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Psychedelic Harm Reduction
Supporting and Transforming Challenging Experiences
Zendo Project
Continuing Education (7.5 CEU)

Full-Day Workshop: Monday, April 24, 2017

This year, millions of people will use psychedelics outside of supervised medical contexts, many of them for the first time. Difficult psychedelic experiences can be frightening, but also potentially among the most valuable experiences someone can have. What can you do to help someone having a difficult psychedelic experience? What techniques are available for helping transform a potentially traumatic situation into a positive or even therapeutic one? What role has MAPS and the Zendo Project played at festivals, and what take-home messages are available for others interested in psychedelic harm reduction?  

Topics to be covered include:

  • Psychological and emotional components of a challenging psychedelic experience
  • Principles of psychedelic harm reduction
  • Techniques for working with difficult experiences 
  • Tools for integration
  • Sitter ethics
  • Drug testing

The mission of the Zendo Project is to provide a supportive environment and education to help transform difficult psychedelic and psychological experiences into opportunities for learning and growth.


We envision a world where communities are engaged in providing safety and support for people having psychedelic and psychological challenges; and harm reduction principles are used foremost to reduce the risks associated with substance use.

Training Outline

I. Introduction/Opening Circle
9:00 AM - 9:30 AM

  • Overview of Psychedelic Harm Reduction
  • Learning Objectives
  • Resources

II. The Zendo Project-Psychedelic Support Services and Psychedelic Sitting
9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Speakers: Sara Gael, Ryan Beauregard, Erica Siegel

a. Nature of the Psychedelic Crisis

  • The effects of psychedelics
  • Set and setting
  • Other Contributing Factors

b. Working with Difficult Experiences

  • The Principles of Psychedelic Harm Reduction
  • Sitter Tools, techniques, and protocols
  • Situations requiring additional assistance
  • Interacting with medical, security, and law enforcement
  • Integration
  • Ethics

11:30 AM - 11:45 AM

III. Harm Reduction Activism: Drug Checking, Dancing Safe, and MDMA
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

History and current state of drug checking in the U.S. and Europe, current and future drug checking technologies, and the intersection between harm reduction, decriminalization, and the legal regulation of illicit drugs.

Speakers: Emanuel Sferios, Chelsea Rose

1:00 PM - 1:45 PM

IV. The Historical and Political Landscape of Psychedelic Harm Reduction and The Manual of Psychedelic Support
2:00 PM - 2:45 PM
Speaker: Annie Oak

V. Harm Reduction at Portugal’s BOOM festival: A Post-Prohibition Model
Speaker: Maria Carmo Carvalho

VI. Closing Circle
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

zendo image

Developed by MAPS in 2012, The Zendo Project provides a supportive environment, specialized care, and education designed to transform difficult psychedelic experiences into valuable learning opportunities, and even potentially offer healing and growth. In turn, our work reduces the number of drug-related hospitalizations and arrests. We envision a world where communities are engaged in providing safety and support for people having psychedelic and psychological challenges; and harm reduction principles are used foremost to reduce the risks associated with substance use.


sara gael

Sara Gael, M.A., MAPS Director of Harm Reduction, received her Master’s degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology at Naropa University. She began working with MAPS in 2012, coordinating psychedelic harm reduction services at festivals and events worldwide with the Zendo Project. Sara was an Intern Therapist for the recently completed MAPS Phase 2 clinical trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD in Boulder, CO. She maintains a private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in trauma and non-ordinary states of consciousness. Sara believes that developing a comprehensive understanding of psychedelic medicines through research and education is essential for the health and well being of individuals, communities, and the planet.


ryan beauregard headshot

Ryan Jay Beauregard, Zendo Project Manager, received his B.A. in Psychology from Claremont McKenna College, and spent 10 years mentoring at-risk teens and families through wilderness survival skills and nature connection. His passion for community connection, the environment, and intrapersonal healing continued with his involvement in permaculture, natural building, and ancestral grief rituals. As a volunteer with the Zendo Project since 2013, Ryan has had the opportunity to connect and expand the scope of psychedelic harm reduction in communities and festivals all over the globe. As the Zendo Project Manager, he integrates his skills in psychology, design and and community engagement. When he isn’t on the road with the Zendo Project, Ryan can be found at his home in Boulder, CO enjoying the great outdoors, experimenting with sustainable technology, and designing websites, logos and sacred geometry art.


chelsea rose headshot

Chelsea Rose, Zendo Project Operations Coordinator, graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles Honors College with a B.A. in Psychology in 2007, and received her Masters in Integral Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2012. She has a passion for harm reduction as a therapeutic and practical approach to drug use and abuse prevention. Chelsea also works for DanceSafe, a public health organization, as manager for the reagent testing kit program. She is also a crisis response worker at her local hospital emergency room for patients in psychiatric crisis. She lives in the Sierra foothills of California with her husband Alexandre, who is also involved in harm reduction work, their three children, and their bearded dragon lizard.


annie oak headshot

Annie Oak, Founder of Full Circle Tea House, has provided water, shelter and compassionate support at festivals and events since 2011. An inspiration for the Zendo and other tea house risk reduction projects around the world, the Full Circle Tea House offers care that supports the privacy of participants. Annie is also the founder of the nonprofit Women's Visionary Congress and co-founder of the production company Take 3 Presents. She is a resident of Haight-Ashbury, America's first psychedelic neighborhood.


emmanuel sferios

Emanuel Sferios, Founder of Dancesafe, is an activist, educator and harm reduction advocate. Founding DanceSafe in 1998 and starting the first laboratory pill analysis program for ecstasy users that same year (now hosted at, Emanuel pioneered MDMA harm reduction services in the United States. Today Emanuel is producing a full length documentary on MDMA, highlighting its role in the treatment of PTSD, as well as harm reduction as a practical alternative to three decades of failed efforts at prohibition.


maria carmo headshot

Maria Carmo Carvalho, KOSMICARE Manager, BOOM Festival, Portugal, is a Lecturer at the Faculty of Education and Psychology at the Catholic University of Portugal. She researches if the field of psychoactive substance use and has completed a MSc and a PhD at the University of Porto on the field of psychoactive substance use, youth and recreational environments. She is Vice-President of ICEERS and Kosmicare Boom Festival manager since 2012.


erica siegal

Erica Siegal M.S.W., has been volunteering with MAPS since 2011, including several years with the Zendo Project. She is the Zendo Project Volunteer Coordinator. She is currently Study Coordinator on the MAPS-sponsored trial MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat social anxiety in autistic adults. Erica serves as Volunteer & Harm Reduction Coordinator for RGX Medical, a company that provides medical, first aid, and harm reduction services at over 30 festivals a year.

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