The first time with psychedelics can be challenging if you’ve never spent much time being with your internal world.
Whether from practice in quiet self-reflection + journaling, therapy, or meditation.
Suppose we haven’t cultivated the skill to sit with our emotions and reflect on internal fears, beliefs, memories, and discomfort. In that case, psychedelic sessions, ceremonies, or therapy can be jarring.
Suddenly, you are confronted with everything your mind has cleverly been hiding or
compartmentalizing so you can function in daily life.
And it can be overwhelming.
Sometimes, it is even re-traumatizing if we don’t have the resources, support, and skills for automated or safe space held for us to process + meaning make after that.
Preparation is a stage that I think people underrate when they consider going down the path of psychedelic exploration. To skip or skimp on this stage can make a big difference in the safety + productivity of the experience.
Skills for self-regulation, experience with self-reflection, therapy or coaching, intention-setting, community support, in-session support + emergency numbers, snacks + water, set + setting, A PLAN—are all examples of good preparation.
Psychedelics are not a panacea “THE ANSWER” to all my problems.
It’s a tool.
And just like any tool, we need to learn how to utilize it best.
Especially when you’re talking sex + psychedelics—there are even more unique considerations for your safety.
What is the difference between a challenging psychedelic experience + a re-traumatization in one?
I get this question asked, and it’s a good one to consider.
Because sometimes our psychedelic experiences can be challenging or may not be what our intention was. We may not be accustomed to inner work + sitting with our thoughts or feelings. It might have brought to the surface thoughts + events that we didn’t want to process now. It might bring up a lot of emotions or pain, + we may not have the tools for self-regulation + soothing.
I’ve heard these experiences be referenced as “bad trips,” -- yet I don’t see them as “bad” but rather challenging experiences with much potent information to learn from.
Sometimes, I have clients who, after a session/ceremony, will say that they cried for a week straight after that or feel a lot of pain or anger + think that something is wrong with them.
My answer to them is that they have a lot of unprocessed grief that they’ve never allowed themselves to feel before. Opening Pandora's box of emotion after being numb or dissociated for years will do that. You are “dethawing” from a state that hasn’t felt safe to express.
Sometimes, things get worse/fall apart before they get better.
A re-traumatization from a psychedelic session/ceremony is when the body is NOT able to complete a process. The attempt at the process gets interrupted, + the body goes into freeze. You cannot self-soothe or verbally stand up for yourself, say “no” when something doesn’t feel right, or shiver when the body needs to expel activated nervous system flooding.
If you come out of the session + you have symptoms of trauma: numbness, dissociation, hypervigilance, paranoid thinking, terror--these are signs you need therapy support after your session to help your body + mind come to completion + regulation again.
In my podcast episode with @laurentaus, we dive into these concepts + discuss how individuals can support themselves in these jarring moments.
Dr. Cat Meyer, PsyD, LMFT, is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex, trauma, and psychedelics in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. She is also a ceremonialist, author, teacher of yoga, and international speaker dedicated to evolving the relationship surrounding sexuality and our bodies. Through her company, SexLoveYoga, she leads online workshops, sensual retreats, + ketamine-assisted retreats for couples. She is also the host of Sex Love Psychedelics podcast.