Psychedelic Retreat Maloca

How to Select a Psychedelic Retreat

You’ve heard a lot about psychedelic retreats. You already know a little bit about them. Maybe you’ve even gone for a couple of psychedelic trips at home. Now, you’re seriously considering going to a retreat, but there’s so much to consider…

How do I select a psychedelic retreat?

What do I need to know?

What selection criteria should I use to choose a psychedelic retreat?

Yeah, we know: it’s a bit overwhelming.

That’s why we decided to come up with this guide. Here, you’ll learn nine criteria you can use to select a retreat and the five steps you need to take to compare retreat centers. Let’s get started!

Definition: What Is a Psychedelic Retreat?

A psychedelic retreat is a type of wellness retreat that uses psychedelics, such as psilocybin or Ayahuasca, and complementary practices, like yoga and meditation, to help guests improve their well-being.

Guests attend psychedelic retreats to overcome all sorts of issues, such as:

  • Very complex mental health problems, like PTSD or chronic depression;
  • Seeking to improve their relationship with themselves and the world around them;
  • Seeking to grow spiritually

Of course, it’s not always that hard to find psychedelics locally. You can purchase on the illicit market, or in the case of ketamine or psilocybin, under the care of a trained physician. But a retreat offers a more complete experience, enabling the guest to block out life’s complications and focus on themselves.

Psychedelic retreats are as varied as the people attending them. But there are a few factors most have in common:

  • Often, they’re set in beautiful locations. Remember that for many guests, the retreat serves a dual purpose as therapy AND as a vacation.
  • Between the staff and other guests, you’ll meet lots of like-minded people who’ll support you through your journey of self-discovery.
  • Besides the psychedelic ceremonies, they offer other activities such as yoga classes, massages, and day tours.

More Frshminds Psychedelic Guides

Be sure to check out all of our guides

Selection Criteria for Psychedelic Retreats

Generally, there are nine factors you should consider when selecting a psychedelic retreat:

1. Plant Medicine

Which compound is the best fit for you? There are many factors that affect the answer, including your medical history and your personal goal. For example, Ayahuasca is proving to be an excellent remedy for PTSD, while ibogaine appears to be the best treatment for opioid addiction. Kambo, Rape, and 5-MeO-DMT are examples of other, less well-known plant medicines that are deserving of your consideration.

2. Ceremonies

Find out how many ceremonies are included in the retreat and how they’re carried out. Do they tend to be traditional, or more modern? Who will be leading the ceremony? Who will be on hand to work you through your experience and start your integration work? Will there be music and dance to bring some fresh perspective? How close is the washroom (just in case!)? Knowing more about what your ceremony experience will be like will help prepare you for the real thing.

3. Safety Measures

Traveling thousands of miles to work with strangers while highly vulnerable can be…challenging. And so should you challenge the operators to speak to the extent of their safety protocols. Do they have trained medical staff on-site? Are there set procedures in case of emergency? Do you have access to a safe for your valuables? Think about what concerns you will have and then don’t hold back until you’re satisfied with the answers.

4. How Experienced Are The Staff and Facilitators?

Online reviews are good but can be a source of fraud (we don’t know of any retreats that are doing this but it happens all the time in other businesses!). See if the retreat will give you a few referrals to former guests (with their permission, of course).

5. Amenities/Accommodation

Once again, if this retreat is doubling as your vacation, you’re entitled to have the kind of experience you’re looking for. Are the bathrooms shared (or your room, for that matter)? Many retreats offer shared or dorm accommodations, keeping your costs down while further building a sense of community. Is there air conditioning in the bedrooms? How’s the lounge area/downtime? Or the pool? Only you know what you’re looking for!

6. Meals

As with amenities, the food on offer is a matter of pride for most operators and is usually healthy, leafy, local, and wholesome. It’s especially important to look into meal options if you’re vegan/vegetarian or have any food allergies.

7. Additional Services and Activities

Some retreats are pretty spartan and offer little organized activity aside from the ceremony itself. But many offer yoga and wellness workshops; meditation and breathwork; temezcals and other healing modalities; and excursions and cultural experiences.

8. Duration

The longer you have, the better — while costs of course, increase with longer stays, multiple ceremonies, and longer periods for onsite integration can yield deeper insight and build better habits. Remember that you should have at least two free days after the retreat to ease back into “normal” life.

9. Price

The cheapest might not be the best for you. But if a retreat is completely out of your budget, you can cross it off the list. Make sure to find out exactly what’s included in the price to avoid unpleasant surprises!

Enjoy the pool at Soltara Healing Center Ayahuasca Retreat in Paquera, Costa Rica
Accommodations at some retreats, like Soltara in Costa Rica, can be quite luxurious

Top 5 Things to Consider When Comparing Psychedelic Retreats

As we said above, there’s a huge variety of retreats to choose from and many criteria to include. Here are the top five things to consider when comparing psychedelic retreats.

1. The Reputation of the Retreat Center and Facilitators

This is the most important aspect of your search. The upside of a psychedelic experience is massive, but it can come with some risks too. Seek out a retreat whose staff is experienced and respected in their community. To screen potential retreats, read reviews and testimonials from past attendees. You should also look into the center’s history, philosophy, and approach to plant medicine.

2. The Legal and Ethical Aspects

There are retreats all around the world. Each country has its own laws and regulations on different psychedelics. Often, it’s difficult to know whether the retreat you select fully complies with local laws. While we think the risk of teams of drug enforcement officers swooping down on you during your stay is exceedingly low, It’s important to find out if the retreat complies with local laws and regulations.

3. The Surrounding Environment

Ideally, you should choose a retreat that’s located in a peaceful and natural environment, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Of course, this comes down to personal preference. If you feel safer knowing that there’s a hospital and other facilities around, go with your gut and pick an urban retreat.

4. Emphasis on Integration

Integrating your psychedelic experience during and after the retreat is incredibly important. It’s literally what separates recreational use from therapeutic use! You’ll get all sorts of transformative insights during the psychedelic ceremonies. But if you return to your daily life without processing and integrating them, you’ve just spent a whole lot of time and money for nothing.

5. Your Intentions and Expectations

Finally, you need to have a fairly good idea of what you want to gain from this experience. This will guide both the retreat and the plant medicine you choose. For example, some retreats focus more on healing and personal growth, while others emphasize spiritual development or cultural immersion. The same goes for psychedelic substances. For instance, research has shown that psilocybin is very effective for depression but only moderately effective for treating addiction. In those cases, Ayahuasca or ibogaine are better options.

And, hey, don’t shy away from emailing or calling the retreat to ask questions! This experience is too major to jump into with reservations. Plus, this will give you an idea of the retreat’s level of professionalism and transparency.

Have You Selected the Best Psychedelic Retreat for You?

Going to a psychedelic retreat is a unique and, often, transformative experience. But it’s also a difficult decision! That’s why it’s so important to do your research and compare retreats diligently. The last thing you want is for your stay to be ruined by something like unforeseen extra costs, not feeling safe, not getting enough attention from practitioners because there are too many guests… the list goes on!

So, to make sure you get it right, go through the nine selection criteria we gave you and follow our five-step selection process. Simple!

More Frshminds Psychedelic Guides

Be sure to check out all of our guides

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About the Author

Having experienced the healing powers of nature first-hand, through cannabis and psychedelics, I now aim to educate and, hopefully, improve the lives of as many people as possible.

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