Health and Psychedelics: Essential Screenings and Contraindications Before Your Session

Health and Psychedelics: Essential Screenings and Contraindications Before Your Session

Before embarking on a psychedelic therapy session, it is crucial to undergo proper pre-screening for medical conditions and understand the safety measures involved. This article explores essential screenings and contraindications to consider for a safe and effective psychedelic experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Always consult with a healthcare provider before engaging in psychedelic therapy sessions.
  • Thoroughly assess cardiovascular health to ensure safety during psychedelic sessions.
  • Consider mental health history and substance use history to gauge potential risks and benefits of psychedelic therapy.
  • Ensure therapists are qualified and experienced in psychedelic therapy for a safe and effective session.
  • Prepare the setting and provide integration support to enhance the therapeutic benefits of psychedelic therapy.

Pre-Screening for Medical Conditions

Cardiovascular Health

Before participating in a psychedelic session, it is crucial to assess cardiovascular health. Individuals with pre-existing heart conditions may be at increased risk during a psychedelic experience due to potential changes in blood pressure and heart rate.

  • A thorough medical examination should be conducted, including:
    • Blood pressure measurement
    • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
    • Echocardiogram, if indicated

It is essential to discuss any history of heart disease, hypertension, or arrhythmias with a healthcare provider before considering psychedelics.

Those with cardiovascular concerns should consult with a cardiologist to determine the safety of engaging in psychedelic therapy. Risk factors such as age, family history, and lifestyle should also be taken into account to ensure a safe and beneficial experience.

Mental Health History

Understanding an individual’s mental health history is crucial before engaging in any psychedelic therapy session. A thorough evaluation of past and present mental health conditions can inform the safety and appropriateness of psychedelic use.

  • Personal history of mental health disorders
  • Family history of mental health conditions
  • Previous treatments and medications
  • Current mental health status and medications

It is essential to consider the potential for psychedelics to interact with existing mental health conditions or medications. This interaction can either potentiate therapeutic outcomes or exacerbate underlying issues.

Clinicians should pay special attention to any history of psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, or severe depression, as these may increase the risk of adverse reactions during a psychedelic experience. A collaborative approach between the individual and healthcare providers is necessary to ensure a safe and supportive environment.

Substance Use History

Understanding an individual’s history with substances is crucial before engaging in any psychedelic therapy session. Substance use can significantly alter the effects of psychedelics, potentially leading to adverse reactions or diminishing the therapeutic benefits.

  • Alcohol: Can dull the effects of psychedelics and increase nausea.
  • Prescription Medications: Some may interact negatively with psychedelics.
  • Recreational Drugs: Prior use can influence tolerance and sensitivity.

It is essential to disclose all recent substance use to the therapist to ensure a safe and effective session. This includes over-the-counter medications, as even these can have unexpected interactions with psychedelic substances.

A thorough review of substance use history helps in creating a tailored approach to psychedelic therapy, taking into account potential drug interactions and personal tolerance levels. This step is not to judge but to safeguard the health and well-being of the participant.

Psychedelic Therapy Safety Measures

Therapist Qualifications

Ensuring that the therapist conducting a psychedelic therapy session is properly qualified is crucial for the safety and efficacy of the treatment. Therapists should have a combination of formal education, specialized training in psychedelic therapy, and a valid license to practice.

  • Formal Education: A degree in psychology, psychiatry, or a related field.
  • Specialized Training: Completion of a certified program in psychedelic-assisted therapy.
  • Licensing: A current and valid professional license.

It is important for therapists to also have a deep understanding of the specific psychedelic substances being used and their potential effects on mental health.

Therapists must adhere to ethical guidelines and have experience in handling the unique challenges that may arise during a psychedelic session. The presence of a qualified therapist is not only a legal requirement but also a pillar of trust for participants, ensuring that they are in capable hands throughout their journey.

Setting Preparation

Preparing the setting for a psychedelic session is crucial to ensure a safe and therapeutic experience. The environment should be comfortable, quiet, and free from interruptions. This helps in creating a space where individuals can fully engage with the experience without external stressors.

  • Ensure the room is at a comfortable temperature
  • Provide soft lighting and minimal sensory distractions
  • Have necessary supplies at hand, such as water, tissues, and a comfortable place to rest

The setting is not just a physical space but also includes the emotional atmosphere provided by the therapist. It should be one of trust, openness, and support.

A well-prepared setting can significantly influence the outcome of the session, making it imperative to give attention to detail and anticipate the needs of the individual undergoing the therapy.

Integration Support

Following a psychedelic session, integration support is crucial for processing and understanding the experiences encountered. This phase helps individuals make sense of their journey and apply insights to their daily lives.

  • Reflect on the experience with a therapist or support group
  • Journaling to capture thoughts and emotions
  • Engaging in creative activities like art or music to express and explore the session’s impact

Integration is not a one-size-fits-all process; it should be tailored to each individual’s needs and experiences.

Without proper integration, the benefits of psychedelic therapy may be short-lived or cause confusion. It’s important to establish a plan for integration even before the session begins, ensuring a smooth transition back into everyday life.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies

Risk of Psychosis

Individuals with a personal or family history of psychotic disorders should approach psychedelic therapy with caution. The use of psychedelics can exacerbate symptoms in those predisposed to conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder with psychotic features.

  • Pre-screening for psychotic disorders is crucial.
  • Ongoing mental health support should be available.
  • Immediate intervention protocols must be established.

Careful assessment of the risk factors and close monitoring during and after the session can help mitigate potential adverse effects.

Psychedelics can act as powerful catalysts for psychological change, but they can also trigger the onset of psychotic episodes in vulnerable individuals. It is essential to balance the potential therapeutic benefits with the risks involved.

Suicidal Ideation

Assessing for suicidal ideation is a critical component of the pre-screening process for psychedelic therapy. Individuals with active suicidal thoughts or a history of suicide attempts may be at increased risk during a psychedelic session. Careful evaluation by a mental health professional is necessary to determine suitability for participation.

  • Prioritize safety: Ensure immediate risks are addressed before considering psychedelic therapy.
  • Seek professional evaluation: A thorough mental health assessment is essential.
  • Monitor closely: Participants with a history of suicidal ideation require vigilant monitoring before, during, and after the session.

It is imperative to have a robust support system in place for individuals with a history of suicidal ideation. This includes access to crisis intervention services and ongoing mental health care.

Trauma History

Understanding a patient’s trauma history is crucial before engaging in psychedelic therapy. A thorough evaluation of past traumatic events is essential to tailor the session to the individual’s needs and to prevent re-traumatization.

  • Assess the type and severity of trauma
  • Determine the presence of PTSD or other trauma-related disorders
  • Evaluate coping mechanisms and resilience factors

Careful consideration of a patient’s trauma history can inform the therapeutic approach, ensuring a supportive and healing environment is created.

Professionals should be trained in trauma-informed care and have strategies in place to handle potential triggers that may arise during the session. The goal is to foster a sense of safety and trust, allowing for a therapeutic experience that acknowledges and respects the individual’s past challenges.


In conclusion, it is essential to prioritize your health and safety when considering psychedelic sessions. Before embarking on such a journey, ensure you undergo thorough screenings and assessments to determine any contraindications. Consulting with healthcare professionals and experienced guides can provide valuable insights and guidance. Remember, your well-being is paramount, and taking the necessary precautions can lead to a more positive and transformative experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What medical conditions may impact the use of psychedelics?

Medical conditions such as heart problems, mental health disorders, and substance abuse history should be carefully considered before a psychedelic session.

How can I ensure the safety of psychedelic therapy sessions?

Ensuring that the therapist is qualified, preparing the setting for a comfortable experience, and providing integration support post-session are key safety measures.

What are the risks of experiencing psychosis during a psychedelic session?

While rare, individuals with a predisposition to psychosis may be at a higher risk during a psychedelic experience. Proper screening and support can help mitigate this risk.

Is it common to experience suicidal ideation during or after a psychedelic session?

Suicidal ideation can occur in some individuals, especially those with a history of mental health issues. Therapeutic support and monitoring can help address this risk.

How does trauma history impact psychedelic therapy sessions?

Individuals with trauma history may be more vulnerable to intense emotional experiences during psychedelic therapy. Therapeutic guidance and support are crucial in navigating these experiences.

Can psychedelics be used as a treatment for mental health disorders?

Psychedelics are being researched for their potential therapeutic benefits in treating mental health disorders, but it is essential to undergo proper screening and therapy under professional guidance.


Lotte and Floris are the two guides for FLO Coaching. We combine our years of coaching & therapy to help people experience a (first) guided psychedelic trip.

We uniquely focus on preparation and integration to provide long-term positive changes in mind and behaviour.

Assistance is provided by Max and Saar, though our dogs haven't yet learned to write for the blog 🐾