More people are becoming aware of psychedelic substances’ potential benefits for personal development and mental health. Therefore, the concept of psychedelic integration is rapidly coming to the fore. But what is integration, and how is it done?
Here’s the complete guide.
Psychedelic Integration Therapy
Research into psychedelics began in the 1950s. They showed great promise as adjuncts to psychotherapy, helping patients access deeper parts of their minds than otherwise possible.
However, during the 1960s, psychedelics became popular as recreational drugs. Following this, most of them were classified as Schedule 1 substances, with a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value. Unfortunately, research subsequently ground to a halt.
Once the law prohibited using classic psychedelics, scientists began to look to newer substances, like 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Again, the initial findings were positive, but research ceased once the drug became illegal in the 1980s.
Only recently have scientists been able to resume formal studies regarding the benefits of psychedelics. However, there is already a growing body of evidence suggesting they could complement therapy for various mood disorders.
Despite anti-drug propaganda, psychedelics appear to be relatively safe, providing long-lasting benefits with minimal side effects. Furthermore, a 2013 review found that psychedelic use did not cause psychological problems. In fact, those who used them seemed to have better mental health overall.
But although there do not appear to be long-term adverse effects, psychedelic trips can sometimes be overwhelming or frightening. Unexpected emotions and forgotten trauma may come to the surface. Some people find it challenging to transition back to everyday life while dealing with these uncomfortable feelings.
Others may be tempted to make drastic, life-changing decisions without proper consideration. And there are those who may experience a strange sense of detachment for several days or weeks following a trip.
Therefore, it is essential to prepare beforehand and integrate the experience afterward to balance psychedelics’ effects. There are several ways to do this. They include one-to-one therapy, coaching, or psychedelic integration circles.
Each option has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at each one in turn.
One-to-One Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy (PAP)
PAP involves pairing psychedelic use with psychological or behavioral therapy. Those interested in PAP should seek a qualified professional with specialized training. The therapist should be familiar with the historical use and effects of a range of substances. They should also be empathetic and inspire a sense of trust.
Having a professional therapist on hand can help individuals work through any emotional issues or trauma that arise during their experience, and can help ensure the physical safety of the person undergoing the experience.
The primary drawback of PAP is the cost. One-to-one therapy sessions and psychedelic retreats can be costly. This fact drives many people to seek alternative ways to integrate their psychedelic trips.
Coaching is somewhat similar to PAP in that it usually happens in one-to-one settings. However, there are some significant differences. Whereas PAP is done with the therapist in the session, coaching tends to occur beforehand and afterward.
A coach can help with setting goals and integrating a psychedelic experience for lasting, positive change. They may also assist individuals in identifying psychological drivers for their behavior and finding ways to influence them.
Some coaches specialize in areas such as microdosing or business and leadership skills. Therefore, as with choosing a therapist, it is crucial to find a coach whose specialty aligns with an individual’s needs.
It is also essential to distinguish between a coach and a psychedelic guide. A guide will offer support during a trip and should discuss the experience directly afterward. However, a coach will be far more heavily involved with planning and integration than in the ceremony itself.
Psychedelic Integration Circles
Integration circles are groups where people can gather to discuss their psychedelic journeys and integrate them into everyday life. They may be run by a professional therapist or a person with significant psychedelic experience.
The main advantage of these groups is that they are much more affordable than therapy or coaching. They also provide the opportunity to meet with like-minded individuals and engage in stimulating conversation.
However, they do not provide the same level of support as individual therapy. Furthermore, group-settings do not offer the same guarantees of confidentiality that one-to-one sessions do.
Safe Preparation for Psychedelic Use
Preparing for a psychedelic trip is one area where therapists, coaches, and groups may help. The process includes identifying which aspects a person wishes to work on, discussing expectations, and setting goals.
Individuals should pay close attention to the set and setting for the trip. The set refers to ‘mindset’ and fostering a positive attitude before consuming a psychedelic. Setting refers to creating a safe, comfortable, and therapeutic environment for the trip to take place.
Other relevant factors include the choice of substance and dosage. For more information, see our complete guide to preparing for a psychedelic trip.
The Psychedelic Integration Process
Many experts consider proper preparation and psychedelic integration just as important as the journey itself. These processes increase the chances of a trip leading to lasting and meaningful change.
Some of the key features of effective integration include:
- Examining visual, physical, or psychological experiences to gain insight from the trip.
- Using these lessons to implement positive change.
- Coping with the emotional impact of any trauma that arises.
- Learning how to live with one’s new understanding of the self or others.
- Tracking one’s progress when moving towards goals.
- Becoming accountable for making lasting changes.
- Managing desire for further psychedelic use.
- Setting intentions for future experiences.
Using psychedelics can be a life-changing experience. However, to derive the most benefit, it is critical to treat them with the respect they deserve. The best way to do this is by planning well and engaging in post-trip integration, preferably with a qualified professional.
Final Thoughts on Psychedelic Integration
By now, it should be clear that psychedelic integration is a crucial part of the overall experience. Therefore, anyone considering using these substances should contact a knowledgeable therapist or coach before embarking on their journey.
Finally, we remind our readers that psychedelics are still illegal in most areas. It is every individuals’ responsibility to familiarize themselves with local rules and regulations and only use psychedelics within the confines of the law.