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PSYCHEDELIC HARM REDUCTION

Psychedelic Harm Reduction Therapy is not so much a technique than an attitude, a basic philosophy, that focuses on a person's optimal relationship to psychedelics rather than on their avoidance. 

The harm reduction paradigm recognizes all the potentials and all the positive aspects of any substance or practice that people have used throughout human history to alter and expand their states of consciouness while also fully acknowledes the dangers and potential harms inherent in them.  

However, instead of promoting full absitence from these subtances and practices, Psychedelic Harm Reduction is aimed at enhancing safety, providing education, disseminating theoretical and practical information, offering cutting edge science, minimizing risks, and providing support for individuals who choose to engage in psychedelic experiences.

It aims to help individuals navigate their psychedelic experiences in a way that maximizes potential benefits while minimizing potential harm.

Psychedelic Integration Therapy and Psychedelic Harm Reduction often go hand in hand mutually supporting and compelemting each other.

Therefore, please check out this other page as well:  Psychedelic Integration Therapy

The harm reduction paradigm acknowledges, honors and supports each person's autonomy, free will, self-determination, and spiritual quest into the myteries of life and human consciousness.

It also invites every individual to deeply, honestly and wisely explore their motivations, intentions, choices and responsibilites from various different angles. ​​​​​

 

 

What happens in Psychedelic Harm Reduction sessions?

Education - Information

 

In my practice, I provide individuals with evidence-based information about the effects, risks, and potential benefits of psychedelic substances. This includes educating individuals about the specific substance they are planning to use, about dosage, set (mindset), setting (environment), and other factors that can influence their psychedelic experience.

In most cases, I suggest that my clients consult their medical practinioner, too, who can advise them on individualized medical advice based on their personal medical history, subscription medication regime, specific sensitivities, etc.

In the safe and non-judgmental space of my therapy practice, we consider basic harm reduction practices for psychedelic experiences, such as establishing a safe and supportive environment, having a trusted and experienced sitter/guide/facilitator present, using appropriate dosage and administration methods, running background checks on their chosen treatment centers, guides, "shamans", facilitators, etc.

Myths - Hype - Expectations

 

With the unprecedented upsurge in scientific reasearch focusing on psychedelics, with the imminent FDA approval of several psychedelic substances for medical/psychotherapeutic use, with the wildfire-like spread of ketamine clinics in the last few years, with Big Pharma, Big Money, Big Marketing and Big Stock Market entering the psychedelic arena, we are literally flooded with new books, articles and podcasts on a daily basis promising full-scale healing and instant enlightenment after just one - or maybe as many as three - journeys using MDMA, or magic mushrooms, ... or - even better - ayahuasca somewhere in the Amazonian jungle. 

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As wonderful and efficient as psychedelic substances can be in catalysing healing processes in the most intense and complex ways, unrealistic hopes and expectations tend to cause more harm than good. Even though we all wish that there were some "miracle cures" and "magic bulletts" out there, it seems that we are still a long way from finding even a single one of them. 

We often feel that big, cathartic experiences will change us for good. However, they rarely do. 

Big, cathartic experiences rarely change our life-long defence structures, coping mechanisms, attachment styles, proceduralized trauma responses stored in the deep, biochemically coded mechanisms of our bodies and nervous systems. 

Real change usually involves many steps, strong motivation, determination, consistency, self-compassion, gentleness, daily practice, and loving but radical honesty with ourselves. 

 

Preparation - Intention Setting - Guidance - Emotional Support

 

I work with individuals to deeply and honestly explore their motivations for their interest in psychedelic experiences, for their choices of specific substances, for their choices of facilitators (therapists, underground facilitators, indigenous communities, shamans, retreat centers, specific countries, different cultures, etc.). 

Most importantly, we explore in depth their intentions and expectations for the psychedelic experience.

We discuss strategies for creating or choosing a safe and supportive set (mindset) and setting (environment) to enhance the experience and reduce potential risks.

I also invite individuals to express their thoughts, fears, and concerns about the psychedelic experience, to explore their emotional states, and to develop coping strategies to navigate any challenging emotions that may arise during the experience.

Therapeutic Journeys - The Intention "To Heal"

 

Today, many people feel drawn to psychedelic experiences "to heal".

Many of us have had the experience that psychotherapy has helped us move a long way from previous states of suffering, ... but we are still in pain, we are still not able to live a full life, ... and therapy doesn't seem to have the answers we are looking for. 

If the intention of a client is to heal, to process personal or transgenerational trauma, to let go of old losses and hurts, ... the psychedelic journey itself needs to be directed differently than when the intention has more of a spiritual nature. 

As "therapeutic journeys" need some special guidance both in preparation and while undergoing the experience itself, I try to equip my clients with all the information, technical and practical instruction, as well as emotional and spiritual guidance that they need to navigate their experiences. 

 

Integration - Meaning-Making

 

Following the psychedelic experience, I support individuals in clarifying, understanding, and making meaning of their experiences.

I help them process the insights, emotions, discoveries and lessons in their psychedelic journey.

We work on what further explorations and considerations, what changes, what regular practices might be most helpful for them to integrate their new experiences into their personality and into their everyday lives. 

For some clients, a few integration sessions will be enough to make sense of their experience.

Most clients - mostly those whose intention was "to heal" - feel that their experience was so deep, rich, complex and meaningful that it requires a longer therapeutic process to reap all the benefits.

Some clients take their experiences back to their psychotherapists who they have been working with for some time.

Others decide to start therapy - something they've never done before, or something they gave up on at some point in their life. 

Everybody is different - every life is different. 

But having an experienced, knowledgable, wise and compassionate guide/therapist seems especially appropriate when somebody is hoping to accelerate their healing journey with the help of psychedelic substances. 

Referrals - Follow-Up Support

 

To individuals who may need additional support or assistance beyond the scope of harm reduction therapy, I will suggest further resources (books, articles, podcasts, websites, workshops, etc.) or referrals to medical professionals, various other specialists and therapists (breath work, body work, etc.), or support groups.

​We may also schedule follow-up sessions to check in on the person's progress and address any lingering questions or concerns.

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