Skip to main content
  1. Posts/

Psychedelics and coaching

·744 words·4 mins· loading · loading · ·
Joel Marks
Joel Marks
Solution Focused Practitioner
Table of Contents

As a coach, you are likely to know a psychedelic user

In the past number of years there has been a renaissance of psychedelic use in the West which is sometimes known as the “Third Wave.” A large number of these users have come to psychedelics because they are seeking healing or change in their lives which they have not yet found a catalyst for.

At the same time, coaching as a profession, and in terms of the number of people seeking coaching, has experienced year-on-year growth. This allows us to imagine a Venn diagram, with ever increasing circles, one being psychedelic users and one being people seeking coaching. The intersection of these circles is a client group seeking coaching after using psychedelics.

This group is potentially larger though, because psychedelic users are often already open and looking for change, which means they are more likely to seek coaching.

But isn’t it dangerous or illegal?

Psychedelics, when used as a so-called ‘plant medicines’ and psychedelics used in drug trials (for example, when researching treatment-resistant depression) have the same active compounds. In the latter case, psilocybin. The treatment rooms for the drugs trials took a lot of wisdom from the previous 40 years of illicit psychedelic use as well as native shamanic and neo-shamanic ceremonies when creating safe spaces for experiencers.

The outcomes for research so far have been very positive. There are risks when taking psychedelics unsupervised or without a medical assesment. Regardless many people in the west find legal or illicit avenues to persue healing on their own terms with shaman and ceremony leaders.

Do coaches need to know about psychedelics

It seems increasingly likely that psychedelics will form part of the western mainstream model for treatment of depression and anxiety disorders sooner or later (depending on the country). There are already treatment centers available in some countries, and forming a legal, insurable treatment framework and decriminalisation are now the major hurdles before psychedelic treatment becomes normalised.

In this rapidly moving context, it would seem that coaches who are educated about psychedelics will be in a better position to meet their clients with understanding and without excess cultural bias. While most coaching models already have this standpoint built into their logic, the effects of the culture war against drugs, as well as some religeous standpoints, can introduce strong undercurrents of fear or dissonance between client and coach.

At worst, a coach might jump towards a safeguarding stance during a session where a client has disclosed psychedelic use, without knowing the dangers, or lack thereof, relating to use of a particular psychedelic.

Are psychedelics better than coaching

In Solution Focused coaching, we focus on a preferred future and look for skills and resources that have previously been used or are currently being used. Psychedelics can take a person anywhere in their own psyche, however often the content of a psychedelic experience is self-reflective and focused on the past.

Sometimes this leads to an automatic process by which healing of these wounds occurs, however it does not always present the experiencer with obvvious ways to change in their present curcumstance.

Coaching is an idea tool for creating a change in the present that will lead to a preferred future. So it might be considered an ideal scenario if a psychedelic experiencer were to seek coaching directly following the experience.

Some coaches might argue that coaching is all that is necessary, however a review of the research shows that much more is going on in the brain than can be achieved through a coaching conversation. It might also be observed that no coaching methodology in the past 50 years has solved the issue of treatment-resistant depression.

Psychedelic informed coaching

We are entering a new era in which mainstream and illicit psychedelic use for treatment of certain mental illnesses is becoming normalised in western cultures. All coaching models will find that going through a thought process about how the model intersects the needs of psychedelic users will benefit both coach and clients.

I believe that Solution Focused approaches are idea for psychedelic experiencers, as they move the person from the past to the preferred future. Furthermore the model presumes that the client has the skills and resources necessary to make the changes they wish to see. This avoids pathologising the client. In short Solution Focused approaches consider the client to be the expert in their own lives and able to make change.