Psychedelic Coaching is done with a specialist who helps you understand and work with psychedelic compounds to improve your quality of life. This may involve emotional preparation work, details on how to prepare the psychedelic compound itself, and sessions afterward to process the experience, often referred to as integration work.
At The Burnout Witch, we specifically help you understand the nuances of the compound psilocybin*, commonly known as "magic" mushrooms.
Psilocybin coaching can be beneficial for individuals who may be struggling with the complexities of life, but who are not currently experiencing deep or significant mental health challenges. In many cases, these individuals also identify with feelings of burnout - challenges in being present in everyday life, difficulty focusing, and/or struggling with daily management as a result of sustained chronic stress.
Individuals seeking psychedelic coaching have typically already laid a strong foundation for solid mental health. They may have spent months or years working with mental health providers, physicians, specialists, and other individuals in an effort to address their mental well-being. These individuals often feel "stuck" or like they've "hit a wall." They know how to manage their mental health, but they aren't living their optimal life.
This coaching is designed specifically with these individuals in mind. Building on an excellent preexisting foundation of mental health practices, we work closely together to determine exactly what you're looking for from the psilocybin experience and help you maximize your chances of achieving the desired outcome. Coaching will provide you with additional mindfulness tools, including but not limited to breathing techniques, embodiment practices, somatic work, and safer preparation details so that if you choose to engage with psilocybin, you have the skills necessary to minimize the risks.
In the case of psilocybin coaching, the coach does not provide the psychoactive substance or any derivation of it, nor do they provide any information on how to acquire any psychoactive substance. While there are a small number of locations throughout the United States** and around the world that have either decriminalized or legalized psilocybin, the vast majority of places still classify most psychedelic compounds as Schedule I controlled substances, making them illegal to cultivate, sell, purchase, and possess. They are also illegal to transport via post, which means they cannot be purchased in an area where they are legal and shipped to an area where they are illegal.
Additionally, the coach is not physically present during a psychedelic experience. While the coach isn't present, it is highly recommended that you have a trusted friend or loved one with you during the experience, sometimes referred to as a "trip sitter", to ensure your physical safety and address any needs that may arise such as changing the environmental conditions (ex: lighting, air flow), providing reassurance, assisting in getting to or using the restroom, etc.
While no intervention is 100% risk-free, the goal of our coaching is to help you get extremely clear on why you are choosing this experience, give you the knowledge necessary to execute the experience while minimizing the risks, provide actionable after-care recommendations, and schedule several sessions afterward to discuss and integrate the experience.
*Psilocybin is the only compound we discuss in coaching at The Burnout Witch. Alternative compounds, including but not limited to LSD, MDMA, DMT, ketamine, mescaline, and more, are not discussed, and we do not provide coaching regarding preparation or integration for these substances. **For information on areas where psilocybin has been decriminalized or legalized, please refer to the map here
What is a microdose? What is a macrodose? What are the differences?
In psilocybin work, the terms microdose and macrodose are used to differentiate the amount of psilocybin one takes, as well as differences in the types of experiences people have when utilizing it.
A microdose refers to an extremely small amount of psilocybin. So small, in fact, that most people don't feel any of the physical effects we often associate with hallucinogenic compounds. You will not experience visions, hallucinations, or changes in the way you perceive the world around you. Individuals who microdose are typically able to go about their day to day lives as they normally would. Microdose amounts usually start at around 0.05 grams of dried mushrooms and go as high as around 0.3 grams of dried mushrooms, though that will vary from person to person.
A macrodose (also called a large dose or a" heroic" dose) is the type of dose we normally associate with the physical effects that we see in the movies - a "trip". Individuals may experience visual hallucinations that include stationary objects looking like they're moving (ex: the walls may look like they're "breathing"), seeing geometric patterns, or seeing things that aren't technically there. Music and colors tend to be more vibrant. People often have an increased sense of touch - a soft blanket may feel more soft, you may feel warm or tingly. Large doses of hallucinogens also increase heart rate, blood pressure, and the rate at which we breathe. Some people experience feelings of anxiety, which usually give way to a feeling of "being one" with their surroundings/the Universe/God (this is called "ego death" or "ego dissolution"). A macrodose trip may last anywhere from four to twelve hours depending on the size of the dose. Most macrodoses start around 1 gram of dried mushrooms (though it may be less for someone with a low tolerance) and go as high as 5 grams of dried mushrooms. It is recommended that a trip sitter be present if someone is choosing to macrodose (see the section above for an explanation).
What is Harm Reduction?
At The Burnout Witch, we do not encourage, support, or promote illegal activity in any way, shape, or form. We are firmly against it.
With the recent increased interest in the use of psychedelic substances, we also recognize that many individuals are choosing to obtain and utilize psilocybin on their own for its many varied health benefits. These individuals are often doing so without understanding the complexities and nuances of working with psychedelic substances.
Our approach to harm reduction is born from the knowledge that this middle space exists and that individuals are choosing to pursue this avenue without knowledge of how to safely do so. Our harm reduction techniques arise from a unique background rooted in chemistry, biochemistry, biomedicine, Eastern medicine, plant medicine, and mindfulness. We are committed to ensuring that individuals remain as safe as possible when engaging with their chosen practices, whether that's Chinese herbal medicine, supplements, or psilocybin.
What this means is that while we do not provide psilocybin or other psychoactive substances, nor any information regarding how to obtain them, we are able to discuss safer practices when choosing to have a psilocybin experience.
Is psychedelic coaching the same thing as psychedelic-assisted therapy?
No, psychedelic coaching is NOT the same thing as psychedelic-assisted therapy. Individuals who are candidates for psychedelic-assisted therapies generally have chronic, ongoing, or treatment-resistant mental health diagnoses. These may include things like PTSD or complex-PTSD, OCD, treatment-resistant depression or anxiety, and more. Individuals who have experienced significant trauma may need to address it with a trauma-informed therapist before engaging with psychedelics and should do so with a therapist trained in psychedelic-assisted therapy thereafter.
Individuals better suited to psychedelic-assisted therapy are not appropriate candidates for psychedelic coaching as they require a more involved mental health approach to ensure that they have a safe, supported experience that specifically addresses their more complex constellation of needs.
During psychedelic-assisted therapy, the experience is typically carried out at a medical facility under the observation of one or more licensed healthcare professionals. These professionals are legally allowed to administer the psychoactive substance, as well as be present for the physical experience.
Can I see a therapist if I'm also doing psychedelic coaching?
Absolutely! In fact, we encourage you to do so.
Furthermore, we never suggest someone stop seeing a therapist. That decision is strictly between you and your mental health provider.
For individuals already in therapy, many have worked with their therapist for a while before exploring the benefits of psychedelic work. Your therapist most likely has a good idea of who you are as a person and is a trusted source of mental and emotional support, which is critical when utilizing psychedelics. We believe that the more supported an individual feels, the more successful their chosen path of self-development will be.
Additionally, psychedelic coaching and therapy provide different services and explore different elements of self-development. Individuals who are committed to growth and positive change often find their improvements to be accelerated when working with multiple practitioners.
If you do not currently have a therapist and are seeking one, we are able to offer recommendations and referrals for individuals local to the Rhode Island and Massachusetts areas. If you are not local to these regions, we can suggest several search options including Zencare and Psychology Today as excellent starting points for finding a mental health provider.