While research into the potential for psychedelic substances to treat mental health disorders isn’t new, it has received a lot of exciting mainstream attention over the past few years. And for good reason, as psychedelics may be able to treat patients where conventional Western medicines have failed.
More and more people have been exploring alternative states of consciousness, but understand that doing so alone may cause unnecessary risks. Unfortunately, these same folks don’t have a trained and knowledgeable person in their network to help. Many are left wondering how to find a psychedelic guide or trip sitter.
The answer to that question depends on one factor: whether you already have access to the psychedelic substance or will need to rely on the facilitator to provide. In this article, we’ll discuss what psychedelic guides and trip sitters do, options if you don’t have access to psychedelic substances, alternative options if you do, and the vital importance of getting to know your facilitator.
What is a Psychedelic Guide or Trip Sitter?
Although psychedelics are generally considered safe, to fully access their benefits, it is recommended to seek the assistance of a mental health professional, guide, or trip sitter. These individuals are prepared to help you navigate the psychedelic experience, mitigating what could be considered a “bad trip.”
Mental health professionals have varying experiences and opinions when it comes to psychedelics, though most won’t work directly with psychedelics due to licensure issues. Psychedelic guides are the people who facilitate intentional psychedelic experiences. They’ll generally know what things to discuss before and after the session and may possibly ask questions during the trip itself.
A psychedelic guide differs from a trip sitter in that they’ll take a more active role in guiding the psychedelic experience, whereas the main focus of a trip sitter is harm reduction.
Both should be trained in harm reduction principles and know how to minimize fear and anxiety. Most importantly, they’ll be present throughout the entire experience, ensuring that the participant is safe, both mentally and physically from beginning to end.
A Note on Psychedelic Integration Specialists
In another article we discuss what exactly psychedelic integration is, but the main takeaway is that integration specialists help you prepare for and discuss intentional psychedelic experiences and their meaning. This is vitally important work, and integration is a core component of maintaining lasting benefit from a psychedelic experience.
An integration specialist won’t supply psychedelics and many cannot provide direct in-person support while you are actively having a psychedelic trip (due to licensure)—meaning there is a gap in the continuity of care unless you seek out a trip sitter or guide.
We never suggest doing psychedelics alone. Professional guides and trip sitters are available to support you during your psychedelic experience, while an integration specialist supports you before and after the trip. Psychedelic trip sitting and integration services should be in tandem, so that an individual has support before, during, and after a psychedelic experience.
That’s exactly what we do here at Psychedelic Passage—help facilitate meaningful experiences with psychedelics. All of our trip sitting programs include pre-trip preparation, in-person support during the experience, and post-event integration sessions. If you want to increase the likelihood of experiencing the long-lasting and positive effects of psychedelics while minimizing the risk of a “bad trip,” we suggest you book a call with one of our guides or trip sitters today.
So, you’re interested in a psychonautic adventure, and want some support during the way? Here are four tips to help you find a psychedelic guide or trip sitter.
Finding a Guide or Trip Sitter if You DON’T Have Access to Psychedelics
1. Legal Resources
In the United States, there are only a few ways to legally seek the help of a psychedelic guide who also supplies the substance. This is all expected to change in the coming years with psilocybin and MDMA most likely receiving approval for therapeutic use by 2021 and 2022, respectively. As for now, the options to find a psychedelic guide or trip sitter who can legally source substances include participating in a clinical trial, seeking cannabis assisted psychotherapy, or seeking ketamine assisted psychotherapy.
If you suffer from issues such as PTSD, depression, OCD, or anxiety, you may be particularly interested in clinical trials. You may even find a clinical trial suitable for unique conditions like cluster headaches, Parkinson’s disease psychosis, or hepatic impairment. Some are even studying the effects of psychedelics on healthy participants.
Many universities and organizations are constantly involved in psychedelic research, and they are also looking for study participants. It’s not uncommon to find clinical trial opportunities for a range of psychedelics, from cannabis and ketamine to MDMA, psilocybin, and LSD.
You can view the options for the clinical trials which are currently accepting patients by visiting ClinicalTrials.gov. Simply enter the condition or disease you seek treatment for, enter the psychedelic substance you wish to use, and select your country. The site will display all search results relevant to your query. Also, check out our extensive guide on How to Join a Clinical Trial in 3 Steps.
Cannabis Assisted Psychotherapy
With cannabis becoming increasingly legalized around the US, some states are now home to cannabis-assisted therapy practitioners who focus on the mental and physical health benefits of intentional cannabis use. What this typically means is that cannabis is used in a controlled manner with a guide who is trained with therapy and psychedelics.
Cannabis has been studied for its benefits in addressing symptoms of chronic pain, schizophrenia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, urinary tract symptoms, glaucoma, Tourette syndrome, PTSD, social anxiety, and more. Cannabis assisted therapy can supplement these benefits, while also helping the sufferer feel more in control over their lives and discover a sense of purpose.
There are many practitioners of varying backgrounds offering this service. But if you prefer working with a licensed therapist, we suggest checking out a resource like MAPS integration list and doing a search for licensed practitioners that offer cannabis assisted therapy.
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy
Unlike most psychedelics that are still considered illegal substances, ketamine is a Schedule III drug, meaning that it has some “medically accepted uses.” While not technically recognized as a treatment for anything beyond its traditional use as an anesthetic, “off-label use” is permitted for licensed practitioners, and there are many therapeutic ketamine clinics operating throughout the United States.
Ketamine has proven to be very promising when it comes to treating mental health issues, particularly treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine also demonstrates potential when it comes to other mental illnesses like PTSD, anxiety, OCD, and bipolar disorder.
In fact, ketamine is considered by some to be one of “the most interesting developments in the pharmacology of depression and pain.” Many people respond positively to ketamine assisted therapy and in a world where conventional medicines aren’t keeping up with rates of mental illness, it’s no wonder that ketamine is viewed as such a promising therapy option. If you want to learn more about therapeutic ketamine, check out our in depth guide on “Finding a Ketamine Clinic Near Me.”
2. Check out International Resources
Though we understand that international travel has its challenges due to Covid-19, it is worth mentioning that legal psychedelic retreats are being held each year in various countries. Certain psychedelics are legal in some countries and others offer legal protection for traditional medicines. In countries like Portugal, all drugs are decriminalized, and, in many cases, the consumption of psychedelics is allowed by local law enforcement.
While some groups in the US are able to provide sessions, it is fully legal in other countries like Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Peru. There are many different retreats, all meeting different needs and budgets.
There are some countries and locations where psilocybin mushrooms are completely legal, such as Brazil, Jamaica, and the British Virgin Islands. In the Netherlands, there’s a loophole that allows the use of psilocybin-containing truffles. In Canada, magic mushroom microdoses are available for purchase. Several psilocybin retreats are held every month in Amsterdam, and you can also find a few scattered throughout the year in Mexico and Jamaica.
If you’re certain that a trip abroad is in line for you and your psychedelic journey, we suggest checking out a site like Retreat Guru to understand what your options are. We know how complex and overwhelming the search can be for a psychedelic retreat. That’s why we suggest reading reviews, asking lots of questions, and using your intuition.
Finding a Guide or Trip Sitter if You DO Have Access to Psychedelics
3. Make use of Online Resources
Decriminalization for psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelic substances has already happened in several major U.S. cities, lessening the potential legal and criminal risk for possession. Though we cannot advocate or endorse obtaining psychedelics through illicit means, we recognize that these substances are becoming more accessible to individuals seeking to use them intentionally or therapeutically.
Online resources can help those individuals find the help they need. Tripsitters.org has the most comprehensive online directory where you can find any type of professional psychedelic support, including guides and trip sitters.
4. Psychedelic Passage’s Trip Sitting Program
We created our Trip Sitting Program because we recognize that the soonest legal psilocybin therapy program is a few years away, yet people need support having safe and meaningful psychedelic experiences today. Our services are available in many states and our trip sitters emphasize safety and harm reduction while co-creating a nonjudgmental space for the plant medicine to do its work, and for you to receive the benefit.
We believe that you have rights regarding your mental and physical well being, and that you should choose a guide or trip sitter that is best for you. Fortunately, there are many great options available. If you think we may be of service to you, book a discovery call with one of our facilitators. Please note that we cannot provide you with psychoactive substances.
Get to Know Your Guide
Once you’ve narrowed down your practitioner options, it’s time to begin the vetting process. It might sound intense, but taking the time to research your guide or care provider can make all the difference in a life-altering experience versus an uncomfortable one.
If possible, we encourage you to meet your practitioner before your psychedelic experience. It may sound silly, but take time to ensure that you generally get along with and have a rapport with your guide or trip sitter. Also take this time to get to know your guide, understand their process and general philosophy, and ask any questions. Here are some questions we love to ask:
- What is your personal experience with psychedelics? (We only suggest doing working with practitioners who have first-hand intentional experience with the substance)
- Why do you do this work?
- What safety and harm reduction practices do you have in place?
You should also use this time to get to know the location and immediate area where you will have your psychedelic experience. If you are traveling, take time to explore your surroundings and develop some familiarity with the area.
There’s no doubt that our society still has a long way to progress when it comes to these medicines. The benefits of psychedelics are beyond promising—especially to sufferers who need them. We have nearly half a century of research demonstrating how psychedelics are not only safe but have a massive potential to improve mental health.
Unfortunately, not all psychedelics are legal in the US—but this is changing. State-approved psychedelic therapy programs are a few years away and guiding and trip sitting services are becoming more accessible as major cities continue to decriminalize psychedelics. The silver lining here is that this field is evolving, and it’s doing so quickly.
If you’re looking for an experienced trip sitter to facilitate a safe and impactful psychedelic experience, you’ve come to the right place. It would be an honor to assist you in your sacred journey, simply book a consultation call with us to get started.