, actions, or goals that need to be established or adapted.
Some of these can be simple to complete, such as expressing love and gratitude to our loved ones more often. Others can be more vague and take more time, such as finding our true voice. All of the insights revealed to us by psychedelic integration are valid, and the work we need to do to implement them needs to come directly from the realizations, correspond to our specific circumstances, and be fueled by our unique intentions.
Properly processing psychedelic insights is crucial, especially for those of us who are more vulnerable, foster intentions of profound transformation, or have substantial amounts of psychological 'baggage' to work through.
For this reason, the profession of integration facilitation is emerging to provide support and structure. Integration providers hold a container for the journeyer’s intentions to persevere, their inner wisdom and healing capacity to emerge, be explored, understood, and implemented in their life.
Part 2: How to Approach Integration Work On Your Own
If you should choose to try to integrate your psychedelic experiences without professional help, the first thing you should know is that this process can send you wandering through the depths of your psyche. Like psychotherapy, it's something that everyone can benefit from but few can appreciate it before it elucidates how many things we need to work on.
The second thing to know is that, also like psychotherapy, this part of the journey cannot be rushed. It takes as long as it takes (or as long as you truly need it to take), and, as with psychedelic experiences themselves, it will go best if you surrender to it, keep your intentions in mind throughout, embrace all that comes, and be patient.
Some changes may come immediately, while others may take months or years to surface. Naturally, you aren't expected to maintain your integration practices for many years, but consider the integration period a time of sowing the seeds of transformation. Not all will grow, but the more attention you give them, the better results you'll get.
Finally, some may even need a different proverbial 'soil' (aspects of your personality or even your environment) to blossom, while some may sprout down the line if you try 'watering' them with a different plant medicine.
To approach self-integration work properly, two lines of effort are needed: dedicating time to cultivating mindfulness and actively applying inner inquiry methods.
While everyone's psychedelic integration process is idiosyncratic, here are some general areas that integration is needed in, along with suggestions of accompanying activities to help this work move along.
Often times, psychedelic experiences can reveal to us how we are mistreating our body and what the consequences of this neglect can be. The integration process, thus, can be about taking better care of your body, taking the time to decompress and release any accumulated stress, or spending more time in nature as opposed to the cramped home-office-home routine 'civilized' life typically imposes on us.
The condition of the body is very much connected to the condition of the mind, and it can often control the emotions and feelings we are experiencing. Therefore, some of the activities that embody an intention of better physical (and mental) health include:
- Going for walks or hikes outside, preferably in nature
- Exercising or doing yoga
- Eating healthier food and minding food intake
- Finding activities that help us release pent-up stress
- Avoiding exposure to conditions that may cause illness
During psychedelic and entheogenic journeys, it's common to experience intense feelings and emotions. Some, like awe, connectedness, or love, may be enhanced versions of what we feel when we're sober; others, like fear, grief, and sadness, may surface as a reaction to unpleasant visions or heart-sinking realizations, or they may come from revisiting past memories that we suppressed or thought we'd dealt with; others, still, like a full-bodied sense of unity with all or the feeling of detachment from our mortal shell, may be entirely new and unfamiliar.
It's important to acknowledge and process these emotions. Whether pleasant, unpleasant, or strange, psychedelic experiences reveal, by virtue of releasing them for us to feel, that we either have held them inside us all along or that we have the potential to feel them. If we do not address them properly, they go back to being bottled up and we end up both limiting ourselves from experiencing our true emotional potential and having our suppressed emotional content continue to create issues.
Some examples of doing emotional integration work involve:
- Fostering gratitude — consciously choosing to focus on the wonderful aspects of yourself and your life rather than just on the problems.
- Processing grief — attending to the need to grieve the loss of someone close that we may not have had the chance or been ready to immerse ourselves in at the time of the event.
- Practicing forgiveness — choosing to forgive those who wronged us by giving our best to either see the positive intent in their actions or accepting that they acted out of a position of not knowing better.
- Releasing trauma — as Dr. Gabor Mate stated about ayahuasca, which is known for reactivating traumatic pasts, “Ayahuasca can evoke direct but long-suppressed memories of trauma. It can also trigger emotional states and visions of horror and pain that are not direct recollections, but emotional imprints of trauma.” Trauma, whether big or small, once revisited, needs to be handled with the utmost care, in a safe space, preferably with well-trained, empathetic support. Addressing trauma involves all of the above points, and beyond.
Integrating emotions post-ceremony is critical to your overall well-being and affect. When psychedelic experiences provide us with insights into the fact that there is work we need to do, we receive the most important tool for doing it. Still, that's only the beginning; if we realize what needs to be done yet we neglect this work, we willfully consent to having our future contaminated by accumulating emotional burden.
Some of what we experience in our psychedelic and entheogenic journeys can shake up our existential core, revealing to us completely different perspectives on ourselves, others, spirituality, life, and death. Even if we don't experience complete ego dissolution (and especially if we do), there's no doubt that these alternative ideas can be overarching and herald a paradigm shift in our consciousness.
As such, it's vital that we give these potential transformations the respect and attention they deserve by making a conscious effort to fit in the new perspectives we've gleaned into our new reality.
Spiritual integration may be the most challenging kind — the realizations, as well as the activities that can create a container for them to be integrated can feel vague, abstract, or even uncomfortable. They also tend to take their time to settle down, but the clarity received after diligent processing can be well worth the while.
The best way to go about this aspect of integration would be by engaging in mindfulness-promoting activities and reflecting on our experience and its impact on our life.
Here are some suggestions on creating the space for reflection:
- Spending time in nature
- Spending time with animals you connect with
- Listen to calming music that you enjoy
- Discussing your experience with close friends or family
- Expressing yourself through creative activities such as playing music, singing, or dancing
And some general questions that you can start to facilitate your reflection with:
- What matters to me most? Does my present life fulfill my needs and desires?
- What makes me feel happy and what feels unpleasant?
- Am I a good person? When I do something wrong, am I aware that it's wrong?
- Which thoughts/behaviors aren't serving me anymore? Which are not having the desired effect on others?
- What are my most important values and how am I living in ways that are not aligned with my values?
- What are my personal gifts? Which activities make me forget about time?
- What am I spending myself on needlessly? How can I stop?
- How do I feel about the pace of my life? Is it too fast, too slow, or just about right?
- What did I learn from my past mistakes? Which ones can I stop myself from making again?
- What am I holding on to? Can I let go of it?
- In what areas of my life am I trading authenticity for safety, or what appears to be safety?
- Am I able to accept my whole self? Which aspects must I change to be able to, and to be accepted by others?
- What kind of person do I aspire to be? How can I help myself be more like that person?
- What regrets do I have about my life so far? What changes can I make so I don't continue to live with regrets?
- Does my work align with my passion/purpose? If not, what kind of work would?
- How is my relationship with ____________? Is it worth investing more of my love into? Should I let go?
Each of the answers to these questions should be as honest and genuine as possible, and can be followed by a 'Why?' for deepening the inquiry. Basically, any question you find worthy of contemplation should be reflected upon, especially the ones you can recall from your journey. Journaling during the psychedelic experience can come especially handy in this aspect of inquiry because revision is made much easier if insights were recorded.
Due to the nature of spiritual inquiry and its substantial overlap with our psychology, the support of an integration provider can be of immense benefit here. Having someone to make this inquiry into a conversation rather than a monologue can feel more humane and natural. Additionally, the expertise of professional psychedelic integration providers can help guide the reflection in a way most beneficial to our growth, by helping us notice and acknowledge destructive patterns in our thinking and reinforcing the empowering ones.
Part 3: Seeking Professional Integration Support
Whether you're attempting to make sense of a perplexing psychedelic experience or need assistance in exploring a certain aspect of your life through intentional use of psychedelics, it's vital that you do proper research.
Not every psychedelic integration coach or therapist will be the right fit for you, so take the time to find a qualified, experienced provider who can support you in attaining your goals while also providing the safest possible container for you to express and explore your vulnerabilities.
There are several things to consider when looking for the perfect coach or therapist. In this section, we've compiled a list of the most important factors to take into account in your research.
The Differences Between Integration Therapists and Integration Coaches
Firstly, it's essential to know the difference between the two most prominent types of professional psychedelic integration providers: integration coaches and integration therapists.
There are currently no standardized guidelines for facilitating psychedelic integration, so a coach and a therapist may have significant overlaps in the techniques they apply. There are, however, differences between what responsibilities, training, and scope of practice each has.
The work of psychedelic integration therapists is primarily focused on treating the client's psychological disorders through counseling sessions after their psychedelic experiences. As such, these providers need to possess a high level of formal education and specialization in psychotherapy or psychiatry.
Aside from education, therapists must generally satisfy certain regulatory standards in order to provide their services legally. These standards are governed by the laws of the nation (or state) in which they operate. Many active therapists have had years or decades of practice before opting to add psychedelic integration to their range of services.
A therapist who practices psychedelic integration support is typically trained in one or more specific modalities relevant to mystical, spiritual, or experiences of altered consciousness. For example, transpersonal psychology, nondual psychotherapy, psychodynamic therapy, as well as trauma healing modalities (such as EMDR) form a strong framework for a therapist to support clients in psychedelic integration.
Recently, a new clinical approach called Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration (PHRI) has been proposed to meet the increasing demand of those in need of psychotherapy who are using or considering using psychedelics. This model incorporates elements of harm reduction psychotherapy and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, and can be applied in both brief and ongoing psychotherapy interactions.
A psychedelic integration coach, as other coaches typically do, helps people realize specific, measurable goals. Some integration coaches help clients prepare for their journey, through intention setting, preparing the body, mind, and the space, and offering harm reduction advice, such as about testing substances, dosage, and emergency interventions to have on hand.
Coaches may apply a range of different healing modalities, such as somatic release, trauma integration, yoga, or breathwork, to support their clients in processing their experiences. They often assist their clients in staying engaged with their healing path by introducing them to practical tools like journaling, meditation, group support networks, and educational resources.
In order to gain the experience required to facilitate their clients' integration, coaches typically complete one or more training programs or courses. However, because there is no overarching regulating authority or ethical code that coaches must follow, individual coaches or training institutes may develop their own "style" of coaching that that differs from others'.
In general, a psychedelic integration coach serves as a source of information, resources, accountability, and support; an objective person to help with the process and minimize harm; and so much more.
Understanding Your Integration Provider's Credentials
Individuals seeking psychedelic integration support may be perplexed by the amount of acronyms and letter combinations that might appear after an integration provider's name.
Here's a quick rundown of the most common qualifications of professionals working in the field:
Psychiatrists (MD), who are trained diagnose mental health disorders and prescribe pharmaceutical medication, and clinical psychologists (PsyD, Ph.D.), who also undertake considerable training to acquire a doctorate and offer therapy, make up the most common forms of formal training in integration therapists.
Alternatively, integration therapists, as well as coaches, may pursue Master's degrees in order to become licensed professional clinical counselors (LPCC) or licensed marital and family therapists (LMFT). Qualified LPCCs can offer counseling for psychological disorders or emotional concerns, whereas LMFTs work with mental and emotional issues arising within the domain of an individual's family or support network.
Choosing Between a Coach and a Therapist
In the process of seeking out an integration coach or therapist to support you on your integration journey, it is critical to assess your personal needs and carefully consider how a provider's experience may line up with them.
If you're looking for help with a mental health disorder like PTSD, anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder, you may have better results with a therapist rather than a coach. Especially if you're taking pharmaceutical treatment for your condition, an experienced psychiatrist or clinical psychologist would be better qualified to provide you with advice on specific drugs and contraindications with psychedelics. When choosing a therapist, you should ensure that the practitioner you're considering has expertise in treating your condition.
Expertise of integration coaches, on the other hand, may be more focused on other sorts of goals and intentions you wish to weave into your integration process. For example, if you're seeking out integration support to help you enhance your self-image, perform better professionally, or focus on your relationships, there are psychedelic integration coaches that can support you in harnessing your psychedelic insights to create growth in those areas.
Those who identify with certain religious or spiritual belief systems should assess whether expertise or experience with that belief system is a relevant aspect they expect their integration provider to possess. For some, it may be acceptable if the provider is only open to such views, while others may prefer that their provider have a better understanding of the specific framework they subscribe to.
Similarly, those seeking psychedelic integration assistance may have a need for the person holding that container to share particular characteristics with them, such as ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, or others. Individuals from marginalized groups may feel more at ease with a professional who knows their situation on a personal level.
The bottom line when choosing an integration provider is that it's advisable to make personal contact with those you're considering rather than solely relying on their qualifications or even reviews. Ask about their experience and skills, as well as the successes they've observed in past clients with comparable goals. Importantly, try to get a feeling for how their personality, beliefs, and style of communication align with yours.
Keep in mind that you'll be trusting this person with your deepest vulnerabilities, and take as much time as you need to find the one who feels like a perfect fit and who you believe is the most likely to help you get where you're going.
How to Search for a Psychedelic Integration Provider
Depending on where you live, you may find some active psychedelic integration providers by word of mouth in your local plant medicine community. However, several websites can make this search much easier.
- Psychable.com, for example, offers a large online directory of licensed psychedelic practitioners. It features client reviews, and also lists retreats and various psychedelic healing events.
- Psychedelic.support also provides a list of therapy providers, as well as postings of community gatherings and psychedelic seminars.
It's a good idea to narrow your search by making a list of everything you're searching for in an integration provider, including gender, therapy and psychedelic experience, price range, and specific expertise. Going into the process with a clear image of your ideal provider can help you to discover the best one for your needs when browsing available coaches and therapists in online directories.
If you’re curious about how you might evaluate a coach you're considering working with, have a look at our article on What it Takes to Be a Good Psychedelic Integration Coach.
Part 4: Pursuing a Career in Psychedelic Integration
If you've had ample experience with psychedelics and/or are a seasoned mental health provider, you may be intrigued by the potential of psychedelics to cause profound transformation and considering starting out as an integration provider or expanding your practice with integration services.
Coaching people through their integration process can be extremely fulfilling work, yet demanding in the sense that the specialist needs to navigate a dynamic, developing landscape fraught with ethical, legal, medical, and other uncertainties.
From requirements and nice-to-haves, through training and challenges, to organizing your own integration circles or sessions, this section will outline the stages of becoming a psychedelic integration specialist.
Here are some important numbers to consider:
- Over 32 million people in the United States have tried psychedelics.
- The psychedelic industry's market is expected to exceed $10 billion by 2027.
- In the coming years, up to 2,000 psychedelic clinics are projected to be established.
The need for psychedelic integration providers rises as more individuals seek out psychedelic sessions, rituals, and retreats. However, aspiring practitioners must be informed about the many knowns and unknowns of this emerging sector of service before making plans to join it.
Helping others integrate their journeys, resolve their traumas, abandon dysfunctional patterns of thought, and move from vulnerability to resilience requires more than just personal psychedelic experience; providing integration support entails responsibility for the clients’ well being, and must rely on a profound understanding of a variety of legal, psychological, ethical, and spiritual elements.
Working Within the Confines of the Law
In most countries, psychedelics are still controlled substances whose use is prohibited and criminalized. From a harm-reduction perspective, giving people access to information about the risks and realities of their choices is often safer than an abstinence-only or prohibition approach.
Both therapists and coaches can work to help people stay safer and reduce risk in their choices. Due to the present illegality of psychedelics in most places, coaches who have been certified by a nationally or internationally recognized coaching organization may jeopardize their certification status by openly working in the psychedelic sector. Licensed therapists who are found to be endorsing or supplying illegal substances run the risk of losing their psychotherapy license.
Most Common Challenges for Psychedelic Integration Specialists
Here are some of the top challenges we’ve uncovered from specialists in the field:
- Helping the client with a traumatic experience they had during a ceremony held by inadequate facilitators
- Dealing with clients that are overly symptom-focused and resistant to facing the emotional content of their own consciousness
- Helping clients turn messages from the medicine into tangible life changes
- A lack of self-belief in their ability to do this work
- Doing their own work so they avoid projecting their own ego and triggers onto the client
Is Experience with Psychedelics Essential?
Could someone be a great psychedelic integration provider if they have not experienced psychedelics themselves? The general consensus is no, with a few caveats. The majority of psychedelic integration specialists we spoke to agree that psychedelic experience is a must. Would you trust an athletic coach who has never done any sports? Or a psychotherapist who has never been to therapy?
The importance of this experience may vary from person to person, however. Some clients may be fine with a practitioner who has deep subject expertise on something specific they need help with, but less experience on the psychedelic side. Not to mention, the legal limitations around taking psychedelics in many countries can hold practitioners back from gaining that experience.
The Blueprint to Developing a Career in Psychedelic Integration
- Assess your pre-existing skills and abilities. All integration facilitators bring their own perspectives and training to the work. There is no one right way to integrate, and so it will serve you well as a budding psychedelic integration specialist to recognize the skills, knowledge, and experience that you already have.
- Find out what is required. If becoming a therapist is the route for you, find out how you can fulfill all the necessary licensure requirements to become a therapist in the place where you intend to practice. If coaching is more your thing, look into coaching certifications that specialize in preparing coaches to help people integrate psychedelic experiences. You can find some of these at the end of this article.
- Become trauma-informed. Coaches and therapists should become trauma-informed, as many people who are healing with psychedelics may have trauma in their history.
- Engage in anti-racist work. Professionals who understand racial trauma, and their own role in it, have a much greater chance of being able to help BIPOC clients encounter healing. Check out our Keys to Decolonizing Plant Medicines Workshop for more information.
- Integrate your stuff. Doing your work is an essential part of holding space for the work others are doing. A great way to steward your own integration is to regularly attend an integration circle, especially one with continuous attendance.
- Do your research. Learn about the history and current concerns regarding psychedelic use.
- Learn about Psychedelic Harm Reduction. Especially where most governments still prohibit the use of psychedelics (which is like an “abstinence only” approach, but worse), having a solid grasp of risk reduction is another essential for the psychedelic integration facilitator.
- Learn the basics of integration facilitating. Some programs are tailored to already licensed therapists; most are open to the general public. Find some examples of integration courses at the end of this article.
- Practice as a peer. If you don’t know of a peer-led circle to join, experiment with creating your own! Integrating psychedelics with friends, family, and community members can also be incredibly healing and generative.
- Seek out mentorship/supervision. While it can be hard to link up with the right person at first, finding mentorship from elders and seasoned practitioners is one of the best things you can do for yourself along your journey.
- Organize a circle. Your integration circle can be a sliding scale or by donation to begin. Many providers promote on social media, email, and through word of mouth.
- Know your scope. If a client presents with symptoms or a history that you aren’t experienced at working with, the most appropriate course of action is probably to refer them out.
- Make connections with other professionals. Sometimes clients have questions that are best answered by someone with professional medical or pharmaceutical training. Seek out working relationships with doctors and pharmacists who you can trust to advise your clients if you need to refer them out for any of the more complicated medical/pharmaceutical questions that can arise.
- Figure out payment (and take accessibility into account). A licensed therapist can treat a client and bill their insurance, while coaches are always private pay. Some licensed therapists do not accept insurance and opt to go the private pay route instead. Both coaches and therapists may use a sliding scale to make their services more accessible or offer a certain number of pro bono sessions to those without the means to pay.
- Support a psychedelic retreat or ceremony. Many psychedelic retreat organizers, facilitators, and ceremony leaders need integration support staff, to assist not only during the session but to work with clients after the ceremony or retreat is over.
- Do ongoing shadow work. Similar to the section on integrating your stuff, practitioners should be well versed in their own shadow so that it does not interfere with the client’s integration process.
- Fill your practice. While there are in-depth business approaches to how to find new clients, integration facilitators will do well to make strong connections with other practitioners in the field.
Taking Psychedelic Integration Coaching Courses
If you’d like to become a psychedelic integration coach, there are a number of online courses available with different levels of price and time requirements. Keep in mind that there is no overarching regulatory body for these courses, and that the qualifications gained from these courses will likely not be validated by any professional institutions.
Here are a few courses on psychedelic integration offered by our partner organizations (click to expand):
This introductory course is geared toward any level of experience with psychedelics. It covers various harm reduction approaches to help you prepare for your psychedelic experience, or prepare others for theirs. The concept of integration is also explored and a list of different self-care techniques for maximizing the benefits provided. Lastly, a theoretical framework to work with difficult experiences and bad trips is outlined.
This is an at-home self-study course, which means that you can go through the material on your own time. You will receive life-time access to the video lectures, so you will be able to go back and re-watch the course material whenever you would like to.
This special edition of Navigating Psychedelics is dedicated to educating therapists and clinicians. By enrolling in this course, you receive full access to the core Navigating Psychedelics: Lessons on Self-Care & Integration course plus a comprehensive series of clinician-focused master classes.
Whether you’re just getting started on your psychedelic education journey or you have had experiences with psychedelics, this course will help you learn how you can incorporate psychedelic knowledge and education into your practice and even how to get started in the field of psychedelic psychotherapy.
The course is date-based and delivered in a mix of online study formats over a period of eight weeks. It includes 1.5-hour calls each week.
Psychedelic Therapy & Integration Breakthrough Program is a practical hand guide and educational support system for anyone who has heard about the potential of psychedelic experiences for psychological, physical and spiritual healing and transformation - and is looking for tools to utilize them with minimal risks and maximum benefits.
This is an at-home, self-study course with about 12h of coursework. The estimated time of completing the coaching sessions is two months.
Psychedelic.Support have a variety of courses on offer, including their introductory series on ketamine, psilocybin, and MDMA, as well as more advanced courses for facilitators and integration providers.
Check out Psychedelic.Support courses (various rates)
This unique online training program offers a certification in Addiction Recovery and Psychedelic Integration Coaching. Whether you are an active or aspiring coach looking to build a livelihood helping others through life coaching services, or you are supporting a loved one in the recovery process and want to learn what it takes to end addiction for good, this comprehensive training program is a good fit for you.
This course features 100+ hours of instruction and includes live training and group calls.
The Synthesis Psychedelic Practitioner Training is accessible to and inclusive of both licensed medical professionals and therapists and also practitioners of health and wellness in other modalities. One of the key points of the training is learning to prepare and support a client’s integration to deepen positive outcomes and increase the potential for long-term benefits of a psychedelic ceremony.
The program lasts for 12 months and participants are expected to dedicate 10-12 hours a week / 40-48 hours per month for class time and assignments. It includes weekly 90-Minute Teaching Sessions, weekly 90-Minute Small Group Facilitated Integration Sessions, and Monthly 60-Minute Live Interactive guest faculty bonus workshops.
During module five (of eight), participants are invited to attend a 10-day psilocybin truffle retreat in Netherlands, where they experience full immersion into practices, preparation, group sessions, and integration circles.
Sign up for Psychedelic Practitioner Training ($9000 - digital learning + $9000 - immersive retreat)
How much does it cost to become an integration practitioner? For a therapist, it can cost anywhere from $30,000 or more and take 3-8 years (depending on whether you already hold an aligned degree) to go through all of the necessary schooling and licensure.
Most coaching certificates, on the other hand, range from $100-$18,000 and take anywhere from several weeks to a year to complete. Some offer CE and CME credits.
Attracting Psychedelic Clients
While some healers are blessed with entrepreneurial know-how, others have to learn about the most effective and personally aligned ways to attract clients. Here are some ways that current integration practitioners find clients in:
- Online directories
- Referrals from peers
- Word of mouth
- Meeting people naturally
- Learning online marketing skills
- Starting a podcast
- Building a website
- Paying for advertisements
Part 5: Alternative Paths of Psychedelic Service
Aside from integration facilitation, there are numerous other ways to get involved in the burgeoning Psychedelic Renaissance. However, these paths are currently fraught with limitations, as they either include administering psychedelics, providing services in highly specialized scenarios, or both.
This section details some of the most prominent vocations to consider for those whose heart is set on working with psychedelics but who aren't attracted to integration work.
Tripsitting or Facilitating Psychedelic Journeys
Being a psychedelic or plant medicine guide or tripsitter is an underground vocation that often includes providing the substances in question — this is much more common for guides, but some tripsitters also supply the medicine.
What the facilitators of these services have in common is that they are present during the psychedelic experience. Their involvement, however, depends on whether they guide it or merely sit for it.
The work of a tripsitter is a lot less hands-on than being a psychedelic guide. Guide work entails a higher level of preparation and training than tripsitting. This is mainly because psychedelic guides often take a more active role in the experience of the participant – from providing a shamanic sound journey with instruments and energetic cleansing, to eliciting memories of places and events in their childhood, past lives, or other dimensions through guided meditation, or helping them address specific questions during the experience.
Conversely, the role of a tripsitter mostly comes down to attending someone’s psychedelic session in a passive manner while exerting a calm, supportive, and comforting presence that takes away their concerns and allows for fuller immersion.
While on the surface it might seem like being a tripsitter is easy, it is not without challenges, especially if you are offering it as a professional service. Love of psychedelics does not pre-qualify you to be a good candidate for professional tripsitting, but personal experience with a variety of psychedelic substances can definitely contribute to one’s ability to do this work well. In addition, tripsitters need to be fully acquainted with elements such as dosage, contraindications, and harm reduction techniques in order to assure they can provide adequate support in case of a negative physiological reaction or an adverse psychological experience.
Psychedelic guides, on the other hand, need to possess at least the skill set and experience a great tripsitter has, and, desirably, at least a few years of training in having and facilitating experiences with each of the substances they are providing. Many would also consider a clean record of provider ethics as well as energetic or shamanic initiations and training must-haves for anyone believing themselves qualified to guide someone’s consciousness in their most vulnerable state.
Finally, as desirable as these vocations are, anyone wishing to pursue them must keep in mind that there is a legal risk involved in all regions where the specific substances are scheduled. This goes both for those providing the substances and for those sitting in and supporting the experience.
While psychedelic use is expanding, and drug regulations are gradually changing, many of the chemicals being used — whether MDMA, LSD, or magic mushrooms — are still banned for public consumption. This poses an inherent risk for psychonauts because these drugs, as well as the environments in which they are used, are unregulated and unmonitored. Without the security of knowing a drug's chemical composition or having a safe space to ingest it, the potential hazards of consuming that substance are increased.
This is where harm reduction enters the picture. Harm reduction emphasizes the individual's freedom of choice and rights while attempting to lessen the dangers connected with drug use. It rejects conservative views, aiming to shift the narrative away from morally shaming those who consume psychoactive substances and toward working with them to empower informed decision-making.
In the context of broader illegal drug use, harm reduction tactics include interventions like providing clean needles and injection sites, as well as free drug testing, and making drug-related education widely available. Introducing this strategy into the psychedelic and plant medicine space entails that psychedelic therapists, facilitators, and integration providers use a variety of methods to educate and guide the individuals and groups they work with to ensure their experiences with psychedelic substances are as safe as possible.
Providing safe areas and drug testing facilities for persons taking psychedelics recreationally at festivals and concerts is a critical component of psychedelic harm reduction. A harm reduction facility, especially for first-time users and those who may have taken a bigger dose than they intended to take, may be a vital resource during these large-scale public events, which can seem quite disorienting and overwhelming to those in altered states of consciousness.
One such group that can be seen at concerts, festivals, and large gatherings in the US is the Zendo Project. They provide a safe environment and skilled assistance for anyone who is having a difficult psychedelic experience. Their UK counterpart is The Loop; often found at pubs, clubs, and festivals around the country, they offer harm reduction guidance and information, as well as drug safety testing and welfare support.
Harm reduction is also important in psychedelic healing modalities. Psychedelic therapists, guides, retreat centers, and integration providers must adopt harm reduction strategies in their work and be able to advise their clients on aspects of psychedelic use including effects, dosage standards, set & setting, potential interactions with other substances, handling challenging experiences, and so on.
Psychedelic-assisted therapy involves professionally supervised use of psychoactive substances as part of elaborated psychotherapy programs. Depending on the desired result, the most commonly administered compounds are: ketamine, MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, or ibogaine.
The therapist supervises the sessions as a kind of highly qualified tripsitter. During the sessions, they typically do not act as guides or try to influence the patient’s experience in any way, but note down any relevant events or statements the patient makes, and provide support if the patient is having a negative experience.
The psychedelic experiences are discussed after, during counseling, in an attempt to help the patients resolve their psychological problems. These sessions are typically facilitated in the context of specific psychotherapeutic modalities the therapist was schooled in and trained for. The therapist’s task is to help the patient make sense of the experience and understand how it relates to their lives, while also offering any insight they might have from the observations made during the psychedelic sessions.
Clearly, to become a legal psychedelic-assisted therapist, other than skill, a considerable investment of time and finances are needed. A Master's degree or Ph.D in psychology, psychiatry, or another relevant field is just the start — only after several more years of specialization can one hope to be accepted in one of the few programs currently recruiting and training therapists, such as the MDMA Therapy Training Program by MAPS.
Psychedelic-assisted therapy is not a new vocation. The therapeutic potential of psychedelics was well-noted when they started becoming mainstream in the late 1960s and 1970s. Efforts to create formal infrastructures for training up therapists were well under way before the War on Drugs was declared. After psychedelics became scheduled substances, fewer and fewer therapists were willing to risk losing their licenses and facing legal persecution, and the practice went underground.
Now, after half a century, the Western society is facing an unprecedented psychiatric crisis. With historic rises in prevalence of depression, anxiety, addiction, and trauma, and no effective pharmaceutical treatments, the high success rate and low harm profile of psychedelics are pushing these substances into the public eye and bringing amendments to their legal status.
However, as of yet, psychedelic-assisted therapy is still a ways away. Out of all the psychedelics used for therapy, aside from ibogaine, in some places, which is used specifically for addiction treatment, ketamine is, for now, the only drug allowed to be legally administered. MAPS has been making incredible headway in their clinical trials with MDMA for PTSD and their president Rick Doblin has recently stated that MDMA may see FDA approval as soon as 2023.
More About Psychedelic Integration