Have you ever heard the phrase “turn on, tune in, drop out?” If you are new to the realm of psychedelia, that phrase may mean nothing to you. In the 1960s, Timothy Leary—psychologist and drug advocate—coined that phrase, defining and encompassing a generation in less than 10 words.
“Turn on” tells us to feel deeply. “Tune in” refers to a way of harmonizing with the natural world. “Drop out” heralds this idea of exiting society. The phrase undoubtedly evokes images of psychedelics, and while we don’t condone dropping out of society entirely (necessarily), there is one certainty: psychedelics profoundly shift your general state of awareness in life.
When it comes to psychedelic therapy, it may feel like a daunting or intimidating process trying to curate an ideal therapeutic psychedelic experience, but the benefits are beyond rewarding.
In this beginner’s guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about this fascinating and rapidly-evolving field of therapy in five steps, so that you have a quick and easy direction toward a transformative experience.
We will cover topics like: how to prepare for a session, what to expect during a psychedelic experience, and how to integrate insights and experiences gained during the journey into daily life.
#1: What Is Psychedelic Therapy?
Psychedelic therapy refers to the therapeutic use of psychoactive substances to facilitate psychological healing and personal growth. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential to help people access deeper states of consciousness, which can lead to profound insights, emotional breakthroughs, and a greater sense of connection.
There are quite a few health conditions that psychedelics can treat—all proven by recent research, and psychedelics not only affect the brain but also various bodily systems and processes.
In a past article, we discussed the differences between therapists and guides, but we will summarize the general idea here for you. While the term therapy usually applies to the practice of a licensed therapist, this word is evolving as new forms of treatment and facilitation are emerging.
Given the current legal state of psychedelics in the US—being that they are still classed as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970–psychedelic therapy with a licensed therapist is not really an option for most people.
However, because psychedelic state laws are beginning to change—such as those in Oregon and Colorado which have allowed for regulated psychedelic therapy in the state—the term therapy will likely be the most obvious label.
But for the sake of this article, we will refer to our services as intentional psychedelic experiences, and the guides that we work with will be referred to either as guides or facilitators.
While a therapist is a trained and licensed mental health professional, a guide or facilitator is someone who has extensive experience with psychedelics and aids others in navigating the complex terrain of their trip. To ensure a safe and effective journey, facilitators offer technical support around preparing for a psychedelic experience, the experience itself, and integration.
Psychedelic therapy works by creating a safe and supportive environment for the individual to explore their inner experiences and emotions, and when intense emotions arise, someone is there to help keep you calm and secure.
The benefits of psychedelic therapy are numerous. Research has shown that it can be effective in treating depression, anxiety, and addiction, and can lead to a greater sense of well-being and life satisfaction. It can also facilitate spiritual growth, enhance creativity, and increase empathy and social connection.
#2: Make a Few Decisions For Your Psychedelic Journey
Before embarking on a psychedelic therapy journey, it is important to make a few key decisions to lay the groundwork for your overall experience. Here at Psychedelic Passage, we connect psychedelic seekers with a network of pre-vetted psychedelic facilitators for your intentional, guided journey.
We encourage you to book a consultation with us today to get connected with our network of guides and to help you decide whether or not this form of treatment is right for you.
When it comes to psychoactive substances, the set and setting is crucial in determining the quality of your experience. It is important to choose a facilitator who is experienced, trustworthy, and that you resonate with.
So the first decision to make is which facilitator is right for you. During this process, you will undergo a health screening to ensure that you are physically and mentally healthy enough to participate in the therapy.
The second decision is regarding which substance you prefer and sourcing it safely to avoid drugs that have been doctored up with potentially harmful additives. Once you have sourced, using a drug testing kit can be helpful.
Different substances have unique effects on the body and mind, and it is important to choose one that aligns with your goals and intentions for the experience. The facilitators work with clients interested in psilocybin (magic) mushrooms, MDMA, LSD, ketamine, cannabis, DMT, and mescaline, although shrooms are the most common choice.
The location and setting is another important decision to make, being sure to choose a location that is comfortable, safe, and conducive to relaxation and introspection. Will you travel or do you prefer to be closer to home? Do you want to be in a rental near where you live or in your actual home? These are things you need to consider and decide when planning out the journey.
In a past article, we explored the differences of having mind-altering experience while on a psychedelic retreat versus a one-on-one experience, and we als covered how much psychedelic therapy costs.
#3: Prepare For The Psychedelic Experience
We created a step-by-step guide for preparation leading up to a psychedelic session, but here are some key points to consider:
Educate yourself on the appropriate dosage and storage of the substance in question. Certain substances require different dosages, and it is important to ensure that the substance is stored safely to prevent contamination or degradation.
Mental and emotional preparation is also crucial in ensuring a positive experience. This can involve setting intentions for the journey and cultivating a sense of openness and curiosity through meditation.
It is important to approach the experience with respect and reverence, and to acknowledge that the journey may bring up challenging emotions or experiences. Some people even follow a special diet leading up to the day. We even have a guide on how to talk to your healthcare provider about psychedelics and your interest in them.
Lastly, prepare your space by maybe setting up a comfortable and calming physical space, with dim lighting, comfortable seating, and choosing a music playlist.
#4: Know What to Expect For The Trip Itself
When embarking on a psychedelic therapy experience, it is important to have a basic understanding of what to expect. Depending on the psychoactive drug, the experience typically involves several different stages, including the launch, peak, and descent.
The come-up can be gradual or drastic, and can involve physical sensations such as nausea, increased heart rate, and sweating. The peak is often characterized by intense sensory experiences and profound emotional and psychological insights, while the come-down can involve a gradual return to baseline, often accompanied by feelings of gratitude and awe.
Along with physical sensations, the psychedelic experience can also bring up a range of emotional sensations, including euphoria, fear, anxiety, and sadness, joy, gratitude, contentment, or paranoia. Surrendering to the experience can help you broaden your capacity to handle intense emotions and sensations.
It is also important to be prepared for the possibility of challenging experiences or “bad trips.” Having a psychedelic guide, however, can help mitigate some of the risks associated with bad trips and increase your likelihood of having a positive yet meaningful experience.
#5: Integrate The Mind-Altering Experience
Firstly, it is important to prioritize rest and recovery following a psychedelic therapy session. The experience can be physically and emotionally taxing on the body and the mind. Continuing self-care practices like exercise, healthy eating, practicing self-compassion, yoga, meditation, and introspection allow space for your processing.
While integration will be more important for certain people, especially those who have a past history of trauma or just had a stressful or intense experience, there are benefits in this practice for everyone.
Integration also helps continue that feeling of support and community, so this can extend beyond the scope of the facilitator into talk therapy with a licensed therapist or even trusted and neutral family members or friends.
Follow-up sessions with the facilitator are an integral part of the psychedelic journey, but other aspects of integration would include self-reflection, journaling, and finding supportive community.
Talk to a Psychedelic Professional
We at Psychedelic Passage aim to provide in depth resources, articles, and information on psychedelic topics ranging from scientific research to helpful guides and tips.
Visit our resources page to discover more, and if you are interested in a facilitated psychedelic journey, please book a consultation with us. We would love to support you through your experience, and thanks for reading!
Frequently Asked Questions About Psychedelic Mushroom Therapy
How does psychedelic-assisted therapy work?
A therapeutic approach to psychedelic usage, or specifically psilocybin-assisted therapy, involves medicinally using psilocybin or other psychedelic substances for therapeutic benefits with a guide.
Psychedelic facilitators or guides provide general support during a trip as well as support around preparation and integration and tips, tools, and resources for having a safe and meaningful experience.
Because these experiences can be deeply introspective and profound, having a guide can help you gain further insights, process emotions, and potentially find resolution to psychological or emotional challenges.
What conditions or disorders can psychedelic mushroom therapy treat?
Psychedelic mushroom therapy has shown promise in the treatment of various mental health conditions and disorders. Some of the conditions that have been explored include:
- Treatment-resistant depression
- Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Addiction, including alcohol and tobacco addiction
- Existential distress in patients with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Cluster headaches (also known as “suicide headaches”)
Is psychedelic mushroom therapy safe?
Psychedelic mushroom therapy, when conducted in a controlled and supervised therapeutic setting, has generally demonstrated a good safety profile. There are a few factors that contribute to the safety of a psychedelic trip:
- Set and setting: The mindset and environment in which psychedelic therapy takes place are crucial. A supportive, comfortable, and emotionally safe setting with trained professionals can minimize the risk of adverse experiences.
- Patient screening: Thorough medical and psychological screening processes help identify individuals who may be at risk for potential complications or adverse reactions.
- Professional guidance: Having experienced therapists or facilitators present during the therapy sessions ensures proper support, guidance, and safety monitoring throughout the experience.