6 Relationship-Based Integration Exercises
The psychedelic experience is highly personal. As such, the psychedelic integration work you are called to do is similarly personal.
However, there’s no hard rule in psychedelic therapy that you must conduct your integration alone. In fact, working with your partner, or bringing your integration work into your relationship, can improve and accelerate your process.
This article explores a few techniques and ideas that you can use to help you, or your partner, with ongoing integration after a psychedelic medicine session.
1. Lean on your partner for accountability
Given its personal nature, the integration work you are called to do is often internally focused. This can make it difficult to communicate to your partner how they can help with your process, It can also cause your partner to feel isolated as you go through your healing journey.
The clearest and direct way you can leverage your partner to assist with integration is as a loving accountability “buddy.”
Make specific commitments, and ask your partner to help you uphold them. Common examples are:
- Working out more consistently
- Limiting screen time
Integration isn’t always an easy process. Don’t overlook the power of a loving, caring partner who is willing and available to help you on your journey forward.
2. Create weekly routines or rituals
Mindbloom’s Guide Lead, Asha Urban, recommends creating a weekly check-in routine or ritual where each partner shares the following:
- “What I love about us is…”
- “What I’d love more in our relationship is…”
This takes the responsibility off of a single individual to push things forward, and invites a sense of co-creation and togetherness in the relationship.
3. Engage in active listening
Much like the power and potential that journaling holds for integration, openly expressing your thoughts, ideas, and worries is also powerful.
Hearing yourself speak the truth of your experience aloud can facilitate powerful moments of healing, inspiration, or self-understanding. Having someone hold space and actively receive what you say can be a powerful integration tool.
Create an intentional space, ask your partner to listen deeply without judgment or commentary —unless you ask for comments, and speak openly and truthfully. This could be about your emotional state, what’s on your mind, and what you desire most inside and outside of the relationship.
4. Establish intentional communication practices
There is an emerging phenomenon in the realm of interpersonal communications known as “authentic relating.”
It’s an initiative to help individuals connect more deeply, speak their truth more clearly, and enter into transformative interpersonal spaces together. These practices include:
- Welcome everything
- Assume nothing
- Reveal your experience
- Own your experience
- Honor self and other
The authentic relating movement has done an incredible job of providing tools, frameworks, and conversation starters to help individuals or groups go deeper. This allows them to be received more fully, and fosters a sense of platonic intimacy with conversational partners.
For relationship-based integration work, consider joining a “Circling” session near you.
Circling is a group exercise where five to ten people give full attention and presence to each individual in the group, often for 20-30 minutes per.
In smaller groups or with your partner, you can practice “When I hear that, I feel…” responses. You can also find authentic relating games online, or attend local/virtual meetups to explore these dynamics and “we-spaces” more.
Involving a partner can help open up new depths in your connection, or help you better articulate emotions or currently-unclear material from recent psychedelic sessions.
5. Speak the “unsaid” often
A powerful, yet subtle factor that can erode the strength and stability of a relationship is letting things go unsaid. This could be keeping certain topics, thoughts, or conversations hidden because there isn’t a “good time” to randomly bring it up with your partner.
As part of relationship-level integration, it is helpful to set up some “clearing” talks.
This is when both partners come together to create an intentional space to clear the air. It raises important topics that don’t have the opportunity to surface in the scope of a busy day, or randomly on the weekends.
These clearing times can be used to surface feedback, gratitude, and ideas, or to look at important topics like finances, future planning, and social events.
Clearing times are wonderful integration resources, as you can articulate how you’re feeling in a context where you know your partner is present, receptive, and ready for dialogue. It brings an approachable and safe level of significance to whatever you discuss.
6. Get back to the basics
The integration period is often where the rubber meets the road, and ideas become actions.
Part of inviting in the wisdom from psychedelic sessions is to go back to the basics. This is no less relevant for relationships and working with your partner.
Take some time to come back to, establish, or re-assess the basics for you:
- How are your financial situation and savings plans?
- Do you have shared goals you are working towards?
- Do you have routines to keep you grounded, playful, and curious?
Relationships can be powerful for integration because you don’t have to do all of this alone. You can build your dreams together, and help each other become the best versions of themselves.
Come back to the basics, and build your future off of a sturdy foundation moving forward.
Important considerations for relationship-focused integration
While working within your relationship to help process and integrate psychedelic experiences is a powerful amplifier, it doesn’t come without its own risks and key considerations to make.
As you enter into a vulnerable, open, and highly sensitive space with another person, it’s important to keep a few key things in mind:
Have a safe word or phrase
If you or your partner become overwhelmed or upset, a safe word that you can call on to stop the conversation or slow down is valuable.
This is support, not therapy
This is to provide support and love, not as a replacement for proper therapy. If therapeutic intervention is required, seek the support of a trained professional.
Take full responsibility
You are responsible for your emotions, for your actions, for the words you say.
Discussing sensitive material from someone’s experiences can be both healing, and introduce vulnerability. Emotions can run high, and identities challenged.
Take responsibility if you enter into these dynamics and be thoughtful, kind, and loving with your thoughts, statements, and actions.
Be seriously playful
“Serious play” is a nice framing on how to do this effectively.
You want the work to be playful. If everything is serious, anger-inducing, and stuffy all the time in conversation, it’s likely to be counterproductive.
However, it’s equally unproductive when you or your partner feel like the other isn’t taking a conversation seriously enough.
You want serious play. Aim for an air of lightness while showing up in full presence for these conversations and integration activities.
Relationships are cornerstones of life, and are often central pillars that support the rest of our lives. It is no different when approaching psychedelic integration.
There are many powerful opportunities that relationships present, from ongoing accountability and support, to novel relating games designed to bring out the deep truths, love, and wisdom inside of you.
These don’t go without careful consideration – with great power comes great responsibility. Diving into open and vulnerable spaces together comes with real psychological risk, but also with great healing and transformational potential.
Be kind to yourself, and your partner. Stay safe. Keep your heart and mind open. This will help you get the most out of relationship-based integration!
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This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call, text, or chat the National Suicide Prevention Line at 988 or +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.
Important FDA Safety Information
Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.
Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).
Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:
- Allergic to ketamine
- Symptoms of psychosis or mania
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- CHF or other serious heart problem
- Severe breathing problem
- History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
- History of hyperthyroidism
- Other serious medical illness
- Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant
Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.
While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.
- In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
- Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
- Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
- The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.
To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:
- Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
- Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
- Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
- Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
- Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
- Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety