Cannabis Assisted Somatic Psychotherapy

How can cannabis help with psychotherapy?

Cannabis connects your mind to your body by way of the endocannabinoid which has receptor sites for cannabinoid compounds in the brain, nervous system, organs and tissues. Cannabis also [generally] reduces feelings of pain, fear and stress, making it easier to sit with uncomfortable sensations, memories and emotions. It amplifies the body’s energy and brings up emotional and psychic content.

Various cannabis strains and blends can be more psychedelic giving rise to sensory phenomena (especially visual and auditory), increased awareness of energy in the nervous system, and new perspectives and flashes of insight – this is especially true for medical grade cannabis. Cannabis is often more gentle and safter than other psychedelics and shorter in length, while also allowing the user to take themselves out of the intensity of the experience if required. However cannabis is still surprisingly powerful with some patients reporting effects comparable to classic psychedelics. Psychotherapy is effective here to direct the consciousness to interact with and explore unconscious content and/or bodily sensations, and to deconstruct and make meaning of the experience afterwards. Cannabis's ability to facilitate this increased mind-body connection makes it particularly effective for somatic-based psychotherapy approaches.

Please note: I am not a doctor, and I cannot prescribe cannabis (please do not ask). Many doctors such as Dr Sara or online services do prescribe for conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD, OCD etc if you’re suffered from these conditions for more than 3 months. We can discuss what strains will be most helpful for this work before you talk to a doctor.

Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy

What is Somatic Psychotherapy?

Soma = Body, Psyche = Soul or Mind

Somatic psychotherapy is an approach that directs the mind towards awareness of the body - exploring the sensations and spontaneous movements of the body. This experiencing consists of:

  • Interoception: internal awareness of sensations and emotions
  • Proprioception: awareness of the spatial orientation of the body
  • Kinaesthetics: the perception of the body’s [often involuntary] movement

Allowing these sensations and movements to unfold with conscious awareness and without judgement allows the body to feel safe and heard, and unlocks it’s innate healing mechanisms. Here we trust in the body (and cannabis) to bring up content into awareness that needs to be seen.

This generally includes involuntary shaking, a physiological reflex to discharge survival energy (trauma or stress), and holding space for any emotions that arise and allowing them to be expressed. There may or not be any story, memories or images associated with this survival energy, though psychotherapy can allow you to delve deeper if you wish to explore it during integration.

Tracking body sensations with cannabis is more intense and waves of vibration and shaking can start to build, reaching an intense crescendo, sometimes involving the entire body, before it fades away. This may be accompanied with feelings of pain, difficult emotions and involuntary sounds. These waves of vibrations may repeat a number of times before the survival energy is discharged, resulting in a sense of space and calm.

What can Cannabis Assisted Psychotherapy help with?

CAP is very helpful for somatic processing of tension, pain, trauma or survival energy that is stuck in the body i.e. anxiety, depression, PTSD/CPTSD, inflammatory and nervous system conditions - the same sort of issues that classic psychedelic psychotherapy can be useful for. It can also help with negative beliefs or just feeling stuck - allowing you to see things from a different perspective and gain new insights.

How does energy get stuck in the body?

When we go into a situation where we perceive that our survival is threatened, our bodies go into sympathetic arousal (fight or flight) to mobilise energy to deal with the threat. This is often referred to as acute (short-term) stress. Once this situation has passed and we feel safe again, our bodies innately seek to discharge this energy in some way such as shaking, crying, yawning or even laughing. Our bodies can be co-regulated by being in the presence of a compassionate and calm other, and physical touch like a hug is particularly effective just like you would calm a baby. We can also utilise nervous system regulation techniques like meditation, exercise, breathwork or spending time in nature.

If this down-regulation does not occur, or if the threat to one’s survival is long-lasting (chronic stress) such as war, domestic violence or financial stress, the nervous system stays in fight or flight. The body can only supply energy for this level of nervous system arousal for so long (generally around 6 months) before it starts to break down, leading to physical symptoms (stiffness, chronic pain & inflammation, digestive problems) and psychological symptoms (anxiety, depression, insomnia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) etc).

Similarly the energy in painful emotions like grief, guilt and shame are held in the body until they are addressed and released. We all have coping mechanisms to block out these feelings – distraction, numbness, disassociation, compartmentalisation, addictions and substance use. These mechanisms start out as adaptive, but they become problematic when they become habitual and we don’t process the underlying emotions. Keeping emotions pushed down and locked away (compartmentalisation) requires constant energy and limits access to positive emotions, and the internal barrier created is also present in external relationships. Distraction, disassociation and addictions are also highly problematic, yet these emotions still effect us, albeit from the shadows.

Processing this emotional content and learning to regulate the nervous system heals the mind and body, relieving symptoms and giving more energy for life!

What does the process look like?

Preparation session: This initial session involves running through intention (what they you working on), the cannabis-assisted session format and techniques to practise before the session. We also talk about dose and what strains they have been prescribed that would be most effective.

Cannabis-assisted session: We open ceremonially as per shamanic tradition, which energetically creates a safe space and signifies to the psyche that something significant is about to take place. The cannabis is imbibed with intention, and then the client lies down. I guide the client to feel into the body and to stay present with the experience as it unfolds. Energy will be felt in the body as sensations, or as tension or pain, and areas of the body start shaking or tremoring. These sessions are primarily somatic with a lot of shaking/trembling until tension is released (this process can be surprisingly intense), though there are often images and memories about the origin of the energy as it moves, along with insights about behaviour or beliefs. This is followed by a guided meditation, reiki & sound healing to help calm the nervous system down and integrate, followed by a debrief where we discuss the content of what came up during the session.

Note: I do not recommend driving after this session! Cannabis can significantly impair executive functions (focus and decision making), reaction time and fine motor control – please get someone else to drive you or take the train, or at home sessions are also available.

Integration session (optional): this is aimed at understanding the content of what came up and where it came from, along with working to shift it, using a more traditional psychotheraputic approach (in this case Processwork), along with learning coping strategies and other techniques to discharge survival energy and regulate the nervous system.

Client Feedback

"Incredible! What the hell just happened? I had no idea Cannabis could do that! My neck and shoulders have released so much." - Luke

"I feel so light and expansive, and have tingles all over my body...I've had that block for years and couldn't shift it before!" - Scott

What is the time and cost involved in the process?

  • Screening & preparation (1 hour) - $120
  • Cannabis assisted therapy session (3+ hours) - $395 (an at home session is available for an additional $100 on the NSW Central Coast)
  • Integration (optional - 1.5 hours) - $180

Location

Available at La Tierra Curativa, our beautiful permaculture oasis at 55 Glen Rd, Ourimbah on the Central Coast.



Book Now or contact me for further information