This one thing could change every psychedelic trip

psychedelic integration

The world is turning over to psychedelics. As compounds on the psychedelic spectrum are decriminalized and legalized for therapeutic purposes, psychedelic integration becomes even more important. Psychedelic integration is what happens after consuming plant medicine—the part where sense is made of the experience.

“Psychedelic integration and therapy really helps decipher how to bring whatever happened in your journey into your everyday life in a way that actually works for you,” Courtney Watson, LMFT, founder of Doorway Therapeutics, shared with GreenState.

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What is psychedelic integration therapy?

Going through a psychedelic integration process can help a person extract lessons from their experience, impacting their daily lives for the better. The integration process may look different for everyone. At the most basic level, it is the process of talking with someone about a psychedelic journey to learn and grow from it.

Psychedelic research scientist and chief science officer of Unlimited Sciences, Matthew X. Lowe, PhD., explained the clinical approach to the practice in a comment sent to GreenState.

“Integration is important to create a sustainable framework which can facilitate the transformational changes that can occur over the weeks, months, and even years after your psychedelic experience,” Lowe said.

Not all psychedelic experiences absolutely require integration, but every single trip could benefit from it, whether it’s therapy or not. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the only way, just like clinical therapy isn’t the only way to integrate a psychedelic experience.

Watson supports integration in the context of community as well as clinical therapy and other options. At times, she has been enjoying time in her kitchen with friends who felt the conversation was an integration experience. Finding a professional is sometimes the right move, but not everyone has access to integration therapists who they feel safe with, and that they can afford. Others might not feel comfortable in a clinical setting.

“If you can find a trusted community member, a loved one that’s supportive of the experience and has some sort of orientation about making meaning of what happened for you, then I think that that is helpful as well,” Watson explained.

Lowe also recommends online communities and group workshops for those seeking a psychedelic community space.

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Choosing a psychedelic integration therapist

On the clinical side, psychotherapists can get certifications in psychedelic integration. There is also therapist and coach training on the matter. Experts say it’s vital to work with someone qualified, but that might look different to each person.

“If there’s something inside of you, in your gut, that doesn’t feel right about someone, then don’t do integration with them,” Watson established. “If something feels off, or you don’t feel safe, or they said something that’s some sort of microaggression, then that is not a qualified person to do your integration.”

When seeking out a person to facilitate integration, Watson also recommends only working with someone who has had their own experience with medicine work and integration. They should also be able to share who taught them how to do this work.

For some, learning to trust themselves enough to make the decision to choose a psychedelic integration therapist is part of their process, but there are red flags to look for. A therapist who hasn’t journeyed, or one who booked a three-day training and immediately jumped into facilitating others’ experiences may leave room for pause.

Watson explained that many therapists show themselves during the intake process. If at any point a person doesn’t feel listened to or feels uncomfortable in a room with their therapist–it’s a no.

“You need to feel safe with the person that you’re integrating with, whether that’s a loved one or that’s a professional, you feeling like you’re in a place that you’ll get the support you need is primary, because even if you have someone with all the degrees and all the experience and all the training, if you don’t feel safe with them, then your integration actually isn’t going to be valuable for you,” Watson expressed.

Lowe drove it home, explaining how vulnerable the time after a psychedelic journey can be.

“Integration is often a vulnerable and challenging period where you may navigate difficult emotions, face hard truths about yourself, and reflect honestly on behavioral patterns that you may wish to change,” Lowe said.

Integration helps bring a trip into focus, translating sometimes bizarre or passionate experiences into life lessons. These pinpointed moments can be correlated to trauma or anxiety symptoms, and a professional therapist can be untangled into a space of healing.

Reducing harm with psychedelic integration

Psychedelics can heal but also have the potential to harm. Lowe explained that psychedelics may illuminate feelings a person kept in the dark for a reason. Experiences may bubble to the surface of the psyche that have been buried, and a person needs support to work through unearthed trauma. Those who aren’t able to integrate a difficult journey may experience anxiety, fear, social disconnection, or existential struggle.

“When these challenges are faced without support or structure, they can feel overwhelming and distressing, and you may struggle to integrate these experiences into everyday life in a positive way,” Lowe explained. “Without integration, rather than creating positive changes to your life, you run the risk of exacerbating difficult emotions or unresolved trauma.”

Psychedelic integration looks different for everyone. One person may feel safe and held in a loved one’s kitchen, while another feels comfortable opening up in a clinical setting for mental health care. At the end of the day, there is no wrong place to integrate; if a person feels supported in translating their experience, then they’re doing it right.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.