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A Discussion about Psychedelic Integration

Full disclaimer here: not everyone is going to agree with me on this topic. And that’s ok. The important thing is to hear and consider different perspectives on things, not to necessarily agree with all of them.

I find it so interesting that when I talk to people about what I do, they often blurt out this same generic phrase of “well integration is the most important part!” before we even get deep into talking about the work. Yes, integration is an important part, but do you know what this actually means? Do we have a personal connection to this concept or do we have a poorly informed sense of meaning?

Poorly informed, is that a thing? If not, I am making it one.

We regurgitate so many phrases and can really disconnect from what the true meaning of things are in an attempt to appear informed, knowledgeable or credible. This is especially true with this work – where there are a lot of people claiming a lot of things to get clients through their door as the industry is on it’s way to becoming another profit driven business opportunity. You heard me right, but I will rage on about this another day.

Below I want to discuss who needs integration, what it looks like and what misconceptions are out there. I am discussing this topic specifically with regards to people who work with me in the Spiritual setting of Psilocybin Ceremony at Sacred Heart.

What is Integration?

I don’t know the definition of Integration and I refuse to look it up – lol – I think pretty much everything will resonate the most when I speak from the heart and from personal experience.

In my world, and in my experience, integration is the process in which the newly illuminated information or aspects of Self, revealed through Ceremony, is settling into the Self that was present before the Ceremony began. Some examples of this would be perspectives about a situation, a physical healing, soul parts that have returned, connection to self or nature, or instructions about how to move forward.

What does integration actually look like? For me, it can look like any or all of these things, depending on what I am moving through:

  • Time and space to just be (alone)

  • Yoga

  • Journaling

  • Meditating

  • Bodywork

  • Breathwork

  • Coaching

  • Therapy

  • Intense emotional processing for 1-3 weeks

  • Physical purging for days or weeks

  • Hiking or time in nature

  • Not getting out of bed for a week or two

  • Doing something I have been putting off (like a big travel experience I have always wanted)

  • Playing with my kids

  • Eating all the foods I loved when I was a _____ years old

In the sacred setting/container, I find that most integration takes months or years to happen fully. There is no rushing the process, only figuring out how to best support yourself through it. My first time working with the Medicine took almost two years to fully reveal what happened in that Ceremony and to fully integrate it.

Who needs a Designated Post-Ceremony Therapist or Coach?

Not as many people as you think. And in general, a regular therapist or coach will be more than adequate. In most cases, no intensive integration support is needed. If it is something that is desired, don’t let me stop you, I am just here to provide perspective to those who are on the fence!

Here are a few examples of people who need some designated post-Ceremony integration support:

  • You were told by the Medicine that you need to fix your diet because you are about to get very sick, but you’re having trouble implementing it because you have mental constructs that are blocking you. You need someone to help you work through these constructs so you can follow these instructions.

  • An inner child part has returned and given you instructions on how to treat yourself better, but you are struggling because you have an internal monologue provided by your mother. You have some healing to be done with your mom and may need the support of a therapist to work through.

  • You have an intense Shamanic experience, like dying 100 times or experiencing the life of a slave shackled in the lower level of a ship for 8 hours of Ceremony. Sometimes we just need to talk to someone who knows what the heck just happened to us so we don’t feel crazy. In this case I would actually talk to a Shaman because there is a deeper meaning here and you need the type of support other people may not be able to give you.

  • You have repressed memories of sexual abuse that resurfaced in the days after your Ceremony and aren’t sure what to do with that information. In this case I would recommend a therapist!

An interesting side note: I find that many people who work with a highly skilled Facilitator can often have these things naturally fall into place. The diet could change organically and without effort. The internal monologue could be destroyed during the Ceremony. Or all the emotions behind the sexual abuse were processed and now these memories have absolutely no charge to them.

I am just trying to prove a point here – integration doesn’t look one way and it certainly doesn’t require a specialized person to conduct after every single Ceremony. Some people get really hung up on needing an integration person before even considering sitting in Ceremony because they think it is a necessity.

To me, this work is about being patient, gentle, and allowing things to unfold naturally over time. There is no need to force this process that will often happen organically and with ease. That being said, we do absolutely need to reach out for support when it feels right.

Hiring a Designated Integration Specialist

Let’s be brutal right off the bat here – I do not believe that training and certifications are a proper substitute for substantial personal experience in the arena of personal work through Psilocybin Ceremony. This does not mean recreational use and it does not mean synthetic drug use. I am talking about sitting in Ceremony multiple times over the course of a at least a year, with another person who 100% holds you (accountable and with love) so you can look through the shadow bits of your soul.

I am very sad to say that so many people I meet or who approach me that “specialize” in integration coaching have not done the appropriate amount of personal work to prevent them from causing further damage to their clients. In fact, more than half of those I have met had not sat in a single Ceremony for themselves. This has been so disheartening.

Just to be clear, I do believe there are probably loads of good “certified” Integration coaches out there, I just haven’t had the pleasure to meet many of them yet. What I have encountered, however, tells me a lot about the field and what kind of people it is attracting – people not willing to do their own work and/or those who are unintentionally harming others as a result. It perpetuates this ongoing society-level cycle of traumatized people unintentionally traumatizing others. This is a great dark spot in the world of healers – it is super easy to bypass our own personal work because we know all the shortcuts. It is also incredibly easy to have an inflated ego when you spend your days helping others, sharing knowledge, and being treated like you have the ability to heal something they can’t. Hello God complex!

If you are seeking an integration coach or therapist, I encourage you to ask them detailed information not about their training, but about their personal experience and integration processes. Make sure they have an abundance of experience sitting in Ceremony themselves with a Shaman or Facilitator. Ask them what integration means to them and what calls them to do this work.

And always follow your gut.

If you are open to it, I highly recommend that you disregard all certifications and trainings and look for any kind of coach or therapist that you just plain resonate with – you absolutely don’t need someone who focuses on integration.

Financial Considerations

Some of us don’t have the funds for an integration specialist/intensive support when we need it most. When I first started this work, I sure didn’t. I had to figure a lot of it out on my own and honestly I wouldn’t change it for anything. This is how I learned the importance of being patient and just allowing it to organically unfold, even through a state of suffering. I now know that there are many in-person and virtual integration groups out there that are offered by Medicine circles, local psychedelic society branches or through Meetup – we have a great one in Vancouver that you can find here. I do also find that many of Medicine people will work on sliding scale or by donation if we are requested to do so.

What do you think, have you found any of the above information to be true for you? Is there anything you want to add?

For a list of our recommended practitioners, please check out our website here.

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