Talk with Vancouver psychedelic integration therapist Wallace Murray and you are instantly struck by a professional who practices what he preaches. Read on and learn about his approach as a psychedelic integration therapist.
What got you interested in providing psychedelic integration to your patients?
What got me most interested in providing psychedelic integration was that I experienced first-hand the difference between getting psychedelic integration and not getting psychedelic integration.
Quite simply, if you do not prepare for anything, then anything is possible. In the case of psychedelics (and I will use psychedelics to mean both “psychedelics” and “plant medicine” interchangeably) this means whatever you get from the experience is what you will get. Now luckily most psychedelics will give an opening or path into our healing possibilities. Now, I say “will give an opening’ because we have to step into and walk a path. However, if we do not know which path to take, or how to choose between the paths, we either do nothing, resist, or take the path we think we should take. As well, we may not take any path and veer off into a path we created to escape from what was being presented to us. In other words, the whole experience will likely be by default and not by design on our side.
However, with integration, you are also involved in the design of the experience along with the spirit of the psychedelic medicine. And this is important because working with these medicines happens before you take them. So, getting clear on your intention for your psychedelic ceremony, your relationship with the medicine, then you will have tremendous potential to get the healing you need no matter what paths are presented to you. It is understood by all that help with integration work, that the medicine will form a relationship with you and will guide you to dis-cover what is deep inside you.
This is psychedelic integration and is what can create such profound therapeutic shifts afterwards.
What also was ingrained into me was that to spend no time integrating outside of your psychedelic journey meant that the gifts that the medicine gives you will not be applied to your life. In other words, psychedelic integration is about respect both for yourself and for the plant that gave you the medicine that awakened your emotional, spiritual, and psyche to new awareness in healing yourself. What you do with this awareness, how you integrate it, and what you choose to do with it determines how you show up in your essence, your true self.
What makes your practice special?
What makes my practice special is how non-special it is, meaning that I am simply doing my best, like all of us, to continue the discourse of psychedelic integration in the best way I know how.
As such, I hope that I am continuing the spirit of this work, that as amazing as it is, it does not mean everyone should be doing it asap. Before any psychedelic work, it is critical to assess and determine if this is the modality or experience meant for you right now. So often we do things because of unmet needs or chasing something. If one is going to do this, then do so for the most healing integration reasons possible.
I have worked with a number of people who came to me because they wanted to prepare for a psychedelic experience, and after a few sessions, decisions changed. For instance, some people postponed psychedelics because our work was going deep into the heart of a few areas similar to plant medicine and they wanted to get clarity. Some people decided to do more preparation for the journey by doing the planning work that I work with clients on. And in fact, some decided that the psychedelic they originally thought they would work with turned out to be another plant entirely.
How do you see psychedelic therapy evolving in the future?
I hope that it never becomes so clinical that the therapy part is put to the side for a when needed basis. As well, I hope we never lose our connection and relationship to the plants that give us their spirit so we can heal.
I hear and have had conversations with others, and I think more and more modalities will complement psychedelic integration, such as yoga, xi-gong, music, art therapies, and others, perhaps to the point that psychedelic therapy is integrated into our daily lives in the most healing ways possible.
What’s the one piece of advice you would offer to patients considering psychedelic integration to help them manage their mental health?
Just do it. The best thing you can do is to get support. I always say that with plant medicine, it is not about winging it and diving in before assessment and planning. It is about going slow to go fast. Remember, it is like in all relationships that heal.
What are the most remarkable changes you have seen in patients who have leveraged psychedelic integration to manage their mental wellness?
I will always remember a consultation I had, when the person I was speaking with told me about her psychedelic experiences and that she would never do a certain psychedelic again because the experience was ‘scary and horrible” while other psychedelics had been blissful and beautiful.
After working together, she began to realize that what was scary and horrible, was instead the source of her healing. The experiences that came up for her, contained all the medicine she needed to step into her healing. Working together, we therapeutically unpacked her session.
The remarkable change was that instead of the experience being seen as something to be avoided, instead it was invited into our work to teach us the source of her vulnerabilities.
If she had not leveraged our psychedelic integration sessions, she would have been left in a sensitive state never having processed the confusing and scary experiences. In other words, the teachings would never have been applied in new ways, giving her power of self and essence that freed her from the “scariness’ that was simply a doorway into the light.
What challenges do you see for further integration of psychedelic based therapies into more mainstream health care?
One challenge I see is time. Psychedelics are entering mainstream health care, what is important is how we manage it while it happens. If managed well, then the challenges will all be dealt with like everything else in life.
The other challenge is what I touched upon, that we forget that these therapies come from communities of nature, with people and with plants who want to help us if we are ready for them. This means we need to be ready and willing to be in relationship with them. So often, the clinical approach deadens or negates this reality, to everyone’s detriment.
I hope that in this time, we can welcome this approach rather than using mainstream health care privilege to fully dictate psychedelics and their use.