Psychedelic Clinic Guide:
How to Choose the Right Clinic for You

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.

Psychedelic therapy clinics may be today’s best answer to psychiatry’s greatest challenge—how to successfully treat mental illness. Legal clinics worldwide are harnessing psychedelics to alleviate suffering and change lives for the better. From PTSD and treatment-resistant depression to OCD and addiction, people have found relief through psychedelic medicine and integration clinics. Countless patient stories speak for themselves.

You may have heard about psychedelic clinics. And perhaps you’re eager to visit one. But you’ve probably also heard that clinics vary wildly in approach and quality. Moreover, not every psychedelic medicine is appropriate for your mind and body. So how do you choose the right psychedelic clinic for you? When searching for a psychedelic clinic, it’s critical to have a keen understanding of your goals and choose a reputable facility that meets your criteria.

Here we review the most important aspects of choosing the best psychedelic therapy clinic for you.

What is a psychedelic therapy clinic?

Psychedelic therapy clinics look very different depending on the place and the medicine you choose. In general, psychedelic clinics employ trained therapists and healthcare providers to administer transformative psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions. Reputable facilities are always committed to harm reduction initiatives. Harm reduction is an emerging psychedelic field that refers to clinical strategies to ensure a safe and beneficial experience. Such offerings include:

  • Quality medicine and accurate dosing
  • Tools like eyeshades and music to help you drop into the experience
  • Education about the clinic’s therapeutic process protocols
  • Help processing difficult emotions that may arise during the journey

The most effective clinics offer the medical use of psychedelics as an accelerant for the psychotherapy process. These centers often provide clinicians to guide you through the journey, help you integrate the lessons into daily life, and offer complementary services like holotropic breathwork, yoga, and nutritional counseling.

Find a legal and trusted psychedelic therapy clinic in the US from Third Wave’s professional Directory. Our team has personally vetted each clinic to ensure it meets our highest standards.

How do psychedelic drugs work for mental health?

Psychedelic medicines vary significantly in how they affect your brain and your experience while journeying. Peyote, an endangered psychedelic cactus, can lead you down a wildly different path than an Amazonian ayahuasca brew, for example. Additionally, magic mushrooms, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and DOI can all inspire vastly different insights.

But scientists don’t have all the answers to explain why psychedelics appear to work miracles for people who can’t find relief elsewhere. Currently, studies theorize that traditional psychedelics like psilocybin and DMT help rewire the brain to allow new, healthier thought patterns to emerge. Additionally, evidence suggests many classic entheogens can mimic serotonin, a neurotransmitter related to feeling happy and loved.

Ketamine, a non-traditional psychedelic, appears to function partially differently. An FDA-approved anesthetic, ketamine binds to a brain receptor called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). NMDA temporarily blocks a neurotransmitter called glutamate. Several studies have shown that glutamate dysfunction is one of the primary signals of mood disorders and that ketamine’s power may be the result of blocking this neurotransmitter. Ketamine is also known to have “neuroplastic effectiveness,” which means it can help to create new brain pathways.

In addition to their biological mechanisms, higher doses of psychedelics invariably affect you by changing your state of consciousness. In your altered state, you may experience transcendence in a way that helps you reimagine unresolved issues and interrupts your rigid negative thought patterns. Anecdotally, people report that these visual, sometimes mystical, and somatic sessions help create life-altering paradigm shifts.

Much of the groundbreaking psychedelic science has been funded and conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), as well as Johns Hopkins University and Imperial College London.

What to ask when looking for a psychedelic therapy clinic?

Psychedelic therapy clinics are new experimental models for mental health treatment. As a result, you won’t always get a referral from your primary care physician. To choose the right clinic for you, you’ll want to read reviews and listen to experts interviews from sources like The Drug Science podcast and Third Wave podcast.

You’ll also want to get clear on “set and setting” before making your decision. Set describes your mindset or purpose for wanting to visit a psychedelic therapy clinic. Setting defines the actual place and how it could accelerate or hinder your healing experience. For psychedelic therapy to be effective, you need to understand your goals AND feel comfortable in your chosen clinical setting.

So ask yourself…

What are my intentions, and what medicine works best for these goals?

When you consciously enter into psychedelics, you can literally change your mind for the better, forever. The first step is to set your intention or goal for seeking treatment from a psychedelic therapy clinic. When you do this, you help cultivate a strong mindset before entering an unknown and potentially challenging realm. When you understand your objectives, you can increase the chances of having a positive experience.

A few common reasons you may seek psychedelic therapy clinics include:

  • Unresolved trauma
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Addiction
  • Pain
  • End of life anxiety

In an ideal (near future) world, you’ll have access to various types of legal psychedelic therapy clinics. For now, the most prevalent medical psychedelic clinics worldwide generally offer one of three options: ketamine, ibogaine, and psilocybin. Anecdotal and clinical research indicates these psychedelics can help with a range of overlapping and unique mental health issues.

Psilocybin – Depression, end-of-life anxiety, addiction, PTSD

Ibogaine – Heroin addiction, opiate addiction, alcoholism, Adderall and methamphetamine addiction, depression

Ketamine – Treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and bipolar depression

Where can I find legal psychedelic therapy clinics?

In the US, ketamine treatment is the only federally approved psychedelic medicine. The drug first received FDA approval in 1970 as an anesthetic. In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration approved a ketamine nasal spray for depression. Today, psychedelic clinics prescribe off-label ketamine in the form of intramuscular injection, intravenous injection, and oral tablets. Other psychedelic substances like ayahuasca, DMT, ibogaine, LSD, and psilocybin are still federally banned in the United States.

Fortunately, you can travel internationally to find other psychedelic medicines. New Zealand and Mexico, for instance, have well-established legal ibogaine treatment centers for depression, addiction, and personal development.

Moreover, you can consider expanding your options to include psychedelic retreats as well. Synthesis Retreat in the Netherlands, Soltara Healing Center in Costa Rica, and Awaken the Medicine Within in Portugal are three great options offering psilocybin, ayahuasca, and 5-MeO-DMT (respectively).

If you’d rather stay in the US but don’t want ketamine, you may want to consider volunteering for one of the ongoing clinical trials. Michael Pollan, New York Times Best Selling author, tracks and publishes available opportunities on his psychedelics resource page.

You can find numerous trusted psychedelic retreat centers worldwide by visiting Third Wave’s professional psychedelic directory. 

What are the credentials of the clinic and its psychedelic therapy providers?

Psychedelic therapy clinics are doing groundbreaking work for mental health. Yet, even legal ketamine clinics in the US are operating in an unregulated area. As such, you won’t find a psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy clinic with nationally recognized credentials.

However, doctors, nurses, and trained therapists at the clinics should display a passion for learning everything possible about psychedelic therapy, ongoing clinical trials, and the best practices for the best clinical outcomes. Before choosing a provider, ask about their continuing psychedelic education. A few well-known organizations that provide such training include:

  • Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
  • Integrative Psychiatry Institute
  • California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco

What is my price range?

Psychedelic therapy clinics are not cheap because insurance companies do not cover off-label FDA treatments. As a result, you’ll spend around $300 to $500 per ketamine infusion at a minimum. Since ketamine clinics recommend four to six treatments, you’re looking at a $2,000 to $3,000 bill from most IV ketamine providers.

Most consider IV infusions to be the most effective method due to the high absorption rate, but if you’re open to other options, you may be able to reduce the price tag significantly. Mindbloom, a US-based ketamine clinic, charges roughly 70% less than most providers by offering at-home guided treatments using sublingual ketamine tablets.

A list of highly vetted ketamine clinics can be found in the Third Wave’s directory.

How far am I willing to travel?

  • Are you ready to travel across international waters?
  • How far are you willing to travel?
  • Do you prefer cars or planes?

Your answer to these questions will eliminate or broaden your psychedelic clinic choices. Fortunately, you don’t have to go far to find a legal ketamine provider in the US, as there are hundreds across the country and Canada. However, if you’re looking for an alternative psychedelic clinic or retreat, you’ll likely have to travel internationally.

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy for Mental Health

Ketamine is a powerful dissociative hallucinogenic drug for treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and bipolar depression. It’s one of the few legal psychedelic-assisted therapies currently used in the United States and has clinical studies to back it up.

A randomized controlled trial in 2006 showed a single ketamine injection could produce significant depression relief within 110 minutes in more than 70% of patients. Moreover, one-third of the patients achieved clinical remission in 24 hours.

Visit our directory to find legal ketamine clinics.

Ibogaine-Assisted Therapy for Mental Health Conditions

Ibogaine, a psychoactive drug extracted from Iboga root bark, has successfully treated addiction and depression for years. Psychedelic research indicates it works by interrupting addictive impulses at the neurological level and helping you feel more open to accept and heal from past trauma.

However, it’s important to note that the increasing demand for Ibogaine has led to overharvesting of Iboga root bark. As a result, this sacred plant has rapidly become a precious endangered species.

If you’re considering visiting an ibogaine treatment clinic, please consider whether other more sustainable psychedelic medicines could provide you with the same support. If you’ve exhausted other avenues, or feel that ibogaine is the best healing tool for you, make sure the clinic you choose is a member of The Global Ibogaine Alliance (GITA) and trained in IbogaSafe protocols. All ibogaine clinics should also adhere to the clinical guidelines set forth by GITA and employ licensed medical professionals.

Psychedelic Integration Therapy for Mental Health Conditions

One way psychedelic clinics solidify short- and long-term benefits are through integration sessions. Some centers employ trained psychotherapists to help you with this. Others will refer you to clinics that provide follow-up integration therapy as their only service. These latter clinics do not offer psychedelic experiences but rather employ therapists who can help integrate the lessons you learned into your healing process. Another option is to work with an independent integration coach who can meet with you individually and introduce you to the community of people who have also gone through psychedelic therapy.

Check out the Third Wave Therapist Directory to find individuals who specialize in integration.

A few integration therapy strategies include:

  • Talk therapy
  • Journaling
  • Self-care exercises
  • Dancing
  • Yoga

Other Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies

Ketamine therapy has been hugely beneficial for people suffering from pain and mental illness, but this medicine is not the endgame for most psychedelic clinics. Experts believe the FDA will approve MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD and psilocybin for depression in the next three to five years, based on the growing amount of research, legal acceptance, and clinical trials. One prominent new study concluded that MDMA was significantly more effective than an inactive placebo at treating PTSD. Two months after treatment, 67% of participants were free from their original diagnosis. In addition, the patients didn’t experience any severe side effects.

The Bottom Line

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy may be the catalyst you need for profound well-being. Still, psychedelic therapy clinics operate in an experimental territory with relatively sparse data to guide their protocols. That’s why you need to choose a psychedelic therapy clinic that employs licensed medical providers who have advanced training and certifications from reputable psychedelic organizations. These clinics should always require medical intake forms, ask about any antidepressants you may be taking, and meet with you before the first appointment to ensure you’re the right candidate.

Once you’ve crossed off the critical safety elements—and legal concerns—choose a clinic that specializes in your condition and whose environment makes you feel 100% comfortable. After all, you are entrusting this place to guide you in your most vulnerable moments.

Choose wisely, and heal well.

Elena Schmidt · September 9th, 2021