Summation is below but full article can be seen here at https://psychedelicsalon.com/assets10/FisherCounterTransference.html
For a sitter to be helpful to a client, they must have travelled their own path with careful diligence and arrived at a state of compassion for themselves and others that gives them knowledge that we are all here to help one another in our own search for our own truth.
When the client enters into a state of clarity (transcendent consciousness) he sees all phenomena catering to a state of grace (eternal bliss, nirvana) and can embrace either or all of love, connection, and acceptance. The client not just accepts those aspects of their personal selves but accepts, with unconditional love, the total ‘soul condition’ of the sitter. This can lead to activation of the sitter’s awareness of their own self-judged deficiencies. The sitter is ‘being seen’ by the client and witnessing a graceful letting go that can lead to them feeling vulnerable and left out and, as a result, rejected by the client. This triggers counter-transference in the sitter who then rejects the client for rejecting them. All of this happens without having time to process the sequence of events. They are instantaneous reactions.
To avoid this, in the sitter and client relationship in the psychedelic healing world, it is at times recommended for the sitter to take a low dose of a psychedelic to become ‘stabilized’ in an ego-free state where they are most receptive to tracking the voyage of the client. It is not that they are going to actively direct the client or be completely immune from the feeling of possible rejection described above, but that they are in a state of consciousness where transcending one’s own ego boundaries and tapping into the consciousness of the client and knowing where they are coming from is more possible. In this way, the sitter doesn’t let their own issues dictate the energy as they are tapping more into the energy and relate-ability of the client.
In the early days of certain psychedelic experiments, a common practice for psychotherapists who wanted to understand the world of a schizophrenic would take a psychedelic and sit with a schizophrenic patient. In these experiments, autistic children would also be included and it was amazing how perceptive the comments of these children were concerning the therapists when the initial assumption was that they were much too regressed and disturbed to be aware of faults and imperfections of adults. Fortunately, the child patients were very accepting and used great humor and compassion in pointing out the ‘troubles’ and allowed all to see where the professionally trained therapists had held inaccurate reservations and judgment.
As individuals learn to sit in a state of total self-acceptance they automatically accept everyone else without reservations. When one holds reservations about another’s acceptability, one automatically rejects the other. This also is an instantaneous reaction in people. How a person loves another is simply a reflection of that person’s ability to love oneself. What makes this all so difficult is the difference between experiencing phenomena vs only having intellectual beliefs about them. The greatest obstacle to knowing something is to think you know it before you actually have the experience of the phenomenon. Reservations we hold over people in deeming them acceptable are very often coming from thought as opposed to experience.
A helpful procedure for sitters, or people merely trying to get along better, is to meet before working together and discussing counter-transference issues. This preparatory work is for all people involved. In a psychedelic/therapeutic healing setting, preparatory work for the client entails examining notions as to the nature of the psychedelic/therapeutic experience (fears, hopes and aspirations) and the development of a clarity of intentions. From these meetings, the sitters, and people overall, develop a decent idea of their counter-transference issues and focus is throw to this. The subtlety of how this process unfolds is amazing. It is of titanic importance in relationship building to uncover what “agendas” each sitter has for the client (or from one person to another). When we have an agenda for someone it pretty much always means we are not accepting them as they are in present-time state. For example, if an individual is obese, don’t we usually want them to lose weight? Wouldn’t they be happier and feel better about themselves and wouldn’t their bodies be under less stress? Regardless of the “realities and niceties and positive intentions” of our agendas, the result is that we are not accepting the individual in their “as is” state. In this psychic act we are joining the client in their own self rejection and confirming for them they are not acceptable “as is.” One of the strongest forces in creating a positive shift in an individual’s experience of themselves is to have them experience being totally accepted by another.
As therapists and people we are not always aware of how ‘the other’ experiences us and what we think is therapeutic may be completely different from what they experience as being therapeutic. When in session with people, or when merely having a conversation, it can easily become suddenly apparent that one is listening to themselves talk in the presence of others. In a scenario that was told to me once, a therapist asked a client if she had been listening and she responded with, “Oh no, I never listen to what you say, it doesn’t make any difference to me what you say – I just like to be with you.”
In another story, where a therapist treated a male adolescent schizophrenic, the sitter learned from the client how to be completely still and silent. It took them about six or seven sessions to catch on and the conflict about just being quiet drove the therapist insane. Feeling comfortable with silence, was eventually achieved and just sitting quietly ensued with neither of them talking. Twenty months were spent working in this way and at the end of the time together the client expressed how meaningful being with the therapist had been and went on to live a much more freeing, caring and positive existence.