It’s no wonder that the words “psychedelic assisted therapy near me” have become an increasingly popular Google search. People are learning more and more about how psychedelics can help address mental health issues, and they’re curious about accessing these benefits.
The benefits of psychedelics for use in therapy are innumerable. Research is accumulating and new studies are constantly being published highlighting the effectiveness of psychedelic drugs in treating mood disorders, addiction, and other diseases.
A quick Google search yields tens if not hundreds of results for ketamine clinics and therapists—how do you choose which one is legitimate? Are there clinics available for other substances like psilocybin and DMT? In this article, we’ll tell you a little about why people are using psychedelics, as well as how you can access an assisted therapy session, and how to choose the best clinic for your needs.
What is Psychedelic Assisted Therapy?
Psychedelic assisted therapy utilizes a specific psychedelic substance (like ketamine or cannabis), typically administered by medical practitioners and/or therapists who are present throughout the entire experience. Medical practitioners, universities, and research hospitals are using psychedelics to learn about the brain and assess the long-lasting benefits of psychedelic assisted therapy.
Plants and substances derived from plants have been used for thousands of years—both for pleasure and healing purposes. Non-plant derived psychedelics, such as LSD and ketamine, were discovered in more recent history and were first synthesized in 1938 and 1962, respectively.
Research into the healing properties of psychedelics tapered off in the 1950s jump-started again in the late 1990s, and is currently picking up momentum again. There is now a lot of research indicating that therapy utilizing the consumption of psychedelic substances is effective at treating several types of mental illnesses including PTSD, anxiety, addiction, and depression.
Psychedelic assisted therapy makes use of a moderate to high dose of a psychedelic to create an “overwhelming and transcendent experience,” which can often help improve mental health, especially for conventional treatment resistant conditions. Though there are potential side effects, patients are under medical supervision throughout the session. And some find that these sessions are a better alternative than prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication that has a wide range of potential side effects including fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, constipation, and suicide.
Assisted therapy may be a single session, or several sessions over the course of a few months, depending on the needs of the participant. It is often combined with integration sessions both before and after the psychedelic experience.
Most psychedelic assisted therapy clinics are run by medical practitioners (MDs, DOs, or Psy-Ds as examples) and sometimes complete additional training with psychedelic focused organizations such as the California Institute of Integral Studies, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), or the Usona Institute.
These practitioners have varying levels of experience administering and experiencing psychedelic substances themselves, so due diligence is recommended to find the best option for you. We advise you to only work with practitioners who have consumed these substances themselves so they understand what you will be going through.
Are you one of the many people who might benefit from utilizing psychedelics to access your subconscious thought processes and patterns or better manage a mental health issue? Let’s take a look at how you can find psychedelic assisted therapy—wherever you are in the US.
The Current State of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy: An Overview
Currently, the only legal psychedelic-assisted therapy in the US, meaning consuming a psychedelic substance in the presence of a licensed mental health professional, is ketamine-assisted therapy. This is because ketamine is a Schedule III drug (approved for off-label use) on the Federally Controlled Substances List, while most other psychedelic substances are Schedule I.
However, many local and state municipalities have decriminalized certain psychedelics, which reduces the risk of possession and use. Psilocybin-assisted therapy will be legal in the State of Oregon, but the program won’t come online until 2022 at the earliest. This is why many people seeking intentional psychedelic use will be hard pressed to find a licensed mental health professional (i.e. therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist) who can also serve as an in-person guide or trip sitter during the experience itself.
That limits your options to the following:
- Ketamine or cannabis assisted therapy within the US
- An international retreat where psychedelics are legal
- Underground therapists (we can’t help here as this is not legal)
- US-based psychedelic guides and trip sitters (this is what we do)
We believe that it is a fundamental human right to commune with plant medicine and psychedelic substances for healing, regardless of whether you prefer to work with a licensed mental health professional or not.
This is why we created Psychedelic Passage; to provide guidance before, during, and after an intentional psychedelic experience. Please note that we are not licensed mental health professionals nor do we provide controlled substances. For more information on our services, we invite you to request a free consult with one of our facilitators.
Legal Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Options
So, psychedelics have caught your attention and you’ve been wondering, “how can I find psychedelic assisted therapy near me?” If you would have asked this question a decade ago, you would have ran into many dead ends.
However, thanks to the tireless efforts of researchers and the growing psychedelic community, accessing psychedelic assisted therapy is easier than ever before. Because many of these psychedelics are still considered illegal substances, some types of psychedelic therapy (with use of the drugs themselves) are illegal in the US outside of clinical studies. That said, there are still some viable legal alternatives with more coming online in the future.
U.S. Based Psychedelic Assisted Therapy
Until psilocybin and MDMA are approved for therapeutic use in the next couple of years, there are just two legal options for psychedelic assisted therapy in the United States: ketamine assisted therapy and cannabis assisted therapy.
Ketamine assisted therapy
Ketamine has been approved by the FDA as an anesthetic for nearly half a decade. Recent clinical trials demonstrating benefits in treating mood disorders has meant that ketamine can also be administered for “off-label uses.” Even without appropriate FDA classification for ketamine as a medicine, health providers have been using ketamine for years to treat Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and PTSD.
For many in the psychiatric community, ketamine is nothing short of a ground-breaking treatment. Ketamine-assisted therapy is a rapidly growing field and the combination of ketamine with psychotherapy has produced lasting changes when it comes to PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
Ketamine has a response rate of 60-75% when it comes to antidepressant effects. In particular, therapists are excited about ketamine’s potential in treating the 1% of Americans who have treatment-resistant depression. There are now hundreds of ketamine clinics around the US, and just last year, the FDA approved esketamine, a nasal spray to be used with conventional antidepressants.
Ketamine assisted therapy will provide a much more intense psychedelic experience than cannabis therapy, which we address in the following section. It is best for people who have a stubborn chronic condition that is resistant to other forms of treatment.
Cannabis assisted therapy
The medical use of cannabis dates back to 1838—when it successfully treated rheumatic pains, tetanus, and epilepsy. Since then, cannabis (both THC and CBD) has been studied for treatment potential with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain, schizophrenia, sleep disturbance, Tourette syndrome, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, and social anxiety. With the uptick in states legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, the US has welcomed several cannabis clinics and therapists.
An estimated 3-5% of the global population has experimented with cannabis and its entheogenic or spiritual use dates back to more than 3,000 years ago. Cannabis plays a role in psychotherapy for some of the same reasons it was historically used.
When properly used in a therapeutic setting, heightened awareness and reduced inhibitions may work as a “truth serum,” bringing difficult thoughts and feelings to the forefront for healthy reflection and processing. Dose, strain, set, and setting are all important for making the most out of an experience with cannabis, and a cannabis assisted therapist can help you optimize all of these.
Cannabis assisted therapy is a great option for people who are looking to introduce plants into their therapy sessions without having a full psychedelic trip. Cannabis is considered to be an “ally plant” rather than a “teacher plant,” making it gentler than other psychedelic substances.
Traveling Outside of the U.S. for a Trip
If you’re seeking psychedelic assisted therapy with a substance other than ketamine or cannabis, your only legal option (currently) is to go overseas. While the US has yet to recognize that the ban on some of these psychedelics should be lifted, fortunately that doesn’t apply everywhere.
Some countries recognize the sacramental value of psychedelics, so while they’re technically illegal, they are allowed in traditional use. Other countries have never made psychedelics illegal, and even if they have (in the case of Portugal), they typically don’t enforce it.
Psilocybin retreats are common in Mexico, Jamaica, and the Netherlands. San Pedro and ayahuasca retreats can easily be found in countries like Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. While not as popular, practitioners offering 5-MeO-DMT can be found in Spain and Mexico. Iboga treatment centers have opened recently in Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, and Portugal.
In reality, these psychedelic retreats are more ceremonial in nature as opposed to 1-on-1 style Western psychedelic assisted therapy. That means international retreats are a better option for those seeking a more indigenous, ceremonial, and spiritual experience.
Though these international trips are a legal option, a number of considerations must be taken into account before embarking on this type of journey. In addition to travel logistics and taking time off work, vetting and reviewing psychedelic retreat and spiritual centers can be difficult from afar.
Psychedelics can put the user in a vulnerable condition, both mentally and physically, so utmost care should be taken to find a safe and reputable place. We’ll explain more on how to do this in the next section.
How to Actually Choose Which Option is Right for You
Now that you know which psychedelic assisted therapy options exist, it’s time to choose the path that’s best for you. We know it can be daunting to choose which of the hundreds of clinics is a good fit for you personally. That’s why we at Psychedelic Professionals have put together this guide to help you find a trusted, legal, psychedelic assisted therapy clinic that fits your unique needs.
In addition to performing a search on Google, there are sites like MAPS and Retreat Guru that will help you identify legitimate psychedelic assisted therapy practitioners. We suggest using whatever resources at your disposal to search for options that meet your parameters. Using this as a starting point, you can then apply the filters below to narrow down your results.
Determine Your Desired Outcome
What is your desired outcome? It’s important to choose a substance and a therapist that can help you achieve your desired outcome. Psychedelics like ketamine are better at treating depression, whereas substances like MDMA may be better served for treating PTSD. If you’re looking for more, we’ve put together a full guide on how to choose the right psychedelic substance based on your desired outcome.
It is also worth noting that therapists have different specialties. Some therapists specialize in addiction, while others specialize in trauma, anxiety, or stress reduction. We suggest choosing a therapist that specializes in treating your condition using psychedelics.
What is Your Budget
Like every professional service, psychedelic assisted therapy is provided at a variety of different price points. Ketamine assisted therapy is generally the most expensive form of psychedelic assisted therapy in the U.S, costing hundreds of dollars for a single session. Plus, it may require multiple treatments to get your desired result. Cannabis provides a far cheaper alternative.
International retreats vary in price, but with airfare, the price can exceed ketamine assisted therapy locally. The upside to international retreats is that your money goes further—the retreat price often includes accommodations, food, and activities. Plus you get to choose your psychedelic of choice. This makes retreats the most immersive option that certainly provides immense value, but the cost for these international trips usually start at around $1500.
Which Therapy Modality is Best For You?
There are hundreds of different therapeutic modalities: somatic therapy, transpersonal therapy, shamanic healing, gestalt therapy, EMDR, brainspotting, hypnosis…the list goes on. It’s important to choose a therapist that’s using a modality that resonates with you.
A quick Google search will provide insight into the nuances of each modality. There is no right or wrong choice, it’s simply choosing a modality that you would like to employ on your quest for healing.
Reviews & References
We absolutely suggest reading reviews or asking for previous client references prior to moving forward with a therapist. If the therapist is unable to provide reviews or references, that is a red flag.
Transparency is of the utmost importance when doing psychedelic assisted therapy. After all, you’re essentially putting your psyche in the hands of another person. It is critical that you feel comfortable and safe with this person.
Given the popularity of psychedelic assisted therapy, many therapists have long waitlists. This means you could wait months before engaging with the therapist of your choice. If time is of the essence, it’s important that you find a therapist who can help you quickly. That may mean sacrificing your first pick for someone else who is also qualified and immediately available, but may be located further away.
For those of you located in major metropolitan areas, you’ll have plenty of psychedelic assisted therapy options at your disposal. If you live in a more rural area, your options will likely be slim. However, assuming you have a vehicle, you’ll likely be able to drive to the nearest metro area to find the services you seek.
As we mentioned above, if you’re willing to travel by plane, your options increase significantly. There are international retreats of all types in many different countries. You may find that a country you’ve always wanted to visit actually hosts psychedelic retreats.
Questions to Ask
There are some crucial due diligence questions we suggest asking during your discovery process. Our recommendation is to schedule an initial consult with the clinics or therapists that are still on your list and ask them the following:
- What is your personal experience with psychedelics? (We only suggest doing psychedelic assisted therapy with therapists who have ingested the substance themselves)
- Why do you do this work?
- Have you successfully helped someone with [YOUR DESIRED OUTCOME]?
- What modalities do you specialize in?
- How many sessions do you think it will take to achieve my desired result?
- Do you do preparation and integration services as well? (In our opinion, preparation and integration is non-negotiable, but it can be done with a different practitioner if needed)
- Who on your staff would I be directly working with and what relevant experience do they have? (If possible, request to meet with these individuals before making your decision)
- Do you have both male and female therapists available? (Some therapists will practice as a male/female duo)
- Is your staff available outside of assisted therapy sessions in the case of emergency situations?
- What safety and harm reduction practices do you have in place?
- What are your payment terms and do you accept insurance?
Use Your Intuition
The final step is to use your intuition. Pay attention to what you feel in your gut as your having discovery calls with potential clinics and therapists. If you don’t feel good after the conversation, do you really want to work with them? You are seeking this person out for healing—they’re behavior and presence should reflect that. Also remember that it is your right to choose the best practitioner for you, and this includes the right to information and to ask questions.
By addressing the major points above, you’ll increase the likelihood of finding the best practitioner, therapist or clinic in your local area.
Underground Psychedelic Assisted Therapy
It is worth noting that there are some therapists providing underground psychedelic assisted therapy—meaning they are performing therapy with illegal psychedelic compounds like psilocybin and DMT. These therapists are risking their license to provide a service that many patients truly need.
Unfortunately, we cannot provide referrals or recommendations to underground psychedelic assisted therapy at this time. Should you choose to explore this option, please ensure that you are vetting the practitioner to the best of your ability.
Legal Alternatives to Psychedelics
Other legal options involve altered states of consciousness—without consuming any substances. Since it was developed by Stanislav and Christina Grof in 1975, Holotropic Breathwork has taken the world by storm. Holotropic Breathwork was designed to provide the effects of MDMA, ayahuasca, psilocybin, and LSD through hyperventilation and music.
It’s as effective as psychedelics in causing a therapeutic and transpersonal experience, and has been demonstrated to assist patients with various psychological problems. Those interested in holotropic breathwork should seek medical advice to ensure there are no preexisting conditions that may increase risk, such as respiratory or circulation issues. There are also other ways to enter the psychedelic realm without actually taking a drug.
Integrating the Psychedelic Experience
Although it’s not quite the same as psychedelic assisted therapy, psychedelic integration utilizes the help of a trained professional to help you make sense of your journey after the trip itself. That is one of the services we offer at Psychedelic Passage—the other is trip sitting with an emphasis on harm reduction. We are a collective of trained guides that can provide you actionable knowledge on how to reduce harm, increase effectiveness, and help you integrate your psychedelic experience into everyday life.
While 84% of participants in a psilocybin study ranked the experience as one of the top five most meaningful of their lives, the long-term benefits achieved might not have been possible without the support of a coach or therapist. Psychedelic experiences can provoke an array of feelings and emotions—some joyous, some confusing, some downright terrifying. But they’re all worth analyzing, and an integration specialist can help you do just that, even remotely.
We get it, the psychedelic experience is huge; and you may be left with more questions than answers after your trip. If you want to put your mind to ease after discovering new thoughts and emotions during your experience with psychedelics, we can put you in touch with someone trained to help. Reap the full benefits of psychedelics and schedule a free call with a knowledgeable trip sitter today.
The Future of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy
While it’s easy to get excited about where psychedelics stand now, that excitement will only continue to grow. We’re at a very special moment in human history—one where we’re finally beginning to discover the secrets that indigenous populations have known for millennia.
We’re starting to see psychedelics as an important tool in promoting mental health and wellbeing. Cannabis and ketamine are already being used in therapy. Legalization for treatment is just around the corner for MDMA and psilocybin, too. We’re sure to see a therapeutic future that is more effective and embracing of these powerful psychedelic medicines.
If you’re still confused and looking for personalized guidance on your journey to heal with psychedelics, we can help. As psychedelic trip sitters, we exist to support you in your journey with an emphasis on safety. Click here to schedule a call with one of our psychedelic trip sitters today.