Preparation for a Psychedelic Experience

Preparation for a Psychedelic Experience
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As psychedelic medicine becomes more widely available above ground it will be important for clinicians to have at least a basic overview of how to help or partner with a client in preparing for a journey.  There are specialists that work with this such as our team at the Nashville Psychedelic Center, but below is a general overview and beginning information.

Preparing for a psychedelic journey is an important part of the process towards getting the most out of a psychedelic experience.  The general overview is preparation is the discussion of dose, set, and setting for the journey.

Dose refers to how much or how strong of a medicine dosage the client wants.  Each medicine (e.g. ketamine, psilocybin, MDMA) has a range of safe and effective doses that can give different responses.  Think of it similarly to caffeine.  If you need a little ‘pick me up’ then maybe it’s just a medium cup of coffee.  If you are wanting a good jolt to the system because you didn’t sleep well last night, maybe it’s a couple of big cups.  So if you’re wanting a moderate or more surface-level dive into the inner world then a mild or moderate dose of medicine is recommended.  If you’re wanting a deeper dive then we would discuss a more significant dosage.  Part of preparation is discussing this and finding a dosage that we both feel suits what you’re looking for and what feels appropriate for your current state of mind or situation.

Setting refers to the physical space where the journey will take place.  It’s important to discuss and set up a plan for the physical space and location because it will affect the journey.  Think of it like hanging out with a friend.  Going to a show with them will be a different experience than being at home in a quiet environment.  Both can be wonderful and positive, but figuring out what makes sense for you is important.

It’s also important to have a safe environment for a psychedelic journey.  At the clinic we have set up the space to be free of things like trip hazards, confusing images, or general clutter.  We also have trained staff that will be with you the entire time.  If we’re working with you to prepare for a home journey we will want to cover general physical safety as well as having someone with you that you can trust.  There’s some inherent vulnerability in being in an altered state of mind and having someone trusted around is recommended.

Finally set refers to the general mindset.  Preparation covers intentions, beliefs, mental state, and mood regarding the journey.  Intentions: what are you looking to get out of the journey?  What would you like to focus on?  What are your goals?  Beliefs: what do you think about psychedelics?  What have you heard about journeying?  Do you have any cultural beliefs related to psychedelics?  Mental state: Are you currently stressed?  Is there a lot going on in life?  Mood:  Where have you been on the mood spectrum (baseline, depressed, hypomanic)?  Dealing with any sadness, grief, loss?

Preparation is a vital part of the process in growth with psychedelic medicine.  It’s important to not skip this step and we would love to help any clients at the Nashville Psychedelic Center or any clinicians that have a desire for more information.

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