Psychedelics are becoming a popular tool among some circles of coaches—from dedicated psychedelic integration coaches, to microdosing coaches, to coaches who use psychedelics in business and organizational training.
Here we cover the role of the psychedelic coach, various kinds of psychedelic coaches, and how to evaluate a coach before working with them.
THE ROLE OF THE PSYCHEDELIC COACH
The main role of a psychedelic coach is to guide and support their client throughout their transformational journey.
A coach is often involved in all stages of the psychedelic experience: preparation, the journey itself, and support during integration in the days, weeks, and months following the experience.
During integration, the goal is to direct the transformational momentum of the psychedelic experience into everyday changes. A coach’s role, therefore, is to help you harness this momentum and extend the transformational power of psychedelics into all areas of your life, well beyond the immediate experience.
For that reason, psychedelic coaches will typically take on many or all of the following roles:
- Help you identify your goals, set a plan of action, and track your progress
- Uncover the emotional and psychological forces driving your behavior
- Identify sources of insight and wisdom from your trip
- Provide actionable ways for you to integrate your experience into your everyday life
- Provide accountability in implementing lasting, positive change
COACHES VS GUIDES VS THERAPISTS
A psychedelic coach’s role differs from that of a guide and therapist in several key ways.
Coaches vs Guides
While a coach plays a larger role in the planning and integration phases before and after a trip, a psychedelic guide is most directly involved with the immediate psychedelic experience itself, playing the role of the shaman and/or healer. The guide is responsible for the set and setting of the experience, aiming to create a safe and maximally beneficial trip for the psychedelic explorer.
A good guide will be able to help you in a variety of situations during the experience, whether by gently nudging you down a path of deeper exploration or helping you manage a “bad” trip while it’s happening.
Guides will often discuss your trip with you immediately after the experience, but unlike a coach, they’re not typically involved with the integration process in the days, weeks, and months that follow.
Coaches vs Therapists
A psychedelic therapist differs from a coach in that they leverage the psychedelic experience to heal the wounds of trauma. They’re trained in more mainstream therapeutic methods and are often able to diagnose and treat specific mental disorders. But their added experience with psychedelics can provide more depth in all areas of treatment, including diagnoses, treatment planning, and maintenance following treatment.
One way to think of the difference between the two is that a therapist helps to heal your past while a coach helps to build your future. Of course, there’s a lot of overlap in these goals. Many therapists can and do help with personal and spiritual growth while many coaches help you overcome the chains of your past. The focus of the therapist, however, is on healing emotional and psychological distress, while the focus of the coach is to aid in personal and spiritual transformation.
TYPES OF PSYCHEDELIC COACHES
Microdosing psychedelics can increase productivity, stoke creativity, improve your mood and focus, provide more mental clarity, and reduce anxiety among many other benefits.
A microdosing coach specializes in guiding you through a microdose regimen, typically lasting several weeks. Their goal is to help maximize your experience by:
- Helping you identify your goals and creating a plan of action to achieve them
- Determining and preparing the correct dose for your needs
- Providing accountability through regular check-ins and meetings
- Providing additional outside insight into your experience
You can learn more about our Microdosing Coaching program here!
The goal of integration, in a general sense, is to achieve wholeness in your life by aligning your everyday behavior with your values, goals, aspirations, and core beliefs.
Psychedelics can provide profound insight into our emotional states, thought patterns, mindsets, and relationships. But the scale of this insight is often much deeper and more abstract than we’re used to, making it difficult for us to make sense of how we might use it to affect positive changes in our lives.
Enter the psychedelics integration coach.
A psychedelic integration coach works with a client to achieve integration by first identifying the profound lessons from a psychedelic experience or experiences and then working with them to find actionable ways to integrate this insight into their everyday lives.
An integration coach often aims to remove mental blocks and toxic mindsets to allow the person to realize their full potential. To that end, the integration coach uses the psychedelic experience in a number of different ways, including:
- Identifying personal development goals prior to a trip
- Identifying mental, emotional, and/or psychological blocks
- Developing a plan of action before, during, and after a trip to achieve your goals
- Providing accountability through check-ins and regular sessions
Other Coaches Who Use Psychedelics in their Practice
Executive and leadership coaches, business coaches, personal development/life coaches, relationship coaches, and others, are also adding psychedelics to their list of tools in their client practices.
They typically use psychedelics to achieve domain-specific goals—business goals, for example—fitting the psychedelic experience into their larger framework and approach.
An executive coach, for instance, might work with a client to improve their role in leading a more effective business team. A psychedelic session could be used to provide insight into the executive’s interpersonal skills and identify any points of friction that might be causing conflict in their work lives. The coach then works with the client to create an action plan to improve their relationships with their team.
Psychedelics are powerful, flexible tools and so coaches can use them in a virtually infinite number of ways, tailoring them to your specific situation and needs.
HOW TO EVALUATE A COACH
Evaluating a psychedelic coach (or therapist or guide for that matter) is obviously complicated by the fact that nearly all psychedelic substances are illegal in most countries. Thus, as long as the substances themselves remain illegal, there can be no legal framework for training, licensure, and continuous improvement through education and re-certification programs.
That said, a vibrant community exists among psychedelic coaches, guides, therapists, and other facilitators.
Some qualities to look for in a psychedelic coach:
- Capacity for empathy – Does the coach demonstrate an ability to be present, patient, and open? Are they able to maintain their composure, remain focused and mindful, and be an empathetic listener? Do they know when to respond and when to let you simply continue expressing yourself (or not)?
- An ability to inspire trust – Do they behave in a way that makes you trust them? Do they inspire you to trust yourself and your journey? Do they emphasize safety, even in the face of all the unknowns you’ll encounter? Perhaps most importantly, are these behaviors consistent across all of your interactions? It’s difficult to trust someone in one situation if they can’t be trusted in others.
- Spiritual awareness – Does the coach appear to have an understanding of the transcendent nature of the mind? Do they talk about their own interconnectedness to others, to nature, and to the universe or something greater than themselves?
- Knowledge of the effects of psychedelics – While a coach doesn’t need to be a trained physician or psychiatrist, they should have a solid working knowledge of the physical and psychological effects of psychedelic substances. Most importantly, they should communicate their intent to create an optimal set and setting during your trip and give you an idea of how they would respond in a variety of situations.
- Knowledge of the ancient history of psychedelic medicines – This demonstrates a level of respect for psychedelic substances that goes beyond using them as modern tools to improve our own lives. Instead, it acknowledges that we are a small part of the human experiment with consciousness.
These are core qualities that will be critical throughout the entire coach-client relationship. Of course, some coaches will be stronger in certain areas than others. The most important thing is to find a coach that you feel safe and comfortable with.