If there’s someone who echoes the sentiments of Socrates “the unexamined life is not worth living” it’s Scott Ross, Psychedelic Integration Therapist in Seattle Washington at Salish Sea Counseling and Co-founder of Telos Transformational Therapeutics. Salish Sea Counseling offers a wide range of therapeutic techniques including but not limited to Transpersonal Psychotherapy, Jungian Psychology, Psychedelic Integration Therapy, and Ketamine-Assisted Therapy to aid in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and trauma. Scott sees that underlying most symptoms a thirst for wholeness, and hopes to facilitate what Abraham Maslow called self-actualization, a fulfilling and meaningful life. Frshminds got an opportunity to ask Scott more about his opinions on psychedelic integration therapy and the future of psychedelic healthcare.
The bad faith players in the pharmaceutical and other big-money institutions will try to patent and package these medicines into small doses taken indefinitely at a premium cost not seen clearly by the consumer because it will be covered by insurance. These entities know exactly what they’re doing in the sense that their intentions are to exploit those who are vulnerable and desperately need effective treatment, the sorts of people who are so at the end of their rope that they are often contemplating violent treatments like ECT in which a doctor induces a “therapeutic” seizure. We already see this exploitation from companies like Johnson & Johnson who charge over $600 a dose for Spravado, which offers no advantage over generic racemic ketamine, which our clinic is able to offer at under $5 a dose. These entities are at odds with the ethical practice of medicine.
But I’m not fully pessimistic about the future of psychedelic medicine. I think these malignant organizations will burn themselves out because they have no damn clue what psychedelic medicines are truly about. Psychedelic medicines are about dissolving oppressive structures on all levels, from the intrapsychic to the familial to society at large. We saw this in the 60s with the civil rights movement, the women’s liberation movement, and the anti-war movement protesting the Vietnam War. It’s no coincidence that these movements came at a time when barbiturates were giving way to LSD, cannabis, and other psychedelics like mescaline. One form of medicine lends itself to a society staffed by the functioning unwell, while the lends itself to both individual and societal transformation. Maybe you’re not happy at your job because it is dehumanizing, not because there’s something wrong with you.
But one of the things I think went wrong in the 60s was that our society was still pretty immature overall in its engagement with substances. We are an indulgent and cavalier society when it comes to these things, and lack the ceremonial structures and eldership to contain these transformative experiences. Dosing the world with LSD won’t bring ultimate harmony, it will just freak people out for a while before they go back to life as they knew it. What we see in more mature cultures is the role of genuine elders who provide grounded, wise, compassionate guidance so that those who undergo transformative journeys can effectively reintegrate within the culture. Not only reintegrate, but become transformative figures within their culture. I’m obviously biased, but I think the discipline of psychotherapy lends itself particularly well to building this culture of eldership into our society. Psychotherapists undergo years of education, and post-education have extensive professional mentorship and consultation built into the profession. I foresee ways of expanding this beyond the domain of psychotherapy (i.e. nurse practitioners, clergy, bodyworkers, chemical dependency counseling), but in each of these cases, there are built-in structures to help the practitioner to mature in their craft. If psychedelic medicines are integrated through these avenues I think the outlook is pretty good.
Psychedelic medicines aren’t just about waking up, and they’re not just about seeing beauty. They’re also about facing our demons, journeying to hell, and facing the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to see with excruciating and prolonged clarity. To use Ken Wilbur’s framework- psychedelics are also about showing up, growing up, and cleaning up. Don’t be afraid to face your shadow, don’t be afraid to sit with your fear and discomfort. These practices take courage and are profoundly rewarding to go through. Psychedelics are indescribably well suited for healing but go in with a degree of sobriety and reverence every time, even with cannabis.