Watch: Common Questions on Psychedelic Integration with Mijal Schmidt
May 16, 2023
6 min read
Transcribed and edited from the original video content. In this Q&A we cover some of the most common questions about psychedelic integration and why it's an essential piece of working with psychedelics safely and to maximize the potential of the journey.
Hello, my name is Mijal Schmidt and I am a psychoanalyst and psychologist with over 15 years of experience in the clinical field. I am also an integration support guide at ICEERS. It has always been my passion to work in this field, and lately, I have also been exploring the use of plants from an experiential and experimental point of view. This eventually led me to work with psychedelics as well, and I now have a private practice and collaborate with worldwide organizations.
Working with people from all over the world is very rewarding for me. I get to meet individuals from different cultures and backgrounds, all with unique questions on life. It's a fascinating experience to be a part of.
What is the definition of psychedelic integration?
There are various definitions of integration, but I would say that it primarily involves the aspects that arise during the intake and experimentation with psychedelics. It is about how these contents relate to the person's purpose for the experimentation, and the process of accommodating and letting go of certain contents.
To integrate these contents, we consider the impact that psychedelics had on the body, and work in an integral way to understand the moves, whether conscious or unconscious, that psychedelics allowed us to encounter. It is important for people to know their purpose beforehand, as the outcome of the session will determine how the integration occurs. However, expectations about outcomes are not always useful since flexibility is crucial to the process.
The final objective of integration is to gain a better understanding of certain things, process things that have been stuck for a while, and take the contents further in new explorations in psychotherapy or other sessions.
Why is psychedelic integration important? Can I do without it?
I believe integration is particularly important in the current times, when there are so many options available for psychedelic experiences, not all of which are structured. Sometimes this lack of structure can prevent people from truly understanding their experience.
Without proper integration, some individuals may get stuck in the process without being able to make sense of what happened. However, I wouldn't say that integration is always necessary. Sometimes, during the intake, integration packets may be provided, but reviewing what came up during an integration session is part of the same process of experimenting with psychedelics.
Integration is not a separate thing; it's part of a continuum. It allows us to become aware of things that we might have missed during the session or that we might have lost due to the paraphernalia of the intake process. By integrating our experiences, we can rediscover these lost elements and make use of them.
Who benefits the most from psychedelic integration?
People who are new to psychedelics can benefit greatly from them as a useful guide. They provide an interesting perspective for navigating the experience. However, I also find them very useful for people who have a lot of experience with psychedelics, especially if they have experienced an overload during intake or if heavy contents have become stuck somewhere during the experience.
What does "successful" integration look like to you?
"Successful" is a big and somewhat subjective word. However, I believe that "aha" moments are important for a person to realize that things have fallen into place. For those suffering from different ailments, success can mean a reduction in symptoms or the alleviation of certain conditions.
For example, if someone goes into a ceremony or session and feels less anxious or depressed, gains more clarity about something they were seeking, or experiences any other positive change, I would consider that a success.
Some of the most common symptoms that people seek to address are anxiety and depression. When these symptoms subside, individuals may find new ways to relate to the world and others, leading to changes in their relationships.
These changes can occur in the person's relationship to other aspects of their life as well. For example, they may improve their sleep or find ways to eat healthier, and even overcome certain inhibitions. This last aspect is particularly interesting because it means that repressed content from the past can be released, and the person can feel lighter and more able to engage in activities like thinking, reading, studying, dancing, or loving. Overall, achieving clarity and lightness can make it easier to tackle heavy things that one may face on a daily basis.
How is psychedelic therapy different than psychedelic integration?
I believe there are different perspectives on this topic. Sometimes the work of integration can be completed in a few sessions, or fewer sessions, because the focus is on specific aspects or elements that arise during the session. This can make the work more focused.
On the other hand, psychotherapy deals with more long-term work. If we find that certain content has triggered past events or stories in a person, then it may require more time to fully explore. In such cases, a psychotherapy approach that allows for more time would be necessary and recommended.
What is the relationship between psychedelic preparation and integration?
In my opinion, preparation is an essential aspect of integration and a crucial part of the entire process. The purpose of the session is critical as it serves as a guide for the session, and it also helps in integrating the contents related to the goal during the preparation phase.
I usually suggest establishing "stones" as coordinates for the experience during the session. These "stones" are elements that one can hold on to during the session. Even if one wants to explore other contents during the session, having these "stones" can help them focus on what they want to achieve. Different people may have different ways of navigating the session of psychedelics. Some may want to explore freely, while others may focus on something specific. These "stones" can be helpful in either case.
What are some main benefits of working with a psychedelic integration guide?
Ideally, a guide should accompany the first stage of preparation, intake, and integration. A guide can help to abstract the story or purpose of an individual, which may be too wide or too broad in scope.
Narrowing down these elements is important to avoid scattered sessions. However, this can be difficult to do alone. Having an external listener can help to narrow down these elements.
Therefore, the purpose of the process will also be narrowed, which can improve integration in the aspects that were touched upon.
How can I find the right psychedelic integration coach?
I think it's a great question because how do you really know the person you're going to work with just from a picture or a description? Descriptions can be limited and don't always give you a full sense of what someone can actually do. That's why a first encounter is so important. When you meet the guide, you can get a sense of how they work and if they are a good fit for you.
During that first meeting, pay attention to how you feel and how the guide responds to your needs. Do they understand what you want to achieve? Do they help you focus on what's important to you? These are all important factors to consider.
It's not just about whether or not you feel comfortable with the person, although that's certainly important. Look beyond the surface level and focus on the substance of the interaction. Do you feel heard and understood? Is the guide able to help you navigate the content in a way that makes sense for you?
Clinical experience is also important to consider when choosing a guide. Ultimately, finding the right fit comes down to more than just appearances or presentation. It's about finding someone who can help you achieve your goals in a way that feels comfortable and effective.
What are the benefits of attending an integration circle?
Circles have always been places where the combination of personalities can be very helpful. They can help people who have not gone through a process like this, or who are struggling with integration or lack confidence in talking about themselves or their issues.
The group helps to alleviate anxiety and allows people to see different ways in which others work with similar contents, situations, anxiety, or depression. Sometimes, this mutual sharing is very fruitful, allowing people to come out of their inhibitions.
Many people feel accompanied and supported when they see that others share the same challenges that they may feel ashamed of or have struggled with in the past. Thus, community is important for this reason.
How can psychotherapy play a role in psychedelic integration?
I enjoy working with a psychodynamic perspective because it allows me to delve deeper into underlying causes. This helps me untangle difficult issues that may have been persisting for a long time, and allows me to confront things that I may have been avoiding.
I appreciate the lack of time constraints in this work, as it allows for a more thorough exploration of both the contents of our lives and the psychedelic experience. This creates a more playful and fluid process that can help me explore aspects of myself that may have been dismissed as minor or unimportant.
Through this process, I often discover that these aspects are more significant than I initially thought, and that they have been affecting me in ways I hadn't realized. By working with the unconscious, which is a pervasive part of our daily lives, I can gain a deeper understanding of myself and how to integrate the insights gained from psychedelic experiences into my daily life.
I find that this approach helps bridge the gap between the psychedelic experience and our everyday lives, providing a means to download and integrate insights gained during the experience. By working with this perspective, I can more effectively confront and address the unconscious processes that are affecting my life.
Interested in activating the full potential of your psychedelic experiences? Book a free consultation with Mijal or one of our other trusted integration specialists.
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