Psychological Prep: Setting Intentions
During the preparation phase, we collaboratively build a framework for navigating the psychedelic experience utilizing various tools, ideas and concepts drawn from various therapeutic modalities (theories), as well as what we’ve learned from traditional and historic practices involving the use of psychedelic medicines for healing purposes. Preparation is really building the foundation for the psychedelic experience, and for the ongoing “life work” of post-psychedelic integration.
The Therapeutic Relationship
A key component to feeling safe during a psychedelic experience is the relationship you have with the people who accompany you. At the heart of preparation is the cultivation of a trusting connection with your therapist and medical provider. We spend as much time as we need to, in order to ensure that you feel like you’re in the presence of people you’re able to be vulnerable with. Once you can trust, you’re able to let go, and fully immerse yourself in the psychedelic experience.
It’s paramount that we have an ongoing conversation around consent and boundaries- what feels safe, what doesn’t and how we can demonstrate respect for your boundaries throughout the process. In psychedelic-assisted therapy, we sometimes use mindful physical touch such as hand holding or a hand on the shoulder (if and only if someone requests this as part of their experience) and review informed consent on an ongoing basis. For some people, hand holding during moments of intensity can be grounding and a reminder of the therapist’s presence.
Expectations & Fears
In the preparation phase, we talk through expectations, and help to orient you to how you can approach and value the psychedelic experience. Most importantly we explore what it looks like for you to live a meaningful life. Additionally, we talk a lot about fears, worries and anxieties, and together identify how we can approach these should they arise during the treatment experience. This includes an exploration of trauma and other life experiences that may be distressing and cultivate an “attitude” for how we can “move through” such material when it comes up.
Identifying sources of pain
People seek out therapy to heal wounds, and it’s essential for us as guides to understand the sources of such pain, and what it means for the person experiencing it. How do you make sense of your suffering? What’s the story around such pain?We want to uncover someone’s internal narratives, and how their suffering fits into a life story and worldview. We may identify ways in which such internal stories are not serving someone well and explore what life would look like if these stories had less control or dominance in someone’s life. When we explore psychological and emotional injuries, we tend to uncover what someone values most dearly in the process. As Steven Hayes simply puts it, “where we hurt is where we care”.
Inner healing intelligence
At the heart of psychedelic therapy is the concept of inner-healing wisdom or intelligence. The idea is that within every individual, there is a deep aspect of the psyche that’s innately driven towards healing, wholeness and integration. During the psychedelic experience, defenses and barriers are lifted and the inner-healing intelligence “takes the wheel”. During preparation, we explore how to develop a trusting relationship with one’s own healing intelligence.
Having an intention helps to organize your thoughts and your process around what’s most important to you, and to your experience. Intentions are not the same as goals, but instead more general “aims” to which we can set our sights; often times these are connected to our core values, and generally what we want our lives to be about. We start by asking the question, why are you doing this? And what would you like to get out of this experience? What does healing look like for you? What do you want clarity around? To let go of?
No one can predict how the psychedelic journey will unfold, and so much of preparation involves us developing a willingness, and openness to whatever experience arises. However, we can predict exactly how the “procedure” will go, in terms of what you can expect from us and the sequence of events. During preparation, we review the process of your session multiple times, and answer any questions you have about it. Other than the basic protocol, this structure will largely be directed by you, and we will agree to stick to the plan so that there aren’t any surprises.
The psychedelic experience is like water, and music is the vessel. We curate personalized music experiences for each person we serve. We explore your preferences, musical interests and relationship to sound during the preparation phase. Throughout the process, we are exploring your beliefs, worldview and values, and supporting you in cultivating a structure and “philosophy” to approach your healing process that fits for you. We adapt our language, concepts and knowledge in a way that’s most likely to resonate. How you interpret, perceive and believe is key to building a philosophy most likely to sustain change and to guide your ongoing journey on the path towards healing and wholeness.
Building a Framework
Throughout the process, we are exploring your beliefs, worldview and values, and supporting you in cultivating a structure and “philosophy” to approaching your healing process that fits for you. We adapt our language, concepts and knowledge in a way that’s most likely to resonate. How you interpret, perceive and believe is key to building a philosophy most likely to sustain change and to guide your ongoing journey on the path towards healing and wholeness.