Psychedelic Integration: Grounding the Journey

Craig Salerno, MA, LAC, LPC
Published on: September 11, 2020

Psychedelics hold a promise of health and well-being, often by journeying beyond ourselves. How can we make the most of these healing experiences after they are over? Join Craig Salerno, MA, LAC, LPC as we explore the importance of integration.

As a growing body of research supports the potential benefits of psychedelics for psychological, emotional, and spiritual health, more individuals are choosing to explore the healing properties of medicines like MDMA, ketamine, psilocybin, peyote, and ayahuasca.

While much has been shared about the importance of set and setting as it relates to the direct psychedelic experience, the discussion of post-experience integration is a relatively newer topic to the culture.

Entheogenic Research Integration & Education (ERIE) defines integration as “the process by which the material accessed and insights gained in a [psychedelic] experience are incorporated over time into one’s life in a way that benefits the individual and their community.”

From this frame, the power of psychedelic medicine work lies not only in the depth of the experience during use, but also in the post-experience exploration, processing, and application of insights that occurs days, months, and even years after a journey.

Because each psychedelic experience is unique unto itself, psychedelic integration can take many forms. Below is a list of commonly focused areas of integration:

  • Examining meaning of visual and/or somatic experiences that arose
  • Exploring the emotional impact of the psychedelic experience
  • Contextualizing the “story” of the journey
  • Grounding insights into meaningful behavior change
  • Understanding a “bad trip” or difficult experience
  • Exploring how to live from a newly recognized truth
  • Examining how to share your experience with others
  • Managing cravings or desires to continue psychedelic exploration
  • Setting intentions for further journeys based on what arose

Integration focuses on how these themes and experiences in a psychedelic medicine session can be implemented into action and meaningful change. Peak experiences become transformational experiences when integration is valued as highly as the psychedelic journey itself. Integration can be viewed as the ground on which psychedelic experiences root themselves. Without the ground, these experiences may simply fade away over time.

The integration experience is a healing partnership between the explorer, the integration supporter(s), and the wisdom and intelligence of the psychedelic medicine. Whether done in an individual session or collectively as a group, the goal is catalyze a meaningful and transformational process that extends far beyond the psychedelic experience.

To learn more about psychedelic integration sessions, consult a psychedelic integration provider or check the following resources for specialists in your area.

Published by:
Craig Salerno, MA, LAC, LPC
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor based in Boulder, CO. Learn more about my integration and mental health services on my provider profile page in the Psychedelic Support Network. Learn more at my website Craig Salerno Counseling LLC. I look forward to working with you.

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