Shroom News & Culture

WTF Is a Trip Sitter (& Why Do I Need One)

Trip sitting is an important role within the psychedelic community. We explore how trip sitting impacts your psychedelic journey, why you may want to consider a trip sitter, and how curious psychonauts can become trip sitters themselves.

Min read
Lydia Mcclendon
October 30, 2023

Trip Sitting isn’t new. In fact, people have been using psychedelics in traditional group settings for thousands of years. What has become new is the desire for deeper work within psychedelic assisted settings. Whether that is through therapeutic and clinical settings, or in the comfort of your own home, having a dedicated person who can help guide you through your journey can be transformational. 

For first time users, psychedelics can open a whole new world of possibilities, as well as fears and challenges. Although there is the “bad trip” trope, the fact is most journeys have highs and lows—you are opening up your subconscious and looking into your psyche. We all have dark and light inside of us—so journeys will naturally have dark points and bright points.

For a psychedelic newcomer, it is recommended to have a more experienced psychonaut with you when trying psychedelics for fun or transformation. Having a knowledgeable and experienced guide will help you feel safe and supported, as well as  help you explore the areas of your mind,both mentally and spiritually. As humans are community-driven, journeys alone can be challenging. Although trip sitters do not generally partake with you, having a trip sitter who has been through their own challenging trips can make a world of difference. Whether that is through higher dose psychedelics or first time challenges, knowledge and support is power in the psychedelic experience. 

How to Prepare for a Trip

With all trips, there is a process that involves: planning, finding a trip sitter, guide or therapist, and set and setting. Giving yourself the time to prepare your space so that you are both in control, and able to fully immerse in your experience

At Retreat, we always recommend having a guide, sitter, or trained professional to accompany you and keep you safe both physically and mentallymetally. Psychedelics are a way to open up your mind and find new modes of thinking, and having someone experiencedexpereinced beside you can help you navigate new and uncertain areas you are exploring. 

It’s important to note that psychedelics are not a cure all. Psychedelics should be utilized in parallel with other healing tools, including but not limited to meditation, journaling, time in nature, community, and mental health support. If you are dealing with more severe challenges, such as severe trauma, mental health diagnoses, or psychotropic medications, please speak with your doctor or therapist before utilizing psychedelics to determine if it is the right course of action.

For those with previous mental health concerns, we strongly recommend you speak to your doctor and therapist in advance, and seek out a licensed psychedelic assisted therapist. For those with Bipolar 2, seizures, or schizophrenia, psychedelics are strongly, strongly discouraged as there is a high risk of personal harm.

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When Should I Use a Psychedelic Trip Sitter?

Using an experienced trip sitter means that you should be able to trust that what you are asking for is what you are receiving. From your boundaries to your preferred dosage or psychedelic, your consent and respect are paramount to a positive experience. No matter where or when, you should inform a third party of your intentions, who your sitter is, and the expectations you have laid out so that you and your sitter are protected and ready to embark on an amazing experience. As with many natural medicines, the consideration for their long history and cultural significance is important. When possible, and able, you should always do your due diligence into what you are consuming, and where it comes from. When consulting deeper traditional medicines, looking for leaders within that culture or certified programs can also be beneficial to protecting traditional medicines and honoring their continued gift to cultures all over. 

What Should I Look for in a Trip Sitter?

A psychedelic trip sitter should provide you with a safe and open space to journey with your chosen psychedelic medicine. Whether you are a first-time user or taking a high dose, having an experienced person by your side is important for facilitating a positive experience. 

Trip sitters should support all of you, both physically and mentally. They should provide you with a safe space to feel and exist through your entire psychedelic journey. For some, this looks like a comfortable, quiet space, for others this can be activities and actions. Your trip sitter should be a comforting presence to you on your trip. You should feel that you can trust them with your experience and your well-being. An experienced trip sitter should have experience with challenging situations and should be able to meet them with a calm presence. Trip sitters can come in all shapes and sizes, ages, and abilities. The important factor to consider is their ability to handle your physical well-being as well. Psychedelics have been known to affect different people in different ways and both you and your sitter should be prepared for that. Overall, your sitter should be a person you are able to implicitly feel safe and calm with, so you can fully immerse yourself in your trip and trust that you are safe and seen. 

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How to Become a Psychedelic Trip Sitter 

Taking into consideration both your own personal interests in psychedelics as well as your experiences, trip sitting has a variety of paths to get started. Through programs like Mindbloom, and even the aptly named Psychedelic Sitter School, individuals can find a community of supportive educators and psychonauts helping them begin their journey to psychedelic guide. While each program may bring something different to the table it is important to note that education and training should be top of mind when considering becoming a professional psychedelic educator. 

Trip sitters should have both educational and informational knowledge of different entheogenic substances and their effects on individuals, dosages, and different methods of safe consumption. A trained and certified trip sitter will also have working knowledge of current harm reduction practices and know what to do, and when to do it, to keep you safe. 

A trip sitter who is able to speak to you both when sober and when experiencing psychedelics is incredibly important. Having someone who can communicate effectively with you, and that you feel comfortable communicating with can be the difference between a comforting experience and a ‘bad trip’. You should consider getting to know your trip sitter outside of the confines of a psychedelic trip. Having trust from both sides can make a world of difference for any budding psychedelic user.

What is the Difference Between a Psychedelic Coach and a Trip Sitter?

While both roles provide incredibly important services to the psychedelic community, Psychedelic Coaches and Trip Sitters differ in a few ways. Both coaches and sitters should be certified, educated, and someone you can trust. When deciding which may be best for you, you should consider your objectives and goals, whether you plan to use a long-term protocol and need support or you want to explore a deeper experience and higher dosages. 

Your trip sitter should be present and ready to react during your trip. A trip sitter will help you through your psychedelic journey and find tools for decoding what you are experiencing so you can integrate that into your daily life. 

The role is in the name, with Trip Sitters generally working within the trip itself and not in the integration around it. While some sitters may have a coaching background, their role as trip sitters is to guide you through your trip as you are in it. 

Where trip sitters work with you on your trip, coaches work outside of the experience. Psychedelic coaches help with the pre and post-trip integration giving you the tools to take what you’ve learned and implement it into your life. Coaches and sitters work in a sort of symbiosis, with one supporting the other in helping psychedelic users use their experiences to better themselves. Here at Retreat, we offer coaching services, courses, and creative content to support your microdosing journey and resources to help you find the right fit for you. 

The Future of Psychedelic Trip Sitting 

Psychedelics aren't going anywhere, any time soon. With 2023 being the biggest year for psychedelic legalization, we’re sure to continue to see a surge in the need for and desire to be a psychedelic trip sitter. 

As we continue to see psychedelics used in therapeutic settings, training and qualifications for Trip Sitting may also increase in the coming years. If you’ve considered becoming a sitter now is the right time. Whether you are intuitive, interested in the new frontier of psychedelics, or hopeful for the future of clinical psychedelic therapy, trip sitting is a worthy role that serves an amazing purpose for unlocking the lessons from our psychedelic journies. 

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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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