The psychedelic experience is an inherently wild entity and it is useful in to have a strong and steady container to contain such a thing. Having certain strict confines for a session can help to promote feelings of safety and security. This in turn will help a journeyer to relax more deeply and navigate their journey more effectively.
Part of a container can be the structure, and part of this can be agreements between journeyers and guides. Agreements may differ depending on the intention of the session and the people involved. For example, if you are doing a group journey with friends, agreements will probably be more relaxed than those of a 1-1 session with a hired guide.
Leo Zeff’s Agreements
Leo Zeff was a pioneer of psychedelic therapy and the subject of the book The Secret Chief Revealed. In this book, he shares five agreements that he had with all of his patients:
1. They will not leave the house where we’re having the trip at any time during the trip without prior clearance from me.
2. They agree that there will be no physical harm or violence to themselves or to me or to anything else in the house.
3. Reiteration of the security requirement. They agree they will not reveal to anybody else where and with whom they had this trip without prior clearance from me, ever.
4. I ask them to agree—now if this is a woman or somebody gay—I ask them to agree that there will be no sex taking place between us. I’ll explain the background for these agreements in a minute.
5. The last one I ask them to agree is that at any time during the trip if anything is going on and I tell them to stop it, stop doing it, and I make clear, “This is under structure; it’s not just a recommendation or suggestion,” they agree that they will stop it. Or if I tell them to do something and I make clear it’s under structure they agree that they will do it.”
You might also have other agreements or rules in place to contain the experience, such as the journeyer turning their phone off and handing it to you for safekeeping until the day after.
You might also ritualise them somehow, by shaking hands, or having everyone say ‘I agree’. It can be good to say them out loud and have an express verbal agreement before the start of the session, or in certain circumstances it may be appropriate to have certain agreements written down on a piece of paper and signed.
If you are working as a guide, it is good practice to have agreements in place so that your journeyer can rest assured that certain boundaries will not be crossed, helping to create an emotionally safe space for the session.
The Secret Chief Revealed is available as a PDF on the MAPS website here. Tam Integration also wrote a piece about Zeff’s agreements you can find here.