The Intersection of Psychedelics and Coaching (ft. Elizabeth J. O.)

Noelle Cordeaux interviews Elizabeth J. O. on the role of psychedelic integration coaching in facilitating deep personal transformations!

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Elizabeth J.O. is a dynamic Holistic Dietitian Nutritionist and Change Coach with 15 years of clinical experience. A graduate of Bastyr University, Elizabeth has immersed herself in the study of human behavior, psychology, coaching, yoga, flow states, herbal science, and mindfulness-based therapies. She is the author of "Breaking Emotional Addiction: Neurohacking BPD with Ibogaine," which chronicles her personal healing journey. Elizabeth co-founded Altered States Integration to make compassionate support for processing non-ordinary states of consciousness more accessible through online support groups and individual coaching. She is growing the next wave of psychedelic leaders through the workshop "Start-2-Finish DIY Psychedelic Integration Circle," where she teaches others to create ethical peer support groups.

As Co-Director of the Psychedelic Society of Texas, Elizabeth is building a conscientious psychedelic community through education, integration, and harm reduction. She also volunteers at festivals providing psychedelic first aid with N.E.S.T, Zendo Project, Harmonia, and other sanctuary spaces, reflecting her passion for destigmatizing challenging psychological and emotional states, whether they arise from substances or circumstances. Her current passion is to integrate Medical Nutrition Therapy with psychedelic treatment for addiction recovery, emotional eating, and other mental health struggles.

You can connect with them here.

The Intersection of Psychedelics and Coaching (ft. Elizabeth J. O.)

Noelle Cordeaux, CEO of Lumia, recently sat down with Lumia alumni Elizabeth J. O. to explore an emerging frontier in coaching: the integration of psychedelic experiences. Elizabeth J. O. co-founded Altered States Integration, a practice dedicated to guiding individuals through their psychedelic journeys, ethically and responsibly.

Psychedelics have long been associated with profound personal transformations, and Elizabeth emphasizes that the true potential of these experiences lies not just in the moments of revelation but in the subsequent integration process. 

Coaches can make a big impact on clients before, during, and after these experiences – but there are many elements and ethical questions to consider before diving into a psychedelic integration coaching practice.

What does psychedelic integration coaching look like in action?

“Everybody wants to be the rock star who gives people psychedelics, but being an integration coach is really where the work is. That’s where we need to have ten times more focus in this field, on that integration portion of the psychedelic experience. Because a shaman can have a new group of people every weekend, but they're never going to have the personal time to follow up with all those people, mentor them or to help them come through the full spiral of healing. It takes time.” - Elizabeth J. O.

In psychedelic coaching, the coach’s role is facilitative rather than prescriptive. 

Coaches help clients explore their experiences and apply their own personal meaning, ensuring that the client’s autonomy is respected. This aligns with harm reduction principles, which prioritize the client’s control over their own healing process.

The integration process begins with intention setting and extends well into the months following a psychedelic experience. This phase is important for translating fleeting insights into lasting life changes, leveraging the enhanced neuroplasticity provided by substances like Ayahuasca or Ketamine.

The absence of unified standards in psychedelic coaching is a concern that Elizabeth’s organization addresses. She discusses the need for robust training programs that not only teach the practical aspects of integration but also instill a deep understanding of ethics and client-centered practices.

Interested in Psychedelic Integration Coaching?

If you want to know how to become a psychedelic coach, Elizabeth outlines several practical aspects that coaches should consider – personal preparation, specialized training, and community engagement:

Understanding the Role: Coaches are not therapists, and also must clearly differentiate their services from medical or therapeutic interventions. They do not diagnose or prescribe but support clients in understanding and integrating their psychedelic experiences.

The Need for Comprehensive Training: Prospective coaches should undergo extensive training in areas like motivational interviewing, CPR, and trauma-informed practices. This preparation ensures they are equipped to handle the complexities of guiding clients through psychedelic experiences.

Experience with non-ordinary states of consciousness, even if not induced by psychedelics, can be beneficial. Alternatives like breathwork or “dark retreats” can provide profound experiences necessary for understanding the client's psychedelic experiences.

The Importance of Self-Care: Given the intense nature of psychedelic integration work, maintaining personal mental and emotional health is important. Coaches need to have their own mindfulness or spiritual practices to ground themselves. This personal grounding is vital, especially when dealing with the heavy emotional content that can arise in psychedelic integration.

Trauma-Informed Approach: Understanding and being able to apply a trauma-informed approach is crucial. This means recognizing the prevalence of trauma in the client population and being educated and prepared to handle it sensitively and responsibly.

Ethics and Harm Reduction: Elizabeth stresses the importance of understanding harm reduction principles and applying them in practice to ensure client safety and autonomy. The field of psychedelics coaching is still new, and care must be taken to protect clients and coaches in an ethical way.

Engagement in the Community: Engaging with the psychedelic community through mentorship, peer groups, and professional networks can provide support and enhance learning. She also suggests participating in harm reduction at festivals or other events to gain practical experience in a controlled environment.

There's not one unifying ethical standard for ethics in the psychedelic space. We're really trying to help this issue become something that is on the front of everybody's mind as they're moving into these careers to work with people. These are human beings with real lives who we really impact, based on our behavior, boundaries and our expectations as coaches and integration personnel. - Elizabeth J. O. 

Future Directions and Challenges with Psychedelic Coaching

As the interest in psychedelic integration grows, so do the responsibilities of coaches in this field. 

Elizabeth discusses the importance of setting realistic expectations and preparing clients for the gradual and often challenging work of integrating psychedelic insights into daily life.

There are also many misconceptions and stigmas associated with psychedelic use. Educating the public and clients about the safe and responsible use of psychedelics is part of the coach’s role, combating myths and promoting a more informed understanding of these powerful tools for personal growth.

Psychedelic integration coaching can offer a unique opportunity to support people in profound transformational processes. As scientific research moves forward, and interest increases, coaches trained in this specialty can play an integral role in guiding clients towards meaningful and sustainable change.

For those intrigued by the potential of psychedelic coaching, Elizabeth’s organization, Altered States Integration, provides extensive resources, training, and mentorship opportunities. Engaging with these resources can provide a solid foundation for those looking to explore this work.

Want To Become a Psychedelic Integration Coach?

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