Educational Resources

Not only is a well informed participant our ideal candidate, we require that our clients be well educated on the psychedelic process, our programs, and what to expect during and after treatment. Here are our mostly commonly asked questions:

 

FAQ for Working with Saj at PSI Amsterdam

Group Retreat Compared to Individual Therapist Led Sessions


Psilocybin, like other psychedelics, is a very experience dependent medicine. It changes its nature and outcomes depending on the context in which it is used. Unlike psychiatric medications like Prozac where it does not matter if you take it alone, or with friends, or in a therapy setting, psychedelics depend heavily on factors such as your internal psychological state, your assessment of whether your environment is able to support deep processing or not, and the trust (relationship) you have with whom you are working. For people wanting to engage with this substance recreationally, spiritually or simply out of curiosity, a ceremonial or group context will be fine and provide benefit. If you are looking to engage this substance as a medicine for working with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, addiction, or PTSD and complex trauma symptoms, you’ll want an individual, one-on-one, therapy setting with a trained clinician. The FDA research teams studying psilocybin and MDMA in the US exclusively work with individual clients for a reason. They do not employ a group model. The therapeutic container, the processing and the individual focus required for deep personal healing is simply not group settings are designed for. Your system will naturally limit the depth of your work if you know you are in a group of people all needing time and attention from a lay practitioner. This is an appropriate evaluation of your environment and what it can and cannot provide. While group psychedelic experiences can be useful and profound for certain types of experiences and certain types of participants, they are not ideal for the mental health oriented client.




Why does your program involve cannabis as well as psilocybin?


This is a complicated question requiring some background to fully answer. Psilocybin is an advanced psychedelic medicine and many people’s systems are not prepared for what this medicine will ask of them because of their level of dissociation. Psilocybin is not an ideal as a first medicine for cracking open the numbing dissociation defense that some people may have had in place since childhood. What this leads to are non-responders to psilocybin. Yes, there is such a thing. No medicine works 100% for every person or for every condition. People come to psilocybin or ayahuasca retreats with big expectations, and the truth is, some people have very little response. We can shift this in your favor through two types of preparation. We can train you in how to engage your autonomic nervous system so that when the psychedelic is introduced, the charge involved in psychedelic therapy will move through your body and not simply your mind. Secondly, having four to six hours of somatic cannabis sessions (over one or two days) prior to your mushroom session will significantly crack dissociation and prime you to make best use of the psilocybin. In addition, we provide cannabis sessions after the mushroom session in order to get as much psychedelic processing time as possible during your stay.




Intensives & On-going Care


While intensive psychedelic therapy can be very useful, the true lasting benefits of this treatment occur when the work is engaged over time. Psychedelic medicine absolutely accelerates the process but is not a magic pill that permanently makes symptoms go away without engagement from both client and therapist. Consider that most of the symptoms we are looking to treat are related to developmental patters set in place during childhood. Your structure took years to put into place, it will take on-going engagement to process and shift to a new way of being in the world. Options for treatment at PSI Amsterdam: Option 1: Visit Amsterdam for a period of one to two weeks for intensive work with Saj, and continue with on-going sessions remotely as needed. Option 2: Frequently, Saj does not have room in his teaching schedule and case load to admit new clients. In this scenario, you can conduct a one to two week intensive with him and transition to a PSIP therapist trained by Saj in the US. See our therapist directory for a list of clinicians. Option 3: Engage in the one to two week intensive in Amsterdam as an accelerant for resolving dissociation and activating your autonomic nervous system pathway. Return home to continue working with your pre-existing therapist. Please note that PSI Amsterdam does not accept clients for intensive purposes only who do not have plans for on-going therapeutic support. The depth of the therapeutic process and consequent destabalization require the client to either have pre-existing therapeutic support or plans for on-going treatment. Day 4: 1.5 hour integration session Day 5: 2 hour cannabis therapy Day 6: 8 hour psilocybin session Day 7: 1.5 hour integration




After Care & Continuity


We offer weekly Zoom groups for people who have completed the PSI program and want to stay connected with us and others who have gone through the same process. In addition, you can continue to see a licensed clinician at Innate Path, our sister organization in Denver, Colorado. They use the same PSIP therapy model, the clinicians there were trained by PSI's Clinical Director, Saj Razvi, and have years of experience working with cannabis and ketamine in therapy.




Is this a research study? Why do you collect data?


This is not research in the typical sense of a double blind study. We consider it our ethical imperative to continue to monitor our programs and client's experiences and progress to see what works and what doesn’t, continually improving our programs. As much as we have an anecdotal sense of our results, we know this can be impacted by our own bias. The psychometric testing and surveys that we provide before, during and after your treatment will allow us to publish our findings and train practitioners in the US when psilocybin becomes a legal treatment. Just as you will have benefited from others who came before you, others will benefit from your work with us. Certainly, all patient information is anonymized and confidential.




Why is the body important in your modality?


There are a number of different ways to answer this question but they all come down to the fact that your body is a far more effective pathway for processing the charged experiences, memories and revelations that come with psychedelic therapy than your cognitive mind. Gaining insight, understanding where your symptoms are coming from, or telling your story again has very little effect on actually shifting the reactivity underlying symptoms. Even though your thoughts can trigger symptoms, anxiety is fundamentally a nervous system response that you feel in your body, in your gut. Fear, depression, numbing are very frequently responses created by your autonomic nervous system. They are, or were at one point, appropriate responses to stressful or traumatic events you experienced in life, particularly in childhood. Your nervous system is generating these symptoms, and given the proper conditions, your nervous system knows how to organically process and resolve these symptoms. The psychedelic medicine is a powerful catalyst allowing this to happen much more quickly and thoroughly.




What is the difference between a mystical experience and a psychological experience?


Psilocybin can evoke transpersonal or mystical experiences where individuals transcend their own ego and feel a sense of unity with the universe. People describe it as a very meaningful religious encounter, and it is one of the more common outcomes in ceremonial settings. However, spiritual realms are not the same as psychological realms. If you are looking to treat mental health conditions, the focus needs to shift from the cosmic mystical to your human egoic experience, to your body, to the relationships that formed you, to your childhood. The spiritual and the psychological both have their value, and there may be some overlap, but they are different dimensions that require different types of contexts and different types of work. Our suggestion is that if you have psychological or emotional wounding, pain, or a history of trauma, it is better to address this level before seeking to transcend your ego and suffering by going to the cosmic. Why? First, because not addressing the psychological before the spiritual leads to what’s known as spiritual bypassing. This is a scenario where spirituality is used as a way of avoiding life rather than being more engaged with life. Secondly, it is far easier to integrate the lessons of unity consciousness and spiritual experiences when you have a healthy, intact ego. A fractured or traumatized ego, or a nervous system compromised by dissociation, has far less ability to integrate and retain a transcendent experience.