Psychedelic Retreats

Planning for a Psychedelic Retreat

2024 is poised to be the year of psychedelic retreats with wellness and wonder merging into a safe space for women to find themselves again. Finding the right psychedelic retreat takes planning and preparation to ensure you are taking your psychedelic journey safely.

Min read
Lydia Mcclendon
December 4, 2023

Embarking on a journey into the world of psychedelic retreats opens doors to profound self-discovery and personal growth. These plant medicine retreats aren't just about recreational trips; they're purposefully designed sanctuaries where individuals delve deep into their psyche for healing, insight, and transformation. Picture it as a guided, introspective voyage facilitated by the profound effects of psychedelics, guided by professional healers within a safe and supportive environment.

The primary goal of a psychedelic retreat is to create a conducive space for participants to explore their own inner landscapes safely and in community. It's not solely about the experience during the trip itself, but also about preparation before and integration after. A psychedelic experience encompasses 3 parts: preparation, journey, integration. Integration involves reflecting on and incorporating the insights and lessons gained during the psychedelic retreat experience into one's daily life. A high-quality psychedelic retreat will include preparation and integration in the weeks before and after your journey.  

What Happens at a Psychedelic Retreat?


In the weeks leading up to a psychedelic retreat you may have some prep to take care of outside of packing a bag and hopping on a flight. Some programs will have you preparing online as well in the weeks beforehand. This can look like videos you may need to watch in preparation for the retreat. Reading materials or journaling can also be a way to prepare in the weeks before catching a flight. No matter what the preparation looks like, it’s important to manage your expectations, prepare your mindset, and do as much research during your prep as possible. 

Retreat tip: don’t watch scary movies in the weeks leading up to a journey, avoid alcohol and other substances. 

Psychedelic Ceremony

Most commonly on psychedelic retreats, you’ll find 2 ceremonies and a wealth of information about both. The goal of retreats is to have you feeling safe, welcome, and more wholly yourself. This starts from the moment you book your retreat and continues until you leave. During a psychedelic ceremony, this can look like comfortable bedding, eye masks, and comfortable clothing to keep your focus on your healing as opposed to the world around you. This also includes skilled facilitators in things like breath work, body movement, and experiences like sound baths, guided meditations, immersive music, and more. 

Group and Individual Therapy

At these retreats, participants engage in additional activities to support healing and integration, including sharing circles, group discussions and individual therapy sessions. These practices aim to foster introspection, emotional release, and a deeper understanding of oneself. They often promote a sense of interconnectedness and compassion, offering an opportunity for healing from past traumas or facing unresolved issues.

Group discussions, sharing circles, or one-on-one sessions with facilitators offer opportunities for reflection, support, and guidance. Integration workshops post-psychedelic experience assist in making sense of insights gained during the journey and applying them to daily life.

Complementary Healing Modalities 

Apart from the psychedelic ceremony, psychedelic retreats often incorporate activities that complement the experience, such as meditation, breathwork, sound baths, and yoga. 

Yoga and meditation, for instance, help in grounding, promoting relaxation, and opening the mind to introspection. Breathwork sessions can induce altered states of consciousness and aid in emotional release.

Movement therapy, art therapy, and sound healing are also common elements that aid in processing emotions and accessing deeper parts of the psyche.

Time in Nature 

Nature plays a significant role in many retreats. Activities like forest bathing, guided nature walks, or simply spending time outdoors amidst natural beauty can enhance the healing process. 

Nature has profound healing effects and is a simple but powerful tool for psychedelic integration. Creating the space to reflect, get grounded, and heal. 

Where are Psychedelic Retreats Held?

The retreat environment itself is designed to be conducive to inner work. Serene settings, comfortable accommodations, and nurturing environments contribute to a sense of safety and relaxation, allowing participants to delve into their inner worlds with greater ease. Across the US as well as outside of it, 

Psychedelic retreats offer a holistic approach to self-discovery and personal growth, integrating various practices that complement the psychedelic experience. It's this combination of introspective tools and supportive environments that often leads to profound transformation and healing for participants.

What Do You Experience at a Psychedelic Retreat?

Psychedelic retreats can work wonders because of their holistic approach to personal growth and healing. Beyond the psychedelic experience itself, these retreats offer supportive practices and activities that foster deep introspection and transformation.

Various types of retreats cater to diverse needs. Some focus on therapeutic healing, providing a safe space for individuals to address trauma or mental health challenges. Spiritual retreats delve into consciousness exploration and connecting with higher states of being. There are also wellness-focused retreats that integrate psychedelics with yoga, meditation, and other holistic practices for overall well-being.

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Set, Setting, and Safety at a Psychedelic Retreat 

When considering a retreat, assess the retreat center's credibility by examining its reputation, reviews, safety protocols, and the qualifications of the facilitators. Legitimate retreats prioritize safety, provide pre-screening assessments, and have robust medical support for emergencies.

Beyond legality and credibility, understanding the set and setting of a retreat is crucial. The setting, encompassing the physical environment and ambiance, significantly influences the psychedelic experience. A serene, natural setting often contributes to a more profound and positive journey.

As for the mindset ('set'), your mental state and intentions play a vital role. Being emotionally and mentally prepared, having clear intentions for the experience, and approaching it with an open mind contribute to a more meaningful and transformative journey.

Psychedelic retreats offer a unique opportunity for personal growth and healing, but they're not without their considerations. Approach them thoughtfully, ensuring legality, credibility, and personal readiness. The experiences within these retreats have the potential to be life-altering, offering insights that resonate long after the journey ends.

What is Integration after a Psychedelic Retreat?

What you learn during a retreat can be incredibly impactful, but the real work begins after you leave. Supporting these insights involves maintaining practices that nurture your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Regular meditation, coaching, journaling, therapy, or mindfulness exercises aid in integrating the lessons from the retreat into your daily routine.

Planning for a psychedelic retreat requires careful consideration and preparation. Researching the retreat's organizers and facilitators is crucial. Legitimate retreats are conducted by professionals who prioritize safety, have experience in guiding psychedelic experiences, and often have backgrounds in psychology or therapy.

How to Find Legal Psychedelic Retreats 

Apart from Google and old-fashioned word of mouth, there are endlessly emerging ways to find safe and legal psychedelic retreats in and around the United States. If you’ve entered the world of psychedelics on social media, your inbox may already be overflowing with offers from “insta-shaman” ready to send you to ‘the best psychedelic plug’ on telegram. If their message starts with a telegram link, or any part of the phrase “the best plug…” you may want to do deeper research on what they’re peddling. 

First off, legality matters big time. Checking state laws regarding psychedelic substances is crucial. Some states have decriminalized or allowed therapeutic use, which opens doors to legal retreats.

Next up, vetting retreat centers is a priority. Look for organizations or retreats that prioritize safety, qualified facilitators, and have a transparent approach. 

Seek reviews and recommendations from reliable sources, communities, or directories that specifically focus on safe and legal psychedelic experiences.

Consider the type of retreat that suits your needs. Some focus on healing, therapy, or spiritual exploration. Ensure the program aligns with your intentions and comfort level. Organizations like MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) often have resources or links to legal and research-based retreats.

Networking can be a gem. Engage with online communities, forums, or events related to psychedelics. Connecting with others who have been on similar journeys might offer valuable insights or leads to legitimate retreats.

Lastly, prioritize safety protocols, including medical screenings, integration support, and clear guidelines on substance use. Your well-being should always be at the forefront of any retreat experience.

Other Types of Psychedelic Retreats 

While magic mushrooms hold a prominent place in psychedelic retreats, various other psychedelics and entheogens are also embraced within these transformative experiences:

  • Ayahuasca Retreats: Ayahuasca, a potent plant brew used traditionally in South American spiritual practices, has gained immense popularity in retreat settings. These ceremonies often involve deep introspection, emotional release, and spiritual exploration under the guidance of experienced shamans.
  • Iboga Retreats: Iboga, derived from an African plant by the same name, is known for its intense and long-lasting psychedelic effects. Iboga retreats focus on addiction treatment, spiritual awakening, and emotional healing, guided by trained facilitators in a supportive environment.
  • DMT Experiences: Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a powerful psychedelic compound found in various plants and is known for inducing intense, short-lived experiences. Retreats centered around DMT often aim for spiritual exploration and profound insights into consciousness.
  • LSD-Assisted Retreats: Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) retreats provide a structured setting for individuals to explore consciousness, creativity, and emotional healing under the guidance of facilitators.

Each type of psychedelic retreat offers its own unique journey, attracting individuals seeking different facets of self-exploration, healing, and personal growth.

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Retreat's Guide for Finding a (safe) Psychedelic Retreat

Here are our guidelines for vetting a psychedelic retreat center.

1. Find a trusted referral

It’s always recommended to find a psychedelic retreat through a trusted source.  Find a referral, or ask to speak to previous attendees.

2. Ensure the retreat takes place in a legal country. 

Legality not only prevents you from legal fines but ensures practices and policies will be above board.

3. Confirm there are licensed medical professionals on-site. 

While psilocybin mushrooms are non-toxic, non-lethal, and generally physically safe, the presence of Western-trained clinical staff provides an added layer of safety and peace of mind.

4. Ask about the intake & clinical screening process.

A reputable retreat center will have a thorough intake process, screened by a clinical team, to ensure participants are healthy and able to participate.

Individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar 2, history of seizures, and certain other mental health conditions should not participate in psilocybin ceremonies, and a reputable retreat center will screen those customers out.

5. Understand their processes for preparation and integration.

Every journey (micro or macro) comprises 3 parts: preparation (before), journey (during), and integration (after). 

Preparation will include things like meeting with a coach or therapist, where you can discuss what may occur during your journey, and ask any questions you may have. 

You’ll want to develop a relationship with the facilitator, get your questions answered, review codes of conduct, and more to feel comfortable.

Integration is the process of incorporating the lessons from your journey into your life. How do you evolve into who you want to become? How do you want to feel? How do you want to show up in the world?

Retreat centers should offer integration services, as either a part of the program or as an add-on. This may be 1:1 meetings with the facilitator, or group coaching and integration circles over video chat. The ability to share, reflect, and embody your experience with guidance will allow you to drive change. 

6. Review their code of ethics.

Being in an altered state of consciousness puts you in a different type of vulnerability. Thus, it’s important to inquire about ethics, codes of conduct, and training for facilitators. 

7. Ask about the size of the group & group policies.

Healing in group ceremonies can be profound—we are social creatures, and there is beauty and power in communal healing. That said, for those who have experienced sexual trauma, you might feel safer in smaller groups, or a group of the same gender. 

Additionally, some people get noisy when they journey, which can be distracting. (Or, hey, you could be the person that ends up being noisy!) It’s worth inquiring about the policies for people experiencing noisy or difficult journeys.

8. Trust your instinct.

Ultimately, you know what’s best for you. Create the space, calm, and logic to make the right decision for you. Don’t rush into anything. 

The Importance of Legal Psychedelic Retreats 

Verifying the legality of a retreat is vital, considering the varying laws around psychedelics. As of my last update, psychedelic substances like psilocybin and ayahuasca are illegal in most places, except in specific contexts like religious ceremonies. Several countries, including some states in the United States, have decriminalized or legalized psychedelics, allowing for guided retreats under certain regulations.

For instance, cities like Denver, Oakland, and Santa Cruz in the United States have decriminalized psilocybin, while Oregon has passed a measure allowing therapeutic use of psilocybin. Additionally, some states are exploring legislation to legalize or decriminalize psychedelics for therapeutic purposes. However, the legal landscape is continually evolving, so staying updated on the latest laws and regulations is crucial.

In the United States, the legality of psychedelic retreats has been a rollercoaster ride. Historically, psychedelics were criminalized in the late '60s and early '70s due to their association with counterculture movements. This led to strict laws prohibiting their use, which extended to retreats offering psychedelic experiences.

But the winds of change are blowing. There's a Psychedelic Renaissance underway. The growing body of research showcasing the therapeutic potential of psychedelics, especially in treating mental health issues, has been a game-changer. 

Enter decriminalization and legalization movements. Several cities in the U.S., like Denver and Oakland, have decriminalized psychedelics, shifting law enforcement priorities away from penalizing personal use. Some states are exploring or have already passed legislation for medical or therapeutic use, opening doors for legal psychedelic retreats under controlled settings.

Internationally, places like the Netherlands and Jamaica offer legal use of psychedelics (truffles in the Netherlands), enabling for legal retreats. Countries like Costa Rica and Peru have traditions with psychedelics like ayahuasca deeply ingrained in their cultures, making it legal within certain contexts or ceremonies.

This shift in attitudes and evolving legislation is paving the way for a burgeoning psychedelic retreat market. Legalization and decriminalization create opportunities for regulated and safe retreats, attracting individuals seeking therapeutic, spiritual, or personal growth experiences in a controlled and supportive environment.

As the stigma around psychedelics diminishes and scientific evidence continues to highlight their potential, more regions are likely to follow suit. It's an exciting time, envisioning a future where psychedelic retreats become more accessible, regulated, and integrated into mainstream therapeutic practices, offering transformative experiences legally and safely.

Preparing for a Psychedelic Retreat as a Woman 

Planning for a psychedelic retreat as a woman involves a unique set of considerations beyond the usual trip planning, no pun intended. It’s all about ensuring a safe, transformative, and empowering experience.

When selecting a retreat, prioritize centers that explicitly cater to women’s needs and safety. Look for female-led or inclusive spaces that foster a safe and held environment. Research the retreat’s safety protocols, accommodation arrangements, and whether they provide female-specific support or guidance.

Preparing beforehand can make all the difference. Dive into wellness techniques that resonate with you—yoga, meditation, journaling—anything that aids in grounding and introspection. Building a solid mental and emotional foundation is sometimes more important than the plant medicine itself. Explore your intentions for the retreat, whether it’s healing from past trauma, seeking personal growth, or spiritual exploration. Understanding your why will guide your journey.

Here’s 5 considerations and priorities you can set before you head to your retreat: 

  1. Consider your support network. Inform a trusted friend or family member about your plans. Having someone aware of your whereabouts and supporting your decision can provide an added layer of security.
  1. Prioritize physical health by avoiding substances that might interact negatively with psychedelics. Additionally, some retreats might recommend a pre-retreat diet to prepare your body for the experience—research and adhere to these guidelines.
  2. Creating a safe and comfortable setting during the retreat is crucial. Pack mindfully—bring comfortable clothing, personal items that offer familiarity or comfort, and anything that aids relaxation or introspection, like a favorite book or journal.
  3. During the retreat, prioritize self-care. Connect with other women in the group if you feel comfortable; sharing experiences can be incredibly supportive. Trust your instincts and set boundaries—your comfort zone is your sanctuary. If anything feels off or uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to communicate it to facilitators or guides.
  4. Integration is where the magic happens post-retreat. Allocate time for reflection, journaling, or speaking with a therapist or counselor. Integration allows you to process the experience and implement insights gained from the journey into your daily life.

As for why women seek psychedelic retreats, it’s as diverse as women themselves. Some might seek healing from trauma or mental health issues, others are drawn to explore their spirituality or consciousness. Many women find these experiences empowering, allowing them to reclaim their narratives and connect with their inner strength. Whether it’s the mom across the street or the CEO in the boardroom, the benefits of psychedelics and the blooming retreat industry are meant for everyone. 

There’s a certain community among women in these spaces—a shared understanding and support that can be comforting. It’s a chance to explore all of the sides of oneself in a safe and nurturing environment, with the goal of (and often leading to) self-discovery and personal growth.

So, to sum it up: Prioritize safety, prepare mentally and physically, seek supportive environments, and trust in your journey. It’s about creating a space for personal transformation while embracing the unique experience of being a woman on this psychedelic path.

Experience the healing power of psilocybin ceremony.

Join the wait list for our luxury psychedelic retreats.

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About the Author

Lydia Mcclendon

Lydia Mcclendon is a freelance writer and editor within the world of psychedelics, plant medicine, parenthood and the intersection of working in marketing for a taboo industry. She has written for a wide variety of publications, worked within editorial coordination, and loves the creativity and chaos that creative content brings.

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