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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

PT480 – Psychedelics and Consent: Power Dynamics, Boundaries, and the Concept of ‘Safe Enough’

In this episode, Kyle interviews Emma Knighton: Somatic trauma therapist, Vital instructor, and psychedelic integration therapist focusing on consciousness exploration, complex PTSD from childhood abuse, and queer identity development.

This episode is a bit of a masterclass on consent and boundaries within the client/practitioner relationship. She discusses power dynamics: how conflicts arise due to the breaking of established boundaries; safety, and embracing the idea of creating a container that is ‘safe enough’ to go into places that feel unsafe; and the importance of maintaining agreed-upon boundaries no matter how much the client may want to break them. They discuss ways to fulfill the need for touch when touch was not agreed upon, and the concept of practicing touch interactions before the experience – that playing out possible scenarios will create a somatic map so bodies remember what it feels like to be near each other while one body is deep in an experience.

And she talks about much more: What she’s learned from the kink and sex work community and their similarities with the psychedelic world; ways to handle consent in group settings; the clash between giving people agency but needing to step in and protect them; restorative justice models and how they could be used in a much-needed psychedelic practitioner accountability system; the need for practitioners to continue doing their own work; and how part of true consent is being honest about one’s own limitations or conflicts as a practitioner.

Notable Quotes

“We live in a compliance culture, not in a consent culture. So most of us have not actually learned what it feels like to be really attuned to consent in our bodies.”

“I don’t say, ‘This space is safe,’ I say, ‘We’re going to make this space safe enough’ – safe enough to do the thing, whatever the thing is. Safe enough to consent to the risk that is present. I don’t actually think that ‘safe, period’ exists for anybody anywhere. So it’s more about: What does ‘safe enough’ mean for each person? And that’s facilitators and clients, because facilitators: We have our own boundaries. And if we’re not attending to our boundaries and if we step over one of our boundaries in service of somebody else, that container is now out of consent, because we’ve crossed a boundary that we have. So we have to think about: What is safe enough for me to be in this setting and then, what does safe enough look like for the person or people I’m working with? And how do we create that?”

“I think part of the consent process and part of being an ethical and accountable practitioner is being really honest around: What do I know, what do I not know, and what do I not know that I don’t know?”



American Psychedelic Practitioners Association

Bettymartin.org: The Wheel of Consent

Psychedelics Today: PT290 – Kylea Taylor, M.S., LMFT – Vital Psychedelic Conversations

Integral Psychedelic Therapy: The Non-Ordinary Art of Psychospiritual Healing, edited by Jason A. Butler, Genesee Herzberg and Richard Louis Miller


The Consent Academy

Dr. Jen Chalmers
Dr. Jen Chalmers
Dr. Jen Chalmers is an accomplished writer and cannabis enthusiast. With a Ph.D. in Botany and years of experience as a researcher, she brings a scientific perspective to her captivating articles on cannabis news, recipes, and the fascinating world of psychedelics.

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