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  • Writer's pictureAlleviation Ketamine Infusions

The Impact of Set and Setting on Psychedelics: an Insight into the Felt Sense of Safety


The term "set and setting" is often used in the psychedelic community to describe the factors that significantly alter an individual's experience when consuming psychedelics. Set refers to an individual's internal state, such as their mindset, moods, and intentions, while setting captures the external environment in which psychedelics are consumed. In this blog post, we will examine how a sense of safety affects an individual's set and setting when receiving ketamine. We will dive into the polyvagal theory and neuroception to understand how they regulate the body's response to the environment.


The felt sense of safety is an essential factor that impacts the set and setting in ketamine therapy. The polyvagal theory states that in response to a perceived threat, the body can shift between a sympathetic nervous system state (fight or flight) and a parasympathetic nervous system state (shutdown) to protect itself from harm. The body can also move towards the ventral vagal complex, a safe and social state, which initiates feelings of social connection and relaxation.


Importantly, the felt sense of safety is not simply the absence of danger nor the presence of a safe physical environment. Polyvagal Theory describes how the felt sense of safety, through the ventral vagal complex and nervous system state, goes beyond simply not-being-in-danger.


The ventral vagal complex is the ideal state to cultivate when consuming psychedelics. It enables a person to experience a sense of safety, which allows them to let go of control and experience their emotions fully. Without the felt sense of safety, an individual may encounter difficulty surrendering control, and they may struggle to experience the beneficial effects of psychedelics.


Neuroception plays a critical role in determining whether an individual's body perceives a situation as safe. Neuroception is the unconscious detection of cues of safety, threat, or novelty. Therefore, if an individual's body detects cues of safety, they will shift towards the ventral vagal complex. On the other hand, if an individual's body detects cues of threat, they will shift towards the fight or flight response.


It is essential to create an environment that triggers a person's neuroception to shift them towards the ventral vagal complex. Multiple factors impact an individual's neuroception, such as lighting, music, and smells. For instance, low lighting conditions are known to promote relaxation. Similarly, calming music can also shift individuals towards the ventral vagal complex. Moreover, incorporating familiar smells can create a sense of comfort and promote relaxation. However, it is important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and each individual will have cues of safety and danger that are specific to them and their lived experience.


At Alleviation Ketamine, we prioritize the felt sense of safety by creating an environment that promotes peacefulness and safety. The therapy room is designed to be warm, inviting, and comfortable. Moreover, our team aims to form a positive relationship with our clients, building trust and creating a safe space for clients to share their most vulnerable emotions.


In conclusion, the set and setting of psychedelics play a crucial role in determining the individual's experience when consuming them, specifically in ketamine therapy. The felt sense of safety is critical in ketamine therapy because it allows individuals to experience their emotions wholly and surrender control. The polyvagal theory and neuroception offer a lens through which we can understand how the environment impacts an individual's sense of safety. Alleviation Ketamine's prioritization of this felt sense of safety creates a soothing environment that promotes relaxation, fosters trust, and enables clients to experience the benefits of psychedelics wholly.

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