The 60s psychedelic era is seeing a 21st century revival and San Francisco, California is one of the leading U.S. regions in psychedelic reform. Really, this isn’t so surprising considering the fact that San Francisco was home to the first major underground LSD factory back in the mid 1960s.
Today, this California city has effectively decriminalized plant-based psychedelics, thanks to a unanimous vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in early September. San Francisco has made waves of cultural influence on the psychedelic lifestyle, and luckily, it seems they won’t be done anytime soon.
Previously, we’ve discussed the current policy reform efforts for psilocybin and psychedelic-assisted therapy in California. Today, we’re turning our sights to Golden Gate City, otherwise known as the sunny city of San Francisco. How can city locals find legal, therapeutic psychedelic experiences near them, right now?
And when you find a psychedelic provider, how can you be sure that they’re qualified to facilitate your journey? We’ll discuss the tell-tale signs of an experienced psychedelic guide, as well as the differences and similarities between a psychedelic therapist, guide, and facilitator.
Do you really need a psychedelic guide to have a therapeutic psychedelic experience? By the time you finish reading this article, we promise you’ll have more options in hand than you even thought were available. So why don’t we stop the chit chat. Let’s turn on, tune in, and draw out our options for receiving psychedelic therapy in San Francisco, California.
The Difference Between a Psychedelic Therapist, Guide, & Facilitator
In the past, we’ve done a deep dive into the gold-standard of qualities in a psychedelic therapist. Given today’s topic though, a brief overview is surely warranted. First, let’s define the role of a psychedelic therapist and compare it to the services of psychedelic facilitators and guides.
In its simplest definition, a psychedelic therapist is a licensed mental health professional who facilitates psychedelic experiences. Though San Francisco is one of three California cities to have decriminalized psychedelics, cannabis reform has taught us that decriminalization is still a far cry from legalization.
For this reason, it’s rare that a licensed therapist would take the legal risk of offering psychedelic support services. If they do, it’s likely they may only be willing to assist you during preparation and integration phases because they’re not legally allowed to be present during your actual psychedelic experience.
Here’s where psychedelic facilitators and guides step in to bridge the current gap in psychedelic services. A ‘facilitator’ and a ‘guide’ share the same responsibilities. In fact, these terms are virtually interchangeable and are really a matter of personal preference. The only difference between psychedelic facilitators/guides and psychedelic therapists is mental health licensure.
What Qualifies a Psychedelic Therapist?
A qualified psychedelic therapist/ facilitator will always have extensive first-hand experience using psychedelics themselves. How could a facilitator mediate a relationship between their client and the psychedelic medicine, if they don’t first establish a personal relationship with the medicine themselves?
How could a psychedelic guide support a client’s journey if they’ve never been in the shoes of a journeyer? A chef can’t pass culinary school without having ever tasted food before, can they?
You should resonate with the healing philosophy of your psychedelic guide. The healing philosophy of your psychedelic guide describes their personal beliefs about the pillars of life that contribute to personal wholeness and physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
To better understand a facilitator’s healing philosophy, ask questions about their specializations, their evolving relationship with psychedelic medicine, and on how they plan to help you support yourself if (xyz) were to occur.
Qualified psychedelic facilitators acknowledge that you are the true healer. The relationship between you and the psychedelic medicine should always have the space to unfold organically.
If a psychedelic guide has journeyed as much as they should have, they’ll know that internal and external attempts to sway the direction of someone’s journey only creates resistance and frightens surrender. No one knows your mind better than your own mind. Therefore, no one can know what should surface during a psychedelic experience, more than your own subconscious.
This means that unless you’re under severe distress or in physical danger, a guide should not attempt to manipulate the direction of your journey. The term ‘guide’ can be misleading. It creates the misconception that a guide should be intentionally prompting the trajectory of your psychedelic experience.
A guided psychedelic journey is very different from talk therapy. We have clients who remain silent for almost the entirety of their journey, while others process by verbalizing what’s going on internally. Your guide will adapt to your present needs and meet you exactly where you are.
Of course, a qualified psychedelic guide is also someone who has facilitated a good number of ceremonies for other clients. Ask potential guides if they can offer you access to client testimonials to get a better gauge on the quality of their services.
Last, but certainly not least, you should assess how you feel upon first meeting a potential guide. Take notice of their space and the energy within it. Is this someone you feel comfortable being vulnerable with? Does their presence relax and empower you?
If there are doubts in your mind that you can’t seem to shake off, your best bet is to move onto another psychedelic facilitator. There doesn’t have to be anything inherently wrong with a guide in order to explore your other options. Sometimes we’re just not compatible with someone, and that’s okay.
Is it Really Necessary to Hire a Psychedelic Guide?
Is hiring a psychedelic guide required to have a therapeutic psychedelic experience? No, absolutely not, because once again, you are the primary cause of your personal change.
At first glance, having a close friend or relative tripsit you may feel the most intuitive. You’ve known them for a long time and you trust they have the best intentions for you at heart. We don’t wish to refute that, but do consider this. In a psychedelic state we embody the most raw and vulnerable versions of ourselves.
How far can you truly allow yourself to surrender in the presence of people you personally know? Be honest with yourself about this. The truth is that for many people it can be extremely challenging to wholly submit ourselves to such an experience in the presence of our loved ones.
It could cause distractions, both in the practical sense, and in the sense that your journey may more so reflect your relationship to the person in the room rather than your relationship to yourself.
Many times, if a journeyer is in the presence of someone they know, conscious or subconscious pressures to maintain the persona they usually project around that person, can arise. It can make us feel forced to “hold ourselves together”.
This pressure can cause much internal resistance, because again, it’s a form of external influence that can prompt attempts to control the organic trajectory of our psychedelic journey. On top of that, many people seek psychedelic experiences to address issues with depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
When we think about the depth of these emotional states and about the level of emotional suppression that are likely associated with them, we can understand why having a professional present would be the option most conducive to our mental comfort and ease.
A psychedelic guide also has knowledge and experience regarding safety, energetic presence, and emotional regulation, that close friends and family likely do not. Someone who doesn’t have extensive practice with regulating their own nervous system, could unknowingly project feelings of fear, worry, or judgment.
Because journeyers are so in-tune with energetic languages during a psychedelic experience, it’s very likely that they’ll sense the tripsitter’s feelings, and again, attempt to control the direction of their journey and their response to it. Aside from this, a professional psychedelic guide has the tools to help you navigate preparation and integration processes, while friends and family likely do not.
Expectation management during the preparation stage is key for having as seamless of a psychedelic experience as possible. Integration is equally, if not more important for ensuring a fluid and productive transition between these altered states of consciousness.
So, no, it is definitely not necessary to have a psychedelic guide present during your ceremony, much like you don’t need a seatbelt to drive a car. However, it is the safest, most stable and supported option, especially regarding trips that involve heavy intentions.
Where to Find Legal Psychedelic Experiences Near San Francisco
Right now, two options exist for seeking therapeutic psychedelic experiences in San Francisco, California: Ketamine clinics and guided psychedelic journeys with Psychedelic Passage.
- Ketamine Clinics
- Ketamine Clinics
Ketamine treatment is an emerging therapy that targets treatment-resistant depression and PTSD. It’s existed in our pharmacopeia as a dissociative anesthetic since the 60’s, right around the time that LSD was first synthesized.
Though ketamine’s effects do alter consciousness, the drug is not a true psychedelic. Journeyers report observing themselves from a second person perspective. The benefit in such an effect is that we’re able to view our life conditions more objectively and empathetically.
In full disclosure, we want to note that about 50 percent of the clients that seek out our services are turning to more traditional psychedelics because of previous failed ketamine therapy or because they only experience short-lasting benefits.
The drug itself is not at fault for this, rather there unfortunately exists a lack of consistency in the level of therapeutic support offered amongst ketamine clinics. So, if you’re seeking to find a ketamine clinic near you, make certain that you receive the therapeutic support you need.
- Guided Psychedelic Journeys with Psychedelic Passage
Here, at Psychedelic Passage, we facilitate therapeutic psychedelic experiences across the United States. Our mission is to offer equal access to these potentially life-changing treatments by placing emphasis on harm reduction practices and by reducing the ambiguity surrounding quality psychedelic support.
Navigating this infant space of psychedelics can be tricky. How can you really trust that you’re receiving appropriate care? That’s exactly why we’ve made it our job to carefully curate a network of highly experienced psychedelic facilitators, so you only connect with guides that have already been pre-vetted by us.
Our facilitators will conduct a health screening to make sure this is a safe and healthy option for you. They’ll guide you through preparation procedures, sit with you through your psychedelic experience, and assist in the integration of your new-found knowledge.
We understand how personal a psychedelic experience can be. That’s why we can facilitate therapeutic psychedelic experiences right from the comfort of your own home. Because we don’t source the psychedelic for you, you have free reign over the psychedelic medicine you choose to work with.
Find Your Next Psychedelic Journey in Any Major San Francisco Area
- North Beach
- Embarcadero/ Financial District
- Union Square
- SOMA/ Yerba Buena
- Castro/ Noe Valley
- Hayes Valley
- Nob Hill
- Treasure Island
- Mission District
Explore How it Feels to be Connected
Navigating this fresh space of psychedelic medicine can be intimidating and you shouldn’t have to do it on your own. If you’re interested in embarking on a therapeutic psychedelic journey, we empower you to book a consultation with us.
Psychedelics have the power to catalyze large-scale change in our lives and part of destigmatizing their therapeutic use involves sharing access to the most up-to-date information. If you’d like to learn more about all-things-psychedelic, head on over to our resources page. That’s all for now, friends. As always, safe and mindful journeying!