In psychedelic-assisted therapy, we often talk about “set and setting“. This is one’s mindset going into a psychedelic experience (set), and the environment where the experience takes place (setting).
But set and setting also point to someone’s mindset prior to a psychedelic experience. Therefore, the “set and setting” also relate to setting expectations.
The “priming effect” is a popular concept in the field of psychology. It describes how exposure to a stimulus has a significant influence — consciously or unconsciously — on beliefs and behaviors.
From my experiences in psychedelic-assisted therapy, the psychedelic renaissance from the media seems to be having a priming effect on expectations for psychedelic journeys.
One colleague, in eager anticipation of a psychedelic experience simply stated, “I just feel like my brain needs a reset.”
Psychedelic-assisted therapy is not a panacea. It is a tool among tools, albeit a very different and sometimes profoundly impactful tool among tools.
Still, psychedelic-assisted therapy differs from other therapies in many ways. The drug and the set and setting in which it is delivered or experienced are often subjectively indistinguishable.
Preparing someone for the dosing session must include open and honest discussion around the experience.