Updated: Apr 19
The term ‘psychedelic integration’ has become somewhat of a buzz phrase in the psychedelic community, but what exactly does it mean?
Here at Psychedelic Integration UK, we are naturally very passionate about psychedelics. We advocate for their safe use in both recreational and medical/clinical settings. The research tells us that they can be extremely powerful when it comes to helping people with a multitude of symptoms ranging from depression through chronic pain, and even end of life anxiety.
There is a common misconception however, that simply taking a psychedelic without any support could be a cure all for any ailment. This is where integration comes in. All of the research taking place where positive outcomes are reported have some form of therapy taking place alongside the psychedelic experience itself. This usually takes the form of a number of preparation sessions beforehand, and several integration sessions afterwards.
Psychedelic integration is a process by which a person makes sense of their altered state experience, and ultimately integrates it positively into their life. The word integration means “to become whole”, and given many psychedelic experiences can be quite disorientating and challenging, feeling ‘whole’ again afterwards is an important part of someone’s healing process.
Integration can take place in therapy, as part of a support group or simply within a supportive social setting. There are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes good psychedelic integration. Ultimately it is what works for the individual.
A psychedelic integration therapist is someone who has experience (preferably first hard) of altered states of consciousness. They will be able to talk to your about your experience, help you make sense of it, and hopefully help you form the necessary insights to move forward in your healing. They are not there to judge you, nor are they there to tell you what your experience means. The same can be said for support groups, which is where people share their experiences and others listen, often gaining insight by just hearing other people’s interpretations.
Psychedelic integration can also help you ‘land’ safely after a trip. Whether that trip took place in your home, at a festival/club, or as part of a clinical trial, good integration therapy is there to hold your hand as you settle back into your regular life. It is possible, though not common, that the disorientating effects of a psychedelic substance can last beyond the psychedelic trip itself. Having someone or a group of people there to help you with integration is certainly an investment worth making.
Different therapists use different approaches when it comes to psychedelic integration therapy. It is worth remembering that the therapeutic relationship is often the most important aspect of therapy, with the approach usually being (slightly) less important. Of course you’ll want to make sure they have experience holding space, and are practising ethically. You can usually ascertain this by asking them to detail their experience and credentials. Bear in mind however, a therapist can have all the qualifications in the world and be unable to assist in any meaningful way. Go with someone you ‘click’ with and can trust.
As the psychedelic renaissance gathers pace, we will soon see psychedelic medicine hitting the mainstream. Clinics will be opening across the UK over the next few years, ready to capitalise on the market and offer these medicines to the general public. Psychedelic integration will play a massive part in making sure these people are supported and have the best possible outcomes.
At Psychedelic Integration UK, we continue to expand our lists of psychedelic integration services, such as credible therapists, social circles and support groups. We are building an online and offline community that can be there for everyone who embarks on what can often be a life-changing journey. If you’d like to be involved feel free to get in touch.
Image credit: William King