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PSYCHEDELIC INTEGRATION THERAPY 

Psychedelic Integration Therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on supporting individuals in integrating and making sense of their psychedelic experiences. It is designed to help individuals process and integrate insights, emotions, and lessons from their psychedelic journeys into their everyday lives.

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

Integration Therapy is usually run in one-hour-long therapy sessions, and can be applied in both brief and ongoing psychotherapy interactions.

 

Similar to the Harm Reduction framework, Integration Therapy represents a shift away from assessment limited to untoward outcomes of psychedelic use and abstinence-based addiction treatment paradigms and toward a stance of compassionate, destigmatizing acceptance of the individual's choices. 

Therefore, please check out these other pages of my website as well:  Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy

 

Integration needs might arise within the context of an ongoing psychotherapeutic process with your own psychotherapist. 

This is usually the best option because, together with your therapist, you can go through a deep process of preparation for your psychedelic explorations, and afterwards your therapist can immediately help you process all the different aspects of the experience.

Psychedelic Integration Therapy is often used as a follow-up therapy after a psychedelic experience, whether it was facilitated in a therapeutic context or self-administered. Sometimes it is just a few sessions on an ad hoc basis, other times it's a short-term process.

Occasionally, challenging psychedelic journeys might require a longer-term integration process.

However, as not all psychotherapists are psychedelic-informed professionals, it's important to work with a qualified therapist who is experienced in psychedelic integration to ensure a safe and supportive therapeutic process.

Why "integration" ...?

The most important principle of Integration Therapy is this: even the most amazing, impactful, cathartic, spiritually and emotionally meaningful experiences gained in a Non-Ordinary State of Consciousness (NOSC) won't be able to change our lives unless we find ways of translating those experiences into our normal daytime consciousness, and unless we are able to integrate the new insights and emotions into our personality, into our human relationships, and into our everyday life.

Otherwise, our psychedelic experience might eventually share a common fate with many of our fascinating dreams or artistic experiences: we might always remember them as something beautiful, meaningful and awe-inspiring, but they will never effect any changes in our lives, will not cause any shifts in our lived values, will not make us a better person, ... and they certainly will not have any emotional "healing" effect on our psyche.  

What happens in Psychedelic Integration sessions?

The specific structure and activities within a session may vary depending on the therapist's approach and the individual's needs, but here are some common elements.

In an ideal case, Psychedelic Integration Therapy starts with Psychedelic Harm Reduction considerations and practices. 

These might include a thorough exploration of the practical and psychological aspects of how and why a person wishes to engage in a psychedelic experience, and with a period of profound preparation. 

Often, however, individuals only feel the need for some assistance with integration after they had a psychedelic experience.

This need might arise from having had a challenging experience, or from trying to make sense of an otherwise rich and meaningful one.

In Integration Therapy, we discuss the person's psychedelic experiences by exploring the thoughts, emotions, visuals and insights that arose during the journey. We look into the themes, symbols, and metaphors that emerged and how they relate to the individual's life, values and goals, and explore the significance and personal relevance of their psychedelic experiences.

Psychedelic journeys often bring to the surface challenging psychological material that needs to be worked through at some profound depth.

Memories of traumatic life events, patterns of disfunctional attachment, complex developmental traumas, transgenerational traumas etc. are usually not resolved by just talking about them. In such cases, more profound emotional work, somatic processing, archetypal parts-work, active imagination techniques, systemic family cnstellation, and a number of other modalities might be needed for a longer period of time. 

Paralell to the deep emotional processing, we are also working on identifying practical ways to incorporate the insights and lessons from the psychedelic experience into the person's everyday life. This can include setting intentions, making behavioral changes, and cultivating new perspectives and practices.

To support ongoing integration and personal growth, we also work on the person's self-reflection skills and self-care practices like journaling, meditation, mindfulness, or other activities that promote self-awareness and well-being.

Spiritual Bypassing

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A very distinct - and, unfortunately, very frequent - mistake people make in processing psychedelic experiences is called "spiritual bypassing".

It refers to the tendency to use spirituality or spiritual beliefs as a way to avoid or bypass uncomfortable or challenging aspects of the psychedelic journey. It involves seeking a transcendent or blissful experience without fully engaging with and integrating the deeper psychological, emotional, and personal work that can arise during a psychedelic experience.

Psychedelic experiences can be transformative and offer valuable insights and healing potential. However, it's crucial to approach these experiences with awareness and a willingness to engage in the necessary psychological and emotional work.

Integration, therapy, and self-reflection can help us avoid spiritual bypassing and instead fully embrace the transformative potential of psychedelic experiences while grounding the insights gained into practical and meaningful changes in our lives.

Here are some examples of spiritual bypassing in psychedelic experiences:

Neglecting the "Shadow"

Spiritual bypassing may involve focusing solely on the positive or "light" aspects of the psychedelic experience while neglecting or denying the darker, more challenging aspects. This can include avoiding feelings of fear, sadness, or discomfort and seeking to transcend them without fully processing or addressing their underlying causes.

Avoidance of integration

Rather than engaging in the necessary integration work after a psychedelic experience, spiritual bypassing may involve seeking continuous peak experiences or spiritual highs without taking the time to reflect, integrate insights, and make meaningful changes in everyday life. This can lead to a cycle of seeking temporary transcendence without lasting transformation.

Bypassing personal issues

Spiritual bypassing can manifest as using spirituality as a means to bypass personal issues or unresolved traumas. Instead of facing and working through these challenges, individuals may use spiritual beliefs or practices to avoid confronting their own shadows or engaging in necessary healing processes.

Spiritual superiority

Spiritual bypassing may involve adopting a sense of spiritual superiority or judgment towards others who are not on a similar spiritual path. This can create a disconnection from the humanness of others and a lack of empathy or understanding for their struggles and challenges.

Detachment from reality

In some cases, spiritual bypassing can result in a disconnection from the realities and responsibilities of everyday life. Individuals may become so focused on seeking spiritual or transcendent experiences that they neglect their relationships, work, or other practical aspects of life.

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