Good ol’ Portland, Oregon, the nation’s leading state in psychedelic reform, is moving full force to provide its residents with the most novel and effective mental health medicines. In a previous article, we covered the current legislation of psychedelic therapy in Oregon.
Today, the city of Portland takes the spotlight. With psychedelic legalization coming up in 2023, it’s important that residents are equipped with the tools to qualify a psychedelic facilitator, guide, or therapist. How can you spot an experienced and ethical facilitator, from one who isn’t so?
Not only will we delve into the role of a facilitator so that you, as a journeyer, can recognize the level of support that is necessary for such an experience, but we’ll also help you identify the options you have right now, for embarking on a therapeutic psychedelic journey. Let’s get right into it.
What Qualifies a Psychedelic Therapist?
In a previous article, we did a deep dive into the qualities you should look for in a psychedelic therapist. Today’s topic, though, surely warrants a brief overview. Before moving ahead, let’s establish a solid understanding on the difference between a psychedelic therapist and a facilitator/ guide.
In its most exact terms, a psychedelic therapist is a licensed mental health therapist that provides therapeutic support and guidance before, during, and after a psychedelic journey. A psychedelic facilitator or guide does the exact same work, only they don’t have a license to conduct “therapy”.
We put the word therapy in quotation marks because truly anything can be considered therapeutic. A walk in the park, a cup of tea, a genuine conversation with someone who is open to hearing your truth.
For the most part, psychedelic facilitators don’t have a medical license, thus, their ability to hold a supportive and therapeutic space comes from a wide range of personal experience with psychedelic substances. Let’s take ketamine therapy as an example.
Ketamine is a drug that has the potential to offer positive, life changing insights. It’s why so many research studies have supported its efficacy in treating treatment-resistant depression and PTSD. So why is it that about 50% of the clients we receive at Psychedelic Passage, approach us due to failed ketamine therapy or because they only experienced short-term relief?
Very simply, there exists a lack of regulations surrounding this therapy. Yes, by law, a medical professional must administer ketamine, but as we’ve found, having a medical license doesn’t automatically imply that someone has enough experience to support others who are in such an altered state of consciousness.
In fact, a large majority of the medical practitioners administering ketamine infusions have never once had first-hand experience using the drug at its therapeutic dose. How can we expect someone who hasn’t used ketamine to provide us with adequate support when they’ve never taken on the role of their journeying clients?
This leads us to one of the most important qualities in any psychedelic therapist or facilitator: personal experience with psychedelics. In order to be of service to a psychedelic journeyer, your facilitator should have ample first-hand experience using the substance.
One cannot truly understand what another is going through unless they have been through it themselves. With psychedelics specifically, it’s virtually impossible to relate to the experience of a journeyer, unless the facilitator has journeyed many times.
Why is it necessary for them to journey many times? Why not only once or twice or three times, even? The simplest answer is that every single psychedelic experience is different, there exists no exact replication of a journey.
However, common themes, challenges, insights, and happenings are present across all journeys. So, in order to be qualified as a psychedelic facilitator to many clients, a practitioner has to be well versed in the commonalities across experiences so that they can identify what a journeyer’s needs are, in the moment.
Next, it’s important that you resonate with the healing philosophy of your facilitator. What called them to enter this line of work? What personal practices do they have for regulating their own nervous system, so that they’re better able to hold an energetically safe and balanced ceremonial environment?
Not only should you make a decision based on how closely you align with their responses, but you should also assess how safe and open you feel when in their presence. It’s very likely that the 6-12 hours you spend with this person will be some of the most vulnerable and raw moments of your life.
Therefore, you should feel physically, emotionally, and energetically safe enough to communicate your truth with this person. A knowledgeable psychedelic facilitator should encourage your personal accountability in the process because they know that the true healer exists within you.
A facilitator should provide you with enough space and time for the experience to unfold organically, so that you can come to insights that are specific to you and your circumstances. A good facilitator recognizes that there is nothing more therapeutic than self-leading our communion with the psychedelic medicine.
If a practitioner attempts to interfere with the trajectory of the experience without there being a serious need to, they’re essentially expressing that they know what’s right for you, above your inner healer and above the intelligence of these sacred and ancient medicines.
Thus, your psychedelic guide should demonstrate empathetic, honest, and open communication, at all times. Listen to your intuition. If there’s doubts you can’t seem to settle, move onto another facilitator.
What is The Role of a Psychedelic Guide?
With psychedelics gaining mainstream attention, the meaning of the term “guide” has become slightly lost in translation. When some think of this role, they envision a psychedelic professional guiding them in ceremony, whether through verbal cues, prompts, and/or guided visualizations.
This however, couldn’t be further from the truth. As we mentioned earlier, one of the qualities you should look out for when choosing the right psychedelic guide, is their disposition for allowing you to take personal accountability over your healing journey. After all, what is self-actualization without account of the self?
Someone else cannot unravel our unconscious. Our mind and brain is the only place in which our deepest truths lay. The container of our suffering is the only place where truths can be excavated, processed, and released. We are that container.
So if a psychedelic guide doesn’t lead our journey, what is their role? Well, just as we are the container of our truth, a guide is the anchor for that container. When deep seated repressions begin to surface at such a rapid pace, it’s common for journeyers to feel out of sorts, to say the least.
Thus, psychedelic guides serve as a tether to reality. Their extensive experience with these medicines allow them to hold a space that’s conducive to healthy and safe catharsis. To paint a more comprehensive picture, imagine a time in which you were in a fairly chaotic environment.
Perhaps it was a party or a family get together where everyone was engaged in conversation. Suddenly, the door opens and someone walks in. For a brief moment, everyone’s awareness shifts onto that person. And perhaps for a couple of moments, the energy in the room changes.
It’s more mellow, more present. That is, of course, until the energy of the people in the room transfers onto the new visitor. Now the visitor is dancing and conversing with all of the other guests. This is an example of how someone’s energy affects the energy of other people, and it goes both ways.
A psychedelic facilitator is like the visitor in our example. They hold a grounded presence which helps to anchor the journeyer. Unlike the visitor though, a facilitator works to maintain their grounded energy despite what may be going on with the journeyer.
In an instance where Person A may be panicking, it’s very easy for the common person (Person B) to absorb some of that panic and become anxious, themselves. This liberal exchange of panicked energy only heightens the panic in Person A.
If someone is also worried or nervous, it gives us more reason to justify our own concerns. A psychedelic facilitator doesn’t allow the emotions of a journeyer to influence their presence because they understand their role as an anchor to solidity and stability.
Is it Really Necessary to Hire a Psychedelic Guide?
Is it necessary to have a psychedelic guide present for your journey? The short answer is no, because again, you are the primary cause for your personal healing. However, what a psychedelic guide contributes to your journey is very valuable.
First, a psychedelic guide will take you through the necessary preparation processes for your journey. They conduct a health screening to ensure that this is a safe option for you, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.
Since qualified psychedelic guides have seen nearly every psychedelic scenario under the sun, they will equip you with all of their knowledge. So in the event that a certain feeling comes up, whether that be a feeling of oneness that you’ve never experienced or perhaps an ego dissolution, you’re not caught by surprise.
You were thoroughly informed of all of the possibilities, what they mean, how to approach them, and so you feel safe in a scenario where you might have otherwise felt in danger. Of course, the grounded presence that a facilitator learns to cultivate throughout their career, cannot truly be replicated by a tripsitter friend or family member.
A vital contributor to a facilitator’s ability to remain grounded is their complete surrender of any judgment towards you. Whereas if someone you know where to tripsit for your experience, not only would they have an inherent attachment to their preconceived notions about you, but you’ll likely feel pressured to adhere to the persona that you adopt when you’re around them.
Such a scenario can create very strong internal resistance to the experience, on the journeyer’s end. They’ll attempt to contain themselves and to control the direction of the journey, which in basically every case, results in immense and overwhelming discomfort.
A psychedelic guide also helps you to integrate your experience, to ensure a healthy transition between these different states of consciousness. Integration is arguably one of the most crucial parts of a psychedelic experience.
You can have many insights, epiphanies, and realizations during your experience, but if you don’t have support in learning how to incorporate these changes in perspective into your day-to-day life, it’s very easy to fall back on old habits and ways of relating to yourself and to the world.
A facilitator not only helps you to hold yourself accountable for adapting your life to your new perspectives, but they also assist you in navigating the changes that may occur in your personal relationships, as a result of your growth.
So no, you do not need a psychedelic guide to take psychedelic substances. Almost like you don’t need to wear a seatbelt to operate a car, but it sure does help ensure your stability, your safety, and your ease of mind.
Where to Find Legal Psychedelic Experiences Near Portland, Oregon
As of the moment, there are two options for Portland city residents to embark on a therapeutic psychedelic journey: ketamine clinics and guided psychedelic journeys with Psychedelic Passage.
1. Ketamine Clinics
Ketamine therapy is a recently developed approach that helps treat treatment-resistant depression and PTSD. Ketamine, however, is not a true psychedelic since it’s classified as an dissociative anesthetic. In fact, ketamine has had a place in our pharmacopeia since the 60’s, used predominantly in hospital operating rooms.
That’s not to say that ketamine’s effects aren’t therapeutic. Ketamine has been the topic of much scientific research for very good reason. Its cognitive effects produce an out-of-body experience, which helps people observe their suffering, their life circumstances, and their intrapersonal relationship, with more empathy and objectivity.
However, it wouldn’t feel ethically correct to direct readers toward ketamine therapy services without restating that about 50 percent of our clients come to us due to previous failed ketamine therapy. This is not the fault of the drug itself, but rather the regulations surrounding its therapeutic application.
Many ketamine clinics fail to provide proper preparation and integration support. In fact, very often, a journeyer is left to their own devices, with a nurse practitioner only occasionally coming in to check on their IV. So, if you’re seeking to find a ketamine clinic near you, make certain that you are provided with the necessary therapeutic support that an experience of this magnitude requires.
2. Guided Psychedelic Journeys with Psychedelic Passage
Here, at Psychedelic Passage we provide therapeutic psychedelic experiences with every type of psychedelic medicine. You have full autonomy over every aspect of your journey. This includes not only the medicine you choose to work with, but the environment in which you journey, the pace at which you navigate the process, and of course, the facilitator that you work with.
Not only can you embark on your psychedelic journey from the comfort of your own home, but our carefully curated network of psychedelic facilitators allows you to have a wide range of options. If you choose to engage with our network, you’ll have the freedom to connect with as many facilitators as you feel is needed, until you find the right one.
Our 5 week program was intentionally created to catalyze personal transformation. Our program includes preparation, integration, and in-person ceremonial facilitation. The best part? It is designed in a way that allows facilitators to tailor your experience to your specific needs, goals, and intentions.
Equal access to these ancient medicines is one of our top priorities. That’s why we implemented income-based pricing tiers. So that any person, from any income bracket, can seek the care that they need. We acknowledge the uncertainty and indirection that comes with navigating this fresh space of psychedelics, and it’s why we’ve qualified and thoroughly vetted guides, for you.
Find Your Next Psychedelic Journey in Any Major Portland Area
- Arlington Heights
- Forest Park
- Northwest District
- Arnold Creek
- South Burlingame
- Arbor Lodge
- East Columbia
- Hayden Island
- Pleasant Valley
Explore How it Feels to be Connected
With Ballot Measure 109 in its final stages before lift off, we hope that this article has provided you with information that services your healing journey. If you’d like to get connected with our network of psychedelic facilitators, we empower you to book a consultation with us.
Education is the best way to continue promoting the development of strong and supportive therapeutic frameworks. So, if you’d like to learn more about all-things-psychedelic, head on over to our resources page for more informative articles like this one. As always, safe and mindful journeying, fellow psychonauts!