Psychedelic Medicine and the Importance of Preparation and Integration

As psilocybin service centers are opening in Ashland and the field of psychedelic medicine is rapidly expanding, hope is merited….and some caution is advised. The psychedelic healing approach isn’t necessarily for everyone. But for many, it will alleviate (sometimes immense) suffering. The likelihood of positive outcomes is clearly linked with good preparation before the psychedelic session, and thorough integration afterwards.

An unfortunate omission to the statute borne of Measure 109 is that it doesn’t stipulate following a psilocybin session with integration sessions. According to the statute, integration sessions must be offered to the client, but ultimately, they are optional.

As a psychedelic practitioner, I can’t overstate the importance of how proper preparation and integration empower clients to achieve their healing goals and intentions.

“Whoever travels without a guide needs 200 years for a two-day journey.” ~ Rumi

Preparation is very connected with the concept of “set and setting.” Preparation involves exploring expectations, educating clients about potential reactions, and defining the context in which the experience will unfold. Set denotes the preparation of the individual, including their personality structure and mood at the time—the internal aspects of what a client is bringing to the psychedelic experience. The setting includes the space, trust in, and rapport, with the facilitator, and culturally prevailing views on the nature of reality and healing.

Integration is a process. It is a movement toward a wholeness that promotes psychological flexibility and freedom. Wholeness manifests as psychological self-compassion, and self-acceptance. Integration is a process of taking the insights (and occasional epiphanies) elicited by the psychedelic experience, and “landing or grounding” them in day-to-day life. Integration is the bridge between a psychedelic session and daily life.

In some ways, the components of preparation and integration may be more important than the actual psychedelic journey itself.

The triad of preparation, psychedelic session and integration should be thought of as interrelated elements of a larger process.

The clinical studies conducted at Johns Hopkins, Yale, NYU and other leading research institutions all follow this basic model: Preparation sessions (often 3 of them) followed by a psilocybin journey with two trained (and licensed) practitioners (often male and female gender), and then up to 3 integration sessions. This clinical research supported the passage of Measure 109 and is the prevailing model that has led to the positive clinical outcomes we read about in Michael Pollen’s book How to Change your Mind, the New York Times, and other media sources.

I am optimistic many will benefit from this new (yet ancient) medicine. At Ashland Consciousness Medicine, we emphasize the importance of quality preparation and integration in promoting deep healing, psychological flexibility and wholeness. Be well.

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