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Preparing for a Psychedelic Journey? Here’s How a Coach Can Help

Disclaimer: Psychedelics are potentially illegal substances, and we do not condone their use where it’s against the law. We created Third Wave’s directory as source to find legal plant medicines and substances from vetted centers in the US and abroad.

Preparing for a psychedelic journey can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark. Even if you’re a seasoned psychonaut, psychedelic experiences can still be hit or miss. Working with a psychedelic coach can empower you as you journey with psychedelic substances, helping to optimize your experience and extract maximum benefits from it.

A psychedelic coach can equip you with skills to get the most out of your psychedelic journey, enabling you to be the architect of your own experience. Coaches offer guidance throughout the various stages of a journey: in the days and weeks leading up to the experience and during integration sessions in the months that follow.

What do psychedelic coaches do?

Psychedelic coaches act as facilitators throughout the phases of a client’s psychedelic journey. In addition to helping clients prepare for a psychedelic experience, coaches may offer guidance or recommendations for the journey itself, and assist with psychedelic integration when the client has returned to ordinary states of consciousness.

A coach helps clients harness the transformational potency of their psychedelic journeys by anchoring the benefits in their daily lives. These benefits can be far-reaching: clinical trials indicate that effective psychedelic experiences can support the treatment of diverse disorders and pave the way for a range of transformational gains—from improved creativity and more intimate relationships to greater emotional capacity and self-awareness.

How is a psychedelic coach different from a psychedelic therapist or a psychedelic guide?

In the emerging psychedelic landscape, there are a number of professionals who can guide you as you approach, move through, and process your journey. Being aware of your needs can help you determine whether you’d benefit from working with a therapist, guide, or coach.

If you’re in a very dark place and hoping to work through trauma or mental health issues, seeking the support of a psychedelic therapist may be prudent. Not everyone who works with psychedelics needs to see a therapist, but therapists can be helpful for individuals who are tackling deep-seated issues. Psychedelic therapists are trained in therapeutic methods such as transpersonal psychology, psychiatry, or psychotherapy. Diagnosis, treatment planning, and talk therapy may form key parts of a psychedelic integration therapy approach. A psychedelic psychotherapist, for example, can empower clients to apply beneficial aspects of their psychedelic experiences to help heal detrimental behaviors, traumas, or thought patterns. Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy often takes place in more clinical settings.

If you’re seeking support during the actual journey itself, a psychedelic guide could be the right person to work with. Psychedelic or shamanic guides hold space during a psychedelic experience as you move through altered states of perception. A guide’s role may include encouraging you to lean into discomfort or offering reassurance when things feel overwhelming. Guides may use additional tools such as breathwork or music before or during the journey. There may be some discussion following the experience, but follow-up integration sessions with guides are not usually common.

Psychedelic coaches, on the other hand, are for individuals looking to optimize their psychedelic experience. If you are hoping to derive as many benefits as possible from your journey, become a better version of yourself, or gain the necessary skills to further explore and experiment with psychedelics, then working with a coach could be transformative. Read on.

Developing skills with psychedelic coaching

Popular cultural representations of psychedelic experiences often depict a journey as a wild, uncontrollable ride. For cautious individuals, fear of the unknown can represent a deterrent to experimenting with psychedelics, preventing them from experiencing some of the transformative benefits these substances can offer.

It’s helpful to know that psychedelic journeys are similar to any practice that requires skills. Developing skills can help manage challenging situations. Developing psychedelic skills means that you can use specific tools, like microdosing, to gain more control over your experience.

Having the support of a psychedelic coach doesn’t eliminate the odds of a challenging journey. Part of the potency of psychedelics lies in their ability to shake up entrenched thought and behavioral patterns, and in encouraging journeyers to relinquish control. Being skilled in psychedelics means that you’re empowered to avoid mistakes (like overdosing or choosing a setting that may be unsettling or emotionally challenging). Skills can help in navigating challenges that may arise during the experience.

A psychedelic coach will help you identify your goals for your psychedelic experience and provide you with recommendations specific to the substance (depending on whether you’re working with psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, ayahuasca, or ketamine). They’ll also help you work through any fears or anxieties that arise before dosing, troubleshoot any difficult moments that emerge during the psychedelic journey, and support you to integrate the experience afterward.

Developing these skills means that if you choose to continue to work or experiment with psychedelic compounds, you become increasingly versed in what works well for you—and what doesn’t.

In addition, psychedelic coaches specialize in different skill sets:

Psychedelic integration coaches

Psychedelic integration coaches help clients weave insights from their journey into their daily lives to support personal growth. Integration represents a valuable way that participants can process and give meaning to memories, feelings, and ideas from their journey—including anything that may have felt confusing.

Integration can have enduring benefits, helping  individuals incorporate new understandings and insights into their lives. During integration sessions, coaches may also encourage new personal practices such as journaling, or plan future psychedelic sessions.

Microdosing coaches

A microdosing coach—or for that matter, mini- or macro-dosing coaches, can support you as you work with specialized psychedelic dosing regimens. Psychedelic research suggests that microdosing represents a subtle yet powerful method of shifting neural conditioning and promoting wellness. A well-structured psilocybin microdosing protocol can help you tackle depression or simply tap into fuller expressions of self.

When applied effectively, microdosing psychedelics is a versatile and safe practice that can bring about enduring, transformative changes. Working with a microdosing coach can help you find your sweet spot, so you can fully harness the potential of this approach to psychedelics.

If you’re interested in microdosing and want to experiment with it using expert guidance, you can also join our Microdosing Course. Applying the latest research from leading scientists and doctors, we’ll help you create a step-by-step process to change habits, enhance creativity, and optimize performance.

Why is having a coach important?

Similar to the role of a coach in any discipline, coaches help students prepare for an experience or event by developing the necessary skills. A psychedelic coach has a repertoire of practical experience and knowledge that they can share with their clients.

In particular, having a psychedelic coach is beneficial for three critical reasons:

1. Supporting psychedelic health and safety

Psychedelic substances are relatively safe from a physiological perspective and are not considered drugs of dependence. Nonetheless, the use of psychedelics carries unique risks during administration. One of the more common risks is distress that can lead to potentially dangerous behavior (e.g., leaving the safe site where the journey is taking place).

Psychedelic coaches can help with harm reduction by minimizing risks. A good coach carefully prepares the client, ensures that they have created a safe physical environment for their session, and offers support in the form of integration afterward. During the integration session, the coach can help the client zero in on what worked and what didn’t, and adjust dosing to improve the experience next time.

2. Working with experience

Experience goes hand-in-hand with expertise. Coaches are trained in the effects of psychedelics and the history and traditions associated with psychedelic medicine. In addition, they understand the physiological and psychological impact of psychedelic substances. This holistic awareness means coaches are uniquely placed to help create the optimal set and setting for a journey and offer guidance on how to respond if certain situations arise.

Coaches harness their experiential knowledge to help you develop an approach to psychedelics that serves your needs rather than conforms to a regimented program. Once you’ve experienced one or two sessions, a psychedelic coach can help you process the experience and offer suggestions for next time.

3. Achieving desired outcomes

If you’re interested in working with psychedelic substances, you’re most likely looking to achieve certain outcomes. Perhaps you’re aiming for a more open, fluid state of mind, or seeking a more empowered stance in managing your mental health. Psychedelic coaches can help you move through blockages and better understand your thoughts, emotions, and patterns.

Some microdosing coaches are uniquely trained to help individuals who wish to microdose to taper off pharmaceuticals, such as SSRIs, antidepressants, and ADHD medications. Other psychedelic coaches may work exclusively in corporate, executive, or creative environments, supporting individuals who wish to reach for higher potential. Psychedelic coaching is well-documented in places such as Silicon Valley.

Coaches provide actionable methods that incorporate your psychedelic experience into daily life so you can implement lasting, beneficial changes.

What makes a good psychedelic coach?

An effective psychedelic coach should make you feel safe and supported as you embark on your psychedelic journey. However, they should also help you identify your blindspots and lean into your edges.

If you believe that working with a psychedelic coach could be beneficial, there are several critical qualities to look for:

Empathy: When you communicate with the coach, are they present, patient, and open? Do they know when to remain silent and allow you to express yourself?

Trust: Does interacting with the coach inspire trust? Do you feel as though they have sufficient experience to guide you as you journey with psychedelics? Most critically, do you feel like they will help you to develop trust in yourself—rather than dependence on them?

Knowledge: Many psychedelic coaches are individuals with backgrounds in the health sector who have amplified their focus to include psychedelic substances. Although a coach doesn’t need to be a trained clinician, physician, or psychiatrist, they should have a robust and holistic knowledge of how psychedelics affect the mind and body. Do you feel reassured by their level of knowledge and experience?

Bear in mind that your relationship with a psychedelic coach isn’t static, it’s dynamic. The role of the coach should evolve as your needs and engagement with psychedelics change. A competent coach should know when to hold your hand and offer specific recommendations— and when to step back and just provide emotional support.

The best psychedelic coaches will help you journey deeper with psychedelics, integrate challenging emotions, and  support you in creating lasting change in your everyday  life.

How can you find the right coach?

When looking for a psychedelic coach, it’s helpful to think about the following criteria.

Cost

The cost of a series of psychedelic coaching sessions can vary based on the individual’s experience, profile, and background. Ensure you’re clear on the coach’s rates and what they include, so there are no surprises. The Third Wave Microdosing Coaching package, for example, clearly outlines the cost and what the package offers.

Location

Location may only be a factor if you feel strongly about meeting with your coach in person. Many psychedelic coaches can hold sessions remotely via Zoom meetings. Being open to working with a coach online increases the range of coaches with whom you can work.

Desired outcome

Psychedelic coaches often have unique expertise based on their background and experience with psychedelics. Some coaches are focused exclusively on helping clients work with microdosing, while others are focused on integration. If you’re aiming to reduce social anxiety by microdosing psilocybin, for instance, a psychedelic coach experienced in microdosing would most likely resonate with your goals.

What training/credentials do they have?

As mentioned earlier, psychedelic coaches don’t necessarily need a background in healthcare or psychology. What they do require, however, is a robust understanding of psychedelic medicine and training in psychedelic coaching. Third Wave holds a comprehensive Coaching Certification Program that trains and mentors those working within this transformational  space.

Working with a Third Wave certified coach — or becoming a coach

Third Wave coaches undergo a comprehensive 13-week program with in-depth training and mentorship from leading experts in the field, as well as attend an in-person retreat to experience working with the medicine in the right container.

The Third Wave Coaching Certification Program nurtures creative, well-being-focused entrepreneurs ready to contribute to the psychedelic paradigm shift. This training is targeted at high-caliber individuals who already offer coaching services, such as life coaches and executive coaches. And Third Wave doesn’t just let anyone who applies join. Applicants go through an in-depth intake process to see if their values and skill sets align in the best way possible.

If this sounds like you and you’re interested in becoming a psychedelic coach, find out more and sign up for the next intake here. It’s worth noting that coaching represents just one option for a career in psychedelics—but there are diverse opportunities for working in this emerging transformational field.

Emma Stone · October 21st, 2021