PSIP 
Psychedelic Somatic Interactional Psychotherapy

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Graphic courtesy of the Psychedelic Somatic Institute

Biology Before Psychology

The basic fundamental approach that we hold as therapists is mental health issues are primarily biological responses coming from repressed or suppressed emotional charges. Our bodies have evolved for millions of years to be able to process trauma through the autonomic nervous system. The focus on the ANS is at the foundation to our approach. This model was developed by Saj Razvi, LPC through his early work in 2008 with Trauma Dynamics and his participation in the MAPS Phase II Clinical Trial of MDMA where Saj was a principal investigator. Steve Elfrink who is a co-founder of both OmTerra and the Psychedelic Somatic Institute was a research assistant to Saj for the peer-reviewed article for the Journal of Psychedelic Psychiatry on the PSIP Model. You can read that article here - and it is highly recommended to read it prior to contacting OmTerra. 

Why is the Autonomic Nervous System so Important?

All animals are wired to process trauma through the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The beautiful thing about the ANS is that it does require any training or techniques to process trauma - it is an innate ability that we all carry. Our challenge as people and as a culture is that we have developed incredible coping strategies to suppress and push down trauma. We distract, we eat, drink, do yoga, watch TV, take medication, do therapy, meditate or even take psychedelic medicines to heal. The challenge is these methods are designed to take us further away from what our bodies have been programmed to do for millions of years. We have become a culture where we cope with our symptoms of anxiety and depression vs. allowing the body to naturally process the trauma.

Our bodies seek something call homeostasis - a return to normal. The best example of this is our body temperature. Our body automatically keeps our body at 98.6 degrees - or close to it.  Just like our body wants us at 98.6 our bodies want us to return to a neutral state when it comes to stress, anxiety and depression.

Fight | Flight | Freeze

Most people have heard of "flight or fright". If we are startled or threatened we go into a heightened state of arousal, if things get more intense we go into flight or flight. If you are attacked by someone you may try to flee or fight back. If things get too intense or overwhelming and you cannot escape, you may go into a freeze response. A freeze response is where a person goes blank, checks out or may be the "deer in the headlights". This freeze is also known as dissociation. And dissociation is one of the most misunderstood aspects of mental health and one of our main focuses of therapy when working with clients. The beautiful thing about dissociation is that is has protected people for years. Also, as a young child if there was early childhood abuse, dissociation was a "safe place" when there was no safe place. A young child cannot fight back, but they can disappear in the fog of dissociation. The challenge with this mechanism of safety is that the event and the pain/trauma from that event lives on under the cloak of dissociation. The hopeful message for anyone with trauma is that there is nothing wrong with you - you are primarily dealing with biological responses to trauma. And within that knowing lies an incredible resource - your own body. Your body took you into these states and your body can bring you back through. That is what the PSIP model is focused on - bringing someone's body back to a homeostatic state by clearing or processing the dissociation, the held charges and the held or repressed memories. 

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PSIP 
Psychedelic Somatic Interactional Psychotherapy

Graphic courtesy of the Psychedelic Somatic Institute

Biology Before Psychology

The basic fundamental approach that we hold as therapists is mental health issues are primarily biological responses coming from repressed or suppressed emotional charges. Our bodies have evolved for millions of years to be able to process trauma through the autonomic nervous system. The focus on the ANS is at the foundation to our approach. This model was developed by Saj Razvi, LPC through his early work in 2008 with Trauma Dynamics and his participation in the MAPS Phase II Clinical Trial of MDMA where Saj was a principal investigator. Steve Elfrink who is a co-founder of both OmTerra and the Psychedelic Somatic Institute was a research assistant to Saj for the peer-reviewed article for the Journal of Psychedelic Psychiatry on the PSIP Model. You can read that article here - and it is highly recommended to read it prior to contacting OmTerra. 

Why is the Autonomic Nervous System so Important?

All animals are wired to process trauma through the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The beautiful thing about the ANS is that it does require any training or techniques to process trauma - it is an innate ability that we all carry. Our challenge as people and as a culture is that we have developed incredible coping strategies to suppress and push down trauma. We distract, we eat, drink, do yoga, watch TV, take medication, do therapy, meditate or even take psychedelic medicines to heal. The challenge is these methods are designed to take us further away from what our bodies have been programmed to do for millions of years. We have become a culture where we cope with our symptoms of anxiety and depression vs. allowing the body to naturally process the trauma.

Our bodies seek something call homeostasis - a return to normal. The best example of this is our body temperature. Our body automatically keeps our body at 98.6 degrees - or close to it.  Just like our body wants us at 98.6 our bodies want us to return to a neutral state when it comes to stress, anxiety and depression.

Fight | Flight | Freeze

Most people have heard of "flight or fright". If we are startled or threatened we go into a heightened state of arousal, if things get more intense we go into flight or flight. If you are attacked by someone you may try to flee or fight back. If things get too intense or overwhelming and you cannot escape, you may go into a freeze response. A freeze response is where a person goes blank, checks out or may be the "deer in the headlights". This freeze is also known as dissociation. And dissociation is one of the most misunderstood aspects of mental health and one of our main focuses of therapy when working with clients. The beautiful thing about dissociation is that is has protected people for years. Also, as a young child if there was early childhood abuse, dissociation was a "safe place" when there was no safe place. A young child cannot fight back, but they can disappear in the fog of dissociation. The challenge with this mechanism of safety is that the event and the pain/trauma from that event lives on under the cloak of dissociation. The hopeful message for anyone with trauma is that there is nothing wrong with you - you are primarily dealing with biological responses to trauma. And within that knowing lies an incredible resource - your own body. Your body took you into these states and your body can bring you back through. That is what the PSIP model is focused on - bringing someone's body back to a homeostatic state by clearing or processing the dissociation, the held charges and the held or repressed memories. 

OmTerra | Frequently Asked Questions

Please review this section prior to reaching out for a consultation.
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Frequently asked questions

What is a typical session like?


A typical session lasts 2-3 hours. We work with clients at our home in Williams, OR, at a local AirBnb for people coming to work with us or in their homes. Unlike traditional psychedelic therapy we do not use music during the sessions. Music tends to distract clients with this model. We prefer clients to sit up vs. lie down. A comfy chair or couch with good neck and head support is best. An intial session is typically a bit longer 3-4 hours. For a first session we first start with a resourcing exercise to have a place to bring you if things get tough and you want to resource out or to wrap-up a session. After resourcing we will do a non-medicine PSIP session with a non-relational traumatic event - typically a car, bike or skiing accident. This allows you to start to connect with your ANS and it starts to give us an idea of how your system is wired and your defence mechanisms and coping strategies with thing start to get intense. After the non-medicine session we will dive into a cannabis or ketamine assisted session. The trajectory of these sessions is always unknown until we start the process. We are simply following your bodies responses. We will be with you for this entire experience and gently nudging and guiding you to best activate your ANS. Once ANS is activated this can lead to a myriad of feelings and sensations - everything from "nothing", numbness, floaty, blank to extreme discomfort, nuasea, distress, hopelessness to extreme panic and terror. This may sound frightening, but it is all normal and simply your bodies way of releasing trauma. With cannabis a session typically begins to wind down after 1.5 hours. The remaining 1/2 hour to sometimes an hour can be spent integrating the experience.




What is PSIP (Psychedelic Somatic Interactional Psychotherapy)?


PSIP, the model used at OmTerra, was developed by Saj Razvi, LPC. Saj is a trauma specialist who has been involved with trauma treatment and training since 2008. The model is focused on a bottom-up approach to mental health - biology before psychology. Standard therapy models rely on a top down approach - using our cognitive abilities to figure out what is brining about our anxiety and depression. Or standard models focus on symptom management - teaching you ways to cope with your stress, trauma or PTSD. The goal of PSIP is symptom resolution by focusing on the biological core of trauma. By working at the core level of your trauma we can move out any held charges that are the generator of your symptoms. Another important component of the PSIP model is the interactional component. Trauma does not happen in a vacuum. Typically trauma is relational in nature and it takes a relational component to work through attachment wounds. And lastly the power of psychedelics. We work primarily with cannabis which is a true psychedelic when used in this model. Just like MDMA can be a party drug or a therapy drug cannabis works incredibly well with this model to reduce executive functioning and allows us a window of opportunity to activate your ANS.




Do you accept Insurance?


No, we do not accept insurance.




What if I live out of town and want to work with you?


We'd love to work with you! We work with people from all over the USA and Canada. In this situation, we have people fly into our regional airport in Medford, OR., rent a car and go to a local AirBnb that they have booked. In this case, we come to your AirBnb to provide the sessions. We recommend a private house, separated hotel suite or guest cottage versus a room in a house. Sessions can be very loud and intense. It is important to have adequate privacy for your session.




How am I going to feel after a session?


This is a common question with no one-size-fits-all answer. There is a spectrum of feelings that can be present after a session. Please see "Our Therapy Model" to better understand the states we mention here. Some people feel energized, freer, lighter and more clear. Others feel hopeless, nauseaous, or tired (State 3) or in working through State 4 (dissociation) they may feel fine post session. For many, it varies from session to session. If repressed memories of childhood neglect or abuse arise, it may be destabilizing to wake up to this discovery. We call that getting your reality rugged pulled out from under you. The world you have known is now very different, leaving the possibility of experiencing depersonalization or various other dissociative states. The important thing to know is that these are transitory. If difficult feelings persist over several days, sometimes the best course of action is to do another session to pop through the State 3 feelings. The important thing is to recognize that this is a process. If you experience depression, anxiety or PTSD, that likely took years to create and is what you've been managing and coping with for many more years. We are unraveling the knots of trauma and freeing you up from that tangle - this can take time. It can be intense. The key components for this work are patience, love, trust and compassion for self - things that many of us with trauma struggle with. These can take time to develop.




What kind of medicine should I use?


We highly recommend working with cannabis for your initial sessions. It's very effective at clearing dissociation, something most clients need to move through when beginning this work. It can be an indica or sativa, but we find that most people have a better experience with indica (considered 'body' cannabis) than sative (considered 'mind' cannabis). However, everyone's body is different and it is up to each person to decide what type of cannabis to use. We do not need you to be highly altered - just offline. What we are looking for on a scale of 1-10 (10 being very high) is around 5 to 7. A little bit of cannabis can go a long way with this model!




What if I'm a regular cannabis user?


No worries! Regular users may need more cannabis to get offline than newbies - but this model still works. The way we work with cannabis is non-discretionary when it comes to activating your ANS.




How does this compare to other somatic therapies?


If you have dome EMDR, Somatic Experiencing or Trauma Release you have gotten a small taste of this work. We think of it like these modalities tap into trauma in very small amounts, while PSIP, a much more intense model, moves into held trauma to allow the body to process the charge and release it. Other forms of somatic therapy tend to shy away from working with dissociation. For example, Somatic Experiencing uses pendulation to take someone towards and then away from dissociation. At OmTerra, we firmly believe the core of trauma lives under the cloak of dissociation and our goal is to help facilitate you in working through your dissociation into the rich world of trauma that resides there. The other big difference is that most other forms of somatic work do not utilize psychedelics. In a nutshell, this work is a much deeper, quicker, and, we think, more effective, approach to somatic work and healing trauma.




Why cannabis - isn’t that just a recreational drug?


Cannabis is a psychedelic drug that can be used recreationally or medicinally. When using it within the PSIP model, it is an incredibly powerful tool for working with trauma. The thing we regularly hear when someone finishes their first session is, "What the "#$%&" was that!?" or "That was so WEIRD!" We can assure you - you will experience cannabis in a way that you have never experienced it before. One woman we worked with stated that her experience on cannabis with PSIP was more intense and powerful than using 7 grams of psilocybin mushrooms. What makes it so profound is the level of held charge and emotions that are tapped into once the autonomic nervous system is activated. We know....seriously?!?! Yes, seriously!




Would it impact my process if I've done a lot of medicine work/journeys?


Short answer - maybe. We have found that people who have done extensive work with classic tryptamines (LSD, peyote, psyilocybin, 5-MEO DMT, ayahuasca, etc.), tend to take more time to be able to access their body/ANS. The medicines that seem to create the most challenge in accessing the body are ayahuasca and 5-MEO DMT. Although, this is not the case for all people and there does seem to be a correlation to frequency of use. Our main operating theory on why this is so is that people who repeatedly go out into deep transpersonal space are creating more transpersonal/mystical geography to venture to when it comes time to head towards trauma. We also typically see greater levels of dissociation with heavy use of ayahuasca and DMT. So, it can take more sessions to be able to work through the dissociation. Again, as stated elsewhere, all of these factors fall on a spectrum and not black and white. We know what's in there when we start doing sessions. Sessions are always a discovery process!




How many sessions will I need to do?


Our number one question! The answer is - it depends. It depends on many factors. A primary one being the complexity of one's trauma. The more complex the trauma, typically the more sessions are needed. Some factors to consider when wondering how many sessions are: -How old were you when you first experienced trauma? The younger you are the more sessions you typically will need. -Who was the perpetrator? Family of origin? Stranger? -How long was the abuse happening? -Did you have options for resourcing? A friendly, loving relative that was present for nurturance? -Were there siblings involved in the trauma - were they abusive or supportive? -Your personality type - are you highly sensitive? -Your current ability to access to your emotions? Do you easily sit with feelings or have a difficult time accessing them? The big thing to know that there is no quick fix for trauma. The longer and more sustained the abuse or trauma was happening equals more time to unravel the dissociation, held charge, and emotions. Also, we have found that as you unravel one layer of trauma frequently there are more layers. It is an ongoing process of peeling the trauma onion. But the beautiful thing to know is that there is a finite amount of charge within your system - there is an endpoint. Many people find through once they have cleared their system, there is benefit to continuing to clear out charge that occurs through experiencing life. The empowering possibility here is that most people can do sessions on their own to clear out ongoing charge.




What are the benefits of this work?


The biggest benefit of this work is the overall reduction of reactivity to life. Reactivity comes from held charge - reduce the charge and you reduce the reactivity. It is important to realize the your anxiety, depression and overall PTSD symptoms are all the result of these held emotions/events and their inherent charge. When you are experiencing anxiety or depression you are going through a slow release of your trauma. You can continue to let this slowly eek out - or you can choose to dive in and let go of large portions of this charge through doing PSIP sessions. What you find on the other side is a "you" that is not trying to manage the anxiety, the voices, the depression, the self loathing, the disconnection from your life. Once we start reducing the level of charge there is just more of you available to experience the richness of life. Classic psychedelic experiences expand one's awareness of the mystical connectedness of the universe. The PSIP model helps bring you back onto planet Earth. The bottom line is we are animals and biological creatures who are meant to be "of this Earth". This works helps you rediscover your basic nature as a human being, just being.




What medicines do you work with?


At OmTerra our preferred medicine over anything else is cannabis - even if we had full access to LSD, mushrooms, DMT, peyote, MDMA or ayahuasca we would choose to work with cannabis. There is value with MDMA for the PSIP model - but cannabis works better for dissociation. We do see value for the classic tryptamines for what we call Tier 3 work - the mystical experience, and as those medicines become legally available we looking forward to working with them - after the core work is done.




Do you supply the medicine?


We do not supply cannabis or ketamine and we only work with legal medicines. Currently psilocybin is decriminalized in Oregon, but not legal. The powerful thing here though is that for this fundamental somatic work to clear out trauma, cannabis works best.




Can I do this work without medicine?


Yes, absolutely! The beauty of the model is that it does work without medicine. Bringing cannabis onboard accelerates and deepens the process - but, non medicine sessions are an option.




How is this different from other forms of psychedelics therapy?


The biggest difference is the somatic/bottom-up approach combined with an interactional / directive approach. We are not trying to get you to an insight based mystical experience - we are working towards getting you into your body and activating your autonomic nervous system. Our approach is purely biological - we work with your trauma where it resides - in your ANS. Insight does not heal trauma - moving out and clearing dissociation and held charge does.




Who is not suited for this work?


This people is not recommended for schizophrenics, people experiencing psychosis, active substance abuse, pregnant women and people who are not able to afford the possible cost of doing multiple sessions.




What if I pull up repressed memories?


This is something everyone has to be prepared for. It is common for us to uncover repressed memories of abuse with this work. Unfortunately this is typically with women. One thing that is extremely important to understand that repressed memories are real. There is controversy in the field of psychiatry that they are don't exist and are typically false. Having witnessed people pop through to a repressed memory would convince any person that they are real. When a repressed memory is activated the person is transported back to the event. The sensations, feelings and pain of the event happen in real time as if the event was happening. It can be harrowing - and it will bring you a reconnection to a lost part of your self. Repressed memories are one of the more destabilizing aspects of this work. The majority of the destabilization comes from waking up to the fact that there was abuse that happened. The destabilization can be more pronounced if it involves a parent or close relative.




What are the payment options?


We except cash, Venmo, and Zelle. International clients may use PayPal. We do not offer a payment plan for sessions.




How much is a session?


A first first session usually runs 3 to 4 hours and subsequent sessions usually running 2 to 3 hours. We charge $175 per hour for PSIP sessions and for integration sessions. So a typical 3-hour session is $525.




Are you licensed psychotherapists?


We are not licensed psychotherapists. Kerry has an MA in Marriage and Family therapy but did not pursue her licensure due to her disillusionment in what she learned through graduate school. Steve holds a BA in Communications. Both Steve and Kerry have been mentored and trained with Saj Razvi who developed the PSIP model. Steve is the cofounder of the Psychedelic Somatic Institute and has worked with Saj Razvi for four years with this model. Steve and Kerry also have 50 plus sessions between them for their own personal work and continue to work with this model.




There are certain traumatic experiences that I do not feel ready to go straight into. Is it possible to avoid certain memories (at first), or do you find that the cannabis “decides” for people?


Great question - short answer, your body decides... with cannabis or any other medicine where you go - is where you go, we can't control it. We can a bit with non-medicine sessions and targeting an event that is non-relational. But even those at times will crosslink to another similar feeling state event. This is a huge "trust your body" moment. What I've seen in myself and others is your body has its own pathway and timing on what it wants to process and what order. For a lot of people without preverbal trauma it will start with the youngest trauma first. With pre-verbal trauma it seems to be a bit more scattered on the timeline of events - it may pick off some low hanging fruit prior to going deeper. I have also seen it where someone dives right into the Big Stuff. I've seen people approach "Big Stuff" and then back away from it. Kind of a sneak preview of something and then, "not yet." Bottom line - cannabis is just the key to open us to the ANS. How, what and when the body wants to process something fits into that innate knowing on how, what and and when. The biggest thing with this work is "trust your body." It knows what to do - mind, not so much. We "think" we know -- we rarely do.




Will I feel worse before I feel better?


Typically it does get worse before it gets better - the important thing to remember is we are not creating anything new during your sessions - just bringing up what has always been there. Also, we are not amplifying through the medicines what is in there - again allowing what has been stored to be released. Our own experience and what we have seen in others as long as you keep going in and clearing stuff out you will make it through. And, if you are stuck in a worse place, that is typically state 3 - best thing to do is continue to feel and if it is at that "i'm done with this, please help" the best option is a session to pop you through to state 2/1/0. It is intense work - and again, the most important thing to remember is "trust your body", your body will get you through this. With this being said, there can also be a challenging time once you hit Ter 2 - your fabric of reality. And, with all of this it really depends on your level of trauma..... the more complex, the more complex the unravelling is.




How many sessions does it typically take before people tend to see positive results?


Typically once someone is able to hit state 3 or 2 you will feel benefits. Any movement of charge brings relief - it may be small at first but typically noticeable. You are carrying less with each session - lightness begins. If someone is in State 4 for multiple sessions typically they will not feel much in the positive benefits realm department. Or if someone is stuck in their head and can not find their body. If we can get you into your body and experiencing waves - you will feel better. This can happen on your first session, but more typically it's after 2-3. The key is can you trust your body enough to surrender to it and allow it to do what its' been wanting to do for decades. Part of the feeling better is also in the knowing of "trust your body" - that you have found something that is helping.