What is Psychedelic Integration?
Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in the potential healing powers of psychedelic experiences facilitated through the use of hallucinogenic, empathogenic, dissociative, or similar substances. These can include any plant or fungal based medicines (i.e. magic mushrooms, iboga, ayahuasca, peyote, cannabis, etc.) or artificial psychoactive substances (i.e. MDMA, ketamine, LSD, etc.) used for healing, recreational, or spiritual purposes.
When these substances are used for spiritual or sacred purposes, they are called entheogens (and, of course, some people would contend that spiritual and healing purposes are one in the same). Regardless of the purpose to which they are put, the outcomes can be varied, and not always positive.
Many people have experienced harm (bad trips, etc.) through their use, despite the growing evidence that when used properly, they can be of incredible value. Often, people are naïve to the risks associated with combining different substances and unaware of the vital role played by the mindset of participants and the setting in which the substances are used. Further, the sacred healing powers of plant medicines are at risk of becoming recreational and considered a “quick fix” rather than the user engaging in the healing work that needs to be done.
The profound, rapid changes many people report after a psychedelic experience may require careful reflection and integration. Put metaphorically, medicine may be far easier to swallow than it is to digest.
A knowledgeable guide for your psychedelic experience
When a person is considering or has already had a psychedelic experience, it is often helpful to have a knowledgeable guide to alert the person to potential risks and benefits, and to assist them in integrating profound new insights (or challenging experiences) into existing patterns of thought, feelings, and behaviour. A person’s psychological history (including trauma, psychosis, and other mental health factors) has great bearing on the way that these experiences may be interpreted and integrated or not integrated. I am a psychologist with interest and specialized training in this area.
Research is rapidly changing the legality of psychedelic substances for healing
Research is now progressing at an accelerated rate, and we may well see many of these substances become more readily available for medical purposes, including the treatment of mental disorders, such as depression, PTSD, opioid and alcohol addiction. Already, ayahuasca is being used legally in some settings for spiritual purposes in Canada, and of course, cannabis is legally available medically and recreationally here.
I, and the College of Alberta Psychologists, do not advocate or endorse the illicit use of substances. I do, however, have a professional and ethical responsibility to promote harm reduction. My approach is to act within legal and ethical bounds to guide and support people who choose to make use of these substances by providing access to information and therapy in order to reduce the potential for harm and to promote mental and spiritual health and well being.
I am not able to offer psychedelic-assisted therapy in session, but will, within the scope of my training and practice, help people to prepare for and consider their rationale for future psychedelic experiences, and help them to integrate past psychedelic experiences. I am not able to give medical advice nor provide information on where to obtain such substances, but I can connect you with an organization who can help you seek federal approval for psychedelic medicine to treat specific disorders.
My psychological and shamanic services are not a substitute for the medical care of physicians or nurses or the spiritual care of shamans with years of dedicated specialized training and practice in the traditional ceremonial use of sacred medicines.