Harm reduction 101: Psychedelic therapy and psychedelic retreats

In addition to the misinformation spread on social media, the misconception of psychedelics alone can heal depression, anxiety, and PTSD by offering a mind-blowing experience has also been spread in recent years with the resurging of several clinics providing psychedelic therapy.  If the mind-blowing experience described by other users or the media isn’t met after the consumption of a substance, patients often feel confused, more depressed than when they started or stuck as psychedelics are sometimes their last hope to ameliorate their mental health, for that reason tempering expectations to the patients play an important role together with acknowledging the work that has to happen often in preparation and follow up integration.

Past traumas or troubling memories can come up under the effect of psychedelics which can make the patient in a worse mental state in a non-controlled environment or unaccompanied. An integration professional can be a quintessential piece in making meaningful connections to one’s past and present situations creating a long-lasting positive change in one’s life. Community integration groups are an equally great option to process what your experience was about as novel insights can come from sharing your story and listening to experiences from others.


Integration supports people by:

    • Exploring the intention behind engaging in psychedelic therapy.

    • Encouraging them to be patient about their process, inform the patient that their treatment is a journey and there are going to be phases to the journey.

    • Explaining how essential it is for a patient to remain curious about their own process.

    • Informing a patient that after an experiment there can be a lot of energy to make meaning or see how this experience is going to impact them in an immediate or long-term future.

    • Empower the patient to make well-informed, healthy decisions.

    • Encourage the use of other therapeutic tools such as mindfulness, journaling, and somatic work.

  • Help patients prepare for the unknown and discuss about possible hallucinations and dissociation.





Different types of Integration:


Cognitive– Understanding and interpretation of the phenomenology.


Emotional– Understanding how emotions have been processed during the experience.


Physical– Being aware of sensations, pains, and blockages.


Spiritual– Experiences that transcend the ordinary.


Behavioural – Integration between our insights and actions.


Social– Fulfill the lack of social containers that can help to process the experience.


Time– These experiments are integrated over time, often a second phase is needed which can last days, months sometimes even years.


In addition, the therapist must be compassionate, curious and about the patient’s psychedelic experience to provide the best approach.






Safety in international retreats:

With the popularization of the Amazonian brew Ayahuasca, international retreats became consequently popularized, Peru alongside Costa Rica, Jamaica, and the Netherlands became the mecca of International retreats.

Besides the points mentioned previously various questions must be additionally asked to provide your safety.

When attending these retreats to know the protocol of the retreat is extremely important. Knowing what you will be given, if any touch and what will be the dosage. If any other substances will be given to you subsequently to the initial dosing, knowing where the experience will take place is a must.

Furthermore, before attending your retreat, it’s crucial to know who is responsible for the retreat, how many people will attend the ceremony, if someone will touch you, if the guides have minimum medical training, and what comes up/reviews when the retreat is Googled since recently many sexual abuse stories have been brought to light during unlicensed Ayahuasca retreats in Peru.

Having all the points previously mentioned considered, one should be able to find the perfect fit whether in therapy or international retreat as well as being able to benefit from a safer psychedelic experience. 

                                                       Stay safe!

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