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This article is part of a series on

Sitting Safe: Navigating the Evolution of NeoShamanism


Recommendations to would-be participants

 

When one is planning to engage with facilitated, psychedelic medicine work, here are some questions worth considering in the process of finding a qualified practitioner or facilitator.

Questions to ask yourself

The medicine path is a process of learning to listen to and cultivate the quiet inner voices and the subtle language of the body’s wisdom. These skills are often tested from the time one chooses when, where, and with whom to do medicine work. At the end of the day, check in with yourself to see if there are any other factors that may be biasing your decision making process. At times people can externalize their healing onto medicine and have unrealistic expectations. Also consider interviewing multiple providers to compare information and consistency.

  • Ask yourself and do a ‘gut check’...Does the provider seem personable? Humble? Grounded? Confident? Prudent? Do they have clear and explicit boundaries? Are they concerned with your well-being versus selling themselves? Are they psychologically over-invested in their ego or identity as a “shaman” or healer?
  • This is vulnerable work, is this a person you would want to be present at your death/rebirth process? Do you feel safe with them? Do you trust they will hold your boundaries even when you are not able to hold them yourself?
  • If a practitioner is giving you medical advice, make sure that it is within the scope of their professional background.
  • Are you choosing a practitioner from geographical or financial scarcity? - i.e. ‘I don’t know any other providers, so I better take this opportunity because it’s here” or choosing based off what they charge instead of the quality of the work.
  • Are you rushing? - Check your ego. Are you really ready to sit (again)? Are you looking outside of yourself for solutions that can be found within? Are there other supportive practices that could serve you now (mediation, breathwork, therapy...)?
  • Peer pressure/social obligation - i.e. ‘My friend is sitting now with this facilitator and I want to be with them.’ Or “ _ facilitator is only in town on this date so I must see them.”

Questions to consider asking a practitioner

  • How long have you been practicing with this medicine?
  • How many people have you facilitated for?
  • Who did you train with, where, and for how long? Clinical training? Shamanic Training? Is this verifiable?
  • Do you have a code of ethics that you practice under?
  • Are you current on CPR/First Aid training? What additional first aid training do you have? Where is the closest hospital? Do you have access to MedVac (if you are in the jungle?)
  • Do you know how to work with clinical concerns such as PTSD, Suicidality?
  • What kind of medical or psychological issues would exclude someone from working with this medicine? (if they say “Nothing” consider that a red flag)
  • How do you source your medicine? How do you address sustainability/fair trade concerns?
  • (If they work with multiple medicines in a retreat) How long have you been using these medicines in combination? How do these medicines interact with each other? How far apart should these medicines be administered from one another?
  • How is your medicine prepared (i.e are there add mixtures…)?
  • Do you include integration support or referrals to integration providers?
  • (If you are on medication or have a medical condition) Do you know the safety of this medicine for my medical condition? Do you have a doctor that you work with that I could talk to?
  • Do you use massage, physical touch, or somatic therapy in your work? What kind? If that is not something that I would like, how can I indicate that to you in ceremony?
  • Are there any risks/contraindications in working with this medicine? (be wary if they say there are none!)

Questions a practitioner should ask you

  • What, if any, pharmaceuticals are you taking? If there are contraindicated medications, you should consult with a qualified health professional to address a responsible strategy for tapering off of medications, if advisable.
  • Do you have a personal or family history of mental health issues?
  • Do you have any medical conditions you are being treated for or anything significant in your medical history?
  • A thorough medical history will include review of all major systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological conditions, allergies, etc.)
  • Have you experienced any physical, emotional, interpersonal, sexual or other trauma in childhood or adulthood?
  • When was the last time you took any psychoactive substance or earth medicine (plant, amphibian, fungus)?
  • Do you have any other medicine work planned in the month before or after our ceremony/session?
  • (if they use touch in their work) Are you okay with touch? Do you have any sensitive areas of your body?
  • Are you sensitive in general to psychoactive substances? Do you tend to have a high or low tolerance?

There is no need to ‘make it work’ with a facilitator that does not resonate with you. Trust that the medicine will find you when it is time and trust your inner guide to know what feels right or off.


This article is part of a series on Sitting Safe: Navigating the Evolution of NeoShamanism. Check out the other chapters here:

  • Introduction

  • Part 1: Recommendations to would-be participants

    • Questions to ask yourself

    • Questions to consider asking a practitioner

    • Questions a practitioner should ask you

  • Part 2: Medicine Pacing

  • Part 3: Best Practices for Facilitators

  • Part 4: Ethics and Agreements

  • Part 5: Trip sitting

  • Part 6: Healing Communities