There has been a revival of the interest in the potential to heal mental issues with psychedelics. These experiences facilitated through the use of hallucinogenic, empathogenic, dissociative, or similar substances including any plant or fungal based medicines like magic mushrooms, iboga, ayahuasca, marijuana, etc., or artificial psychoactive substances like MDMA, ketamine, LSD, etc., when used properly, they can facilitate the integration of traumatic experiences.
Many people are not aware of the risks associated with combining different substances and unmindful of the vital role played by the mindset of participants and the setting in which the substances are used. The profound, rapid changes many people report after a psychedelic experience may require careful reflection and integration. Put metaphorically, a pill may be far easier to swallow than it is to digest.
When a person is considering or has already had a psychedelic experience, it is often helpful to have a guide to alert the person to potential risks and benefits, and to assist them in integrating profound new insights (or bad experiences) into existing patterns of thought, feeling, and behaviour. A person’s psychological history (including trauma, psychosis, and other mental health factors) has great bearing on the way that these experiences may be interpreted and integrated or not integrated. Brian Welling is a psychologist with special training and interest in this area. (See also below under transpersonal counselling as this type of therapy can, for some people, overlap with psychedelic integration).
Many people choose to use psychedelics and similar substances even though many of them are, in most instances, illegal in Canada, and not prescribed by physicians. This may be changing. Research, which had been delayed for decades is now progressing at an accelerated rate, and we may well see many of these substances become more readily available for medical purposes, including the treatment of mental disorders, such as depression, PTSD, opioid and alcohol addiction. Already, ayahuasca is being used legally in some settings for spiritual purposes in Canada, and of course, cannabis is legally available medically and recreationally, here. Many psychedelic and similar types of substances are legal in other jurisdictions, and illicit use in Canada remains popular.
We do not advocate or endorse the illicit use of substances. We do, however, have an interest and responsibility to promote harm reduction. Our approach is to act within legal and ethical bounds to guide and support people who choose to make use of these substances by providing access to information and therapy in order to reduce the potential for harm and to promote mental and spiritual health and wellbeing. We do not currently offer psychedelic-assisted therapy, but will, within the scope of our practice, help people to prepare for and consider their rationale for future psychedelic experiences, and help them to integrate past psychedelic experiences. We will not give medical advice and our psychological services are not a substitute for the medical care of physicians or nurses or the spiritual care of shamans with years of dedicated specialized training and practice in the ceremonial use of sacred medicines.