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Which are the Best Type of Psychedelic Sessions? One-on-One Vs Group

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in this article
  • The Hybrid Session
  • Making It Hybrid
  • Private Spaces in a Larger Group Setting
  • An Alternative Sound Setup: Headphones and Speakers
  • Come Together: Before and After
  • Remote Hybrid Sessions
  • 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.

In my previous two posts on the blog, I explored the benefits and drawbacks of each, both group sessions  and 1-1 experiences.

But what if there was a way which had benefits from both?

Is it possible to get the best of both worlds?

Today I’d like to offer an approach that combines aspects of both. I call this the hybrid session.

In this blog post, I’ll explain what the hybrid session is and different ways you can go about setting one up. Along the way I’ll also offer you considerations for putting it into action.

My intention is to help you find ways of working with psychedelics which work best for you, and to continue supporting you on your journey of psychedelic-assisted healing and growth.

Let’s dive in.

The Hybrid Session

psychedelic session

The hybrid session combines both elements of 1-1 sessions and group sessions. It is where a group gathers for a psychedelic session, but with more individualised elements. 

This hybrid approach aims to maintain the benefits of a group session, whilst minimising its downsides. 

Group Session Aspects

By and large, a hybrid session is a group experience.

As I shared previously:

Group experiences are where more than one person takes a dose and are supported by one or more facilitators who are present. In some cases, groups may choose to journey without a facilitator.

This is different from 1-1 experiences where a single person takes a dose and is supported through their experience by one facilitator.

The defining aspect of group experiences is that you go through the process alongside others. 

Even though in many group formats there is no talking during the experience, you still journey alongside each other. You are also there with each other before and afterward.

A hybrid session is the same, in that all journeyers take the dose at the same time, in the same location. They may also incorporate good group session practices, like group preparation and sharing circles.

So where does it differ?

Making It Hybrid

psychedelic session

Where the hybrid session differs is that it offers a space for people to have more individualised journeys.

This can be achieved in a couple of different ways that I’ll outline here.

Headphones

The first way to have a hybrid session is by the use of multiple pairs of headphones.

In most group spaces, any music offered is by way of live performance or through speakers played into the main ceremony space.

The hybrid approach means each journeyer is equipped with their own set of headphones through which they can listen to music.

The headphones provide a cushion against any noise coming from the room. It’s like when you’re in a communal working space, and you put your headphones to block out or cover up the sounds from outside. It can help to lessen distraction and improve focus.

In a session space too, noises can be distracting. This includes general noises from the space such as people moving, walking to the bathroom, or general shuffling around such as refilling water glasses and moving things around. Noises in the space may also come through the form of any releases from members in the group as they navigate their psychedelic journeys.

This might be in the form of vocal release (yawning, humming, toning, yelling), emotional release (crying or weeping), physical release (moving the body, shaking, punching pillows) or anything else (laughter, sighing etc.). 

With each person having music playing through their own set of headphones, they are enabled a buffer, and protection, against any of these noises. This can enable people to go deeper into their own experience.

Different types of headphones will offer different levels of protection from outside noise. Noise cancelling headphones can be a great option for this.

Personalised Music

The other potential upside of utilising headphones is that not everyone has to listen to the same music. Each person can have their own set of headphones connected to a separate device. This can make it easier in that the music or a playlist doesn’t need to be agreed upon by all the members of a group.

Different members may have different musical preferences, depending on their musical language and their intention. Someone may want to listen to a classical soundtrack whilst another listens to traditional indigenous music. This approach enables both to listen to their own, and each member of the group can choose their own soundtrack to their own journey.

When people have their own devices connected, it also means they have more control over the music. This means that if someone wants to skip a track, they can do so without it affecting the group. If someone wants to listen to a piece of music on repeat, they can. If someone decides they want to change their playlist or listen to a specific piece or album, right in the middle of their journey, they can. The group will not limit this.

This allows for a more personalised experience for each of the journeyers.

In the case where someone doesn’t want to listen to music, earplugs can also be used to block out incoming noise.

Private Spaces in a Larger Group Setting

psychedelic session

Space permitting, another way of conducting a hybrid session is by giving each journeyer a private space within the larger group setting.

For example, if the group ceremony is in a house or a big enough apartment, each journeyer may have their own room. Or, if you’re in a large outdoor environment, simply spacing people out. For example, having people in different sections of a large yard.

This provides the same benefit as headphones in that each person will be protected against extra noises from the room and other members of the group.

In this case people have the option of using headphones or possibly even playing music through speakers in their own room.

If there are any facilitators present for this experience, it is important for them to be mindful that the separation of the group into different rooms or spaces can make it more difficult to effectively monitor and provide support to everyone. This should be factored in and accounted for when preparing for and setting up the experience.

An Alternative Sound Setup: Headphones and Speakers

It may be the case that the group wants to journey to the same music. This might be because they all have the same preference or that they want an added shared element to the experience. In this case you can use another hybrid method. That is, headphones and speakers.

Having music coming from both headphones and speakers allows for continuity of experience if or when headphones are removed. It also allows journeyers to take off their headphones at certain points if they like.

This requires setting up music equipment so that music is played simultaneously through headphones and speakers from the same device. This can be done with splitters, audio interfaces, or mixing desks. 

An alternative and somewhat more straightforward option is to have the same playlist prepared on different devices which may be connected to different speakers or headphones, and for everyone to press play at the same time. In the case of no speakers being used, individual journeyers can still skip tracks or repeat tracks without it affecting the soundtrack of others’.

If everyone is using separate devices, just be sure to remember to set any phones to aeroplane mode, or to switch off notifications.

Come Together: Before and After

psychedelic session

When utilising the hybrid session, I recommend to still maintain a lot of the group aspects to reap the benefits that come from that format.

I would suggest still having sharing circles before and after, and dosing together before each person puts on their headphones and/or goes to their own space.

If people are in their own rooms, there can be a designated communal area or room where people can congregate after the journey, when they are ready.

This approach maintains the benefits of a group experience; a feeling of being in it together with others, a chance for deepened connection with those you are sharing the experience with, and the opportunity for collective insights and experiences.

Remote Hybrid Sessions

One final option I’ll outline is a remote hybrid session.

In this format, all members of the group still convene and share before and after, and have sharing circles and group prep and integration meetings.

The difference is that the members of the group do not need to be in the same physical location for the psychedelic experience.

Each person can have the experience in their own space. This can be their own home, bedroom, or whatever location suits them.

The before and after gatherings can still be done in person. Otherwise they can also be held remotely via meetings on Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp or similar platform.

This remote hybrid session approach has an added flexibility for organisation and can ease logistical preparations. It also offers the possibility of people synchronising their group sessions from around the world.

I have done this once with members of my online psychedelic community, The Conscious Psychedelic Explorer. A date was selected for people to have their own sessions at home. We met online in the weeks beforehand in a Zoom room to discuss and do preparation practices. Then, on the day, people had their psychedelic experiences in their own spaces. We then met in a zoom room the following day to share experiences and begin integrating together, and had further meetings in the weeks following.

I like the added flexibility that this remote hybrid approach offers and is something I hope to utilise more in the future. I believe there is great potential in the added flexibility it offers and the blossoming of a long term community-based integration.

If considering this option, just be sure that people have adequate support in their respective spaces. This might mean people having their own sitters or facilitators. In the case of experienced psychonauts who journey alone anyway, this may not be necessary.

Final Thoughts

Generally when I organise group experiences, I tend to try and make them as hybrid as possible. The hybrid session helps to have the benefits of both the group and 1-1 experience. 

I began working with this method because I’ve found on multiple occasions that group settings can be difficult or distracting for a lot of people. I’ve found it for myself, too. My experience has been that pretty much everyone appreciates the hybrid aspects, even if it means a bit more juggling in terms of logistical setup. It gives people a bit of personal space, a buffer against any noises that come about from being in a group, but still with the sense of connection and varied perspectives that comes from journeying in a community. In the end we’re always just trying to make the experience as beneficial as possible for all involved.

If you are organising a group session, maybe you’ll consider making it a hybrid psychedelic session. 

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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1 Comment
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zirrow
2 months ago

I find group sessions with non-sober friends very fun.

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