The guide for the guide

An introduction to psychedelic trip-sitting

Farid Alsabeh
9 min readMay 6, 2021


An artist’s rendition of visual hallucinations (Source)

A shaman, a ferryman, a doctor, a midwife. A trip-sitter is similar to all of them — similar, but not identical, because their task doesn’t involve a myth or an oar or a prescription-pad, but very simply, a trusting relationship.

A trip-sitter is a person who guides and supports the taker of a psychedelic drug. As far as the drug is concerned, the trip-sitter can be richly experienced or completely oblivious; they can partake alongside or observe from a distance. None of these conditions are essential: the only essential condition is their facilitation of the psychedelic experience.

As a potential trip-sitter, you may find yourself unsure and intimidated. This inner hesitance is no stumbling block, but rather an encouraging sign, because it indicates the proper recognition of a responsibility. To guide someone through a psychedelic experience is a careful undertaking, and if done correctly, it can provide both the trip-sitter and the taker with a deeply meaningful experience.

This article is meant as a brief introduction to potential trip-sitters, who find themselves wanting to be as prepared and helpful in their role as possible.

The frame: set and setting.

The psychedlic trip doesn’t start when the drugs are taken. It begins some time before, when the individual first develops the intention of having it, and begins to plan out its logistics. And just as the quality of the drugs must be ensured, the quality of the intention and plan must be also.

This aspect of the trip can be understood as its frame, in the sense that it provides the context of the experience. The terms set and setting have emerged in psychedelic culture as helpful references to the framing of a trip: as the two major determinants of its succcess.

Set refers to the user’s mindset — their state of mind going into the trip. How do they feel about this coming experience? How do they feel about themself? Does anything concern them or give them pause about it?

Setting refers to the user’s environment — both their immediate physical surroundings, and their relationships to anyone present. Are they in a safe and comfortable…