There’s no arguing that a week-long vacation and going to the local spa are vastly different experiences. This comparison is the basis of the conversation between Dr. Mike Hart, medical doctor at the Ready To Go Clinic, who is in favour of a “transformative retreat” model for psychedelics therapy, and Ronan Levy, CEO of Field Trip Health Ltd. (CNSX: FTRP; OTCMKTS: FTRPF), who is in favour of a clinical setting in an urban environment.
Inspired by The Dales Report’s interview with Jesse Hanson, PhD, the Clinical Director of HOLOS–a retreat center based in Costa Rica–we discuss the benefits of each approach to psychedelic-assisted therapy, and how integration differs.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
Is It A Matter Of Access?
Dr. Mike Hart believes that both options will attract different types of people.
“Some people want it done by the book,” he says of the clinical model. “They feel comfortable in a medical center, recognizing that there are patients and people dressed ‘professionally’ rather than wearing white pants and braids.”
Alternatively, those drawn to the retreat model feel more comfortable flying to Peru for a week to do ayahuasca in a jungle led by a shaman. “They want to feel connected to nature and don’t feel they need to be in a medical center to get the benefit of the medicine.”
What About Integration?
Levy says that the benefit of sticking close to home is the immediate integration into day-to-day life. “You have continuity of care. I’m not speaking for all retreats, but that might be one of the bigger challenges for retreat models in that it’s more episodic.”
Hart, however, says that experiencing a deep or profound psychedelic experience and then being thrust back into a city or driving a car, could be quite jarring for people — a perspective he shares with Jesse Hanson.
“When you have an experience at a retreat where you have two or three days afterward to integrate, you’re less likely to encounter things that will take you out of that mindset.”
The advantage of an immersive retreat, he explains, is that feelings are able to permeate for longer.
Does Location Really Matter?
Some people just want to feel differently than they do right now, and might not have the time or the resources to get on a plane. Perhaps, the distance isn’t necessary when the real trip happens within. Levy says that when it comes to psychedelic therapy, we need to shift the conversion into one of responsibility, in the truest sense of the word: the ability to respond.
“What we’re really talking about here is the skillset…The purpose of all of this is to give people skills that they’ve lost, like the ability to find serenity and well-being,” he says. “How do you tap back into…a peaceful wavelength [so] you can bring that back and integrate it into how you respond to everyday circumstances?”
Whether you choose a hammock in Jamaica or a clinic in downtown Toronto, both Levy and Hart agree that it’s important to remember that the medicine doesn’t do all the work.
“If you have a bacterial infection, the antibiotic is going to go in and kill the bacteria and clear your infection. That’s not the same with mental health,” says Hart. “We need to focus more on the integration part because there are some people who think they will take five grams of mushrooms and the next day all of their problems will be solved. That’s just not true.”
An interaction with a psychedelic in any type of therapeutic setting is going to evoke some change by having you ask yourself questions, or process and reflect on something you might not otherwise. Without a controlled trial that compares retreats to clinics, there is no evidence that definitively says one is more efficacious than the other. When it’s a matter of choice, the more options the better.