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One-on-One Psychedelic Experiences: Advantages & Drawbacks

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in this article
  • Introduction
  • One-On-One Experiences
  • Advantages of a One-on-One Experience
  • Drawbacks of a One-on-OneExperience
  • Considerations for Choosing One-on-One Vs. Group Experiences
  • Final Thoughts

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Chemical Collective or any associated parties.

Introduction

The support of a dedicated psychedelic facilitator can make all the difference when it comes to a psychedelic experience.

It can be the difference between being calm and receptive, or tight and anxious. This can result in a massively different outcome. Whilst many people organise sessions without a tripsitter, some people want professional support for their psychedelic experience

 This may be the case for people searching for a first time experience, or a more intentional, curated, and/or high-dose experience.

So what are the options when it comes to being supported?

Broadly speaking, there are two options: one-to-one experiences (one-on-one), and group experiences.

In this article, I’ll be looking at the second of those: one-on-one experiences. (Read the last post about advantages and drawbacks of group experiences here).

Today I’ll explain what a one-on-one experience is and look at the advantages and drawbacks of this as compared to a group experience. By the end you’ll have a clearer idea of the pros and cons. I’ll then offer some considerations to help you decide if a one-on-one or group experience might be best for you.

My intention is to help you make more informed decisions about your psychedelic use, and offer information to help decide if a one-on-one experience may be for you.

One-On-One Experiences

one-on-one experiences are where a single person takes a dose and is supported through their experience by one facilitator. This may also be in the form of 1-2; an individual with two facilitators. The pros and cons of 1-2 are by and large the same as one-on-one (as compared to groups) so what I will outline here applies to both.

Advantages of a One-on-One Experience

Higher Level of Attention and Personalised Support

With a one-on-one experience, the person undergoing their psychedelic experience has the dedicated attention and support of a single facilitator. 

From the facilitator’s perspective, there is only one person to focus on. This means the attention is not divided between a group and the individual can receive a higher level of care. This means they can be highly attuned and receptive to that individual and their needs. This includes needs of emotional support, guiding, or any of the other types of support that a psychonaut may need or would help them with their process.

It also means that they will receive personalised support. For example, if the music needs changing, it can be changed with one person in mind. If they would like more fresh air in the space a window can be opened. If they want silence they can have silence. 

In a group experience, facilitators must balance the needs and desires of all the individuals present. In a one-on-one experience the considerations of others aren’t an issue and won’t compromise decisions made around how to guide the experience. If the the tripper wants or needs support navigating through some challenging aspect of their journey, the facilitator can help immediately. 

Knowing that you have the undivided attention of a single facilitator can also help to feel more supported and reassured heading into the experience. This can also help with a more ideal state and mindset heading in, leading to a more beneficial experience and outcome.

This level of support extends through preparation, the entirety of the session, and through integration. The increased ability to change and customise also applies to the timing and schedule of the experience. 

Minimised External Disturbances

The one-on-one setting also means a more controlled environment with fewer distractions.

Emotional releases are fairly commonplace and generally invited during psychedelic experiences. This may be in the form of crying, laughing, toning, loud sighing, shaking or otherwise.

For many, when these sounds and vibrations come from other people during a session, they can be distracting. They can pull people out of their inner experience.

In some aspects, we can consider psychedelic sessions to be condensed meditation sessions in that they are a concentrated opportunity to look inside at the deeper levels of our psyche. As is the case with meditation sessions, for us to remain focused on this, it can help to have a quiet environment with minimal unexpected or unpredictable noise from outside.

In the case of a one-on-one experience, there are no others. It is quite literally a more controlled environment. This can help to enhance focus on personal introspection without unplanned external influences. Being a solo  also brings more opportunities for moments of solitude that may be crucial for personal processing

Tailored Setting

A solo session also enables a facilitator to set up and curate an environment more specifically for the individual. 

This can be the case with factors such as indoor or outdoor setting, music, lighting, the size and layout of the space, and how it is decorated.

One may have a preference to be in a sheltered location outside in nature. One may have a preference for classical music. One person might want to be in the corner of a room. In all of these cases, these preferences can be matched to the individual in a one-on-one experience.

In terms of decoration, items in the space can also be matched to a single person. For example, if the person undergoing the experience has a connection to a particular religion, they might have a cross or a small Buddha figurine on display. In a group setting, these might not be welcome or appropriate.

This is a type of personalisation of the setting that can aid in bringing a higher level of comfort and meaning to the tripper.

Drawbacks of a One-on-OneExperience

Although there are many potential advantages to a one-on-one experience, it is also important to be aware of the potential drawbacks.

Limited Shared Experience

A one-on-one experience is by its nature solo. The psychedelic experience will not be shared with others as it would be in a group.

Beyond the facilitator who will be present, this means there will not be any others to form connections with. It offers fewer opportunities for openness and connection. Many people find the group aspect with its sharing and bonding to be a crucial part of their process, and individual experiences lack this.

A one-on-one experience won’t offer that same sense of being in something together with others. Although the psychedelic experience may increase feelings of connection, a one-on-one is a more solitary experience.

Potential Isolation

The solitary nature of the experience may also increase any feelings of isolation that may come up.

In the wake of new perspectives, the sense that other people ‘just don’t get it’ may be present and more stark in a solitary journey.

This sense of isolation is generally more pronounced or negatively perceived if challenges occur during and after an experience. 

As the saying goes ‘sharing the load makes it lighter’. 

This sense of isolation is more pronounced if one does not have many other people whom they can talk about their experience with afterward. If considering a one-on-one experience, it is worth thinking about who you will be able to talk about your experience with. It may well be the case you have someone close, friends, or a solid support circle around you. But for many, there are no others they feel they can share openly with.

This sharing with others can help with processing, perspective, and a sense of connection. As such a one-on-one may increase the challenges and limit the potential benefits of an experience.

Reduced Collective Insights

A group of people can offer more diverse perspectives than an individual. As such, a one-on-one experience will limit opportunities for rich discussions and collective wisdom that are present in a group setting.

These varieties of perspectives usually come from group sharing circles that are typically present in group experiences.

In a one-on-one experience, you may receive reflections and mirroring from your facilitator but it will end there. Depending on their role and style, the facilitator may be more focused on simply holding space and listening, rather than actively offering their perspectives, which usually come more readily from others in a group who have also gone through their own experience in the group session.

This also means the potential for a reduced sense of a sustained healing community moving forward in the weeks and months after the experience.

Narrower Range of Expertise

In one on one sessions, there is usually a single facilitator. This means you will be reliant on a single facilitator’s expertise and guidance.

This is contrasted with a group session where there are normally two, three, or more facilitators present. Different facilitators come from different backgrounds and usually hold their own expertise, so in group settings, you’ll have an opportunity for varied inputs and approaches. If you don’t click with one facilitator, you might well click with another.

In a one-on-one experience, you will have limited exposure to various modalities and practitioner perspectives.

If going for a one-on-one experience, then, it’s ideal if you have an opportunity to speak with them and get to know them a little bit before signing up for an experience. This usually comes by way of a discovery or introduction call. Take this opportunity to ask them any questions about their background, experience, or approach you may have. 

 

It helps if you have an idea of what to look for in a psychedelic guide or tripsitter. Moreover, there is the subjective sense of how comfortable you feel with this person and the sense of trust you have in them. Trust is an important piece that shouldn’t be overlooked as you will be heading into very vulnerable states of being with them, and it is essential that you feel safe opening up in their presence.

  • Financial Cost

The higher level of attention and care that comes with one-on-one tends to come with a higher financial cost.

This may make the experience inaccessible for some. In other cases, someone may stretch their financial resources or take on extra work to afford this experience. This can bring its own stresses and strains. This extra stress won’t help one in the preparation for a psychedelic trip. A relatively high cost can also lead to greater pressure, or higher expectations on the experience, which can set one up for disappointment if the experience does not meet those expectations.

Considerations for Choosing One-on-One Vs. Group Experiences

When weighing up the pros and cons of one-on-one experiences and groups, it will be helpful to consider the following questions:

  • How do you feel about doing it alone?
  • In a group, would you be worried that you won’t be supported enough?
  • Would you like the dedicated support of someone?
  • Would you like the experience of doing it in a group? Do you like group experiences?
  • If in a group, what size group would you like? Small like 3 or 4? Medium like 8? Or large like 10 or above?
  • What ratio of facilitators to participants would you need to feel supported? 1 facilitator to 2 participants? More? Or less?

You might like to talk these through with someone you know or journal your answers to them for increased clarity.

Final Thoughts

In the world of supported psychedelic experiences, the choice between group ceremonies and one-on-one sessions holds a spectrum of advantages and drawbacks.

Group experiences offer shared insights and connections, while one-on-one sessions provide personalised attention and focused support. One is neither better than the other, and what suits you will depend on your personal preferences. Each path, although unique in its essence, invites seekers to navigate their trip with intention. Whether amidst a collective experience or in the form of one-on-one guidance, the key lies in choosing a path that resonates deeply, fostering healing, growth, and self-discovery.

Stay safe, journey well.

John Robertson | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective | mapsofthemind.com

John is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to David via email at blog@chemical-collective.com

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Davide Picco
5 months ago

I think that from my “psychonautical” point of view, a 1-1/solo experience could be more immersive. It is just my opinion, but I never went to deep in the “void” around other people. It is very interesting how a change like the number of participants in a psy session could change so dramatically the course of the trip!
I hope that in every part of the world we human will be free to express and explore our consciousness without trouble by anyone who want to cut our wings. Stay safe!

simonsterba9
5 months ago

Totally agree, I think psychedelics are a great way to make a relationship more thoughtful

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