Find out why you need a tripsitter.

Why Do I Need a Tripsitter?

A tripsitter, also known as a “sober companion,” is a person who is present during a psychedelic experience to provide emotional and physical support, as well as to ensure safety.

Double Blind offers a fuller definition of tripsitting. They state that “a trip sitter is a sober person you trust to keep you safe while you’re under the influence of a psychedelic, and having one along for the journey can make the difference between a meaningful and challenging trip.”

So why is it important to have a trip sitter?

Why Do I Need a Tripsitter?

There are several reasons why someone might want to have a tripsitter during a psychedelic experience. Here are the 4 basic reasons a person would want to employ a tripsitter.

Safety: A tripsitter can monitor the physical well-being of the person experiencing the psychedelic, and can intervene if necessary to prevent harm.

Emotional support: A psychedelic experience can be intense and emotional, and a tripsitter can provide a listening ear and a comforting presence.

Integration: A tripsitter can help the person integrate the insights and experiences from the psychedelic experience into their daily life.

Helping navigate difficult experiences: Psychedelics can bring up difficult emotions, memories or traumas. A tripsitter can help de-escalate these difficult experiences and provide comfort and assurance to the psychedelic user.

It’s important to note that a tripsitter is not a substitute for professional therapy or medical care, and should not be used as such. Also, it’s important to have a proper set and setting and a trained professional that can safely guide you through the experience.

However, set and setting can’t always be controlled, so a psychedelic chaperone with a different skill set may be required. For example, a festival setting, a therapist’s office and an at-home experience are all distinct settings. This obligates psychedelic users to know the difference between a tripsitter, a psychedelic guide and harm reduction. This excellent conversation explains the differences between the 3 types of psychedelic escorts.

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The Ideal Tripsitter

The basic job of the sitter is to be in the room with the psychedelic user, or in the area nearby, and facilitate as much of a normal situation as possible, without ever leaving if necessary. During an ideal tripsitting scenario, the sitter will not be needed much: 

“…therefore they needn’t be constantly present – if only for the simple reason that I personally don’t think I’d enjoy being observed by someone in an ordinary state of consciousness while I’m tripping. However, it’s also true that it could be nice to have someone to chat with despite the difference in your modes of consciousness. Indeed, if the sitter is a close friend, there is no reason to be particularly anxious.”

The best kind of trip sitter knows the substance well and has experience with it. In some jurisdictions, the tripsitter may also dispense the medicine with discretion to the participant, or participants. Above all, the tripsitter is: 

“…a known and respected reference for everyone due to their experience and, moreover, they can choose and manage the music, scanning the alternating moods of the participants and acting accordingly. In this ideal situation, if he/she and the tripper are well-prepared, the trip will always go well, devoid of particularly problematic situations.”

Andrew Philips, an experienced tripsitter from North Carolina had this to say about what to look for when searching for a tripsitter of your own:

“…Don’t work with someone who hasn’t work extensively with the medicine you are taking with them. I’ve also heard a lot of stories of facilitators giving people irresponsible doses, working in a poor setting, or not offering to help their client prepare or integrate. The most important thing is that you personally resonate with them – you need to have a feel for the type of energy they are going to bring to your experience before you hire them. Don’t just hire whoever is available or go for the sitter that is the least expensive..” 

Andrew Phillips, Tripsitter.

So how did psychedelic chaperones get their start?

The History of Tripsitters

The role of a tripsitter, or “sober companion,” during a psychedelic experience has a long history. The use of psychedelic substances for spiritual and therapeutic purposes has been a part of many cultures throughout history. Moreover, the presence of a trusted and knowledgeable guide or companion during these experiences has been considered essential.

In the 1950s and 1960s, during the height of the psychedelic research era, tripsitters were commonly used during clinical studies and therapeutic sessions with psychedelic substances such as LSD and psilocybin. The tripsitter’s role was to provide emotional and physical support to the participant, as well as to ensure safety during the experience.

After the widespread criminalization of psychedelics in the 1970s, the use of tripsitters during psychedelic experiences largely went underground. However, in recent years, with the resurgence of interest in the therapeutic use of psychedelics, the role of the tripsitter has surged once again to become more prominent.

Today, tripsitters are commonly used in the context of underground psychedelic therapy sessions, and in legal and illegal retreats and ceremonies that involve the use of psychedelics. The role of tripsitter has also been adopted in some clinics and research centers where psychedelics are used for therapeutic purposes, and also in some underground therapy sessions.

“When I started there was no eduction for this job. I had to learn everything myself and now, after 1800 guided trips, I always try to learn more about the combination human biology and behaviour. I do this by reading scientific papers and books like Behave..” 

Marcel van der Putten, Triptherapie

It’s worth noting that the use of a tripsitter is not a substitute for professional therapy or medical care, and should not be used as such. Also, it’s important to have a proper set and setting and a trained professional that can safely guide you through the experience.

Modern-Day Trip Sitters

Contemporary tripsitters have evolved, and at the same time, haven’t changed much. Experienced, knowledgeable tripsitters should all share the same goal doing their work.

The primary goal is what many sitters I spoke with called “holding a safe space,” not guiding or shaping someone’s experience, just being there. “One of the typical things we could say [is], You are safe. That’s a good one,” said P.J. And if they’re having a rough time, the sitters remind them, “This will end.”

One of psychedelia’s most preeminent leaders in the field, psychologist James Fadiman, sums it up best in his 2011 book The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide. A tripsitter will not only know the terrain, and have good instincts for where the psychedelic user is. The tripsitter will also be capable of providing advice as needed. As Fadiman writes, “A well-structured session makes it far more likely that early psychedelic experience will be meaningful, healthy, and life-enhancing.”

When a tripsitter “holds space” and allows the psychedelic user to deal with whatever process they need to, without interference, magical things can happen in a safe, comfortable and trustworthy setting.

For a comprehensive understanding of what to expect from a professional tripsitter, please check out this detailed guide to tripsitting. Although the guide is written for tripsitters, it will give you a crystal clear idea of what to expect during a psychedelic experience with a tripsitter. It covers everything from preparation, intention, to the trip and integration.

Looking to connect with a tripsitter? Check out Frshminds’ Tripsitter Finder, where we will connect you with tripsitters in your area.

If you need a tripsitter, Frshminds can help you out
Check out Frshminds’ tripsitter finding services.

If you can neither find, nor afford a tripsitter, do not worry. The modern world of tripsitting has come a long, long way. 

Tripsitters for Every Occasion

On occasion the curve balls that life throws at us, do not allow for hiring a tripsitter to hold space for us in person. Need tripsitting for at-home ketamine assisted psychedelic healing? Well,

Or, as some psychonauts may know, sometimes psychedelics have a tendency to just jump down your throat. As Hunter S. Thompson said, “You don’t look for acid! Acid finds you when it thinks you’re ready.”

What does this mean? Well maybe you just ate way too much LSD by accident at-home and you’re suffering a bad trip. Don’t fret, the Psychedelic Peer Support Line, offered by the Fireside Project is here to help.

The psychedelic support line’s mission is to “…offer free, confidential peer support by phone and text message to people in the midst of psychedelic experiences, people exploring the meaning of past psychedelic experiences, and people who are tripsitting for others.”

The line is open daily, from 11 am to 11 pm PST, and can be reached by call or text at 62-FIRESIDE. 

You Are Never Without Support

With the stigma of psychedelics waning, more tripsitting services are coming online than ever, literally and figuratively. There is no need to suffer through a challenging experience without getting the needed help. From a trusted tripsitter to just a phone call, help for a psychedelic trip is always available. 

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About the Author

While I am originally from Chicago, I call Austin, TX home (which coincidentally led me to my first Ayahuasca retreat) with stops along the way in places like the everglade state of Florida and Spain. An active participant in the psychedelic community, I've had the privilege and opportunity to hear a range of expert speakers speakers, including Anthony Bossis, Jamie Wheal, Dennis McKenna and Roland Griffiths. In my spare time I hike national parks, enjoy abusing my passport, listen to the Flaming Lips and read Joseph Campbell, Jung, Graham Hancock, Alan Watts and Montaigne. As my beloved Bill Hicks said, “It’s just a ride."

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