Psychedelic Spaceholding Ethics

{v. 1.2 : 20.5.9}

{google doc link for easier read formatting}

{This guide is meant as a living document + a starting point for community insight + iteration to emerge. The author saw that there was a need for a specific set of guidelines and prompts for Spaceholders and Journeyers alike and pulled on their 15+ years in Risk Reduction to share what they have learned. The author hopes that this document results in the formation of a counsel to ensure that preemptive education and restorative justice is implemented for any incidents that occur to keep our community accountable to our shared values}.

Know thyself :

As within, so without :

How can you cultivate a safe + supportive clear channel helping the Journeyer realize they are the source of their healing ?

What are you in service to? Why are you doing this work?

Purpose / motive excavation :

Is there no one else available for this work {eg. are you a good Samaritan}? What is your relationship with the Journeyer? Who do you tend to spacehold for {eg. friends, family members, people you are attracted to?} Do you have an interest in this area of study? Curious? Is doing this work part of your identity? Your personal narrative? A role you identify with? Titles you call yourself? A calling? What parts of you are drawn towards this work {is this an ego game}? How is this work personally beneficial {practicing your skills, helping someone in need}? How is this work self-serving for you {finances, social standing, money, power} ? How is this work symbiotic? Under what conditions would you not / do this work {eg. if it was free, if it was for someone you were not attracted to, if you did not want an ongoing relationship to the Journeyer, if there was a high probability of getting caught with legal implications}? Do you feel called to assist others along spiritual paths? What roles / relationships do you commonly find yourself in (eg. helper, fixer, savior, martyr}?

What centering, grounding, focusing, meditation practices do you have? What self-development work have you done? What practices adjacent/relevant to spaceholding are you experienced in? Do you facilitate additional spiritual practices for others?

Are you familiar with the terrain likely to be explored? What is your psychedelic history? How often do you journey? Why do you journey? What patterns do you find in your journeying? Are you familiar with the ally / medicine? Have you experienced ego death? How do you integrate your experiences? How do you work with challenging experiences?

Shadow excavation :

What parts of yourself do you have trouble accepting? What are you shadows? What blind spots have been brought up to you before {if none, ask several folx who know you closely}? What is your trauma history? How do you know you have trauma?

Triggers :

What are your triggers, however slight {if you say none, this is a clear call for self-knowledge work}? What causes strong emotion in you? When do you lose your center?

Where are your growth edges? What blocks are you still working through {eg. I am a perfectionist and never feel like I have done enough for the journeyer}? What is your attachment style? How do you regulate yourself?

Integrity :

How do your belief systems, values, needs, and limitations affect your work? How will you maintain impeccable ethics when your journeyer is especially open to suggestion, manipulation, and exploitation? How will you protect the journeyer and their vulnerability?

Non-judgement :

How can you let go of expectations about what should or should not be happening? How can you let go of concerns and judgements? How can you let go of wanting to control the experience in a particular way/direction? How can you release judgement of the Journeyer’s experience? How can you cultivate tolerance, non-judgement, compassion, unconditional love, positive regard?

Humility :

The Journeyer is your teacher, be humble in not knowing. The healing of the journey comes from the spaceholding and integration, cultivate gratitude in the privilege of being merely a sacred witness shining the light of your awareness on the veils obstructing the radiance of the journeyer’s own natural healing process to unfold. How can you become a an empty vessel for innate healing power to come through? How can you surrender your ego? Who can you call if you do not know what to do? Who are your mentors, and why? How do you honor what go you to this point? How are you ending historical / ancestral cycled of unexamined trauma? Who do you mentor, and why?

Are you actively promoting your spaceholding services? How and why? {the Counsel on Spiritual Practices advises that it is best to grow through attraction rather than active promotion}

Do you share what are you are still working on? Do you share your weaknesses? Who do you not work with? Who do you refer others to? What other sources of knowledge do you refer Journeyers to?  How can you show up having examined yourself? What are your ego-checking practices?

The journey of self-discovery has no destination beyond deepening. Enjoy the journey. Find pleasure in the process. How are you continuing to educate yourself? How are you cultivating your skills?

Accessibility Activism : no one is fully free until we all are free

Pay it forward : How can you contribute to compassionate culture ?

Have energy exchange options outside of capitalism : offer your work by donation, sliding scale, NOTAFLOF, payment plan, work trade, or with scholarship spaces. Accommodate all when possible, especially those from marginalized & oppressed groups {reach out to people from these groups proactively with free spaces and opportunities}. Translate your craft into globally available trainings to expand access to skill development.

Do you charge for you work? With what mindset {extractive, profit motive, generative, reinvesting in your own skill development}? Is your requested compensation not for profit {only covering the resources you have spent for training}? Are your rates based on what others charge {are they in proportion to your experience}? Can everyone who could benefit from your work access it?

Can you have aspects of your work be free, especially those that are needed for the healthy success of the movement?

Disclosure / Transparency :

Uncloak unconsciousness : unpack power dynamics, privilege, fantasy, & fear

Disclosure :

Be honest and educate the Journeyer regarding both the risks and rewards of this work. Offer a variety of risk profiles for the Journeyer to find their comfort level {eg. risks based on a variety of dosages}. This de facto requires the Spaceholder to be thoroughly aware of the risks as well as how to be proactive in minimizing them {eg. via thorough screening to identify adverse reactions with other mediations / supplements, etc.}. There is a balance here between seeding a ‘Nocebo’ effect {implanting, and thus potentiating possibilities that would not have existed, or lending them strength} and doing due diligence / creating a situation for informed consent {not just focusing on the positives to the exclusion of the negatives}. One method to not inflate the risks while also covering necessary pre-emptive consent & safety conversations is to discuss what the Journeyer wants you to do in case of an adverse reactions {such as violence, erratic dangerous behavior, etc., – questions to plan for this are covered more thoroughly under the ‘Boundaries’ section}.

Deconstruct ‘Expert’ power dynamics :

Are you spaceholding for a psychedelically naïve Journeyer? Willingly deconstruct the ‘expert’ power dynamic present, disperse your aura of unquestionable authority by stepping down from the pedestal and explaining what you may do in the session and why. Encourage the Journeyer to ask questions and answer with patience. Explain why you are using each specific technique, its purpose, the legacy / tradition it comes from {eg. cognitive behavioral therapy, Siberian mushroom shamanism}, what outcome you desire from it, your experiences with it, how it is informed by theory, etc.

As a Spaceholder, acknowledge that you are human – at every possible opportunity be vulnerable and admit you are not a saint, and invite your Journeyer to point out your human flaws, places for potential power abuse or harm, or times when you are being hypocritical or not following your own moral code. Invite your Journeyer to share the story they are telling in their mind about you and correct any misinterpretations in the moment before they become momentous mountains of mounting misconceptions.

Dismantle Power dynamics :

How can you step into greater responsibility? What rules, safeguards, or oversight can you put in place to render abuse impossible? Examine the shadow motivations you may hold regarding gratifying personal sexual and power interests. Explicitly share and analyze the power dynamics / ulterior motives present between Journeyer and Spaceholder. Name potential ulterior motives and how they will be countered. Hypothetically unpack all the following possibilities: sexual attraction, desire for deeper / extended relationship, desire to be a part of the other’s social set.

Some potential solutions include: following the principals of therapy and not engaging in a sexual relationship for at least two years after the conclusion of the therapeutic container. If this feels unrealistic, it is recommended to wait at least a month, and during that time to consult the broader community to ensure that authentic consent {separate from the distortions of power dynamics} is present and that such involvement would be of the best interest for both parties.

Privilege :

Are you engaged in personal self-awareness work around your privilege {hint : if you can’t name any privileges you hold, please educate yourself}? What power dynamics are in play between you and the Journeyer? Ask your Journeyer what you should study to support them better {eg. identity intersectionality, trauma legacy of institutionalized racism, childhood abuse, anxious/avoidant attachment style, LGBTQ+ discrimination, invisible disabilities, passing, neurodiversity…}

Cross-cultural interactions :

Consider the cultural backgrounds of Journeyer and Spaceholder and how they may interact. Inquire into : traditional gender relational norms, stereotypes, assumptions around touch, differences between local / global moral codes, cross-cultural interactions, healer-patient / leader-follower role assumptions, misconceptions of the ‘other’, exalted perceptions of healers, sexual availability, details of physical exercises / contact, claims of possessing healing powers {especially around sexual trauma}, consent where there are power imbalances, cultural differences, local behavioral norms, culturally appropriate behavior / common misunderstandings, misogynistic tendencies {such as viewing women as passive}, gestures that can be misconstrued as sexual interest, being aware of potent misinterpretations of cultural codes, and anything that may result in cultural misunderstanding.

Transparency :

Never lie to the Journeyer, as this can irretrievably erode trust and rapport {even ‘white lies’ create a disingenuous energy}. If the Journeyer is hallucinating and referencing things that are not present in objective reality {eg. flying blue elephants}, instead of claiming that you see them and corroborating in the reality distortion, instead, try asking about what the hallucination is doing, what it feels like to watch it, what meanings seeing this may hold for the Journeyer, any memories it is connected to, etc. In this way you can be interested in the why behind the experience without making any declarations as to its objective ‘existence’ or not. What really matters is not the ‘objective truth’ of the existence of the hallucination but rather what it means to the Journeyer and why such visions are coming up. This dynamic skill reveals the delicate balance between being a curious and supportive presence while also being a reliable reality anchor. The dynamic of a guardian playing imaginative games with a child can be a helpful frame.

As a Spaceholder, taking a mindset of exploring the foreign country of the Journeyer’s mind, and asking lots of questions in compassionate curiosity is a good place to start.

Consent : Contemplate Container : Boundaries beforehand :

If the container is loose, ambiguity can create space for misunderstanding + abuse

Be worthy of trust : do no harm : act as though you are babysitting the Journeyer’s inner child

Agree upon limits to the behavior of Journeyers and Spaceholders beforehand. Often used basics include : the Journeyer agreeing not to act out violent or sexual urges on the Spaceholder’s person or property, and that if the Spaceholder says ‘Stop’ that the Journeyer will immediately obey.

A few recommended rules in depth :

1.           No sexuality in the session {if the Journeyer knows that they want to specifically work on their sexuality, seek a high-consent professional} : without shaming, gracefully defer any sexual advances made by the Journeyer towards the Spaceholder

2.           No violence towards self or others {create a plan for if the Journeyer becomes violent: at what point will they be restrained? In what circumstances will emergency services be called?}

3.           No damage to property, use of facilities when needing to use the restroom

4.           If the Spaceholder says ‘Stop’ – the Journeyer is to immediately stop what they are doing and listen for instructions from the Spaceholder that are essential to keeping them safe {a sort of psychedelic safeword to stop the scene immediately}.

5.           Confidentiality : unless agreed upon otherwise, names and identifying characteristics are not to be shared in conversations between those not originally present. {Most Journeyers understand the value of having the Spaceholder being able to share the general learnings from the session with the community if they can ensure the Journeyer cannot specifically be identified. Get clear on what the Journeyer is open to have shared after the experience has concluded and integration has begun.}

Write out the following before the session : What are the Spaceholder’s boundaries for this session? What are the Journeyer’s boundaries? Where are the edges of the Spaceholder’s container {eg. I will not tolerate violence being done against me or others}?

Distinguish between boundaries and preferences.

Have the Journeyer write out their preferences as well : how would they like to be related to? How do they feel about touch? What kinds of touch feel supportive to them?

{if you encounter someone in the wild and cannot set up this information ahead of time, be a Good Samaritan, check in and see if they need help. Treat them like a lost pet, help them try to find their pack / friends who know their history and how to care for them best}.

 How can you act from unconditional love and acceptance without being permissive of boundary breaking?

Contingencies : preemptive preparation dissipates unplanned for / panic-caused problems:

Discuss the following with the Journeyer :

If the Journeyer seems to be having a hard time, what comforts them? What if the Journeyer states they want to harm themselves? What if they begin to harm themselves? Will the Spaceholder restrain them? How will the Spaceholder restrain them {what tools will be used, perhaps doing a dry run of how the Spaceholder would pin the Journeyer down without hurting the Journeyer and making sure the Spaceholder is also safe, eg. cannot be bit}? Have an agreement in place that if the Spaceholder says ‘Stop’ that the Journeyer will immediately halt action and listen for further instruction because the Spaceholder is concerned for their safety. If the Journeyer makes sexual advances what will the Spaceholder do {how will this be dealt with in a way that does not shame the Journeyer but also deescalates the physicality}? What if the Journeyer’s advances become aggressive? Who are the Journeyer’s emergency contacts? Have these emergency contacts been notified that they may be called, when they may be called, and the circumstances of that call? Who are the Spaceholder’s emergency contacts? Are there physically close neighbors to the session space that can be called in if restraint needs to occur? Under what circumstances will Emergency Services {medics} be called? Under what conditions {if any} will the police be called? Where is the nearest hospital?

In case of emergency, is recommended to have a ‘flowchart’ with detailed parameters around which actions are taken when.

{additional related considerations such as Journeyer allergies covered in the ‘Screening’ section}

Preemptive consent :

Get preemptive consent for the techniques you are likely to use in the session, specifically for touch or escalations of intimacy such as eye gazing which can affect the power dynamics present. This can dovetail well with asking extensively about preferences. An in-depth guide to help with this process can be found in ‘Festival Frontline Risk Reduction’ under ‘Spaceholding Offerings Menu’.

When in doubt, evaluate what is happening from a witness perspective that wishes the best for the Journeyer with the minimum amount of interference.

Responsibility / Relationship / Role :

Delineate desired roles, align expectations & capabilities.

What type of Spaceholding style is requested by the Journeyer? What roles & responsibilities does your Journeyer want you to step into?

Discuss openly and candidly which of the following flavor{s} of Spaceholding match the desires of the Journeyer : passive body watcher {only there for reassurance if Journeyer becomes fearful of their physical death / wellbeing, or if Spaceholder needs to intervene to prevent Journeyer from doing harm to themselves}, reality anchor/ timekeeper {holds consensus reality, is available for questions such as what is the time, how long has it been since the experience began, about how much longer will it last, etc.}, documenter {takes notes on verbalized insights with timestamps, monitors recording devices such as audio/video if/when used}, babysitter {range of levels of interactions, but presence mostly simply to keep Journeyer safe and out of harm’s way}, guide {more hands on, anywhere from gently reminding the Journeyer of their intentions/what they wanted to explore, all the way to steering Journeyer specifically into a particular experience, such as ego death}, shaman {title used when working in a particular medicine tradition, can involve soul retrieval or intense spiritual processes}.

Decide the types of actions/ level of interactivity that facilitates the experience that the Journeyer is seeking, and when the level of interaction can be escalated by the Spaceholder in their best judgement {eg. if Journeyer is beginning to go into a depressive state}.

Relationship :

If the Spaceholder has a pre-existing relationship with the Journeyer, have the Journeyer decide if they would like the Spaceholder to take on a different type of relating style other than ‘friend’ or ‘workmate’.

What type of relating style does the Journeyer desire : fellow Inner child {reminding Journeyer of the playful lighthearted perspective of life}, Adult/Parental {treating the Journeyer as though they are a child the Spaceholder is caring for, and guiding along the development of}, Grandparent {are more distanced perspective then a Parent, with the Spaceholder’s best interests in mind, but from a more wise un-enmeshed perspective}, guardian angel, ‘psychedelic state expert’, clown/jokester, trickster, etc.

Remind the Journeyer that they can ask for the Spaceholder to shift from being in one relating style to another, and vice versa {eg. Journeyer could ask ‘can I ask you this question as my grandparent’; Spaceholder can ask ‘could I answer this question from a friend perspective?’}. It is recommended to narrate your role changes or {even better} change an article of clothing or aspect of your presentation to make the role distinctions clear. This can be especially helpful to demarcate switching out of ‘Spaceholder’ mode, into playful/friend mode.

If the Journeyer knows that they want to explore their relationship with another person, the Spaceholder can be asked to ‘role play’ the other person. Pre-planning this is helpful, so the Spaceholder can do research into the interpersonal dynamic, or otherwise ‘get into character’. This type of ‘role play’ can help the Journeyer defuse tense situations or create catharsis in being witnessed in expressing silenced truths {either due to fear of reaction, retaliation, complex relationship dynamics, or perhaps the passing of the individual with whom there is tension}. It can be helpful to have objects that can be worn to indicate that a personality or role is being taken on {eg. when I have this hat on, I represent your mother; when I have this feather in my hair, I represent your guardian angel}. Thus, these indicator objects allow for clear differentiation between roles as well as serving a secondary role as post-processing materials aiding in integration. Additionally, this ‘role play’ can branch out and involve architypes, mythological figures, sacred beings, elements, mentors, or personality dimensions that have been under-explored {eg. such as confidence, humor, bravery}. Remember that the Journeyer can also step into these roles when helpful to gain perspective, strength, or find forgiveness.

As a concrete example, if you were in the ‘babysitter’ role, imagine yourself tasking care of a friend’s child and think about having the same boundaries and level of responsibility. Consider that you are in charge of : feeding them, keeping them clean, not letting them hurt themselves, asking them if they are thirsty/otherwise taking care of their body, tuning into their non-verbal communication, having a food plan / bedtime plan, not acting sexually towards them, and redirecting their sexual energy {to name a few common responsibilities}. {At the same time, there may be more adult discussions and inquiries that come up that may be better suited for putting on the hat of another role, creating a blended role, or having a secondary role that can be ‘switched into’}.

Specifically discuss how ‘hands on’ the Journeyer wants the Spaceholder to be. For example, the Journeyer may desire a ‘benefit enhancement’ experience in which the Spaceholder is encouraged to actively participate in creating a better experience for the Journeyer {eg. ‘calling out’ any negative voices of the Journeyer beating themselves up with a harsh inner critic}. A benefit enhancement role can also involve sharing ‘trip toys / treats’ such as LED toys when the sun sets {and when shadowy thoughts or doubts may creep in} or offering surprise delicious food at a moment when the Journeyer is in a negative thought loop to introduce a new stimulus and allow them to become embodied to exit their brainy brooding. This type of ‘benefit enhancement’ is distinct from the more widespread ‘hands off’ models of risk reduction or the neutrality of ‘sitting not guiding’, so get clear on if this is the type of experience and interaction style the Journeyer desires. You may choose to consider an adaptive option in which the default for the Spaceholder is simply sitting, but that if the Spaceholder senses that the Journeyer is having a hard time the Spaceholder can intervene with proactive offerings to prevent unnecessary suffering via active ‘benefit maximization’ invitations / suggestions {for example by encouraging a broader perspective, framing the situation from a wider lens, or offering a centering embodiment practice}.

If you collectively decide on a more passive/hands off approach {for example, in which the Spaceholder is in a neighboring room}, decide how frequently the Spaceholder will do routine wellness checks, peeking their head into the room to monitor breathing and agitation levels {at least once per half-hour at the bare minimum is recommended}. Also, it is good to discuss the conditions under which the Spaceholder will go into the Journeyer’s room ‘off schedule’, for example if they hear anguished cries or thrashing about.

Rapport :

It is recommended to have, at minimum, 8 hours of therapeutic interaction between Journeyer and Spaceholder prior to the altered state experience, ideally in the same location that the session will take place. This time is invaluable for understanding the history of the Journeyer, how they express emotion, the content that is likely to come up during the altered state, their common coping mechanisms, and how they prefer to be interacted with {among many other idiosyncrasies}. In altered states, a common challenge is paranoia, which can stem from the seed of a lack of trust between Journeyer and Spaceholder. Anything that can be done to externally express the positive intentions of the Spaceholder towards the Journeyer beforehand is recommended to dispel this fear via demonstrated action, and often the simple matter of spending time together in a therapeutic supportive context builds rapport naturally and symbiotically to this end.

Session space :

Spending time in the session space before the altered state experience occurs allows all participants to acclimate and adjust their plans to locational factors. Presence in the space at baseline allows all to track : the way that light and heat move through the space, how much sound travels {being considerate of neighbors}, any ambient sound {being able to expect what is going on around the space at certain times of the day}, what amenities are available, as well as noting what materials may need to be brought in to supplement the space {eg. hot water thermos if there is no access to a kettle, stovetop, hot plate, or outlet to boil water on site for tea}. There are many possible considerations for creating an ideal ‘setting’, but ultimately it is a place that the Journeyer feels safe and supported, and in which the Spaceholder feels well equipped to deal with any possibilities that may occur. Basics include : warmth/cooling {such as ample blankets}, a cushioned space to lie down and roll around, a space to sleep, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a way to play music. For supplemental reading on this topic please see the ‘Session Space’ section of ‘Festival Frontline Risk Reduction’.

Neighbors to the session space :

If you have neighbors to the space, it is a great idea to do a collaborative sound check beforehand with your neighbors so you know approximately how loud you can be without disturbing anyone {this is excellent information to have for a variety of reasons beyond just the session, and gives you a great opportunity to build bridges with your neighbors in a way that demonstrates your conscientiousness of your impact on them and your shared spaces!}.

If at all possible, it is a big bonus to have a fully transparent relationship to your neighbors {or as close to transparent as you think they would be able to receive} so that you can call upon them in case of emergency or restraint needs to occur {eg. if Journeyer is a danger to self or others} that they can be rallied to help {and ideally trained beforehand!}. Although this is not always possible, consider the value of making inroads towards this goal over time.

As a baseline, it is good to inform your sonic neighbors of what will be going on, even if it is in a form filtered / translated into their understanding {eg. ‘we are going to be doing some deep therapeutic processing work on Saturday, so if you hear any strange noises, don’t worry, my therapeutic ally / friend  [Spaceholder] who is well trained in [modalities] will be supporting me. If the sound is making it impossible for you to do your work here is [Spaceholder’s] phone number, which you can send a text to and we will reduce the volume. Could I also give [Spaceholder] your number in case they need to check in about whether you can hear us?’}.

Responsibility :

Beyond the responsibilities already mentioned above, the Spaceholder is ultimately the ‘adult’ responsible for the Journeyer’s wellbeing both in the session and afterwards. This means that the Spaceholder has extensive duties to : fully evaluate the set/setting/dose, to deflect external intrusion during the session, and to support the integration process afterward.

Spaceholding is a high responsibility activity, commensurate with the deep trusting vulnerability of the Journeyer exposing their unfiltered psyche to the Spaceholder.

Spaceholder, hold yourself to an extremely high standard of self-examination and sensitivity towards the Journeyer, as you do not want to accidentally commit an ethical violation. Acknowledge the deep influence that you as a Spaceholder have on the Journeyer, etched deep into their subconscious, and the responsibility corresponding with this profound influence. Neither participant may be aware of it at the time, but the Spaceholder’s compassionate presence could be interrupting a cycle of trauma or rewriting long seated relational or attachment patterns in the Journeyer. The Spaceholder has a sacred opportunity to provide an experiential model that breaks any chains of trauma for the Journeyer and everyone they subsequently interact with. Spaceholders, consider taking trainings that make you trauma-informed, as the depths of trauma have a tendency to come up in altered states to be brought to light and cleared of their charge {without basic knowledge in this area you may unintentionally do damage to the Journeyer’s psychic trust structures}. Additionally, the altered state experience may catalyze C/PTSD resurfacing in the Journeyer, and it is worth explicitly noting that as a Spaceholder you are responsible for leading the movement to return the Journeyer into functionality. Part of screening is making sure that the Journeyer has a community to help them ‘rehabilitate’ and integrate the insights of the experience. As the Spaceholder it is your duty to collect this contact information ahead of time from the Journeyer’s support webs to take the helm in leading this integration, especially in cases of latent activated trauma.

Impact, not just intention, matters.

Intention + Integration : Sustaining Support

The care before and after the experience is where the life changing work takes root via integrating insights.

Intention / Intake :

Encourage excavation of why the Journeyer is pursuing an altered state experience. What do they hope to learn? What are they seeking insight around? Intention setting also serves as an opportunity to ask for boundaries through positive statements, such as ‘I am seeking an uplifting, joyful experience about how to tune into my unique life’s purpose” {eg. if you are certain that you do not want a dark gut-wrenching drag through the underworld of your psyche, specificity in asking the ally / medicine / compound what you are seeking and the emotions that you would prefer to go along with it is a recommended practice – of course ultimately it is not up to you, but intentions setting helps create guiding guardrails}.

Initial intention setting as a part of screening allows for an in-depth intake process in which the presence of a good match between the intents/desires of the Journeyer and the capabilities of the Spaceholder can be determined. For example, if the Journeyer knows that they want to focus on releasing the somatic ‘collapse’ pattern of their traumatic sexual assault, and the Spaceholder does not have training or experience in this, it is best that the Journeyer is referred out to a Spaceholder with the knowledge in the requisite modalities to support such an intention / experience well.

 {an extensive list of questions to help guide the Intention setting inquiry can be found under Festival Frontline Risk Reduction’s “Intention” section}.

Pre-care / Median Care / Aftercare :

If intention is pre-care, and integration is aftercare, there is also median-care, which is checking in throughout the altered state experience itself. For specific techniques and indicators of moments when this is a good idea, please reference Festival Frontline Risk Reduction.

Integration :

Make sure that Spaceholder and Journeyer are on the same page about the types and extent of relating the Spaceholder will be available for afterwards. Is this a mind-blowing one-night stand or an ongoing integration relationship? Best practices in the field do encourage that the Spaceholder makes themselves available for the Journeyer’s integration process by scheduling several follow up meetings / calls after the altered state experience. Check-ins the day after, 3 days after, a week after, and 1 month after for at least an half hour is a good minimum amount of integration support {more support directly after the experience, such as an hour long call in the days immediately subsequent to the experience, is an endorsed high-benefit energy and time investment}.

Integration is a lifelong process, and an extensive section on Integration inquiries, recommendations, and insights can be found in Festival Frontline Risk Reduction.

Competency / Screening :

Competency :

Practice only to your level of skill, knowledge, education / training, and personal experience with the ally / medicine / compound of choice. Refer the Journeyer to other Spaceholders if the expertise needed is above your training level {eg. If there is significant trauma present in the Journeyer’s history and you are not trauma informed; if the Journeyer is seeking a high dose ego death experience and you have not had this personal experience}. Referring the Journeyer to another practitioner does not reflect poorly on you as a Spaceholder – to the contrary – this conscientious behavior reflects that you have the wellness of the Journeyer at the forefront. Referring your Journeyer to a Spaceholder with a better skillset match for the Journeyer’s intentions reflects that you are most interested in finding someone who can provide the deepest and most aligned level of care for the Journeyer above any personal interests or gains. Journeyers that may be more highly impacted {and thus need additional levels of care / training in the Spaceholder} include those with a history of : CPTSD, sexual assault, emotional incest, trauma, intersectional identities, a history of debilitating depression, and abusive childhoods {to name but a very slight few of the many}. It is also possible that the Journeyer may not even know that they have a history of trauma {especially if the experiences occurred in childhood, they may have been successfully suppressed completely from conscious awareness} so becoming trauma-informed is also strongly recommended.

Consider your capacity :

Spaceholder, if you are feeling burned out, refer the Journeyer to another Spaceholder you trust. Familiarize yourself with altered states, intimately know what you are going to ask of someone else {your Journeyer}. Ideally, the Spaceholder has familiarity with the specific ‘batch’ of medicine / compound to be used, at the dose proposed.

It is recommended for both the Journeyer and Spaceholder to study / have familiarity with : first aid {especially how to check vital signs such as taking a pulse}, human psychology, archetypes, altered states of consciousness, traditional talk therapy skills, and risk reduction skills. Consider your strengths and specialties of study and how this knowledge can be applied to altered state experiences. A particularly useful form to study for spaceholding skill cultivation is counselling psychology / therapeutic techniques – especially focusing on common interpersonal factors that emerge in therapeutic relationship settings such as transference and counter transference.

To the Journeyer : underground spaceholding is not therapy. Therapy has certification and accountability regulatory bodies in place for rigorous boundaries, ethics, quality control, and oversight {meaning, authorities to report issues to, with consequences of having one’s therapeutic license and ability to practice revoked if proven negligent}. Without these regulatory bodies there is room for abuse. Having an impeccable detailed container and boundaries beforehand helps to mitigate risk, but until there is a trusted counsel to ensure integrity {which the author is calling community in to create}, vet your Spaceholder thoroughly. Ask the Spaceholder lots of questions, ask for references, and note their levels of self-awareness, training, expertise, and if they have accountability structures such as mentors in place.

Screening :

Psychedelics are not for everyone all the time.

It is the job of the Spaceholder to make sure there is a perfect match between set, setting, dose, and the experience levels of the Journeyer and yourself.

The most essential Screening questions to ask are : Does the Journeyer have a personal or family history of neuro-atypical conditions, especially personality / mood disorders {eg. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc.}? How does the Journeyer feel about their life at this time {eg. are they depressed, hopeless, neutral, optimistic? If they are in a rough spot psychologically it is encouraged that they postpone their journey until they feel as though they could cope with the emotions, or they should be referred to work with someone experienced or educated in those states, as these mindsets increase the risk / likelihood of an adverse reaction / challenging experience)? Is the Journeyer taking any mediations or supplements {extensively research any contraindications for the allies / medicines / compounds you are considering, eg. especially MAOIs inhibitors + ayahuasca as the combination could cause Serotonin Syndrome}? Does the Journeyer have social support structures / community who can help with the integration process?

Is the Journeyer allergic to anything ? What are the Journeyer’s triggers? What is the trauma background of the Journeyer {and are they seeking to work on that material in this session}?

For an extensive intake/screening questionnaire dossier, please reference the ‘Festival Frontline Risk Reduction’ ‘Screening’ section.

Self-aware Self-care :

Model self-monitoring via self-care & intuitively inviting others into tenderly tending to their needs.

Provide a living blueprint of adaptive stable self-knowledge. Embody a calm nervous system from which your Journeyer can co-regulate, a secure attachment base of support that they can rely on to ensure the ongoing integrity + safety of their physical body. Use your moments of self-care as opportunities to invite your journeyer into similar levels of self-monitoring.

Use your body as a litmus test for the care your Journeyer’s body may need.

{For example, “I am feeling very thirsty, and I have noticed that you have not drank any water in the past hour, I am going to go refill my vessel, would you like me to refill yours as well?”}

Take care of your needs immediately {Journeyers can be exquisitely sensitive in noticing your discomfort and in a moment of paranoia they may mis-attribute themselves as the cause for your antsy-ness which was the result of a full bladder}. Be transparent and express visceral vulnerability and emotion if/when they arise {eg. ‘When you threaten violence towards me it is scary, please stop doing that’}.

Consider narrating the ‘why’ behind your actions.  {eg.“I have been sitting for a while without moving, and I am feeling a bit stiff. I know that it helps me to get new perspectives on my thoughts when I stretch, would you like to join me in a few stretches?” }.

Invite your journeyer into your grounding activities, nervous system self-calming techniques, meditations, and dedicated awareness practices. Teach via demonstrating impeccable self-care.

In crisis, you are the consensus reality check anchor / grounded lightning rod. If your Journeyer is agitated & distressed invite them into matching your calm rate of breath via Breathing Exhalations {BE is audible relaxed breathing, adding a relaxing luxurious sigh on each outbreath, as if you have finally sat down by the fire after a long day of rewarding work that tuckered you out. If your journeyer is postverbal, this is a way to communicate directly to their nervous system that there is another being next to them who is calm and relaxed, relaying that they are safe at a limbic system level without words, as additional verbal statements can add to the confusion if the Journeyer is unable to process speech. Additionally, BE can calm you and anyone on the care team down as well}.

Deep roots, most high. Give from your abundance, offering from an overflowing well, rather than depleting yourself to fill another and then needing to be filled in turn. Be fueled up on everything you need {physically, emotionally, spiritually} so you can pour from a full vessel.

Cultivate Community : Consider the collective

Give gratitude to generative generations past : honor lineage via living liberatory legacy

Ancestry :

How can you honor what came before?

Learn lessons via integrating insights framed by foundational knowledge. Study what came before you so that hard-won lessons do not need to be repeated or the ‘wheel reinvented’.  Propagate what works best and remember history, letting the rest rest. Cite + support those whose dedication to their discipline made easier your way.

How do you embody your gratitude at the gifts you have been given? Who are your philosophical ancestors?

Contribute to collective evolution, build upon strong foundations, use what works and let the rest rest {while still allowing unchosen paths to intelligently inform your decisions}.

Community :

To cultivate community and live in respectful reciprocity to those that came before, openly share knowledge, such as best practices, and discuss candidly what works and does not work well. Whenever possible, share learnings, tools, resources, and assets in the public domain in service of advancing the field at large.

Nourish what has nourished you.

Accountability :

Collectively as a community, we can hold ourselves accountable to living our values.

We are human, and thus we make mistakes. The author is strongly calling for our community to create impartial accountability structures to ensure that restorative justice principals are put into action to repair after incidents occur. Until such a body/organization/counsel/community subset is formed, the following is recommended :

Spaceholders – create webs of accountability via your mentors, and mentor others in turn. When you are spaceholding with a Journeyer, share who your mentors are, and mention that you are open to engaging in a restorative justice process should any accidents arise with the Journeyer through an impartial counsel. If possible, find mutual friends that can be called upon to begin a mediation process if necessary, or seek out professional mediators who have a familiarity with altered states & spaceholding.

Journeyers – vet your Spaceholder thoroughly {extensive advice on how to do this in Festival Frontline Risk Reduction}. If possible, speak to past Journeyers who have sat with your Spaceholder.

Spaceholders – not every Journeyer is a good match for every Spaceholder – it does not reflect poorly on anyone to refer the Journeyer to a better match for their intentions!

Spaceholders – invest in improving your skills, continue to educate yourself, take trainings, read books. Have other Spaceholders hold space for you! Share your self-examination practices, have a community of accountability that can provide critical feedback that points out your blind spots, and work through potentially problematic patterns early on in low stakes scenarios.

{We as a psychedelic community need to create a set of guidelines for restorative justice that any Spaceholder / Journeyer coming up against a need for mediation can follow. We also need to create an investigative body to not only to hold us to our values via mediating incidents, but also to pre-emptively produce content about ethics best practices to educate the psychedelic community and thus reduce or eliminate the often unintentional ethics issues/misunderstandings from occurring in the first place. I hope that you will join me in creating a peer reviewed counsel of guides to ensure the wholesomeness of our field, and to offer counsel to others in turn!}

{{ This is a living document : please reach out with any questions, iteration suggestions, feedback, or alternative format suggestions {such as condescending or creating a video series} that would serve you : 

Email {remove spaces}: x @ RAZ.MA 

Be well }}

References / Inspirations / Lineages :

 Teafærie Ground Control,

CSP : Code of Ethics for Spiritual Guides

Zendo 2017 Sitter Manual

Zendo Project Psychedelic Harm Reduction – Volunteer Training 2014, 2015, 2016,

Erowid Psychedelic Crisis FAQ

Mount Tam Integration for compiling a list of guides