An offer of gratitude from the founder of Psychedelic Integration UK, on a day that we are encouraged to give thanks to plant medicines.
Today I want to speak out along with the thousands of other people across the world who wish to express gratitude by publicly saying #THANKYOUPLANTMEDICINE. I would like everyone who knows me to know about the wonderful changes Plant Medicines have made to my life.
Years ago, I attended a Plant Medicine retreat in the Netherlands where I ingested Psilocybin for the first time in my life. In fact, it was the first time I had ingested any form of psychedelic substance. Which is, I think, quite surprising having grown up throughout the sixties and seventies when the ‘Flower Power’ movement and the many civil rights protests were sweeping the West. From Ban the Bomb’, The Black Panthers and Malcom X, and Martin Luther-King to the Women’s Liberation movement along with protests to End the War in Vietnam, ordinary people were out in force and united in raising their voices against injustice.
Whilst the LOVE that was being demonstrated by millions of people worldwide for our fellow Human Beings was something that didn’t go completely un-noticed by me, media coverage in those decades was very different to how it is now, I was then just a simple school-girl who only got to learn about these movements by covertly reading my parents Sunday papers now and then. What I understood about ‘civil rights’ and knew about psychedelic substances of any kind would fit through the eye of a needle. Here I am now, in my sixties much better informed, thanks to the internet, and ready to speak up and say ‘proudly’ to the world that the LOVE that moved ordinary people to stand up against injustice in the 60’s and 70’s is once again rising like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes of the destruction and harm caused by the WAR ON DRUGS.
Having qualified as a counsellor /psychotherapist in the nineties I took a position as a counsellor in a Criminal Justice Drug Intervention Program in the north of the UK. I worked there for twelve years with both repeat offenders and members of the public who had serious substance use problems (I refuse to use the term 'misuse' anymore). It was in many ways the best job I have ever had. However, I know that the one-to-one work I did counselling hundreds of clients, was helpful only to varying degrees. When I began working there, I soon came to realise that my client’s substance use was a 'symptom', or consequence, of their deeper issues. Being a professional psychotherapist, it quickly became clear to me that almost all had suffered serious trauma in their early lives; and continued to, because of the social stigma attached to using illegal drugs and because of how the system was failing to help them. Most, if not all, of the people I helped had experienced extreme trauma in their childhoods and were finding escape and comfort from their pain by using a combination of street drugs and alcohol.
I began to look deeper into the connections between trauma and substance use. I studied the research and attended seminars and workshops. Then I started to hear about Professor David Nutt, who was sacked from his post as a government advisor on drug policy, for telling the truth. This sent me off in a new direction where I learned about the work of The Beckley Foundation and Breaking Convention. I also came upon podcasts and YouTube videos about the psychedelic research into healing trauma using psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy being conducted by MAPS.org. I spent years researching everything I could and eventually I took myself off to the Netherlands to attend a Plant Medicine Retreat that I had found through my many hours of research.
Looking back from where I am now it is fair to say that apart from becoming a mother, that weekend retreat has turned out to be the second most life transforming experience of my adult life; both personally and professionally; and on many, many levels. It launched me onto what I now regard as a more purposeful life-path that runs parallel to my work as a psychotherapist in private practice. In addition to the deep healing I personally received I have witnessed first-hand, and read the testimonies of the hundreds, if not thousands, of others who have experienced transformational healing of their minds, hearts and spirit through the ingestion of the amazing molecules; that are inherent in these gifts of nature - and human ingenuity.
My own contribution to the Psychedelic Renaissance is but a small one, but one which I consider to play a significant role in helping people to heal themselves. More recently, I founded the online platform Psychedelic-Integration.UK. This is developing as a way to disseminate information and educate people around ‘psychedelic risk-reduction’ and as a hub where people can find local Psychedelic Societies and Psychedelic Integration Providers here in the UK. These providers made up of professional psychotherapists and counsellors like me, offer their services to help people prepare for, and integrate meaningful psychedelic experiences.
I continue to practice as a psychotherapist here in the UK and take my professional development in this regard seriously. There is no doubt that traditional talking therapies have their place. I have seen people heal and grow just by experiencing the unconditional presence of Another, which is why I remain committed to this work. And alongside my work as an ordinary psychotherapist/counsellor I have a sincere calling to stand alongside the countless researchers, authors, doctors and drug policy reformers worldwide who are working tirelessly to reintroduce Plant Medicines so that individuals who are resistant to conventional treatments for their emotional and psychological illnesses can access the natural healing that Mother Nature has provided for us all. #THANKYOUPLANTMEDICINE!