Integration in Psychotherapy

How to utilize what we’ve learned from the past while responding fully to the present

What is “Integration”?

Integrate: To form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning unified whole.

I use the terms “integrate” and “integration” in two contexts: as an overarching frame for psychotherapy work, and as a task or phase in psychedelic psychotherapy.

Integration in Psychotherapy

For most of us, some aspects of ourselves have been splintered off. (In psychological jargon, we say they have been “disassociated.”)

These separations result from our efforts to adapt to the world in which we’ve found ourselves. As our situations change, some of these adaptations become outdated and inappropriate. Yet when we encounter situations that seem like similar events from the past, we get stuck recreating circumstances we often wish to be free of. Or, worse, we end up believing such circumstances are inevitable or represent the true nature of the world.

Good psychotherapy works to update those aspects of ourselves, liberating them from robotic, outdated adaptive stances. The goal is to re-integrate those aspects into a more conscious, coordinated, functioning whole. That whole, integrated self utilizes what we’ve learned from the past while responding to the actual present. 

We become aware of past influences and gain their benefits without permitting them to control us.

Robert Bonazoli Integrative Psychotherapy in Boston, MA

Integration in Psychedelic Work

After the psychedelic journey, we want to make sure that what is learned, or seen, or has shifted does not fade like a profound and meaningful dream.

We want those benefits to integrate into the journeyer’s daily life—as an insight; a newly discovered personal capacity; or an altered perspective about the self, others, or the world.

While a ketamine or psychedelic journey can subtly or profoundly shift internal patterns, perceptions, and belief systems, this does not guarantee that one’s external reality, behavior, or a lifetime’s deep habits of thought and emotion will be spontaneously transformed. Lasting, positive changes must take root through deliberate Integration.

This entails taking what the journeyer perceives during the psychedelic experience—a fragile vision of truth, healing, freedom, or understanding—and helping the roots grow strong and deep. Integration allows us to change longstanding painful or limiting patterns, replacing them with healthier and more effective ones.

In practice, Psychedelic Integration involves systematically revisiting, exploring, and embodying what was experienced—using your intellect to make important connections, and your emotional side to identify, honor, and ultimately refrain from falling into old protective behaviors.

By committing to and practicing that process repeatedly, the possibilities glimpsed in the psychedelic journey can become a stable and permanent part of your life.

Begin your journey to healing.