Are you interested in helping your clients find healing with plant medicine? How can you begin to educate yourself on the benefits and risks of plant medicine unique to your clients?
MEET Heidi Dalzell
Heidi J. Dalzell, PsyD, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, specializing in trauma and eating disorders. Dr. Dalzell has a busy private practice specializing in eating disorders, trauma, and working with the LGBTQ community. Dr. Dalzell has kept at the forefront of knowledge in the field of psychedelic medicine, training in psychedelic-assisted therapies. She has led and participated in activities to help clients reach non-ordinary states of consciousness (breathwork, drumming, meditation). Dr. Dalzell has also trained with leaders in the field, including Peter Addy, Michael Mitohoefer, Julie Holland, and Gabor Mate. She is a psychedelic sitter/guide through A Guiding Presence and has completed training in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. Dr. Dalzell is currently enrolled in IPI’s year-long psychedelic certificate program.
Find out more about Heidi at Talk To Grow
IN THIS PODCAST:
- What are some of the common misconceptions about using plant medicine in therapy? 4:37
- What are the risks of using plant medicine? 11:46
- What are mystical experiences? 20:30
What Are Some Of The Common Misconceptions about Using Plant Medicine In Therapy?
- Understanding the difference between plant medicine and drugs?
- How does plant medicine affect healing?
- Using plant medicine in conjunction with traditional therapy
- The importance of having a thorough assessment of your clients before beginning the use of plant medicine
What Are The Risks Of Using Plant Medicine?
- Understanding the risk factors and how they differ from one person to another
- How do you prepare your clients for a session?
- What is Ayahuasca?
- How to connect with a plant’s spirit?
What Are Mystical Experiences?
- What is the divine connection?
- The importance of setting an intention
- Creating the right setting for a medicinal journey
- How to reintegrate clients
- Can you recommend plant medicine to your clients?
Connect With Me
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Sign up for my free email course: www.holisticcounselingpodcast.com
Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:
Find out more about Heidi at Talk To Grow
How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
Chris McDonald: What if a client says to you, I heard about the power of using psychedelics and how they can help with healing. Do you recommend I do this? What would you say? Do you know how to navigate this in therapy, ethically and legally? In today's episode, we'll be addressing this as well as talking about the benefits, the risks and healing stories of plant medicine.
Buckle up your seat belt and get ready. This is going to be an in depth episode for you today on the Holistic Counseling Podcast. This is Holistic Counseling, the podcast for mental health therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence. I'm your host, Chris McDonald, licensed therapist.
I am so glad you're here for the journey.
Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. You know, on this podcast, I talk about a lot of different alternative modalities and options that can help clients heal. And one such path that's gaining much more attention than I keep hearing about, and I'm sure you do too, is plant medicine.
And here to bring this to you is Dr. Heidi DelZell. You might remember her from episode 36, A Guide to Angel Healing. If you haven't listened to that one, I highly recommend it. Heidi has kept at the forefront of knowledge in the field of psychedelic medicine, training in the area of psychedelic assisted therapies.
She has led and participated in activities to help clients reach non ordinary states of consciousness with breathwork, drumming, and meditation. In this episode, you'll learn about the differences between plant medicine and psychedelics. We'll explore the legal and ethical dimensions surrounding the use of plant medicine in mental health therapy.
We'll discuss how certain plants have shown promise in helping individuals navigate and heal from trauma, depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Welcome back to the podcast, Heidi. Hi, Chris. I'm
Heidi Dalzell: so glad to be here with you. Excited to talk about this
Chris McDonald: topic. Yeah. Can you share how you got started?
started with plant medicine? Oh, of course.
Heidi Dalzell: So as, uh, as you might realize from past interviews with Chris and from my bio, I kind of come into this work from a pretty conventional lens where, you know, I treat a lot of people with eating disorders, with PTSD. Of course, we all treat a lot of depression and anxiety.
And what I have really been more aware of over the past several years is how a lot of our conventional treatments fall short. For example, PTSD treatment, only about 40% of people who come in to be treated for PTSD can a, tolerate the treatment, but b, confront the drama. And so
Chris McDonald: Is that true? Really? 40%? Yeah, only 40% can get it.
Heidi Dalzell: Crazy, right? So I started to investigate, you know, some up and coming things I was reading about with the use of psychedelics. And, you know, for those, um, you know, listeners who aren't familiar with Michael Pollan's book, that was a big source of inspiration for me. How to Change Your Mind is the title of the book and you know my journey with learning more and more about traditional psychedelic medications and those are kind of those pharmaceuticals that we're used to and that would include things like ketamine treatments might include, um, treatment with things like that's the one that's legal, by the way, um, might include things like studies that are looking at MDMA, but where really led me is that indigenous peoples have been using these plants for years and years.
And so I really became intrigued by what adding. A reverence for plants as well as ceremony could do for the healing and I have found that my clients who have either come to me after a sacred plant ceremony or who have seeked out such a ceremony have done really well and I've seen lots and lots of healing.
Chris McDonald: can help fill in that gap for that. Wow. So 60%, you think about that, right? Yeah.
Heidi Dalzell: I mean, those numbers are huge. A lot of people, I mean, you, you know, Chris, like people who have PTSD are so at risk and, you know, I've also seen the benefits for things like. eating disorders, uh, you know, even people who have longstanding eating disorders, depression, treatment resistant depression, all kinds of different things that can be helped with the use of these sacred power plants.
Chris McDonald: That's amazing that it can go beyond that. So I guess, is there misconceptions that people think of that therapists might think of with this and what that might mean for them and their practice?
Heidi Dalzell: Yeah, absolutely. So you and I probably came up through similar training. And, you know, I know my training through the years has been, well, even, even growing up really, uh, that drugs of any kind that aren't your traditionally prescribed drugs are no good.
So when we look at things like ketamine, LSD, when we look at things like MDMA, we know that those do have the potential for abuse. Now, when we're talking about. Any of these psychedelics used as adjuncts to treatment and, you know, one of the things I know you and I had chatted about talking about is to distinguish psychedelics from plant medicines.
But, you know, just in general, I think the misconception that you're asking about is that these are addictive and that they're used to get high. That is not at all what these plant medicines are used for.
Chris McDonald: So it's not to get high and now
Heidi Dalzell: it's to heal. Okay. Thank you. It's to heal. So it's, you know, I, I like to tell the therapist that I'm sharing this with, it's another tool in your toolkit potentially.
And, and, you know, don't try it until you have the training and things like that, but it's, it can be, it's a really important tool. And I think more and more, we'll see how widely used both psychedelic options as well as plant medicines will
Chris McDonald: be. So what's the difference between drugs and medicine?
Heidi Dalzell: One, you know, drugs are to get high, to have fun.
Medicine's used for, you know, for something healing. And if you look at, you know, shamanic views of medicine and things like that, it's about accessing our own... inner power and inner healing wisdom. So lots of times what I like to tell people, whether it's a session that I might be doing with a psychedelic medicine, or when we're talking about preparation for plant medicines to tell them, you know, really helps you to connect to your own inner sense of healing and your inner healing wisdom.
And I guess
Chris McDonald: I'm just thinking in the brain, do you, have you learned like what it does to help with the heal? Is it creating neural pathways or?
Heidi Dalzell: It, that's, you've, you've got it. See, you, you, you know. I know something. It's funny for, for listeners. Chris just started telling me how she didn't know much, but you know, one of the most.
Most important things about these, yes, they, they can do so much. And of course, you know, now I'm kind of talking more broadly about a range of psychedelic options, but these can reduce, uh, reduce brain reactivity. So it can reduce reactivity in the amygdala, which is pretty cool for someone who has PTSD and who can't again, face, face the trauma in order to heal.
It can help to. to create a sense of self love and self compassion, it seems to release osetocin for people. And then I think one of the other really big benefits is what you mentioned, that you literally are creating new neural pathways when you're using these medicines, um, which is really one of the reasons.
that I think it's so important to have guidance throughout, um, sometimes with traditional psychedelic medicines like ketamine, they're offered in the absence of therapy. And I, I feel like you're really missing that chance to create a new neural pathway when you're using it in that way. Because I
Chris McDonald: know you mentioned integrative.
So, so for you, you think that with traditional therapy, that it's a good integration. How would that look? What it would
Heidi Dalzell: really look like, you know, there, there's different stages and I can probably, you know, get a little bit more into each of these, but it might make sense to share a little bit more about, you know, psychedelics in general, but the overall process is a person who a counselor or therapist who is working with a client who is considering the use of psychedelics or plant medicines would.
Thank you. definitely want to have a conversation, find out things like the client's intentions going into it, find out a little bit more about what they're seeking from their healing, and help to prepare them for the experience that they might actually have during the time that they're on their psychedelic journey.
With some traditional psychedelics, sometimes the therapist can also act as the person's um, sitter or guide while they're in the actual journey. For the plant medicines, you know, you're working with usually an indigenous healer of some kind. And so the person might have a very powerful ceremony at a place like Costa Rica, Peru, you know, different places they may travel.
Then they would come back and the job of the therapist or the integration coach would be to help them to take what they learned during their journey and actually put it into action. I
Chris McDonald: know you mentioned, too, that you use breathwork, drumming. I'm trying to remember what else it was. Meditation. So I guess, I guess it's integrated with other holistic modalities, too.
Heidi Dalzell: it can be. I mean, in most of the Indigenous ceremonies that Our big piece of sacred, sacred power plants. So I just want to back up because I want to make sure that there's one really important distinction that I'm making. And that distinction is the distinction between a psychedelic, which is basically a pharmaceutical.
and a sacred power plant. They both have very similar effects as the person ingested, but ingesting it's not where, not really where the magic comes in. Typically the pharmaceuticals we may use for healing some sort of psychological illness, whereas the sacred power plants can be used that way, but it's also, it also recognizes and respects the idea that.
Illnesses aren't just on a symptomatic level, illnesses can be illnesses that are connected to, you know, um, a spiritual loss or can really be closely connected to emotions. So when I think about the sacred power plants, I think about that ability that they have to connect us to the, to the divine and oftentimes the divine within us.
Chris McDonald: Yeah, so it's, it's more far reaching than just in the physical
Heidi Dalzell: realm. Exactly. Yeah. So, you know, and that's one of the things that have really sold me on the idea that we shouldn't, you know, we should really look at the, the wisdom of these indigenous ways and, you know, in a very respectful way that recognizes.
uh, that we don't want to kind of co opt anything and respects that we want to be culturally respectful. Um, so for example, I wouldn't recommend use of something that's very ceremonial like, um, peyote for instance. But you know, if, if offered, uh, by a shaman that a Westerner can join a ceremony that they're running and there's respect given to the medicine itself and to the process, I think these can be a really important part of people's healing.
Chris McDonald: like it. Yeah. So, I guess, is there safety concerns with this too?
Heidi Dalzell: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there's risks involved. There's risks involved when, when my clients take their Zoloft or Paxil or Prozac, right? For sure. Yeah, it's, there, there are definitely risks involved. And depending on what we're, what we're looking at and talking about, um, the risks can really vary.
So when you're going the route of using a pharmaceutical, of course, there will be a medical doctor who's involved and who will do a thorough assessment of whether there are risk factors. For use of the indigenous plants, oftentimes the person that you work with in a very experienced retreat center will let you know of some of the potential risks.
For example, with ayahuasca, one of the potential risks are, you know, we want to make sure the person's heart is really, really healthy. Um, it's rare that something occurs that is an adverse effect, but we want to make sure the person going into it is, you know, in a very healthy place. There are also interactions with particular foods.
And so part of the preparation. for using a sacred plant medicine would be what we call a dieta. There's a lot more reasons to go on a dieta than that, but it will help to reduce any adverse food reactions. And, you know, people, people during this time, One of the things if you're going into with any sort of medical, medical concerns, then maybe you want to go the more traditional route rather than to go the route of using one of the sacred plant medicines because usually people like shamans or retreat centers aren't necessarily trained in medical emergencies.
Chris McDonald: And just to be clear, so the traditional route, so is that ketamine? That's more
Heidi Dalzell: like a ketamine. Okay. So it's ketamine right now. I'm trying to get all these straight in my head. Yeah, yeah, I'm sorry. And I'm, I'm talking a little, real fast too. Right now, the only psychedelic medicine, um, which Someone may even argue with that term psychedelic.
It's actually in the class of medications that's a dissociative medication, but it can cause, uh, it can cause an experience very much like the experience you would have psychedelically. The only legal medicine in most states is ketamine right now. And ketamine can be offered, you know, through sublingual dosing as an oral, as, as an infusion, or as an intermuscular, uh, or intranasally.
So there's a lot of ways that you can have the ketamine. And so when we're looking at that, people are medically monitored as they're going through treatments. So anybody with any risk factors in order to be a hundred percent safe, that's the route they might go. Um, but there are people who don't have these medical risk factors who could benefit so much from using these sacred plants.
So I know you
Chris McDonald: mentioned that sometimes they, I forgot the word term you use, like preparing for the ceremony. Yeah. So can you share a little bit more about that? What would somebody expect to have to do in order to prepare
Heidi Dalzell: for that? Yeah. And that's, that's such a great, it's such a great question. And it's, it's not like very different from what you would do if you were preparing for Academy in session, but there are some specific, there are some specific parts to it that I think that I personally think are really cool.
So when in the shamanic. view of these sacred plant medicines on the shamanic view is that each of the plants has a plant spirit and it's the plant spirit that allows us access to the wisdom that we that we have. And so part of the preparation. is really starting to connect to the spirit of the plant that you're looking to use.
Um, so this may be, uh, you know, probably the most common experience that clients describe or people undertake is going on an ayahuasca journey. Ayahuasca is a vine. It can create deep connection to self, uh, you know, very mystical, very intense experience. But you have to be able to connect with the spirit because the spirit of ayahuasca, you know, they want to be able to lead you.
They want to be able to support your intentions. And people feel that ayahuasca is more of a feminine presence. And so you may ask that the sacred plants support you in intention. So for example, if I was going on an ayahuasca journey. And I knew that one of my areas that I really needed to work on was self love.
I may ask mother or grandmother ayahuasca to help me learn more about how to love myself. And so the plant provides the teachings through the experience. So preparation involves setting a really good intention, but knowing that that intention has to be somewhat flexible because sometimes the intention that you feel is the right intention going into it isn't the intention the plant necessarily has for you.
That's what I
Chris McDonald: wondered if that, if that shifts at all. And cause I know it almost reminds me of like coming into therapy, like people come in with one issue, but really. There's so much underneath that they,
Heidi Dalzell: Oh, all the time, right? And that's, and that's 100% what we see here as well. Um, so, you know, so part of this dieta that I mentioned, which is, you know, basically a chance to get yourself physically and emotionally ready.
So a dieta people often think about it just because it's, you know, the root word diet of making dietary changes. Yes, that is true, but it's. also a sacrifice and a sacrament that you're connecting with the sacred plant. So you may not be eating things that you enjoy like chocolate. You may be giving up, um, a glass of wine on the weekend.
You might be doing things to get your body prepared. The dieta also includes getting your mind prepared. So you might, um, if you're a person who really likes like, uh, you know, like true crime, you might choose to not be reading true crime novels. for the two to four weeks that you're on your dieta because you don't want to bring that kind of negative mindset into the experience itself.
So it's, it's really interesting. And during that time is the time that you can work with therapist or coach to connect more deeply with the spirit of the plan. I might lead people on meditations to connect with grandmother ayahuasca. I might, you know, have them do some journaling or write a letter. And these are the ways that you're connecting with the plant spirit.
And sometimes when you then get to the retreat itself, you almost feel like you already know her and she's already working. I know
Chris McDonald: it's really as grandmother. I think grandma, like nice, soothing, comforting, wants to help you. Exactly.
Heidi Dalzell: And you know, people, people usually think of it as a grandmotherly presence, although that may, the soothing part, you know, it's kind of, I, I know not everyone's going to understand this metaphor, but I like to think of it kind of as like similar to the goddess Kali, where Kali has a very nurturing connected side, but then also can be very fierce.
And Ayahuasca, Grandmother Ayahuasca is the same. She can be very fierce, especially if she's trying to give you a message and you're not getting it. She may have to be a little bit more fierce in sharing that message with you, but it's always to your benefit.
Chris McDonald: Well, it sounds like you got to be open to receiving for all of this, the whole experience, right?
Heidi Dalzell: The whole experience, there has to be an openness and there's such power in connection. The other thing I love about plant medicine is it's done ceremonial. And so you're connecting not only on your own, but you're, the whole community is connecting both on the individual benefit as well as the benefit of the whole group and community.
Chris McDonald: So I heard people have to stop taking some medications too as part of that. Yeah. And,
Heidi Dalzell: uh, and really what you have to do is you have to be able to talk with a doctor if it's really experienced retreat center, you know, definitely to talk to the retreat center about what the recommendations are. It's actually less restrictive than something like the MDMA protocol with the MDMA protocol.
You can really be on just about no medications here. Yeah, here, it's not quite, it's actually not quite as restrictive, believe it or not. So
Chris McDonald: I wondered, because I thought, wow, if I did that, but I'm like, for me going off medication, because I have migraines, it's just, it's not pretty when I had to stop stuff for like, for surgery
Heidi Dalzell: and stuff, so.
Yeah, I mean, you'd have to, you really would have to, you know, have a good doctor guiding you with that and saying like, are these medicines anything that you could have a contraindication with? Sometimes they're not.
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Chris McDonald: So what are mystical experiences? Oh, that, that's, I feel like the coolest part of this whole thing.
Heidi Dalzell: Where do you start in describing mystical experiences? So mystical experiences, first and foremost, are what they call ineffable. And ineffable basically means you don't necessarily have the words to do it justice, or even the words to describe it. What these power plants do is they connect you directly, really directly with the divine, whether it's the divine, a greater divine presence.
or whether it's the divine within you. And so you may have an experience of openness and connection. You just may feel that very strong sense of divine connection. You may start to separate from kind of the day to day grind and be connected with something far greater. And sometimes there's a sense of really even just stepping back from where you are and saying, being able to say, well, these experiences that I've been through in my lifetime, like I'm beginning to understand how they've affected me.
Um, with the sacred power plants, I think that there's. A lot of benefit to these mystical connections. Sometimes they connect you in a much more autobiographical way or biographical way. It really depends on what you're coming in with. Um, so for, for example, I have a client that went in, um, and has given me full disclosure to share like a very vague story.
And I've changed a lot of the details as we always do. Um, so this person went in with the intention of understanding how to heal a relationship. that was really fractured a family relationship. And during the course of his ayahuasca journey, was able to step back and actually see through the eyes of the person that he had the conflict with.
And so it was extremely powerful. Wow. That's profound.
Chris McDonald: I know. Right. So call that
Heidi Dalzell: what you will. But, you know, I, I think that's a touch of the divine. And then I have people who go in and it's such a very somatic experience where they're just feeling that connectedness. They might be seeing colors, they might be experiencing just, you know, a sense of openness and awe.
And so that's very mystical. You know, one of my other really favorite stories about a client is someone with a longstanding eating disorder that I'd work with. And If you know, I know you've interviewed some people and talked about eating disorders before, Chris. I'm not sure if it's a specialty, but that can be really hard when an eating disorder has been so longstanding.
Um, and this person went in and what she said to me is like, I connected to myself and I felt a sense of connection to self and body that I haven't felt probably my entire life. And it was so sacred to hear about her experience and how she connected. And it really helped her to do a lot better job with self care.
And it really helped to increase her sense of self compassion. So super
Chris McDonald: cool stuff. It is. And I'm just wondering, a client like that, I'm guessing, probably has had years and years of traditional therapy and Yeah. Sometimes we can't even get to that place where they have a revelation like that, or understanding or embodiment, right?
No matter what we do. Right.
Heidi Dalzell: The embodiment. And this was a person that I was working, you know, I was pulling out all the stops like we always do. You know, I was talking with her, we were doing EMDR, which wasn't, you know, she could EMDR, she would be kind of cut off at the body. She was very intellectual, is very intellectual, very much able to get intellectual insights, but There was no feeling, so there was a lot of kind of the alexithymia, no feeling, and she was completely embodied in a physical and an emotional
Chris McDonald: sense.
Wow, that's amazing that you can have that progress.
Heidi Dalzell: Just bypasses, you know, bypasses.
Chris McDonald: Yeah. Sounds like it. So I just want to swing back to the misconceptions because one thing I thought of too is, you know, growing up, you were told like, don't do drugs and here's a bad trip and here's what's going to happen to you if you use LSD or these other, you know, illegal drugs.
And yeah. So can you talk about that for a minute? Is it ever like, a scary
Heidi Dalzell: experience. Yeah. So, um, yeah, I'm happy, happy to talk about that. So first of all, you know, not to get off on too much of a tangent, but the drug laws came about in the 70s because Richard Nixon was really threatened by those very creative types who kind of threatened authority.
And threatened the, the recognized hierarchy. And so we started to kind of put restrictions even on medications that could be used in a very helpful way. Um, so the traditional psychedelics that you're mentioning, things like L s D were completely banned. And then, you know, several years later, uh, they caught up with MDMA, MDMA continued to do some research, but several years later they caught up with MDMA.
So growing up through the years, and I think I grew up kind of similar era as you did, you know, drugs are bad, say no to drugs, just say no to drugs. And, you know, I think that the field as a whole is doing a lot when it comes to A, harm reduction, but B, the recognition that we don't want to throw away the baby with the bathwater, because there's so much value and benefit to it.
Um, but back to the part of the question about, is there a bad trip? So first of all, the terminology. I rarely use the word trip because we're not talking about, again, we're not talking about recreational use. We're talking about ceremonial use or medical use. And so a word that I think is a pretty preferred word in this field is the word journey.
So people can go on journeys and sometimes journeys can be more difficult than others. It can bring up a lot. It can bring up a lot of great stuff. It can bring up a lot of trauma. It can be. difficult to face it and get through, but almost universally what I hear from people who come back who have had a more challenging or difficult journey is they found those journeys to be the most effective ones for them because they were in it.
It was really challenging and then they got through to the other
Chris McDonald: side and they got through to the other side. That's the point of it. Yeah, that's, that's the point of it.
Heidi Dalzell: And I think, you know, some of it, this might be a good place for me to kind of again, segue for a moment into the idea of sentence setting.
So, you know, Again, if you're looking at something like party drugs or MDMA is essentially the party drug ecstasy. Okay. So you take ecstasy at a concert, you're surrounded by people, it's hot, the music is loud, there's, you know, everyone's. sweating. You're surrounded by strangers. There's a lot more likelihood that you could have if, if traumatic material came up, you could have that quote unquote bad trip versus you're in a sacred space with a shaman, with helpers, with beautiful.
It can always being sung to you and you are in a sacred container. I mean, I think the differences are pretty obvious.
Chris McDonald: That makes a lot of sense. Yeah,
Heidi Dalzell: that you can, you can have like a difficult time too, even in that sacred container. But sometimes part of the message is I can
Chris McDonald: get through difficult stuff in life.
So how do you help people integrate after?
Heidi Dalzell: The integration is one of the really fun parts. So, um, there's the preparation. There's what happens in the journey space. And usually in the journey space, you know, it's kind of where you're going on the psychedelic journey. After the journey, I always encourage people to, there, there's usually some processing that happens with fellow people who are going through their own journeys at the same time as you.
And then I really encourage people to do some journaling, to just write down even a data dump. of this is what I remember from that journey. I encourage people to do that too when I take them on breathwork journeys. So really the same thing, whether it's through breathwork or psychedelics or plant medicines, you know, do some journaling.
And one of the questions I might ask them to think about is beyond what happened, what did you learn? What, what are your initial thoughts of what you learned? Um, did you go in with a certain intention and how does what unfolded relate to that intention? Then they come back, you know, there's usually some reintegration, uh, after their experience itself, because you're going from, again, a very sacred container sometimes into back into the world.
Um, but they come back and they're in your office. Then what do you do with it? You also talk with them about what happened. You might encourage them to do more journaling. You might have talk sessions. You might have them do some art, which is can be extremely powerful. They might create a mandala that shows their story.
And then once they recognize Assume. what the teachings were, and that's when they can start to put changes into place. So, you know, my person that came back, for example, uh, who had learned about this difficult relationship, this person had to decide, okay, well, I, I understand now, I understand from this other relative's perspective, why She is the way she is, why she may be relating to the world in a way that might be more narrow minded than I can tolerate or whatever.
But now that you've learned that about the person and you have a little bit more compassion for them, what's the next step? Is the next step learning to be more nonjudgmental in your interactions with them? Is the next step, you know, scheduling some time with them or bringing them into a family therapy session?
I mean, that's where it's really individualized. You kind of help them keep up some of the gains. You may recommend some of the practices that you and I both love, like meditation on a daily basis. They may come back and you have to help them to put into place ways to take better physical care of themselves.
Um, but it's very individual and it can be the integration though is really the most important piece.
Chris McDonald: Because when somebody comes back, they, it's, it's better that they're in therapy and can have this integration piece.
Heidi Dalzell: Yeah, they're, they're profoundly changed, but I think it's really easy to slip back into old habits.
So, I mean, you and I have seen it on a smaller scale. Someone comes in, they're in a session, they have a huge aha moment, but unless they can do something with that information, how meaningful is it? It's an insight with no action at all. True.
Chris McDonald: Are
Heidi Dalzell: things going to change? Yeah, yeah. So really part of the integration journey is helping them to figure out how to make those changes that they need.
Chris McDonald: was wondering as far as clients asking for recommendations for this kind of plant medicine or psychedelics. Where are we as therapists? So like me, I've had no training. So can we recommend this or what is ethically legally? Where are we?
Heidi Dalzell: That's um, that's such a great question. And I can see kind of your, your liability hat is on, which I don't, I don't blame you for that.
You have to be careful. I know that I shared with you, I've done a lot of training in this area and I'm currently in a year long. Certificate program. So we really should have training before we can talk knowledgeably about these medicines. I don't as often see people coming to me for recommendations.
Oftentimes, more often, I see people coming to me and saying, I'm considering this. What are your thoughts? And I may say to them, you know, same things you would about any other experience. Well, what makes you want to consider it? You know, what benefits do you think you'll have? You know, how have you, That is the retreat center or the guide that you're working with.
You know, so I would ask them very, sometimes very general questions about what they're seeking and why they're seeking it out in this modality. I might, you know, I might ask them if they know other people who have done this or had a powerful experience. Um, but I'm, I'm not necessarily making a recommendation that someone do this.
You know, usually I find clients come to me and they're asking for recommendations. Now, if I have a client with something like treatment resistant depression, for example, or, uh, you know, that's, that's a major one. I may include the use of ketamine in an array of different recommendations that I feel comfortable making.
Yeah. I've done that as well. Yeah, and I'm not necessarily saying, I feel like you should go this route. I'm just saying, you know, here are all the things have you considered it?
Chris McDonald: Yeah. I just say is here, here are some options
Heidi Dalzell: here. Yeah. Here's some options. You know, I have someone right now that I'm working with who gave her a ray of options.
She's trying on a TMS first, which, which makes sense covered through her
Chris McDonald: insurance. Yeah. And I think that that's what I've done also is. Try to look at different treatment modalities like that t m s, and you know, and, and I will be upfront and be like, look, I know we've been working together for this amount of time and you know, you've done well, but it seems like we've only gotten so far.
So here are some other options and to think about and mm-hmm. ,
Heidi Dalzell: you know, I mean, I feel like the plant medicine, uh, option is one that is probably, I'm going to be a, I'm not going to be necessarily recommending it, but I do support it if there's reasons that people feel like it would be helpful. And you know, plus it can be just a great way to help them increase their own sense of spiritual connection.
So there's so many benefits to it that are complete options. And you know, I'm not suggesting that anyone do anything that puts their license at all in jeopardy, but to be knowledgeable, at least enough to ask the good questions.
Chris McDonald: I think you had some good questions on here too. That could be a cheat sheet listeners that you can write down, right?
Yeah, because I think it's more like from what you're saying, just getting curious to like, what makes you interested in this? What do you hope to get out of it?
Heidi Dalzell: Yeah. I mean, have you had anyone come back, Chris, and ask you about the book? Yeah. It's, it's like, it's huge. I think, I don't know how long now it's.
It's been on the New York Times bestseller list, but it's, it's, it's been quite a while. And I don't know if you read it. I read it. It was real. It's a,
Chris McDonald: can you send us a link? We could put it in the show notes too for listeners. It's,
Heidi Dalzell: it's a really good book. There's lots of good books out there. And you know, for people who are curious, but not necessarily at a place where they feel like they, they need.
Um, to use plant
Chris McDonald: medicine or is that a good resource to recommend to
Heidi Dalzell: recommend? Yeah, it's a really good resource. I think they should read it, but you know, there's some other ways that you can also connect in a way that harnesses the benefits of psychedelics. For instance, um, you know, breath work, you know, very, very deep breath work or like holotropic breath work, or the form of breath work that I facilitate is called shamanic integrated breath work.
Lots of different options for people. Yeah,
Chris McDonald: I love how you can integrate it with other holistic modalities too. Yeah. That's exciting. So cool. Love it. So what's a takeaway you could share with listeners who may be thinking about starting using with plant medicine and helping with integration, but they're not sure about it?
What would you want to say to them? I mean, my, my, my
Heidi Dalzell: takeaway would be seek out some training, definitely learn about this as, as I think we're pretty clear on. These are facilitated not by the therapist, but plant medicines are facilitated by, you know, someone who has been doing this and doing ceremony for a really long time.
And I, I think that's powerful. But we need to be able to, you know, sit in that and to understand these mystical experiences people have are very real. These changes that people come back with are very real. And just to be able to support them in having the agency to move forward and make choices for themselves, even if they're not necessarily traditional choices, like taking an SSRI, which aren't necessarily effective.
Chris McDonald: So what's the best way for listeners to find you and learn more about you?
Heidi Dalzell: Best way to find me would be through, uh, I have two websites. Um, I have a website that is talktogrow. com. Um, that's my kind of counseling website. And then I have a website called soulfulconnectionscoaching. com. Um, that's more my holistic coaching, you know, depending on what people are looking for and where they reside.
Of course, we would, we would decide which of those, um, modalities, whether coaching or rather more traditional therapy, you know, I had someone recently who kind of wanted a combination. So we, we kind of decided to go the therapy route. But that's where they can find me online. And I'm, I'm really happy to be a resource to answer questions.
Chris McDonald: If you have any sounds good. And I want to thank you for coming up, coming back on, I should say to the holistic counseling podcast, Heidi. Yeah, this has been great. Very informative. And thank you listeners for tuning in. Are you always last on your to do list? You are not alone. Many counselors find it difficult to find time for self-care practices.
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