Holding Space

For both psychedelic therapy and body work, an important concept to understand is set-and-setting. Set being the physical and mental state of the person, and setting being the environmental surrounding of a person. For psychedelic work to be therapeutic, it seems that a focus on having a patient in an ideal state (set) and an ideal environment (setting) maximizes the therapeutic benefit and decreases likelihood for a challenging experience. The non profit Zendo Project, who provide volunteers to music festivals and other events where individuals may be intaking psychedelic substances, have provided a manual for supporting those undergoing difficult experiences (manual for psychedelic support). The figure from their website below emphasizes the importance of the caregiver to support the mental state of the patient with compassion and keep a calm and non-judgmental setting.

How to support a bad trip with 4 Zendo Project principles: safe space; sitting not guiding, through, not down; difficult, not bad

How can this concept apply to body work? As explained in my previous post entitled Body Work and Emotions, when osteopathic providers and other body/energy workers facilitate a release of physical pains and traumas in the fascia, patient’s may have an emotional release associated with their physical body (i.e., Somato-Emotional Release). When patients are undergoing these difficult experiences in the office, it is not unlike the psycho-physiologic state that those undergoing a “Bad Trip” or difficult emotions during a psychedelic event. Thus, it would be logical to apply the principles from the Zendo Project above in these situations. To sit with the patient in a non judgmental way, with no particular expectations, and providing a calm atmosphere for the patient to work through their possibly traumatic experience, will likely facilitate the healing process.

While psychedelic compounds such as LSD, psilocybin, and DMT often serve as a medium to psychologically work through one’s trauma, body work can be part of the psychedelic integration therapy paradigm. Because osteopathic manipulation can work through the same paradigm of Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing, the chronic pain and psychosomatic component of trauma can be released as well. Through the whole process of working through past traumas, including psychedelic work, behavioral therapy, and body work, I believe chronic pain can be addressed on a more sustainable scale that may result in less dependence on opiates, alcohol, and other substances.

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