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Psychedelic Therapy Costs: The Price of Mental Health

“Psychedelic Therapy Costs: The Price of Mental Health” dives into the complex topic of money and its connection to psychedelic therapy. 

In evaluating the contrasting values of ancient and modern societies, our hosts explore how the integration of psychedelics into a capitalist model raises important questions about our priorities and the value we place on mental health.

Discover the intricate dynamics involved in pricing psychedelic services and how various factors influence the cost. With an emphasis on critical thinking, the hosts shed light on what qualifies an expert and how to determine if the price aligns with the scope of services offered by a facilitator. 

Nicholas and Jimmy explore the historical shifts in societal values and the growing recognition of the importance of mental health. 

They discuss the challenges of plugging something sacred like psychedelics into a late-stage capitalist system, seeking to create an environment where accessibility and quality care coexist.

While acknowledging the absence of established market pricing in most regions, Jimmy and Nicholas provide insights into the current landscape of psychedelic therapy costs.

 They share inspiring stories of individuals and organizations supporting underprivileged populations, highlighting the positive trajectory of the psychedelic movement.

 

Episode 49: Psychedelic Therapy Costs – The Price of Mental Health

Jimmy: Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Jimmy Nguyen, I’m joined here as always by my cohost Nick.

Nick: Are you sick of me yet?

[laughter]

Jimmy: No, I’m hyping you up, man. It’d be way more boring if I was just ranting into a microphone as opposed to having somebody to rant to and back and forth and get some feedback, and people keep coming back and listening to us so, we’re doing something. 

I mean the whole point of this is how we can talk about the things that are not commonly talked about with psychedelics, how do we share that with community to get people to start talking about this amongst themselves. It’s kind of like the whole thing.

Nick: And I think to add an element of nuance that’s hard to get in writing.

Jimmy: Sure.

Nick: A blog article doesn’t capture the nuance the same way that this sort of discussion format does. I actually think it’s a helpful way to learn for a lot of folks.

Jimmy: Yeah. And we find ourselves in a unique seat because within our organization, Psychedelic Passage, we interact with a lot of people who are seeking services, telling us about their issues, we are supporting those folks, providing– you’re connecting them to services, like all that. 

We just end up getting a lot of data on some of the stuff. We’re going to talk about a really hot topic today. And it’s about the conversation of money, and I think that money and finances– it has energy to it. 

Meaning that it can be a real big sticking point for people. I think for some folks it flows very freely, for other folks it doesn’t. There’s a lot of reasons around that. 

But what we’re going to talk about today is what’s reasonable or how much should you expect to pay for psychedelic-related services or to pay for a guided ceremony or whatnot? 

I’ll put a disclaimer out there that this is really going to range and be different depending on whether it’s a clinical trial or more clinically, medically focused. Like ketamine in its own thing, but what we’ll talk about specifically today is, it’s May 2023–

At this current juncture of what’s available as far as psychedelic-related services of finding a facilitator to help you navigate a psychedelic experience. That’s the context of what we’ll talk about today around– [crosstalk] 

How Psychedelic Therapy Fits Into Our Modern-Day Culture

[00:02:28] Nick: One of the things that I want to touch on is the pricing dynamics, right?

Jimmy: Sure.

Nick: Knowing that there’s a range. And so, the idea for me is like what factors are important to pay attention to when it comes to pricing? What’s influencing pricing? Where can I maybe cut some corners versus not? 

Just getting very clear on those dynamics that exist because I think the interesting thing to me is pricing in this space tends to have more significant implications than in other spaces.

Jimmy: It’s just connected to the level of service you get. It’s not a one to one where more pricing is better service, but they’re related.

Nick: [crosstalk] -correlation.

Jimmy: Yeah. And before we get into that because I think that’s really important to talk about the actual logistics, the tangible components around pricing and the service that you receive and what that looks like. 

I want to back up for a long time, a very long time, to just set some context here culturally. So, one of the things about the way psychedelics are coming into the mainstream now is that it has to make sense for this society. 

This is a society that is built on fiat currency, consumerism paying for services, organizations, businesses, free services, all that stuff.

When psychedelics were being used as a sacrament or a tool or embedded within cultures and communities, let’s call it, hundreds of years ago, it was a different social structure. It was a different consumer model, it was a different economic model. 

There were hopefully in some traditions and cultures pathways for an elder or a healer or a medicine keeper or anything of that regard to be taken care of within the community, in some way or the other.

Nick: Even if it was just an exchange of services. Like everyone does their part, someone cooks, someone cleans, someone serves medicine, like everyone’s got their role and there’s a level of reciprocity there.

Jimmy: And this works in smaller communities. An anthropologist will probably yell at me, but we’re probably like communities of 100 to 250 people. 

You’re like, that works. Now we’re in a society where we have cities and towns and thousands of folks where you do have to earn a living wage. 

How does that work then? I think it’s even a miracle that people are even allowed to be paid for psychedelic-related services, is my point. To add other layers of this, this relates me back to the whole social conditioning episode that we did in the past. 

There are certain things in our society that are really valued and there are certain things that are not. For example, we really value LeBron James and his talents to be a top-tier athlete. He gets paid a certain amount of money for that.

In society, people are like, “Yeah, there’s only one LeBron James, there’s only one NBA, and okay, there’s one of that dude on the planet, great.” 

And then we devalue things like custodial work or janitorial work, teachers. There’s just certain jobs where we’re like that doesn’t have as much societal value, and then we get to mental health. 

The interesting thing about mental health in general, which psychedelics intersect with, is that nobody gave shit about mental health until we had to during the pandemic. 

20 years ago, men were barely able to talk about their feelings, let alone get therapy and be in a men’s group and whatever. I know that’s the same across many genders and sexes and all of that. 

So, I just want to paint a picture that there is already a societal making-up to do on what we value as a culture, on what’s going to help us the most, and the expiration of your personal self and your spirituality and your mental health is increasingly becoming at the highest priority for folks.

Nick: If I could reflect what you’re saying back or distill it into this point, it’s that we’re all collectively trying to figure out in real-time how to plug psychedelic services into a capitalistic model.

Jimmy: 100% because that’s the model that we have here. I’m all for alternate models, and this is not going to steer into a political conversation. But what I’m saying is this is the landscape in which the “psychedelic industry” or the psychedelic movement is being built upon.

Nick: Right. Unless it’s a charity or a nonprofit, it has to make money and it has to pay its people and those people have their personal bills to pay. 

It’s a very interesting thing. And you and I have had several internal discussions around this whole thing of like, how do you plug something sacred like psychedelics into a capitalistic model? 

And not just any one, but arguably late-stage capitalism and create an environment [Jimmy laughs] [crosstalk] where everyone’s getting what they need and it’s somewhat accessible to the folks that need the care.

Jimmy: Yeah, I was laughing at the late-stage capitalism. I’m sure our audience really varies on where they feel [Nick laughs] the arc of our society is going. 

Let me really just encapsulate it with this question or what I would say my preference is and then let’s get into some of this stuff. I feel this work as far as facilitation work for folks, it’s just deeply personal work and it’s akin to coaching or therapy or just any deeply personal work. 

I’ll just use therapy as an example. I would rather my therapist be a full-time therapist. Like if I saw my therapist at the grocery store bagging groceries, I’d be like, “Yo, is everything okay?”

Nick: Right.

Jimmy: You’re not able to do the thing that you’re really good at full time, as opposed to somebody who maybe had another full-time thing, 40, 50 hours doing something else and then they maybe moonlight as a therapist on Friday, Saturday. 

I say that in a profession where people understand that and make sense, okay, that makes sense. There are certain jobs where I would prefer– a doctor. I would prefer a doctor to be a full-time doctor and not be like a car salesman on Saturdays, you know what I mean?

Nick: Right.

Jimmy: I’m not saying psychedelics is the same as a therapist or a doctor. I’m just saying that there are certain professions out there where I would prefer you to be doing this full-time.

Nick: An expert. You want a professional, you want an expert.

Jimmy: Yeah, exactly. What I’m saying is that folks are going to be coming about what they charge for psychedelic services from a lot of different angles and parameters. 

And It’s probably important to mention that there are no standards out there right now. There’s only really two markets geographically where the ability to legally pay for psychedelic-related services will exist. 

All of the rest are in this gray area with decriminalization or full-blown illegalization. I don’t think that there are set standards on, okay, this is charged this amount. We see a range all across the board.

Nick: [crosstalk] We don’t have established market pricing yet. When I think about something like, “Let’s just say a car for instance.” 

You generally know what you’re going to pay for a car. It’s a range, but based on the features and the type of vehicle and the quality, you know what you’re [crosstalk] pay.

Jimmy: And the data that’s out there. There’s plenty– [crosstalk]

Nick: Right. Kelley Blue Book, for instance.

Jimmy: There’s a lot of people who have bought cars and a lot of people where you can baseline prices. You can’t really do that in an established psychedelic market, let’s call it.

Nick: Yet.

Jimmy: Yeah.

Nick: And so, I think it creates this question and I literally had someone reach out to me yesterday and go, “What can I expect to pay for a guided journey?” And the answer is not that simple, It Depends Podcast because– [crosstalk]

Jimmy: [laughs] Welcome to the It Depends Podcast.

Nick: It depends on what you’re going to get, right?

Jimmy: Yeah.

Nick: And so, there’s a difference between one-on-one work versus group work. There’s differences in scope of work, in terms of is it going to include prep and integration or is it just the ceremony itself. 

What is the person’s expertise? To your point, do they do this full-time or part-time? Because the dynamic that exists here is like, if you’ve got another full-time job and you just facilitate ceremonies on Saturdays–

You have a whole different financial situation, then someone who facilitates full time. The implications there are such that they impact the journeyer. And so, perhaps we get into some of these dynamics.

Breaking Down The Cost: 

A Facilitator’s Point of View

[00:11:45] Jimmy: Yeah. And I’ll clarify that I’m not– and I know Nick is not saying that somebody who is doing a lot of things and also does facilitation work is not equipped. 

What I’m saying is that it’s a lot rarer to find somebody who can give you the right bandwidth, time, attention, caliber of service, if they are moonlighting essentially as a facilitator, they just have other things going on in their life. 

As a person who would be looking for psychedelic-related services, it would be much rarer to find a person who is not doing it full time, who has a really, really high level of service. 

They really exist. I love those people, I know a lot of them. But then I’m also as a person looking for psychedelics, it’d be really hard for me to find that person. It’d be pretty hard.

So, let’s talk about it. What we see around pricing is that it ranges from people doing this work for free and pro bono and that’s their service to society. That’s a different category. 

All the way to folks charging a couple of hundred bucks, the folks charging $1000 all the way to kind of separate but like retreat programs that do 10K. 

I’ve also seen like, executive coaching level programs that go up to the 10K mark for high-earning individuals and things like that. And so that’s a big range. And then you couple the fact of what you’re saying, which is like, what are the components of service included with that?

Nick: Right. Perhaps we touch on some of these dynamics in terms of, like, “This is incredibly energy and time-intensive work.” And so, the question that I think about is, like, okay– [crosstalk]

Jimmy: For the facilitator. 

Nick: For the facilitator, yeah, I mean for the journeyer too.

Jimmy: Journeyer, for sure, but also the facilitator, yeah.

Nick: But this is a job where I think it feels exciting for a lot of people until you realize, “Oh, my God, this is what I do full time for money, is sit with people in the most vulnerable, profound, deepest moments in their whole life.” And that takes an energetic toll on you. 

And so, when I think about pricing– for instance, for me, it’s all about this kind of critical thinking component. If I see a facilitator who’s a full-time facilitator and they charge a couple of $100 for prep ceremony and integration, my immediate thought is– 

“How can you make a living charging that little knowing how many ceremonies you’d have to do while maintaining your quality of service and your own energetic hygiene as a facilitator?” 

Because the facilitators in our network, what we consider to be high volume, they’re doing two or three a week because you need time to decompress and rewrite your own energetic scales, so that you can show up fully again for someone else a day or two later.

I mean, for those that don’t understand this dynamic as far as what the facilitator needs to do to complete this job successfully, you basically have to put all of your own needs, wants, desires–

Physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise, off to the side in order to prioritize someone else’s for six to eight hours straight.

Jimmy: That’s just in the ceremonial part or the dosing session.

Nick: Right.

Jimmy: And so, you also have to think about, “Okay, whether I’m a coach or a facilitator or a guide or whatever the scope of work is,” which is also important to chat about, which we’ll circle back to here in a second–

But what’s involved in the preparation sessions and the integration sessions, and though there are hours associated with that, but then also that’s deep work too–

In people’s own discovery with what’s going on with them, in the pursuit of a psychedelic experience, there’s stuff that comes up. I personally can’t do more than two to three ceremonies a week. 

It takes a lot of my own re-grounding effort to not degrade services to the next client, the next client. And even then, I can probably only sustain that for a short stint of time.

Nick: And you need a week off or something.

Jimmy: Yeah. For example, talking about scope of work, it depends. Are they just showing up and you’re not doing any prep and integration? 

Are they really just there to make sure you don’t slip and hurt yourself? Or what’s the context in the service that they’re providing to you? I think that’s an important question to ask. 

And then how often do you get to engage in somebody’s services where they’re just caring for you for 6-8 hours? I just don’t know of any other jobs or professions. I mean, I know they’re out there, but like–[crosstalk]

Nick: They’re limited.

Jimmy: Using your example, I’m going to do some math here, actually. If I was an individual charging $300 for ceremony and assuming that that included prep ceremony and integration, let’s just say the minimal amount, let’s say 10 hours. 

How many of those ceremonies would you have to do to be able to pay your rent and be able to recharge and be able to take care of your family and your needs and all that. 

Nick: The answer is probably too many. [laughs]

Jimmy: And not feel financially scarce because then you’re always having to chase down another ceremony or another client. You can start to see how that becomes a disservice to the journeyer.

Nick: Well, and you just touched on another dynamic that exists, which is if you’ve got to make an additional thousand bucks to pay your rent for the month, you’re now in a pickle where you’re incentivized to take someone on as a client financially– 

But you may be feeling the pressure of that and then work with someone that you wouldn’t if you didn’t feel the pressure. If you didn’t need to pay rent, would you have decided to work with that client? 

You can see how these financial pressures that exist from living in a capitalistic society can often go against what’s perhaps in the best interest of your practice or the client that’s on the receiving end of that potential service.

Jimmy: Let me give you some numbers here, this is going to be fun, let’s say you were a parent and you had three kids and you were a full-time facilitator, and you charged $300 per ceremony, which we see out there very commonly–

You would have to see 10 clients a month, which is that two to three ceremonies a week, which already, we’re acknowledging is a lot, to basically make like $36,000 for the year.

You’re only like $5,000 over the poverty line. Then you got to take care of your kid’s needs and all that stuff.

Nick: It’s not feasible.

Jimmy: It’s just not feasible, and then so that’s the extreme one end and then you have the extreme on the other end where people are charging a lot. 

That’s not commensurate to the service. We saw that model in Oregon where people are charging based on dosage, is that right?

Nick: Dosage.

Jimmy: If you take a higher dose, you have to pay more.

Nick: Pay more, yeah.

Jimmy: I have no words for that. [laughs] I have no words for that.

Nick: It’s so interesting to me because it’s almost tied to the wrong metric. If you’ve listened to us for long enough, you know that dosage is a very small component. 

But what you’re really paying for is the person’s time, energy, presence. And that is the same energetic investment on their part regardless of your dose as a journeyer.

Jimmy: Yeah. I will also point out what’s on my mind is that– look, well, I’m being silly here, some person wants to do with their business and how they charge or whatever is none of my business, but it denotes that– the industry is trying to figure it out. 

That person thinks, “Hey, I’m going to charge my dosage and this model is going to work for me.” You test it. I don’t know, I have different thoughts and different opinions. 

Aligning Your Expectations as a Journeyer 

Jimmy: But what comes up for me is that thing that we saw on Reddit where people were kind of– they weren’t being very friendly to us, but they were saying like, “Hey, forget that, hit me up. I’ll come to your house and I’ll trip sit for you for free or for $20 or whatever.” 

I was like, “Yeah, that’s cool if you’re eating and ate the mushrooms and like playing Xbox. But is that person going to be there and equipped for you when you have a childhood memory that was regressed, that comes up? 

Or when you have an existential crisis through a psychedelic moment? Or when all of the pain and suffering that you felt over your life comes up to the surface in order for you to address and deal with it? Is that person going–” [crosstalk]

Nick: Some stranger from Reddit?

Jimmy: Yeah, is that person going to be the one to hold you down? Maybe the most crucial junction of your life because if you’re approaching psychedelics intentionally, I’m not saying that happens for everyone–

But that has a high potential of happening for a lot of people. I think it ranges recreational to here. I think if you’re talking about recreational trip sitting, like, I get it.

Nick: I mean, I’ve sat with friends for no dollars.

Jimmy: For sure.

Nick: It’s fine. But that’s a totally different context than somebody seeking professional services because they have a mental emotional ailment or diagnosis that they’re looking to work through. That is a totally different level of support.

Jimmy: It’s specialized work. What we see are folks ranging, if you’re looking at an hourly rate, anywhere from $50 an hour up to rates commensurate with specialist mental health professionals, stuff like that, $250 an hour I’ve seen consistently. 

So that creates a really wide range and really, it’s these extremes that are the issue because, to your point, you have that person reach out to you.

They’re like, “What’s the standard of cost here?” And we’re like, “Well, it depends.” It depends on the service, the scope of what you’re getting, how active they are.

Nick: I mean, I told him for prep ceremony and integration with a professional who does this work as their career, $1,000 to $3,000 is the- [crosstalk]

Jimmy: I think, yeah, totally.

Nick: -sweet spot.

Jimmy: When I’m participating in group work as a journeyer, I expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $500 for me, for my math. 

And then when I’m working with other folks, the homie hookup would be $1000 to $1,500. That’s what I would want to honor somebody else and paying them for their time and service knowing that I’m going to go deep in my work. And so, it ranges.

If you don’t want that, totally cool. If you just want to try to explore psychedelics and just need somebody to spot you, that’s a different scope of work, for sure.

Nick: But I think it’s important to highlight that if you’re one of the people that fall into the category of, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know how this works. 

I don’t know the kind of support I need. I’m scared. I don’t want to have a bad trip. I’ve got a whole bunch of things I’m trying to work through and I need to get results.” You probably need a professional.

Jimmy: [laughs] Yeah. And a professional who does this like full-on.  [laughs] Dude, I’m still laughing about this charging base on dosage. 

I’m trying my best to be like a good boy here, but we were just laughing at that scenario, like you eat two grams and you’re like, “I’m not feeling anything.” They’re like, “Okay, well in order to bump up to three grams, you’re going to have to pay an additional seven– [crosstalk]

Nick: Yeah. Mind you, you’re already under the influence.

Jimmy: You got to decide right now.

Nick: And you got to decide right now. Okay, go, decide.

Jimmy: [laughs] “You’re good? Oh, well, we’re going to swipe your credit card while we’re at it.” I’m like, “I have no idea how that works.” [crosstalk]

Nick: I thought it was interesting that for those that are just tuning in now, we’re talking about the first service center here in Oregon, they’re charging based on dosage. What I thought was even weirder is there’s a time limit with the dose.

Jimmy: Oh, interesting.

Nick: So, let’s say I don’t have the chart pulled up in front of me right now, but there was a time limit of like four hours for one dose and six hours for another. 

I’m sitting there going, “Yeah, people don’t just pop out of it at the same time and expect to go on their way after.” Sometimes people need two, three hours to reground after a profound experience. What are you going to do as a facilitator? Just walk away and say, “Time’s up?”

Jimmy: I’ve sat with clients for 11 hours, I know your longest was, what?

Nick: 13.

Jimmy: Yeah, 13. We had a facilitator within our network who had an 18 hour sit. This is the dynamic of this work.

Nick: I also think that what this highlights is that the facilitator has to charge for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best because you don’t know what you’re stepping into every journey is different and every client is different. 

You’re hoping it’s going to go smooth and be like a six-to-eight-hour experience. But if it’s a 13 hour experience, you’ve got to build that into pricing and you’re not going to know ahead of time what it’s going to shake out to be.

[00:26:00] Jimmy: This is also interesting because I would also argue that it’s not about how challenging or how long an experience is that dictates pricing either because I also have clients who have very smooth joyful, very flowing. 

They’re getting this healing that they need, and I’m objectively doing very little as far as the actual physically what I’m doing in space holding. 

I’ve had so many of those clients come around afterwards and tell me, without me even asking, they’re worth every dollar because I understand energetically why you are holding that space even though you weren’t really doing much. 

I also want to highlight that energetic as– it requires effort and energy to do that. It requires a very adept person to be able to do that.

Nick: Once again, you’re setting your needs, wants, desires, beliefs all off to the side to be with another human for an undetermined amount of time.

Jimmy: It’s not just about like, “Oh, if I have a really challenging experience and need somebody to bring me down,” it’s not just about that.

Nick: No, but I think it’s a factor.

Jimmy: For sure.

Nick: A 6 hour sit versus a 13 hour sit–

Jimmy: Agree.

Nick: It’s a different thing.

Jimmy: Agree, there are some that take more of an energetic toll than others. But what I’m circling around is what’s the intrinsic value of this work regardless of outcome? Because that’s what we talk about, you know what I’m saying.

 

Money Spending: 

A Capitalist Society’s Perspective

Nick: Let’s talk about this because material versus sacred, I think we need to touch on this a little bit. It’s what you’re talking about. Which is–[crosstalk]

Jimmy: Yeah, yeah. Go for it.

Nick: We live in a society where people have no problem spending $5,000, $10,000 on a Crate & Barrel couch or a Restoration Hardware couch, no problem. It’s my dream home, I want it. And then you tell that same person–

“Well, to get the level of professional psychedelic care that you’re seeking $2,000, $3,000.” “What? How am I going to afford that? Why would I pay for that? Why is it worth that?” We don’t have a mental structure set up to value these sacred, less tangible offerings.

Jimmy: Yeah. Also, add to the other side of this is that money is a really great exit shoot out of anything. There’s just always this, “Oh, I can’t afford that. I’m not going to pay for that. I’m not so and so.” 

I also find there’s a lot of people who do actually need a high level of service, and they know that this thing might be right for them, and then they have other reasons that they’re talking themselves out of it, and then it becomes like, “Oh, well, it’s because of the money.” 

That’s a way easier pill for me to [crosstalk] swallow than for me to be like, “Ah, I’m not ready to look at my shit.” I’m not saying that’s the case for everybody. 

I just know that that dynamic exists. This is why I’m talking about how money is emotional. Like money ties into people’s energy, and current state.

Nick: It’s an ego– [crosstalk]

Jimmy: What they see is important or not and what they value or not. The moment that somebody’s investing into themselves– 

If they don’t have a high self-value, then you’re not going to have the ability to invest the amount of dollars into what you might need or service or whatnot.

Nick: I’ll always use this example with folks who are trying to better understand this pricing dynamic. When you want a Porsche and you go to the Porsche dealership, you’re not asking them why it’s so expensive. You’re buying a premium car.

Jimmy: For whatever reason you want, by the way, for the way that it looks, for the way that it makes you feel, for the brand, for the engine, probably not, there’s probably better cars out there, you know what I mean?

Nick: Right.

Jimmy: And it’s up to you the reason why you value that at where it’s at.

Nick: But when it comes to healing and anything in the healing arts, healing profession, what we hear a lot is, “Why do you charge so much? Why are you charging that? Can you go lower in price?” It’s a perfect analogy for what we as a society value.

Jimmy: Right.

Nick: We’ve got no problem for paying for premium products, but premium services related to health care, healing, anything of the sort, like, “Why am I going to pay for that?”

Jimmy: Yeah, I mean, the personal training business didn’t start until the 80s. It’s actually one of my clients who started personal training in Chicago back at that time, and what they said was that way back, it would be ridiculous to pay somebody to work out with you. 

Now people make 60k, 70k, 100k, 250k, a lot doing personal training. Let me add another example to what you’re saying because I think this is really potent here. You walk into a dealership, and you want to buy a Porsche, and they’re like–

“Great, we got one over here for $500.” You’re going to be like, “What is wrong with that thing?” There’s something wrong here. That shouldn’t be what a Porsche should be valued if you are a fan of it, you’d know, the engineering–

And all the stuff and all the effort and all the things that it takes to build a Porsche. And you’re like, “Why?” And so, it goes both ways. 

This is what we’re talking about where it’s a Goldilocks thing. It’s too high of a price. I’m like, “My radar is up.” Too low of a price. I’m like, “My radar is up.”

Nick: For sure. 

Jimmy: It might be different though, if somebody’s like, look, “I’ve made my money in my own different way and whatnot and this is how I want to serve society and so this is just what I charge or I charge nothing and I’m good financially,” way different. 

Nick: But that passes the critical thinking test.

Jimmy: Right.

Nick: If you have the awareness that that’s what’s happening here, you’re like, “Okay, cool, that makes sense now.” But when that person’s charging 300, it’s their full-time job and their primary income. I’m like– [crosstalk]

Jimmy: “This is just what I’m able to charge. People don’t seem to be wanting to pay more,” it’s like that type of stuff and then you hear it in them that they’re not worth that. And so it really ranges here. 

I know we’re touching upon some philosophical things but I think the point that we’re trying to drive home is, it’s not just about the scope of work, it’s not just about the experience of the facilitator, what you’re looking for in the service. 

Yes, it’s those things, but we’re also walking uphill on this confronting of what society cares about. Psychedelics is supposed to come in as this entity with a white cape on and come in and save the world, mental health, and all that. 

If that’s going to happen in this society, then it’s going to have to be companies and organizations who are trying to do that–

And they need resources and they need dollars and they need the ability to expand and grow those resources, so that these services become more accessible to you. 

Nick: Yeah. I want to give a little bit of a PSA word of warning, which is just that I personally would not recommend choosing a provider solely based on price.

Jimmy: Agreed. 1000%

Nick: I think that is a recipe to find yourself in a situation that you don’t want to be in by the time it’s too late.

Jimmy: Let me reframe what you’re saying in my own speak. [laughs] It’s more dangerous to pick a facilitator that you can afford than not picking anybody at all and not having a psychedelic experience. 

Like if you find somebody and you’re like, “I can only afford a couple hundred bucks,” which, look, I know that’s a lot of money for people. My family grew up on food stamps and welfare, like all that stuff, I get it. And I get that that’s what some people might be able to afford. 

And I hope that there are financial sponsorship programs and assistance programs or people who are [crosstalk] like, we’re building that into our organization. 

I hope that people get the service that they need. And, also, I’m not going to run out there and just pick the facilitator who’s okay with me charging them $300 because I don’t know if that person is equipped to hold down my soul in a psychedelic experience and–

It might be more damaging to have the wrong person in that seat. I think that’s also the extension of the advice that you’re giving where I’d be like, “Just take your time.”

Nick: It’s about the right person. Yes, pricing is a factor, but it’s about finding the right person. I mean, I think the way that you phrase it is probably the best. 

How much is it worth to you to have somebody hold your soul and your psyche down? Because that’s basically what you’re engaging somebody to do. And would you trust anyone or just the lowest bidder for that job?

Jimmy: I would pay all the money, but that’s just me personally. [laughs]

Nick: Well, and what’s funny is I’m sure you see this dynamic, but a lot of times after journeys clients go, “Yeah, that was worth an unlimited amount of money.”

Jimmy: Like, I can’t even assign a dollar amount to it.

Nick: Right. But it’s only after. They don’t quite understand it beforehand. The same way that same dynamic exists with integration. 

Integration is this very foreign concept when you go through the journey and you’re like, “Oh, now I know why I need that.” And it’s the same with pricing. 

After you go through the journey, you’re like, “Oh, I see why I paid for you, in particular, to be there because you know how to hold this.”

Jimmy: Yeah. I would say that this is even more important for first-time folks or folks who are dealing with really acute issues. That’s the other category. 

Or folks who maybe I would say are elderly and have just a higher desire to make the most of the limited experiences that they might have. So, those things are on my mind.

But, look, if you have been playing around with psychedelics and you have a lower risk tolerance and you have a good support system and–

You have a good sound foundation of navigating challenging experiences, and you’re like, “Yeah, I just want to pay somebody a couple hundred bucks to just be there and sit for me,” knock yourself out.

Nick: Go for it.

Jimmy: But it depends on what you need. It depends on the scope of work. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. And so–

The cool thing is that all of these options exist, which is great, and more and more are coming online. For the potential journeyers, it’s important to ask “Like what’s coming with this service? What are the components?”

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I’ll give you an example. We, as a part of the programs that we’ve put together, what’s included is text and email support.

Jimmy: That’s what I was just thinking.

Nick: And so, what we’re basically saying is you have a point of contact that is your facilitator at any time in the four-to-six-week duration that you’re working together. That is rare. It doesn’t mean they’re on call for you, but it means you’ve got a point of contact. 

If you’re working through a potentially challenging experience or you’re having trouble with this integration, things are rocky, you’ve got someone in your court, you have an ally. 

The flip side is I’ve had clients told me that they’ve texted their therapist that they’re having suicidal ideations and the therapist took two weeks to get back to them. The question is, do you really want someone to have your back through this process?

Jimmy: And they’re probably paying that therapist therapist rates.

Nick: Right.

Jimmy: Which like the lowest I’ve seen is $100 an hour. It goes up to $250, $350. Hope maybe your insurance covers it, maybe it doesn’t. The therapist probably has a roster of 40, 50 other clients. 

Look, oftentimes it’s not the fault of a therapist. That’s the strain on our mental health system in our current society. And so, like, when the pandemic happened, you couldn’t find a therapist.

Nick: Good luck.

Jimmy: 6-8 month waitlist just to even talk to somebody. This is what I mean, where if we’re going to be looking at psychedelics as a viable alternative or accompaniment to a lot of the pain and suffering that’s going on in our society, I’ll just say it that way–

Then it also has to be viable in this way. There’s a lot of different levels here. What we’re trying to do is intersect this help to the journeyer to ask these questions, to know that it varies, to know that it ranges, and that there’s different facilitators–

Different scopes, different levels of service, different ways that people charge. And then a lot of this is also our call to facilitators probably as well, about what you do charge and why and all of that.

Nick: Sustainability is the word that comes to mind for me, because the question is, how will you, as a facilitator, structure this so that it’s sustainable for you? 

Like long term, if you really want to make this your work, everyone’s going to have their own energetic bandwidth of how many of these things they can do in any given week or month while not degrading quality of care.

Jimmy: Anything else you want to share with folks as we wrap up this topic?

Nick: I don’t think so. I think we’ve really done a pretty comprehensive job of highlighting this. I guess maybe one thing that we haven’t touched on that we could just spend a couple of minutes on is some of the accessibility initiatives that either exist now–

Or are coming online because that is something that I know is important to you and I, but is also being ingrained into this industry.

Accessibility Resources for Psychedelic Healing

[00:40:19] Nick: How do we make these types of treatments accessible knowing that it may cost $1,000-$3,000 of retail price to get the care that you really seek? What are the options out there that increase accessibility?

Jimmy: Yeah. This is something that’s really important and it’s actually been on my mind a lot lately. Not only accessibility, a financial perspective, but I continually think a lot about BIPOC communities, communities of color. 

I’ll even zoom out to just say people who naturally and historically don’t have the privilege of exploring psychedelics in their normal life because of some cultural or societal factor. 

So, we’re starting to see some things. We’re starting to see some funds, some nonprofits advocacy funds, sponsorship funds, more monetary mechanisms. I think that most of that comes through sponsorship programs-

Nick: Donations.

Jimmy: -and things like that. I also see a lot of either alternative or pro bono or heavily discounted programming within organizations, but also a lot of that is emerging as far as what that might look like. 

An example is in the ketamine space Sage Institute, now their Alchemy Community Therapy Center, they’re based out of Oakland, California. I have a lot of respect for what they do, but they provide treatment, therapy, ketamine-related services.

A couple of things that they do is sometimes they’ll match the person’s hourly rate. If you make $15 an hour, they’ll charge you $15 for like an hour of therapy and integration. They also do some assisted programming. 

We’re starting to see some of these things even within ourselves. This is why we go through the trouble of trying to tier our pricing and try to have an assistance program and get some of these things online. 

What I realize in the conversations that I’ve been having with my colleagues and people in my network is that you have to be pretty active in this stuff because if you don’t, it just defaults to how society does it. And society is based on consumerism. [laughs]

Nick: There’s not a lot of models by which someone else will sponsor your service. How many people’s personal training sessions are sponsored by another human? Not many. 

But in this space, that is going to become more common. We’re already seeing the dynamic of past clients saying, “Hey, I want to pay it forward to folks who can’t.” And the beauty of that is the facilitator makes what they need to provide the service.

Jimmy: Yeah. I found that to actually be a really beautiful, organic thing that’s come up within our organization, where some past clients of mine–

I want to send a shoutout to those who are listening if you’re listening to this who, we’ve done enough work, and they have a real deep sense of wanting to pay it forward to other folks. 

I’ve had clients actually directly sponsor other clients in this work. And so, it wins for everybody. Like the client gets what they need, the facilitator gets what they need to fully dedicate their service to this person. 

The sponsor feels like they’re making an impact and getting to connect with folks. So, it’s been really beautiful. And so, we’re pioneering some new models. I’ve done pro bono work, you’ve done pro bono work.

Nick: But it only works because we can make up the energetic difference with folks who can afford to pay more. 

That’s what I want to leave people with around this accessibility piece, is if there’s programs focused on accessibility, it’s important for you to figure out the mechanism by which they’re making it affordable. 

Is the facilitator making it up some other way so that they don’t have this scarcity or energetic imbalance when they sit with you as a pro bono client or a financial assistance client or whatever the case is?

Jimmy: What Nick means by that is where is it coming from? If you’re seeing a heavily discounted program or a sponsorship or whatever, where does that come from? Does that come from a client? Does that come from the facilitators’ pockets? Does that come from–[crosstalk]

Nick: Donors.

Jimmy: A donor, a different organization? Is it a fund that’s now supporting you? These will be really good things for you to know so you can just have that context.

Nick: Because it’ll help you understand how the facilitator is getting compensated so that they feel like it’s fair and their needs are being taken care of.

Jimmy: This is the whole point of psychedelics, like– well, finish what you were saying. Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off.

Nick: Just that the last thing I would want as a journeyer, as a facilitator whose needs aren’t being met.

Jimmy: Yeah, because they’re not fully there. They’re not fully there and present with you.

Nick: Right.

Jimmy: I hear you. 

Nick: Go Ahead

Jimmy: We’re just excited, that’s all. What I was saying about this whole money and intersection of psychedelic services is that this is psychedelics working. 

Psychedelics naturally bring you into community and I know that’s hard for some people who still have a lot of barriers if they’re isolated or alone. 

But naturally, if you’re doing psychedelics in this way, you’re going out and seeking services, and then you do have hopefully the support system of people around you and then the facilitator plays their role. Maybe some sponsors or donors play their role. 

As a part of that, when we’re talking about calling in the help of others, there is something about energetically wanting to pay that person back for the care that they gave. And in our society, one of the mechanisms that we default to in doing that is money.

Nick: Dollars.

Jimmy: So, they’re related for sure. I hope that in our conversation we’ve given folks some tangible stuff like things to think about if you’re a journeyer, things to think about if you’re a facilitator. 

I really wanted to address this whole, like, “What the hell is going on with charging for services in the psychedelic landscape anyways?” Yeah, thank you, Nick, for what you’ve shared as well. 

That brings us to the end of our episode here. Thank you to all of our listeners. 

I hope that this has made some people uncomfortable. I hope that this has made some people start to ask themselves some questions. 

I hope that this is also affirmed for some people where they sit around their own relationship with money, especially as it relates to paying for psychedelic services.

You can download episodes of the Psychedelic Passage podcast by going anywhere that you get podcasts, that can be Apple Podcast, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio. Thank you for listening. We look forward to tuning in with you next week.

Talk to a Psychedelic Professional

In the current cultural landscape, it can be really difficult to navigate private personalized services like psychedelic therapy. With standards still being set, there is a lot of variability in quality and affordability that we’re constantly working against. 

That’s why we’re here, to make your journey a little easier. If you’d like to take the next step, we empower you to reach out and book a consultation with one of our pre-vetted, experienced psychedelic facilitators. They will hold a safe space for you, whatever that may entail. 

New material frequents our resources page, feel free to check out our articles and podcasts dedicated to answering the biggest questions and tackling the hottest topics on psychedelic healing. As always, stay safe, be mindful, and radiate love!

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At Psychedelic Passage, we offer professional 1-on-1 guidance and companionship on your journey of healing. We simply can't sit back and let Americans continue to sit in silent suffering trying to battle mental health issues within a broken health care system, all while knowing that effective alternatives exist. We stand for the sacred, at-home, ceremonial use of psychedelics for consciousness exploration, which we believe to be a fundamental human right.

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