Navigating psychedelic healing

Embarking on a psychedelic journey can be a profound experience, but what happens when it takes a turn for the worse? These intense experiences can often be avoided with the right preparation and support. Here are three essential tips to help you prevent a bad trip and or transform it into a positive and enlightening experience.

What is a bad trip?

What most people call a bad trip is an intense, challenging and uncomfortable experience caused by psychedelic substances. Feelings of intense fear, panic, paranoia, a total loss of control and a feeling of existential crisis are common when you have a ‘bad trip’ experience.

How do you know if you are on a bad trip?

The following are the most common signs of a bad psychedelic trip experience:

  • Sense of doom, despair
  • Fear of death or paranoia, thinking that there are people out there to get you
  • Troubling thoughts about existence, life and death
  • Difficulty in discerning what is real and what is not
  • Extreme level of confusion and disorientation
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations that can be frightening or disturbing
  • Total loss of control over your mind and your body

Thankfully, these types of experiences don’t happen very often, and in most cases, they happen because of lack of safety, preparation and professional guidance.

Even though these ‘bad trips’ can be intense, life changing experiences with professional support and guidance they can be integrated and turned into valuable gifts and a new beginning.

Why Set and Setting is important?

Psychedelic experiences are determined by set and setting. Set refers to the mindset and mental state of the individual who is taking the psychedelic or plant medicine. People with serious mental illnesses like psychosis or schizophrenia are advised not to work with these powerful substances because their already fragmented and unstable minds can destabilize further.

Setting refers to the environment where the psychedelic or plant medicine is taken, the people who are present and the psychedelic substance or plant medicine that is taken. One of the most important things to avoid a bad trip is to prepare responsibly and to have an experienced professional present to guide you through this journey not only during, but before and after your psychedelic healing experience.

What is a Spiritual Emergency?

A spiritual emergency can occur when an individual is not able to integrate the challenging experience and his/her life continues to spiral out of control.

When you have a bad trip that doesn’t end when the effects of the psychedelics wear off but keep going and getting worse, you are entering into a spiritual emergency.

The following are the most common signs of a spiritual emergency:

  • Falling into despair, fear of losing sanity
  • Difficulty in coping with daily life
  • Hopelessness, powerlessness, loss of control
  • Invasive, intrusive thoughts, trapped in the mind
  • Extreme confusion, doubt
  • Unusual feelings and desires, obsession
  • Hallucinations, distortion of reality
  • Insomnia, loss of appetite, loss of focus

Based on the extensive research of Dr Stanislav Grof spiritual emergencies can be turned into valuable insights and personal growth when and if the individual has holistic support from experienced professionals. Unfortunately in many cases, allopathic medicine in itself is unable to provide this type of support so it’s important to seek appropriate support.

3 tips to prevent bad trips

1. Prevention

The best is to prevent these challenging experiences if possible and responsible preparation is key to that. Learn more about the 5 steps of responsible preparation and how to avoid the biggest pitfalls and stay safe on your psychedelic healing path in this popular webinar.

2. Reframing

Viewing the crisis as part of a transformative process rather than as a pathological condition is key to empower the individual to navigate this challenging experience.

As part of responsible preparation, it’s important to educate yourself about spiritual crises and emergencies if you walk the plant medicine path or looking for a psychedelic healing experience.

Read more in this book: Spiritual emergency, When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis

3. Adequate support

Having professional support, including people who are knowledgeable about spiritual crises, like shamanic practitioners, psychedelic integration therapists, and holistic practitioners who can support mental, emotional, and spiritual healing work is vital in case of spiritual emergencies and ‘bad trips’.

When understood and integrated in a supportive manner, these experiences can become gateways to higher levels of functioning and new ways of being.

Dr. Stanislav Grof’s work on spiritual emergencies highlights the importance of recognizing and supporting individuals through intense spiritual experiences. By understanding these crises as opportunities for profound personal growth and transformation, rather than as purely pathological events, we can better assist those undergoing such experiences in navigating their journey towards healing and wholeness.


By following these tips, you can minimize the risk of a bad trip and take the most out of your psychedelic healing experience. Remember, preparation is key, set your intention, choose a safe and supportive environment, and ensure you have a trusted guide by your side. Psychedelics hold immense potential for personal growth and healing when approached with care and respect. With the right mindset and support, your psychedelic experience can be a life changing and profoundly positive adventure.

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