Hidden Signs of PTSD and How to Care for Your Loved One This 4th of July

Hidden Signs of PTSD and How to Care for Your Loved Ones This 4th of July

The Fourth of July, with its fireworks and celebrations, can be a triggering time for individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This condition can affect anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, and the sights and sounds of fireworks may bring back distressing memories or exacerbate symptoms. As we approach this patriotic holiday, it's important to recognize the hidden signs of PTSD and understand how to support those who may be struggling.

Recognizing the Hidden Signs

1. Increased Anxiety: Your loved one may become noticeably more anxious as the holiday approaches. They may anticipate fireworks displays with dread or have difficulty relaxing due to heightened alertness.

2. Social Withdrawal: Individuals with PTSD may withdraw from social gatherings or avoid public events where fireworks are likely to occur. They may prefer to stay indoors or isolate themselves to minimize triggers.

3. Irritability or Anger: Heightened stress levels can lead to increased irritability or anger outbursts. Your loved one may seem more easily frustrated or agitated, especially in situations where they feel unsafe or overwhelmed.

4. Insomnia or Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty sleeping is a common symptom of PTSD, and this may worsen around holidays like the Fourth of July when fireworks can disrupt sleep patterns.

5. Hypervigilance: Constantly scanning the environment for potential threats or triggers is a sign of hypervigilance. Your loved one may appear on edge or excessively alert, unable to fully relax. During the Fourth of July festivities, this particular response may not be as hidden as the sounds of the fireworks amid large crowds.

How to Care for Your Loved One

1. Plan Ahead: Discuss plans for the holiday in advance. Find out what events will include fireworks and strategize ways to minimize exposure if necessary. Offer alternative activities that your loved one may find more comfortable.

2. Create a Safe Space: If celebrating at home, create a quiet, safe space where your loved one can retreat if they become overwhelmed. This space should be free from loud noises and distractions.

3. Validate Their Feelings: Acknowledge and validate your loved one's feelings and experiences. Let them know it's okay to feel anxious or fearful, and reassure them that you're there to support them.

4. Limit Alcohol and Substance Consumption: Alcohol can exacerbate symptoms of PTSD. Encourage moderation or abstinence from alcohol during celebrations to help maintain emotional stability. Substance use comes with the highs and lows of the substance alongside the temporary relief of the hypervigilance that comes back in full force when one is sober again. Avoiding all intoxicants will support the long-term regulation of emotional responses. If you need extra support, consider contacting one of our US and Canada clinics. We can refer you to our partner clinics nationwide even if we are not in your area.

5. Be Mindful of Triggers: Pay attention to potential triggers and be prepared to intervene or offer support if your loved one becomes distressed. This may include using noise-canceling headphones, playing calming music, or engaging in grounding techniques.

6. Encourage Self-Care: Remind your loved one to prioritize self-care during this time. Encourage activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, or spending time in nature. For more information on self-care, check out this article by the Veterans Association. 

Conclusion

As we commemorate Independence Day, it's essential to be mindful of the challenges faced by those with PTSD. By recognizing the hidden signs of PTSD and taking proactive steps to support your loved one, you can help them navigate this potentially triggering holiday with greater ease. Remember, your understanding, patience, and support are invaluable in their journey towards healing and managing PTSD symptoms. Together, we can ensure that everyone can participate in holiday celebrations in a safe and comfortable way. For more support as a veteran, save the following in your contacts in case you need extra support this holiday:

Veteran's crisis line: 800-273-8255, press option 1
Text: 838255
Webchat: veteranscrisisline.net

If you would like to support yourself, your peers, or your loved ones in a deeper way while learning about Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy, consider one of our stand-alone courses in our Numinus Training Program called Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration. You will learn the basics of preparation and integration after a psychedelic session. Email us for personalized support at training@numinus.com. Our clinics in Utah and our partner clinics throughout Canada are wonderful resources to begin healing from PTSD. We also have robust Clinical Trial offerings for those seeking support through their healing in PTSD and other mental health challenges.  We wish you a beautiful and peaceful holiday. A special thank you to Kellie Forziat Pytel, Ph.D., LPC-PA, NCC, ACS, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Educator, for sharing her resources for the Veterans with the  Numinus Team. 

Insights on Building a Career in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy From the Experts

Insights on Building a Career in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy From the Experts!
by Amanda Giesler, Director of Training at Numinus

 

Embarking on a career in psychedelic-assisted therapy can be a deeply rewarding journey. This checklist is designed to provide a clear roadmap for those considering this field, detailing our recommended steps from initial interest to a thriving and enriching practice. We reached out to experts in the field to share their thoughts and insights about what it is like working in the Psychedelic Industry.

 

1. Understand the Field

· Research Psychedelic Therapies: Learn about the different types of psychedelic-assisted therapies, including ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin therapy. Understand their uses, benefits, and current legal status. For a free course on psychedelics, take the Introduction to Psychedelics program here.

· Read Foundational Books: Dive into key literature such as "How to Change Your Mind" by Michael Pollan, "The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide" by James Fadiman, and "Psychedelic Medicine" by Richard Louis Miller. A few other favorites are "After The Ecstasy, The Laundry" by Jack Kornfield and "Inner Ethics" by Kylea Taylor to support your personal work as a practitioner. 

· Follow Leading Organizations: Stay updated with organizations like MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), Heffter Research Institute, and Numinus Wellness.

 

2. Educational Prerequisites

· Undergraduate Degree: Obtain a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, nursing, or a related field.

· Optional Graduate Degree: You could also pursue a master's or doctoral degree in clinical psychology, psychiatry, counseling, social work, or nursing.

"Psychedelic medicine is a rapidly evolving speciality. While many of us have been trained in a variety of specialities, psychedelic medicine is a speciality of its own. Recognizing the uniqueness of fragile balance integrating medical and behavioral techniques, I’d recommend every medical and behavioral specialist to consider this program as it provides a base of understanding for many foreign concepts." Kathryn Walker, Revitalist CEO MSN-Anesthesia, MSN-Psychiatry

 

3. Clinical Experience

· Gain Relevant Experience: Work in mental health settings, such as hospitals, clinics, or private practices, to develop foundational therapeutic skills.

· Specialize in Trauma and Addiction: Seek opportunities to work with clients experiencing trauma or addiction, as these are common areas where psychedelic therapy is applied.

 

4. Training and Certification

· Select a Certification Program: Choose a reputable training program for psychedelic-assisted therapy. Numinus offers certification in ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin therapy.

· Complete Training Modules: Engage in coursework covering the history, pharmacology, therapeutic models, ethical considerations, and integration techniques for psychedelic therapy.

· Participate in Experiential Learning: Gain hands-on experience through supervised sessions, role-playing, and participating in psychedelic sessions firsthand.

· Obtain Certification: Upon completing the program, receive your certification, demonstrating your expertise and readiness to practice.

 

5. Licensing and Legal Considerations

· Understand Legal Status: Stay informed about the legal status of psychedelic substances in your state or province. Advocacy and policy change are ongoing, and regulations can vary widely.

· Obtain Necessary Licenses: Ensure you have the appropriate licenses to practice as a mental health professional in your state or province.

 

6. Set Up Your Practice

· Choose a Practice Model: Decide whether to join an existing practice or clinic or set up your own private practice.

· Create a Safe Space: Design a therapeutic environment that is safe, comfortable, and conducive to deep psychological work.

“To thrive in Psychedelic-Assisted care, therapeutic patient support needs to be a mindset for the organization from top to bottom. This is needed to ensure that every step of the treatment process has been curated and refined to maximize patient outcomes by leveraging empathetic human touch.” ~Steve Suntala, Executive Director of New Pathways Clinic

· Develop a Business Plan: Outline your services, target market, pricing, and marketing strategies. Consider the costs of setting up and running your practice.

· Network with Professionals: Build connections with other mental health professionals, especially those involved in psychedelic therapy, to gain referrals and collaborative opportunities. You can join the Numinus Community Network platform HERE.

 

7. Ongoing Professional Development

· Stay Updated: Continuously educate yourself on the latest research, best practices, and emerging trends in psychedelic therapy.

· Attend Conferences and Workshops: Participate in industry conferences, workshops, and seminars to stay connected and informed. We will see you Psycon in Denver, CO, this October.

· Engage in Supervision and Peer Support: Regularly meet with a supervisor or peer group to discuss cases, seek advice, and gain support. Numinus hosts these regularly through the Numinus Network platform.

"Psychedelic-assisted therapy demands a practitioner's full presence, self-awareness, and knowledge to effectively support clients. Regular clinical supervision is essential for two primary reasons, skill enhancement and self insight. 
Skill Enhancement fosters your ongoing development of clinical expertise, keeping you at the forefront of best practices in this evolving field. Where self-Insight provides a space for personal reflection, helping you to recognize and address your own biases, reactions, and areas for growth. This self-understanding is crucial in maintaining your role as a clear and effective facilitator in the client's healing journey. Your own development as a clinician  and individual will help to ensure that you remain an optimal therapeutic tool in service of your patients transformative processes." ~Shari Kaplan LCSW, CEO of Cannectd Wellness
8. Ethics and Self-Care

· Adhere to Ethical Guidelines: Follow ethical guidelines specific to psychedelic therapy and general mental health practice. Prioritize client safety and informed consent.

· Practice Self-Care: Engage in regular self-care routines to maintain your well-being. Working in psychedelic therapy can be intense, and it's crucial to establish a routine that allows you to rest and recharge while providing this level of care.

 

9. Client Engagement and Integration

· Educate Potential Clients: Provide clear information about what psychedelic-assisted therapy involves, including potential benefits and risks. You should develop a publicly accessible website with patient information materials and videos.

"It's important to remember that the majority of patients don't often exist in the spiritual or holistic world, and when we're communicating about the process of the psychedelic experience, especially regarding the preparation and integration, it's imperative to use language that's familiar to them. It's very easy to get carried away with very spiritual and erudite language around mystical concepts, but we must keep the initial language of communication in the "native" language of the patient, which is usually more primary medical and day-to-day conceptual language." ~Ashley Southard COO of the Healer Collective

· Facilitate Integration: Offer post-session integration support to help clients process and apply their experiences. This can include follow-up sessions, group integration circles, or referrals to other supportive services. If you are looking for where to start your own integration and learn how to provide it for others, dive into our Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration stand-alone course. This introductory program helps you to prepare and integrate medicine for yourself and others while also providing a valuable framework for your practice.

· Collect Feedback: Regularly seek feedback from your clients to improve your services and better meet their needs.

"The therapeutic alliance is the relationship that the person has with their therapist, their coach, their physician, and the medicine itself — it's an understanding of the self, the experience, and what to expect — and a knowing that there will be people to support (and a safe space to exist within) afterward.

Sometimes, it takes the willingness to detach from identifying with the past moments and stories to allow us to create a new path. Our brains seek "safety" in the comfort of what we know. 

By embracing mindful therapy and, in some cases, exploring the profound insights of psychedelic assisted therapy, we empower ourselves to look inward and actively shape our journey - and to reset  and rewire our brain's chemistry called neuroplasticity. 

We can choose to make the rest of our lives, the best of our lives." ~Michelle Weiner, DO, MPH Director of  NeuroPain Health

 

10. Advocacy and Community Building

· Promote Public Awareness: Advocate for the integration of psychedelics into our system of care and for more access through various public funding or insurance coverage. This can be through public speaking, writing, sharing on social media, and participating in online dialogue.

· Support Others: Stay active in a community of practice to help mentor and support new practitioners who are beginning their journey in this space. Demonstrate reciprocity and give back time and knowledge to providers who were in the same spot as you when you first started this journey.

 

"Mentorship is extremely important when working with altered states. It brings up so much for the provider that having a place to process this becomes crucial. So many unexpected events can happen, and it is very important to have a place to go where you can share how you handled something and be able to get feedback on alternative approaches and what to do next for your client." Julia Mirer, MD Director of Strategy & Impact at Nushama, Director of Compliance & Community at NeuroPain Health

 

We hope this checklist provides clarity and enables you to competently navigate the path to becoming a psychedelic-assisted therapist. You are embarking on an incredibly exciting and rewarding career that will make a meaningful impact on mental health care and the well-being of your clients. We hope our team at Numinus can be an important resource and support for you as you go.

 

For the first time in six years of business, we are offering a special early bird discount on the newest version of our Fundamentals in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy program. Starting with our August 2024 cohorts, we have integrated an experiential component within Fundamentals of PAT, right at the start of your certification pathway. You will experience Cacao medicine under the mentorship of a traditional medicine holder, Marcela Enriquez Wakeham, from the Yaqui bloodline family lineage in the Sonora desert of Mexico. This exclusive discount is only available until July 19th, 2024. Use EARLYBIRD15 during your registration process to receive a savings of over $400 USD.

 

Written by our Director of Training, Amanda Giesler. She provides operational leadership and strategic guidance on the development, delivery, and evaluation of the Numinus training programs and certification pathways. She has been working on the cutting edge of program development and health system capacity building for nearly a decade and is passionate about creating a sustainable system of care for people with various mental health and substance use disorders. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated an innate ability to lead highly productive teams and is a passionate innovator in clinical education development and implementation. If you would like to connect with Amanda, you can email her at amanda.giesler@numinus.com.

What I Wish I Had Known Before I Became a Psychedelic Medicine Facilitator 

What I Wish I Had Known Before I Became a Psychedelic Medicine Facilitator
By Arthur Lee

As of this writing, I've been helping others to prepare for, experience, and meaningfully integrate psychedelic medicine experiences for five years. I came into this work after unknowingly preparing for it my entire adult life. These extraordinary medicines held in safe and ceremonial settings largely facilitated my personal transformation. These experiences were my preparation.

The Start of My Medicine Journey

I was fortunate to have my first psychedelic experience with psilocybin mushrooms in my late teens, which had an immeasurable impact on my self-awareness and ontological perspective. Before the experience, it was as if I'd been living in a walled courtyard; it was a fairly cozy one, to be sure. When the mushroom experience came along, it gave me a ladder to see well beyond the confines of my small mind. It felt like I had come across a vast horizon seemingly without boundaries. It assured me that there was something much larger than myself that I was fundamentally a part of, and whatever it was, it was infinitely loving and safe. It gave me a glimpse of things I'd just started learning about through ancient contemplative traditions like Buddhism. It also showed me that deep down, I didn't love myself completely. These are only a handful of the realizations offered then. Still, in summary, they sparked a profound curiosity and fascination with what was possible for the human mind through greater awareness, self-inquiry, and the intentional use of psychoactive substances. 

This newfound curiosity led me to further explore and learn about ancient traditions, Indigenous perspectives, psychology, drug policy, and—surprise! More psychedelic use. 

When I first realized I could translate these experiences into helping others by becoming a psychedelic medicine facilitator, I had the notion of helping people have transcendent experiences that could radically shift their perspectives and alleviate deep psychological ailments. While these powerful and transformative moments certainly occur, there is so much more to the role that I couldn’t fully appreciate until I was in the thick of it. 

Caring for oneself to avoid compassion fatigue and emotional burnout is essential for facilitators and therapists working with non-ordinary states. This is something I’ve had to learn the hard way. You cannot pour from an empty cup, so self-care routines and periodic respites from this intense work are essential. 
Essential Lessons From My Early Days as a Facilitator

One of my biggest lessons was how psychologically demanding this work would be. You inevitably witness extremely heavy material emerging – repressed traumas, existential terror, messy emotional purges. Remaining grounded, calm, and composed while navigating these harrowing states takes an emotional fortitude, groundedness, and non-attachment that gets tested in the fire over and over again. Developing sincere compassion and care for every single person who comes through the door while maintaining firm boundaries is an ongoing practice. Caring for oneself to avoid compassion fatigue and emotional burnout is essential for facilitators and therapists working with non-ordinary states. This is something I’ve had to learn the hard way. You cannot pour from an empty cup, so self-care routines and periodic respites from this intense work are essential. 

Another important realization is that psychedelics are not a panacea but extraordinarily powerful tools that require immense care, integrity, and wisdom in how they are facilitated. While they can provide access to profound healing and growth, that is just the beginning. The real work happens in skillfully integrating those experiences into one's life in service of substantive change. How that happens is different and dynamic for each person. For some, that acute integration stage may last only weeks, while for others, it may continue for months or even years. We still have a long way to go in the psychedelic community towards fostering this process while living in a world whose conditions often directly oppose it.  

Compounding positive habits, supportive relationships and supervision, and an ongoing commitment to one’s own inner work are also required to bridge the psychedelic realms and our ordinary reality. As a facilitator, you're not just holding space for a journey but planting seeds that need continuous tending to blossom fully. 

The Learnings Continued and Deepend

Another major learning has been the profound importance of thorough screening, preparation, and integration for participants. Simply providing access to a powerful psychedelic experience is not enough-- in fact, it can potentially be destabilizing or even re-traumatizing without the proper container. In the preparation phase, it's essential to deeply understand each individual's unique psyche, emotional landscape, existential orientation, and intentions. Knowing where their edges are and what specific fears or complexes they're working with is key to crafting a ceremonial space that feels utterly safe and supportive for their process to unfold organically. As facilitators, we must also be self-aware and humble enough to admit when a participant’s needs or condition is outside of our scope of practice and to refer out to more appropriate support or services whenever possible. 

The integration period after the experience is just as crucial. The psychedelic realm cracks open vast potential, radical perspectives, and seismic emotional shifts. But really, landing and rooting those revelations into sustainable personal growth requires patience, compassion, and skill. 

The Paradox of Experience

This path has been steeped in paradox – simultaneously cosmic and mundane, rapturous and humble, numinous but requiring meticulous preparation and attention to logistical details. While psychedelics can part the curtains of one’s consciousness and self-awareness, true mastery involves showing up wholeheartedly for the client and the steady work of integration and embodiment. 

There have been many moments of doubt and, more than a few occasions, wondering if I'm indeed up for the responsibility, energy, and hard work this role demands. It has simultaneously been the most challenging and rewarding vocation. And yet, witnessing the healing and transformation in those I have walked this journey alongside makes every ounce of effort worth it. It has been the greatest undertaking of my life, but for those with the right aptitude and calling, I can think of no more meaningful life path than stewarding the gates of such profound human transformation. 

The Role of Facilitation

As facilitators, we're midwives to rebirth—helping shed old skins and habitual patterns so that a more authentic and integrated self can emerge. But that birth process can be messy and painful and is never as simple as we'd like. Helping folks navigate this complexity with tenderness and equanimity is perhaps the greatest challenge of this craft. 

At its most essential, this work repeatedly reveals how little I (or any of us) actually know and how much courage and commitment to continuous learning are required to practice true openness, curiosity, and radical compassion—for others' journeys, for the unfathomable dimensions these medicines can unveil, and for one's own never-ending cycle of growth, death, and rebirth as a human being.   

Numinus provides training for psychedelic medicine facilitators that recognizes these realizations and commitments, recognizing the aptitude and skill set required for this vital role. Their training encompasses comprehensive education on psychological support, harm reduction principles, trauma-informed care, and cultural competency. Their trainees undergo rigorous preparation to handle the diverse range of experiences and challenges that may arise in psychedelic sessions, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a safe and supportive environment for participants. They also emphasize the ongoing commitment to personal growth and self-care for facilitators, understanding that the demanding nature of this work necessitates continuous reflection and support. Through their training programs, Numinus strives to uphold the highest standards of ethical practice and professionalism in the field of psychedelic therapy. As a student of their Foundations of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy, I’m grateful for the opportunity to build on prior theoretical knowledge and firsthand experience to be even better equipped to provide ethical and competent psychedelic care to those I have the honor of sitting with.

Numinus is proud to preview the community support app project underway at https://numinus.com/community/. We are building a space for all our graduates to connect, share, and learn from one another, even after their training is over. This space will provide bi-monthly supervision with our own Dr. Steven Thayer and other licensed professionals on our team to support your growth and expansion as you find your niche in the Psychedelic Ecosystem. You do not have to navigate this alone; we are with you every step of the way.