Personal Development

Four Things to Consider When Choosing an Integration Specialist

Liz Zhou · November 27th, 2020

People serious about using psychedelics to heal are coming to understand that once the psychedelic journey ends, the real work begins. To embed the lessons learned from non-ordinary states of consciousness into ordinary life, psychedelic integration is key.

This integration process may unfold in any number of ways. For many, the support of an integration specialist, therapist, or coach is invaluable. The empathy and insights of a fellow human being can help us initiate and maintain positive life shifts post-journey.

These days, of course, it’s become a bit challenging to access in-person support. Thankfully, there’s always the internet. Platforms like Mindleap make it possible to connect with integration support no matter where you are in the world. Featuring over 40 integration specialists, Mindleap allows you to browse profiles, see practitioners’ years of experience and types of offerings, and attend appointments virtually from your phone.

Before jumping in two feet, however, it’s essential to find the right match so you can feel fully supported in your process. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing an integration specialist.

Approach to care

Different types of support are available depending on the areas of your life to which you’d like to direct your energy. If you feel called to delve into unresolved issues from your past that came up during your psychedelic journey, then an integration therapist can offer the safe space you need to process core wounds in a resilient way. If you’re more interested in establishing healthier life patterns and paving a positive path for the future, an integration coach can provide accountability, encouragement, and specific strategies to help you achieve your goals.

Though there is some overlap between psychedelic therapy and psychedelic coaching, these two approaches to care emphasize different aspects of your life journey. Broadly speaking, therapy examines unresolved issues from your past, so you can feel more alive and joyful in the present. Coaching identifies your areas of growth and unrealized potential in the present, and shifts your thoughts and behaviors toward a more fruitful future. It is your choice which type of integration support feels more useful to you at this point in your process.

Area of expertise

No two specialists are the same. Each person brings their own set of life experiences and skills to the integration session. Choose a practitioner whose area of expertise aligns with your specific needs, desires, and curiosities.

Your psychedelic experience may have evoked intense somatic sensations within you, demonstrating how emotional turmoil can manifest as physical symptoms. If one of your integration goals is to use the mind-body connection as a pathway to healing, consider connecting with a specialist with training in somatic processing or other body-based practices.

For some, the psychedelic journey might initiate or reinforce a commitment to meditation. Such individuals would benefit from working with a specialist who draws from mindfulness teachings or other contemplative practices.

Identify which healing modalities and perspectives you would like to incorporate into your integration process. There are specialists to fulfill nearly every niche, from breathwork to sound healing to family/relationship-oriented frameworks.

Personal background

The integration specialist you choose should have personal experience with the medicine that you are trying to integrate. In particular, if you have worked with a sacred plant medicine, such as ayahuasca or peyote, within a traditional ceremonial setting, your integration process is best facilitated by somebody who understands the shamanic context and origins of the medicine. This saves you the time and effort of explaining the most basic elements of your experience, and ensures that both parties are drawing from the same vocabulary and cultural framework during integration sessions.

Additionally, consider how each specialist’s personal life history informs their work and their capacity to support you. Those who have overcome the same struggles that you are currently confronting—such as addiction, anxiety, body image issues, etc.—are more likely to understand, empathize, and offer relevant insights for your process. It can be profoundly healing to work with a practitioner who has walked a similar path as you.

Energetic compatibility

Just as important as a specialist’s professional credentials is their personal compatibility with you. Does this individual feel like a good energetic fit for you? Do you feel safe, seen, and supported in their presence? Are you comfortable disclosing intimate personal details to them, and do you trust that they will respond with compassion and empathy? The stronger the connection between you and the practitioner, the deeper you will be able to dive into the integration process together.

Initial consultations provide the opportunity for you to chat briefly, ask questions, and determine if a specialist is the right fit for you. Trust your instinct. Don’t hesitate to keep searching until you find somebody who resonates with you. We wish you luck on your integration journey!

If the idea of working with an integration professional resonates with you, a good place to start is with Mindleap. This mobile app features profiles of 40+ trained specialists from recognized institutions such as CIIS, Fluence, MAPS, and Psychedelic Support. And right now, Mindleap is offering Third Wave readers $25 off your first session—just use the code ‘THIRDWAVE’.

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