As research continues to reveal psychedelic medicine’s potential to treat a wide range of mental health conditions, more therapists are undergoing training to accommodate the growing public interest in alternatives to conventional pharmaceuticals. There are many people learning about psychedelic therapy and think it might help, but are not sure what or whom to look for.
Scrolling through listings of therapists can be intimidating and overwhelming. Pouring over pictures and profiles of complete strangers is a method most use to heal deep emotional wounds and trauma.
Aimless searching may lead to fears and uncertainties in choosing a psychedelic therapist. Therapy requires vulnerability in order to start healing, so it’s important to find someone who is a good fit. Here’s what to do and consider as you search for the right psychedelic therapist.
Specialties and expertise
Most therapists have one or more areas of specialty, although most don’t work exclusively in them. Examples can include experience with depression, the LBGTQ community, veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, religious trauma, or substance abuse disorders.
Therapists within the psychedelic medicine community may also specialize in working with certain substances and not others. Be sure to look for any information about their expertise, or contact them if it is unclear. Therapists will often provide appropriate referrals if client needs are outside of their scope of practice.
Gender or ethnicity
It can be immensely helpful to find a therapist who has familiarity with the social dynamics that have played a part in defining one’s personal experience. A therapist who shares the individuals cultural or ethnic background may offer understanding that is essential to the therapeutic process. While they may or may not be open about their own religious and spiritual views, some therapists disclose their familiarity or training with certain systems of belief.
For some people, the gender identity of a therapist doesn’t matter as long as it’s the right fit. However, there are many who have a preference, and that is absolutely acceptable. In fact, most therapists would encourage you to work with someone you feel comfortable with in order to get the most out of the therapeutic process.
Tone and intention
When reading a therapist’s biography and looking at their photo can provide a sense of their mannerisms and approach. Ideally, therapists take the time to create a thoughtful listing with plenty of information a person would want to know before making a decision. Many of them are happy to oblige because they care deeply about what they do.
It’s best for seekers to trust their intuition if they feel pressured, intimidated, or suspicious of the biography. A therapist that is an ideal fit will share their perspective and approach in a straightforward way and share qualifications and specialties in a matter-of-fact manner, not a persuasive pitch.
It’s great to find a therapist bio that speaks to individual needs and preferences. But don’t book an appointment just yet: directories and practitioner listings contain important information provided by therapists themselves, but it can be helpful to know what others have to say.
Get a full perspective by reading reviews from other clients, and reach out to the therapist directly with any additional questions. Psychable’s directory makes it easy to find psychedelic therapists and learn about them, read reviews, and communicate.
Ask about cost
There are a few factors that influence the cost of therapy. It is a good idea to ask about the therapist’s rates before scheduling an initial appointment. Some therapists offer cost per session and others offer package rates for multiple sessions. Some therapists offer a sliding scale for cost based on income, but if the rate is too high, they may be able to refer to a respected colleague at a more ideal price point.
Some therapists accept insurance, which can cover the whole session or a portion of it (sometimes with a co-pay in either case). It may be indicated in their practitioner listing but may require contacting them for more details. Coverage for therapy may be limited to a certain number of sessions; check with your insurance carrier to be sure.
Go the distance
Convenience and location often play a primary role in decisions about which service providers to choose, however, therapy is much different. Remember that progress, healing, and personal growth will only benefit from working with a therapist who has the expertise and approach needed for clients to feel the most comfortable.
If possible, choose a therapist that you feel is the best fit regardless of distance, as long as it is reasonable and you can do so safely.
As long as there is no administration of a substance during a session (such as for preparation or integration), many therapists are now offering video appointments for your safety and convenience. This may help ease the burden of any in-person visits required.
What does a psychedelic therapist do?
It’s important to note the difference between psychedelic-assisted therapy and psychedelic integration therapy.
Psychedelic-assisted therapy indicates that the therapist is present at the time of the psychedelic experience, has specialized training in how to guide the session, and knows how to keep you safe. There are sessions for preparation before the psychedelic-assisted experience, as well as integration afterward.
Psychedelic integration therapists work with people who have already had a profound psychedelic experience and need help working through the array of thoughts and emotions that came up as a result. This type of therapist has the right knowledge and expertise needed to facilitate a beneficial therapeutic process.
Despite promising research and increasing public interest, psychedelic substances are still Schedule I drugs and remain illegal for use outside of a clinical trial setting, with the exception of ketamine (a medicine that was recently FDA-approved for the treatment of major depression) and psilocybin-assisted therapy within the state of Oregon (legalized in 2020). For this reason, psychedelic-assisted therapy is not widely available to the public at this time.
Psychedelic integration therapy, however, is legal. A growing number of therapists are becoming trained and certified to offer integration to their clients. Find an experienced provider in your area using Psychable’s practitioner directory today.