Do you have the skills to “hold space” rather than just take it up?
Being a good trip sitter isn’t all that different from being a good babysitter. You must be responsible — no fireworks or switchblades around the children — and you must be trustworthy. If you can be both, you’re more than halfway to becoming a damn fine trip sitter.
What is a Psilocybin Trip Sitter?
Let’s start by looking at what a trip sitter isn’t. You’re not a guide. You’re also not a shaman, in case you weren’t sure. Your job isn’t to actively pilot the plane. You’re the co-pilot and you only step in if the pilot suddenly has a nervous breakdown. You’re simply there to hold space.
In her book, The Psilocybin Mushroom Companion, Michelle Janikian says 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.”
There is a little debate over the sober requirement, as the tripper may be more comfortable if the sitter takes a microdose, and the sitter may be in a better state of mind to do the sitting. And both of these will make sense to anyone with psilocybin experience.
An Important Distinction: Therapy Sitter vs. Recreational Sitter
Your job during the trip doesn’t change regardless, however, the before and after likely will. If you’re a psychedelic psychotherapist or practitioner involved in psychedelic research, you’ll probably prepare for the trip differently and pay attention to the experience in different ways, but you’ll avoid analysis during the trip and forego excessive communication.
The good news is that you’ll be more qualified to handle a psychological or medical crisis if one occurs.
How Can You Become a Psilocybin Trip Sitter?
It’s good to be experienced, as Jimi Hendrix liked to call it, and this is true for psilocybin trip sitters. If you know what to expect, you’re just going to be better at it.
However, the personal traits required are far more important. So, barring personal experience, you’ll at least need some psilocybin knowledge: duration of the trip, dosage, effects, and side effects. Consider these the minimal job requirements.
What Does it Take to be a Good Trip Sitter?
Remember the babysitter comparison? You have to be able to make good decisions. If the child you’re watching or the tripper you’re sitting wants to go outside and play in traffic… you get the point.
Other desirable characteristics include being calm, nonjudgemental, patient and empathetic.
Finally, there’s the issue of communication. Much of the important communication will be had before the trip: what to expect, how to handle certain situations, and so forth. But you may also need to redefine your ideas of what being a good communicator means for the trip itself.
Less is more. Your job is to reassure, not ramble on. A hand on the shoulder rather than a five-minute soliloquy.
You’ll also need to sit patiently for six to nine hours, anticipate potential problems, and create the best trip environment you can. Which means ruling out the Medieval Torture Museum. While certainly atmospheric, it’s probably a bad idea.