As a registered nurse of twenty years, I feel I have a pretty good understanding of the good, the bad and the ugly of the healthcare system.

There is a tendency within psychedelic and spiritual communities to view everything from modern medicine as being all bad. I believe this is a big mistake.

The world of psychedelic healing is often described as a “Wild, Wild West”.

Unfortunately, there are psychedelic practitioners who have little concern for the big picture of their client’s safety, little knowledge of physiology, no concern for ethical practice and are frequently driven by greed.

People are approaching this work with machismo and aggression, jumping from one psychedelic experience to the next in rapid succession, whilst giving no consideration to their personal work and integration process.

Like a patient who goes to their doctor hoping to pop a pill to fix their disordered lifestyle, this is merely a perpetuation of the medical model of health.

Guides are sometimes more concerned with getting people into their ceremonies and money in their back pockets.

For those of you who are aware of the pitfalls and unethical practices of the pharmaceutical industries – this will sound all too familiar.

This is not the way.

While there are many downfalls to modern medicine, there are also some important lessons we can learn from the long-standing, considered ethics and philosophies of practice.

Here are some lessons that psychedelic guides can learn when assessing their clients and running their ceremonies:


  1. First, Do No Harm

As part of their medical training, doctors are obliged to swear into the Hippocratic oath, which outlines the basic ethics of medical practice and moral conduct.

Fundamental to this oath is the ethical assumption that above all else, doctors must do no harm. The reality is that doctors inadvertently do harm sometimes, but behind every single medical decision, every test, operation, procedure, medication and treatment; there should sit within every doctor’s mindset a striving to do no harm to their patients.

Guides can and should incorporate this ethical assumption into their own practice, when planning their ceremonies.


  1. Take a step back, and look at the big picture 

Doctors are trained to use their eyes, their nose, their taste, their smell, their touch, their experience and their common sense. They do not focus in on one singular aspect of a patient’s health, but instead, they take a step back and look at the big picture of their life.

A good doctor would not perform an operation without placing huge precedent on the importance of safe preparation and rehabilitation.

They would instruct patients clearly on how to prepare, they would refer their patients to physiotherapists, book follow up appointments, blood tests, outpatient appointments, give information leaflets, write sick notes and impress upon their patients exactly what they need to do personally to keep themselves safe and well.

Why? Because they know that without safe preparation and rehabilitation, the operation will probably do more harm than good.

A good doctor would not book a major heart operation one day and then a major lung operation two days later. Why? Because they know the crucial importance of their patients being in optimum health and fully recovered from one operation, before they have the next one.

Psychedelic experiences are basically operations on the psyche.

I believe that many psychedelic guides need to be less aggressive with their work and start talking more frequently about the crucial importance of safe preparation and integration.


  1. Doctors are a bit boring and sensible sometimes 

A good doctor will do a thorough and comprehensive assessment of their patients’ health and life, taking into account factors like age, who they live with, family history, what they eat, drink, smoke and ingest, medical conditions, medications, previous operations, their mental health, their mobility, how they wash and dress. Again, this is “big picture” thinking.

They will then likely be conservative with treatment, commencing with the most researched and evidenced-based medication at the lowest dose. They will see how their patient responds and then adjust or titrate up accordingly.

They would unlikely start their patients on the newest medication at the highest dose, just because it is kind of fun and exciting, or because their patients are bullying them into it.

Psychedelic guides are sometimes administering extremely high doses of psychedelics to participants who are in poor mental and physical health, who have no one to support them post-experience and, alarmingly, to participants who have never ingested a mind-altering substance in their life.

If this participant is traumatised from their experience, they are often abandoned, or given another extremely high dose of psychedelic. These clients may experience PTSD or decide they are never going to take a psychedelic substance again, spreading the word of how horrific it is.

It is ok to take a more cautious approach with some people. Start with a low dose, see how they respond, then titrate up. Individualise and tailor doses.

Be a bit boring and sensible sometimes, so the participant feels safe, they speak positively about their experience and they keep coming back (if they feel called to).


  1. They (hopefully) have bags of down to earth normality and common sense 

It is not uncommon when you work with psychedelics, to start idolising your guides or shamans, to put them on a pedestal and see them as some sort of guru.

It is also not uncommon for psychedelic guides to really enjoy this feeling of power, glory and grandiosity.

Ego inflation and abuse of power is becoming a major problem within the psychedelic community, because of this dynamic. It can also be a problem within the medical profession and amongst therapists, for the same reason.

Psychedelics do not make you superhuman, they do not give you a key to magical dimensions. Keep your common sense about you and try to connect on a level with your clients. Respect their autonomy and do not flex power over them.


  1. They protect the good name of their medicine 

For many years of my nursing career, I worked in a Travel Clinic where I administered vaccines on a daily basis.

Lots of people are aware that when their body is fighting a bacteria or virus that causes them to have a high temperature, they are not to be vaccinated. What most people are unaware of is that the reason for this is not because having the vaccine is likely to make them more unwell.

The reason for this is that the vaccine manufacturers do not want the symptoms of your illness to be wrongly attributed as side effects of their vaccine. In other words, they are protecting the good name of their medicine.

When psychedelic guides are assessing which participants are suitable for their ceremonies, they would do well to consider: “if this all goes wrong for this person, then society may blame our medicine and our work may get undermined or shut down”.

What will this do for the cause? What will this do to psychedelic healing at large? Thorough assessment, preparation, integration and refusing certain people is key here. Or refusing them until they have taken adequate measures to optimise their life and health.


To sum up……

If you took a shaman from hundreds of years ago and put them in a modern-day hospital, they would probably think that our doctors and nurses were the ones who had special and magical powers. Because guess what? They kind of do.

In my opinion, doctors are shamans, science is magic and as the popular Netflix documentary declares, “God is a number”.

Can you imagine the mountains we could move if we stopped going to war with our fellow healers and we learned to work collaboratively?


PLEASE NOTE: This blog is intended for information only and does not substitute medical advice. I do not advocate the illegal use of substances.


Written by Jo Dice 

Integrative and Psychedelic Integration Psychotherapist

As a psychotherapist, psychedelic integration practitioner, spiritual explorer and registered nurse of twenty years; I offer wisdom from the worlds of knowledge, science, body, soul and spirit for a comprehensive and holistic therapy journey.

If you would like to work with me for Integrative Psychotherapy or Psychedelic Integration Psychotherapy, please drop me a line and we can arrange an introductory session.