Let’s face it: set and setting are the key to having a meaningful & positive psychedelic trip, and having a professional guide is arguably the most important aspect that can make or break a journey.
Having a psychedelic guide not only helps mitigate risks but also optimizes the potential for positive transformation, healing, and self-discovery.
And even though deciding on the right guide is highly subjective, this decision affects the entirety of your psychedelic process for better or for worse.
That’s why we wanted to go over what you should look for when vetting potential facilitators—from recognizing green flags to red flags, and even providing you with questions to ask them during your initial consultation.
This will help you get a better idea of who they are as a professional practitioner, if you need a guide, and what your priorities and desires are as a journeyer.
You can use this as a resource during the beginning stages of planning your journey, and once you decide on a facilitator, they can help you throughout the rest of the preparation stage.
How To Know if a Psychedelic Service Provider is Qualified
When it comes to who is “qualified” to guide a psychedelic journey, we acknowledge that this issue is complex, especially here in the United States depending on which state you live in.
And while this is a step toward destigmatizing therapeutic psychedelic use, new problems are arising with these recent changes.
Most notably, some of these licensure programs fail to vet for and even discourage a licensed guide from having real-life experience with plant medicines.
Simply put, a license doesn’t necessarily indicate that a practitioner has experience, expertise, or credibility, so keep in mind that true competency can’t be substituted with a license.
This problem of legitimacy and qualification is a real issue that psychedelic seekers face when searching for a system of support for their journey.
Regardless, if you reside in one of the states who have opened these state-regulated programs, feel free to use this resource thoroughly when vetting potential trip sitters no matter what route you take.
Here at Psychedelic Passage we pre-vet all facilitators in our network—ensuring they have real experience with and reverence for the therapeutic psychedelic process.
Our hope is that you feel empowered and have access to resources which help you best advocate for your own wellbeing when understanding the role of psychedelic guide.
Green Flags & Signs of Alignment in a Psychedelic Guide
- They have extensive real-life experience or learned through an apprenticeship as opposed to only having a certification of some sort.
- They provide a thorough screening and intake process and offer a consultation to both make sure you are ready for the medicine and give you an opportunity to assess them in return.
- They offer a realistic perspective when it comes to managing expectations and don’t paint psychedelics as a cure-all.
- They express a desire to be in service of your process and the medicine, not a desire to “fix” or heal you.
- You trust and feel comfortable with them, and you feel a mutual resonance and ease when speaking with them.
- You sense a calm, loving, non-judgemental presence which will help create a safe space for emotional catharsis and expression.
- They place an emphasis on preparation and integration to provide you with a well-rounded, supported journey from beginning to end.
- They exude humility and support for your individual relationship with plant medicines, acknowledging that the greatest teacher is the medicine itself.
- You leave the initial consultation feeling hopeful, grounded, and clear on your decision to move forward.
Red Flags & Warning Signs That a Guide Isn’t Right For You
- They have little to no personal history of intentional, therapeutic, or ceremonial psychedelic use or little to no previous experience in trip sitting or facilitating journeys.
- They fail to provide a thorough screening & intake process to vet for health, medication, or emotional contraindications.
- They paint psychedelics as a “guaranteed” cure-all (magic bullet).
- They try to convince you that they have a special technique or approach that can heal you.
- They lack boundaries and professionalism or lack a personable, warm quality, which could lead to a level of discomfort in their presence.
- You feel judged, unsafe, or uncomfortable in their presence and when speaking with them.
- They don’t mention providing preparation & integration services.
- They speak arrogantly of their abilities and make it all about them.
- You feel unsure or strange after your first call or meeting with them (even if you can’t explain why).
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A Note on Price and Convenience
When it comes to a psychedelic experience, price and convenience are certainly primary factors in your decision-making process, and we encourage you to consider finding the right guide as an equally important part of the decision-making process.
The absence or presence of the right guide during your psychedelic journey can’t really be compared to other commodities like gasoline, as the psychedelic journey is a niche service with profound implications for your mental and emotional well-being.
Compromising on quality of support for the sake of saving money and time can render negative outcomes. In a previous article, we discussed pricing and whether it’s worth it to invest in this type of support.
Investing in a professionally facilitated experience is—exactly that—an investment, and we encourage you to speak with us directly if you have concerns about accessibility of our services due to location or affordability.
Challenges in Sustainable Pricing
Psychedelic facilitators spend a significant amount of time and energy in preparing for and integrating the experiences of their clients. Their work extends beyond the session itself and involves deep exploration and support before, during, and after the psychedelic journey.
Their scope of work can vary, ranging from minimal involvement to comprehensive care, so charging based on dosage alone—as seen in some models—fails to capture the true value of a facilitator.
This pricing predicament is a real balancing act—which we recognize and commit to walking—in order to ensure sustainability for the practice of each facilitator while maintaining accessibility regardless of income.
Our tiered pricing model and scholarships help maintain accessibility for all psychedelic seekers while respecting the time, energy, and expertise of each psychedelic guide.
We aim to keep the focus on the most important question: Is the guide and this experience a good fit for you and your unique needs?
The Importance of Fit
Finding the right “fit” means deciding on a guide or facilitator who aligns with your specific needs, goals, and values.
While personal criteria may vary, the practitioner’s ability to provide support and guidance necessary for a successful journey is most crucial. Check out our podcast episode about how to find the right guide for more info.
Here are some additional points to consider when deciding if a guide is a good fit:
- Do you prefer a ceremonial/spiritual approach or a more neutral, scientific feel for the experience? Does the guide respect and/or approach the medicine through a similar lens to yours? Are you craving a different perspective or someone who embodies a familiar outlook?
- What degree of emotional and physical support do you anticipate needing during the experience? If you have a unique history of physical health issues or trauma, does the guide have the capacity to offer tailored support for those issues?
- Are you more comfortable with a particular “type” of guide regarding race, gender, sex, religious background, etc. While we like to think this type of service goes beyond those things, we want all clients to feel comfortable and to have access to exactly the type of support which feels best for them.
- Regarding location, is the guide located near you? Are they willing to travel to you if not? Are you willing to travel to them? We help clients work through these logistical details and help pair you with guides who are accessible.
Questions to Ask a Potential Guide or Trip Sitter
- What motivates you to do this work?
- What is your personal philosophy around healing, particularly with plant medicines?
- How many times have you worked with the medicine yourself personally or in supporting others during a journey?
- How long have you been professionally facilitating journeys?
- What is your screening and intake process like?
- Do you provide services around preparation and integration?
- Can you provide referrals?
- What does your personal healing practice look like and how do you stay grounded while doing this kind of work?
- How do you handle intense situations and how would you be of support if I were to find myself experiencing a “bad trip”?
Speak With A Psychedelic Expert
Our hope is that clients feel prepared, supported, and aligned in their decision to journey with mind-altering medicine.
That is why we connect those who are looking for professional support for an intentional psychedelic experience with our network of pre-vetted psychedelic facilitators who specialize in navigating the psychedelic realm from beginning to end.
Not only do they offer mental, emotional, and tangible support during the journey itself, but they also provide expert insights and meetings during the preparation and integration stages.
Book a consultation with us today to get connected with our network, and also, we encourage you to check out our resources page for more articles and information on a variety of psychedelic topics, from scientific research to practical tips and tricks.