The Psychedelic Society of Utah does not promote, support, or endorse illegal substance use. Educational content is for the purpose of harm reduction.
What is Integration in Psychology
In the realm of psychology, the term "integration" holds a central place, representing a fundamental concept that underpins various theories and approaches within the field. Integration in psychology refers to the process of combining different aspects of an individual's thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and experiences into a cohesive whole. It is a concept that emphasizes the interconnectedness of human functioning and offers valuable insights into understanding the complexities of the human mind.
The History Integration in Psychology
The notion of integration in psychology has its roots in the historical development of the field. Early schools of psychology, such as structuralism and functionalism, attempted to break down mental processes into their basic components or functions. However, as psychology evolved, scholars began to recognize the limitations of these reductionist approaches. Integration emerged as a response to the need for a more comprehensive and holistic understanding of human behavior.
However, modern psychology did not introduce the concept of integrating. Combining seemingly separate parts into a whole has been the focus of both community and individual wellness as far as we can trace back.
Shamanism is a profound spiritual and healing practice that has deep roots in cultures across the globe. It is a testament to the rich tapestry of human diversity and the myriad ways in which people connect with the spiritual and natural world.
Shamanism is not confined to a specific cultural or geographical region. It is a universal human phenomenon that manifests in various forms across different societies.
The concept of integration can be found across a wide variety of shamanistic practices throughout history far before the practice of modern Western Psychology.
Integration from Different Perspectives
While the definition of Integration according to Merriam-Webster is “to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole”, the concept of integration varies depending on practice and culture.
In Cognitive Psychology, integration relates to organizing information. It encompasses processes like decision-making, memory consolidation, and problem-solving, where multiple pieces of information are combined to form a coherent understanding.
In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, the integration of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors aims to create harmony among conflicting aspects of self, while modalities such as Internal Family Systems focus on integrating fragmented parts of self.
Humanistic and Biopsychosocial Psychology Models emphasize the importance of physical and social integration for individual well-being on top of thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and other conflicting parts of self.
Shamanic integration practices vary from culture to culture, however, most shamanistic practices support integration as a part of creating balance and harmony inside and outside of the self.
Integration with the land, nature, the community, spirits, ancestors, and spirit realms, has been practiced widely throughout Shamanic history for health and wellness and restoring harmony within an individual, their community, and the natural world.
Psychedelics, like Shamanism, have been used crossculturally throughout the history of humanity, often together.
A psychedelic experience can be induced in many ways and is marked by profound changes in perception, thoughts, emotions, and sensory experience. Psychedelic experiences can vary from joyful, creative, and transformative, to scary, challenging, and distressing.
Like the various types of integration mentioned above, psychedelic integration has a lot of meanings and encompasses the internal world of thoughts, emotions, internal parts, spirituality, and behaviors as well as the external world of community, nature, family, and ancestry.
Integration is an important part of all psychedelic experiences. Integration supports the transformative impact of the psychedelic journey. Without integration, a psychedelic experience is far more likely to cause damaging effects ranging from confusion and disconnection from reality to symptoms aligned with psychosis or trauma.
“Good” trips can also go awry without integration. Disappointingly, what felt like a life-changing psychedelic experience can quickly fade into a distant memory without any lasting positive impact. On the darker side, incredible experiences can mix with ego and desire for power inspiring thoughts and behaviors that can be dangerous to the self and others.
Integration planning is best when started prior to the psychedelic journey, however, late is better than never. It is important to find integration support that aligns with you. If you need help finding an integration facilitator, contact the Psychedelic Society of Utah.
Written by: Andrea Hanson M.Ed LCMHC
Andrea, founder and co-director of the Psychedelic Society of Utah
is a MAPS certified complex-trauma specialist with a passion for psychedelic-assisted individual and community wellness. Visit andreahanson.net to learn more about Andrea.