How Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Helps People Who Are Haunted By Hard-To-Name Traumas

If change were easy, you would have done it by now.

woman with trendy white hair smiles at the camera EugenioMarongiu / 

Let's start by being honest, both with each other — and with ourselves.

When it comes to areas of our lives we are not fully satisfied with, whether internal or external, my experience has taught me that most of us don’t actually want to change. Because if we really wanted to change, we likely would have done it already.

What we really seek is not so much change, but relief.

Relief from whatever it is that ails us. From these often indescribable thoughts, emotions, or body sensations that we all have yet so desperately wish we did not. 


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I’ve found both in my own personal journey, as well as my work walking alongside other individuals committed to their own healing path, that what we believe to be the cause of our suffering (at least on the surface) is usually a manifestation of something that lies much deeper within us.

Yet what that deeper “thing” is can often feel elusive and sometimes ineffable.

One of the most effective methods I've found of exploring our internal mechanisms is through utilizing the powerful combination of psycho-active plant medicines and fungi within a safe and trusting therapeutic relationship. 


For some people, psychedelic-assisted therapy is a game-changer.

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This idea of exploring all these different parts that exist inside of us reminds of the lyrics from a song called Creature:

There’s a creature in my closet

I can hear him rumbling ‘round


The demons screaming in the distance

Creates such a humbling sound

What I have come to find out about myself is there’s not a monster out there in the world that’s scarier than the one that’s within.

The longer I sit with this idea, the more I believe it is at least partially due to the fact that our normal coping mechanisms, the fight or flight response, are rendered largely useless in these sorts of internal battles. We cannot run away from ourselves, nor have I ever found much benefit in attempting to fight within myself. 

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So, if we agree that the fight-or-flight type responses are not our best or most useful course of action, what options do we have?

I believe there are a few, but please allow me to offer one specific alternative yet rapidly growing therapeutic approach that I have seen actually provide relief for those who truly seek it. I am talking about utilizing the powerful combination of psycho-active plant medicines within the safe container of a trusting and non-judgemental therapeutic relationship.


Some people call it psychedelic-assisted therapy, others psychedelic integration, etc. I am less concerned with the terminology, and much more excited about the results I have experienced first-hand in both my own life and in the lives of the individuals I am honored to support. 

What does therapy with psycho-active plant medicines actually look like?

The path of utilizing psycho-active plant medicines to move towards inner peace and fulfillment will be as unique as the individual taking the steps. However, there are some commonalities I have seen. 

We consider the risks and the rewards.

Unfortunately, in the United States, there are still certain legal considerations an individual needs to weigh prior to choosing this path. There are options outside of the States where a person can engage with these plants and fungi without those same legal concerns.

I will urge you to consider that while following this path may come with some risks, doing nothing or continuing doing same things you are currently doing while expecting different results is not free from consequences, either.


That is an individual decision we each must weigh for ourselves.

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We acknowledge the "shadow parts" of ourselves.

Generally our first task is to become comfortable acknowledging these shadow parts of ourselves. Bringing in the immense yet often understated power of awareness. Then, to do our best to accept at the least, and to befriend at best, these “creatures in our closets”.

Perhaps then on the other side of this challenging endeavor, we may also be able to resonate with the remainder of the lyrics I shared earlier: 

The monster that’s outside my window


He’s like family to me now

The things that people are afraid of

Never let me down

We recognize what serves as a "crutch" in our lives.

However, choosing this path is rarely an easy stroll. I believe James Baldwin said it well when he wrote “There is nothing more desirable than to be released from an affliction, yet nothing more terrifying than to be divested of a crutch.


In this context, I would suggest that the mental construct we have created of ourselves; who we believe we are, what we feel we do or don’t deserve, etc. is our crutch. I wonder, who would you or I be without the mental construct of those adopted labels and roles we choose to play? 

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We release what no longer serves us.

Often this process unfolds through unlearning and removing old layers that no longer serve us. When I am working with my clients I will invoke the powerful image of the mythical Phoenix bird, who rises more beautifully from its own ashes.

I believe Sandra King’s message captures this well: “The tiny seed knew that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in the dirt, covered in darkness, and struggle to reach the light.


What seed exists within you that is just waiting to reach the light so it can bloom? 

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Troy Madsen is a certified Psychedelic Integration Professional who's passionate about supporting individuals along their personal healing journey. Learn more about Troy and his work on his website.