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Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Sessions

Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Sessions

Photography: Daniel Schreiber

Overview 

The process of using plants, aids, and expanded states of awareness for our healing and evolution is an age old practice. Seeing our ordinary challenges, patterns and tendencies from another perspective is invaluable is coming to new and creative solutions and resolutions. The process allows us to move into new spaces within ourselves in an accelerated way as it bypasses the usual protections and coping mechanisms of the cognitive mind. These serve to keep us safe and in so doing can often keep us stuck in an old, yet dysfunctional, familiarity.

There is often within us a cache file of content ready to come forward for processing and metabolising, that are continually being pushed back down into the unconscious to keep us safe. The energy being used to maintain this partition in awareness can affect our lives greatly.

MDMA

MDMA is a substance derived from high concentrations of safrole, a molecule found in the root bark of the Sassafras tree, bark of the Camphor tree, and in several spices such as saffron, nutmeg, anise, cinnamon, and black pepper, all euphoriants in high quantities. It is concentrated through a chemical process to give a more enhanced effect.

 

The experience described here allows us to explore ourselves, and particularly our areas of discomfort, with deeper compassion and insight than usual.  MDMA induces the release of serotonin, our "feel good" neurotransmitter, and our sense of wellbeing is substantially enhanced. For this reason it is known as an "empathogen". In this way it allows access to deeper places within ourselves, usually out of reach. With the support of a skilled practitioner and safe container the experience can be highly therapeutic and effective.

On a biological level how this process works is that it takes our amygdala, our fight/ flight survival centre, offline. The amygdala is a small almond shaped group of neurons in the lower part of our brain, our medial temporal lobe. Its part of our larger limbic system, and it governs all associated with survival and our response to perceived safety and threat. It also controls emotions, memory and learning, so we can then understand that when we are in a state of heightened reactivity, fright, defence, or a long term trauma response, it can be difficult to process information and learn new things effectively. It can also be challenging to fully feel emotions if they are associated with great impact; and we can be unable to access certain memories, sometimes of entire parts of our life. The coping mechanism in response to trauma hijacks our development, as there is unprocessed content in our system that is using a lot of energy to cope, oppress, and avoid being reactivated.

 

The amygdala is like the Gatekeeper between the conscious and unconscious minds. It helps us protect ourselves not only from actual threat, but any thoughts, emotions and memories associated with the threat, that may be equally distressing.​​ What MDMA does is it sedates this Gatekeeper. It is not rendered completely offline, but widens the tolerance zone of our perception significantly. This allows content that is ripe for processing to be have passage into our conscious awareness. What this offers is the opportunity for a shift in the brain and nervous system. It moves stored memories, reactions and emotions that were previously lodged in the reactive protective limbic system, into the more narrative, cognitive neo cortex. This part of the brain has a different function and perceptual mode, and can accomodate and reframe the narrative, and this allows a change in the perceptual and response systems.

At the same time that we are exposed to deeper aspects of our consciousness that are emerging, we are also blanketed in a wave of serotonin which has us feel relaxed and held. This allows what needs to come forward for healing to do so without the usual charge, impact or defensiveness. We can then feel safe to open to experiences we usually disconnect from and allow them some airtime, validation and resolve. Any unprocessed experience or trauma that usually doesn't accept deep acknowledgement may receive some healing attention. 

Now we have had the experience of that which was previously overwhelming and appropriately avoided and oppressed, being in our conscious awareness, and at the same time the feeling of being ok. These two experiences were previously not connected - the traumatic association and "ok-ness". Now that these have had the opportunity to be simultaneously present in our experience, new neural pathways being to form, associating these memories and feelings with the possibility of also being ok.

This process generates neuroplasticity, malleable changes in our neurological patterning as

new neural pathways are formed. This affects our entire system, and how our subconscious

patterning is reflected in us, both  physically and energetically.The therapeutic process and

medicinal value of this process lies in our strengthening these new neural pathways, with

therapeutic integration processes, and the use of nutritional supplements such as nootropics

can be immensely beneficial. Nootropics are supplements that enhance cognitive function,

like awareness, attention and memory. When we have formed new beneficial neural

associations, these nootropics will help to fortify and give momentum to these perceptual

pathways.

Like any medicinal experience, in the process of coming to healing there can sometimes be

discomfort soon after. In entering into the realms of our deeper awareness and being

willing to allow what is ready for deeper assimilation to be unearthed, things can feel

somewhat rocky for a while afterward. This is not always the case, though it is a good

awareness to have as an anchor if there is a sense of unease or unsettledness in the weeks

that follow the experience. Things often need to be stirred up to be rearranged, and settle

again in a healthier composition. The long term benefits of the process are noticeable, and

can free up much of the energy that was in a coping or 'holding' pattern.

Treatment

The optimal process for this treatment is to have immersion three sessions, spaced at least one month apart. This allows for integration that is both physical and psychological. When there is need for a longer process, i.e. the level of trauma requires longer term work, this protocol of three sessions can be repeated, yet several months are left in between each series of sessions to similarly allow space for deeper integration.

The intake process for this treatment entails:

-  An initial orientation session to meet and get a deeper sense of the details of this work. We will cover all the necessary

information and answer all questions the applicant may have about the immersion sessions. This gives a chance to confirm whether this work is a fit for the applicant and the chemistry with the facilitator feels supportive. 

-  Thereafter in going forward with the process there is an intake form for the applicant to fill out. This helps to determine that the physical condition and medications a person may be on are compatible with this process. Sometimes there are contraindications, and where possible we will work around these to ensure the comfort and safety of the participant.

-  Once the intake form is complete and all is suitable to go ahead we will have an intake session that will explore more personal aspects, looking at what the participant is currently experiencing, and what they imagine may want to arise in the immersion session. There are often several of these sessions leading up to a 'deep immersion'.

-  Integration sessions happen after each immersion session and this is where the medicinal part of the experience really happens. It is here that we receive support in applying and integrating all that was revealed in the immersion sessions. This is where we make the change applicable and thorough. These can be twice a week for this initial period if needed, and weekly thereafter, for as long as benefits the participant to receive the most from this treatment.

Immersion sessions are six hours. Therapy sessions (orientation, intake and integration) are one hour.

 

If you would like to see testimonials from participants of this work, please visit this page:  

https://www.fivepillarsofmedicine.com/assisted-therapy-testimonials

 

 

 

Please be in touch if you would like to explore how this can be beneficial for you. 

We begin with an orientation session and a screening process to make sure participants are appropriate for this work both physiologically, medically and psychological, and proceed with an intake session thereafter to prepare for the deeper work.

May you find the medicine you are seeking!

Let’s Work Together

Be in touch if you'd like to start working together.

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