What Does a Trip Sitter Do?

A person who supervises others' psychedelic experiences.

therapist and client in office

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Originally associated with the counterculture movement of the 1970s, psychedelics are now receiving attention for their therapeutic benefits.

Trip Sitters

Trip sitters supervise another person's psychedelic experience to ensure their safety.

However, regardless of whether these substances are used recreationally or therapeutically, there is much controversy due to the sheer fact that they are criminalized. This means that outside of participating in a clinical trial these drugs are still illegal.

Taking psychedelics can lead to an intense experience, so many will look to a “trip sitter” to support them throughout their experience.

Read on to learn more about psychedelics and the role of a trip sitter. 

What Are Psychedelics?

Psychedelics are a class of drugs that disrupt an individual’s experience of reality. They alter one’s perception, cognition, and emotional state, with some drugs enhancing an individual's sense of physical sensations while others cause individuals to dissociate from reality.

Examples of psychedelics include:

What Does the Term 'Trip' Refer To?


A "trip" refers to the experience of taking a hallucinogen. Psychedelic drugs can lead to individuals experiencing the effects for hours. Therefore, when one takes a psychedelic drug, they are taking a “trip” from reality.

A psychotherapist offering psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in a professional setting would not use any of this terminology.

What Does a Trip Sitter Do?

A 'trip sitter,' also known as a 'sober sitter' or 'psychedelic carer' is a party who refrains from taking hallucinogens in order to take care of the person who is taking the hallucinogen.

They Make Sure That the Person Taking Psychedelics Is Safe

Since psychedelics can lead to long effects, a trip sitter can be essential to ensure everyone stays safe.

Recreational use of psychedelics can present a risk of harm to self and others, specifically due to the effects of feeling detached from reality. In turn, having a trip sitter can be important for maintaining the safety of the person experiencing the drug.

They Provide Support Throughout the Psychedelic Experience

A trip sitter may provide food and water, transportation, and general support to the individual who ingested the drugs.

In case of an emergency, they are the point person to determine the best course of action. They also might help set up a safe space for the person to enjoy the effects of the hallucinogens, removing anything from the area that could be used to cause harm. Remaining nonjudgmental is a preferred quality of a trip sitter.

Trip Sitters Will Allow People to Fully Experience the Effects

It is also ideal that they are nonintrusive, allowing the person who ingested the psychedelic to fully experience their trip.

What Is Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy?

A psychotherapist that specializes in psychedelic therapy may perform some of the roles of a trip sitter, but they also provide the support that stems from their professional experience.

Therapists Can Help You Understand Your Psychedelic Experience

For example, they are present to offer emotional support and may help make meaning of the psychedelic experience in addition to managing hazards and safety concerns.

The psychotherapy may be accompanied by preparatory sessions before, and integrative session after the use of the psychedelic. The frequency and type of psychotherapeutic interventions can vary. Clients are encouraged to tune in to the feelings, thoughts, and sensations they are experiencing and freely engage in the psychotherapy process. 

What Can Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy Treat?

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is gaining steam as an evidence-based treatment for:

During a session of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, a trained clinician is present to support the client for the duration of the experience.

Hallucinogen Use May Lead to Hallucinogen-Persisting Perception Disorder (HPDD)

Psychedelics, whether used therapeutically or recreationally, are not for everyone. It is possible for those who use psychedelic drugs to experience hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPDD).

What Is HPDD?

This disorder causes people to re-experience the perceptual symptoms that were experienced when the hallucinogen was initially used. These symptoms can cause significant distress or impairment in important areas of one's life.

Those who use psychedelics recreationally are at an increased risk for HPDD. While there has been little risk found for those using it in a clinical trial, research is ongoing.

A Word From Verywell

It can be tempting to turn to substances when experiencing struggles with reality. Despite the temptation, remaining mindful of the effects of drug use is critical. If you’re interested in using psychedelics for their healing effects, consider seeking out a clinical trial through the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

Crisis Support

If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental health crisis, please contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Julia Childs Heyl
Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.