Psychedelic Retreats More in Alignment with Ancestors: Jesse Hanson, PhD, HOLOS

At The Dales Report, we’ve covered a lot of companies who are interested in understanding the molecules of psilocybin and other psychedelics with a bent towards mass distribution and standardized pharmacological treatment. Today, we are looking at a more traditional approach to using psychedelics as medicine. We are interviewing Jesse Hanson, PhD, the Clinical Director of HOLOS, a retreat center based in Costa Rica that offers ceremonial experiences inspired by indigenous practices and assisted by psychedelic medicines.

Here’s some highlights from the interview:

Hanson says psychedelic retreats part of a renaissance as people realize old medicine not effective

Hanson is a PhD registered psychotherapist practicing privately in Toronto. He serves as an advisor to, https://www.5dcapitalcorp.com and is beginning his role as Clinical Director at Holos. He says that in 20 years of work, he’s noticed that in the last few years, people have begun to rediscover some of what was lost in the 60s.

“People are starting to realize that not all of the existing methodologies of healthcare that’s out there right now are really that effective. We continue to have increasingly high levels of addiction and mental health issues despite ‘advancements in psychopharmacology’ etc.,” Hanson says. “There’s some kind of an awareness that people want to really heal maybe from the inside out rather than looking for a quick fix.”

Psychedelic retreats differ from the companies that come before, Hanson explains

He is quick to point out that HOLOS and other psychedelic retreats still are psychedelic companies. But rather than being focused on molecular understandings, psychedelic retreats are also hospitality and wellness companies, which have been and will be even more thriving businesses as the world opens back up after the Pandemic, Hanson says.

He supports the research and clinical work that the other kinds of psychedelic companies do. But part of what makes psychedelic retreats different is that they take the stance that it’s not just the substance that makes the change; other variables are involved including intention, the set and the setting, and other peripheral treatments.

Why the retreat model is an investment hot topic

He says that when people hear of psychedelics, most people think of the Grateful Dead and a bag of mushrooms. “Really that word is about expanding our psyche. Tryptamines are the biochemical agent that actually create psychedelic states of consciousness through substances,” he says. “So in that way it’s not about the psychedelics, it’s not even about the tryptamines, it’s about helping people get into a different state of understanding of who they are. And when we can frame it that way, then we’re not as reliant just on the molecule or just the substance itself to think that that’s the magic fix … we’re more looking at it as ‘wow, this is a chance to really learn how to rewire my brain.’”

Why set and setting is so important

Hanson believes the psychedelic retreats model is more effective than the way most psychedelic assisted psychotherapy is currently working. Part of this is the current protocols. The rest is ambiance. Coming out of something “so deep and so mind opening,” and then sort of being thrown into a city setting or sidewalk or car right away is hard, Hanson says. It’s a very different experience than going somewhere immersive for a week where you learn about the science, yourself, and how to have a great experience working with psychedelics.

Hanson says that investments geared towards molecular extraction are generally for mass distribution in psychopharmacological measures or private company branded products. “All of which I think is great, it’s good to push the edge,” he says. But Hanson says that it’s not the same idea as a psychedelic retreat center and a deeper dive, which is more in alignment with our ancestors and how they used psychedelics as medicine for many thousands of years, before modern psycho-pharmacological measures even existed.

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