Precautions with Underground Psychedelic Therapy
By Brenda Brewer
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is to be commended for their groundbreaking clinical research, and for obtaining approval from the Food and Drug Administration to conduct scientific trials studying the efficacy of MDMA, LSD, cannabis, and psilocybin mushrooms for the treatment of PTSD, end of life anxiety, depression, social anxiety associated with autism, and personal and spiritual growth—in addition to ibogaine therapy for addiction, and ayahuasca for PTSD. They picked up where the research in the 1950s left off, and the findings are nothing less than astonishing. They have developed a clinical protocol which is freely available on their website.
Underground providers, sitters, and guides may be proficient in providing you with a comfortable and beautiful setting to undergo a psychedelic session. However, without the proper clinical training, it is very probable that they will be “bleeding” into your experience, a term loosely used to mean that their own issues will be activated, possibly contaminating your experience. This could be psychologically harmful to you. At the very least, it could be distracting or annoying—neither of which are desirable.
Belief Systems as a Substitute for Protocol
Although some of the clinical trials being conducted are interested in the possibility of connecting with divine or spiritual energies, such as the trials currently underway at Johns Hopkins University, there is no way to prove that these subjective experiences are an indication of such encounters. These experiences are solely based on belief, although the scientific studies still operate according to clinical protocol.
The same holds true when you seek the assistance of an underground guide. Whatever your personal beliefs are, your guide is going to have their own ideas. If your guide isn’t following some basic guidelines, then things may start to become unclear as you interact with them.
Some of the hallmarks of responsible guiding in psychedelic work:
The guide respects your individual process and is not trying to be your “teacher.”
The substance is the actual teacher. It provides release, healing, and insight in a way that is unique to you.
You and the guide spend time to get to know each other before the session. You are both clear about your intentions and the purpose of the session.