A trip sitter (sometimes called a guide) is someone who remains sober and makes sure you’re safe while you’re having a psychedelic experience.
Psychedelics can be unpredictable, especially if you’re nervous about doing them or you’re in an uncontrolled environment. Trip sitters can provide support, comfort, and guidance during your trip, which can help you have a more positive time while on a psychedelic.
Here’s a look at how trip sitting works, how to choose a good trip sitter, how to be a good trip sitter, and alternatives to trip sitters if you’d rather take a psychedelic on your own.
What Is a Trip Sitter?
A trip sitter is a person who stays sober and makes sure you’re safe while you’re having a psychedelic experience.
Usually, a trip sitter is a close friend or someone else whom you trust. A good trip sitter can make your trip feel more secure and provide support for you if you begin having a negative experience or would like some guidance.
Why Is a Trip Sitter Important?
Psychedelics are more unpredictable than most other drugs.
How you experience a psychedelic depends a lot on your set and setting—your mindset going into the trip, as well as your physical and social surroundings while you’re tripping. 1
A negative mindset and an uncomfortable or hostile environment can cause you to have an unpleasant psychedelic experience (colloquially called a bad trip). Symptoms of a bad trip may include:
- Frightening hallucinations
Conversely, if you take a psychedelic while in a good mood, alongside someone you know and trust and whose company you enjoy, you’re more likely to have a positive experience. That’s why many people choose a trip sitter—a trusted companion increases your chances of having a good trip.
A trip sitter can help you navigate your surroundings, talk to you about what you’re experiencing, make sure you stay hydrated, offer support if you get anxious, and generally guide your trip, both practically and psychologically.
It can be particularly helpful to find a sitter who has previous experience with psychedelics. The effects of psychedelics can be difficult to understand if you haven’t experienced them firsthand, so many people choose guides who have taken a psychedelic before.
Trip Sitter Basic Dos and Don’ts
If you’re considering being a trip sitter for someone, here are some basic dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
If you’re the person taking a psychedelic, you may also find the information below helpful. It can give you a sense of how a good trip sitter can guide your trip and what their role should be.
Talk to the tripper before their session. Ask about any concerns, expectations, and things the tripper hopes to explore.
Address the possibility of a bad trip. You may also want to explain that negative experiences are always a possibility with psychedelics and that it’s okay if things get challenging for the tripper during the trip. Reassure the tripper that you’re there for them, and encourage them to explore any scary or negative experiences instead of running from them. Say that you’ll be there to talk the tripper through any challenging moments and that you’re also happy to sit quietly with them if they want to process those feelings on their own.
Stay sober for the tripper’s experience. Generally speaking, the sitter should avoid taking a psychedelic with the tripper. Part of your job is to be of sound mind in case something goes wrong.
Consider the tripper’s mental state. It’s normal for people to feel some anxiety before taking a psychedelic. However, if the person is very anxious, talk to them about their anxiety, and if you’re concerned for their wellbeing, ask if they’d like to reschedule.
Agree upon a location for the trip. Before the person takes the drug, work together to choose an environment that feels secure and comfortable for both of you.
Know the person for whom you’re sitting. A good trip sitter understands the tripper’s range of emotional states. Ideally, you’ll have a meaningful connection with the person for whom you’re sitting. You’ll know them well enough to help them feel safe if they get stressed or anxious.
Stay calm and balanced. Your job is to provide support for the tripper. Are you in an emotional state that will allow you to do that? If you’re in a negative mood or are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, etc., you may want to reschedule.
Check in during the trip. Questions you can ask the tripper include:
- Are you doing well?
- Can you describe what you’re experiencing right now? It’s okay if you can’t.
- How are you feeling?
Offer comfort and support. If the tripper seems concerned or anxious, offer support with phrases like:
- You’re doing great.
- You can handle this.
- It’s okay for things to feel challenging.
- It’s okay to be anxious.
- That sounds scary. Do you want to talk about it?
- You’re safe and this will pass.
- This is part of the journey. You can get through it.
- Everything is okay.
- I’m here with you.
Check in with the tripper after their trip. Ask them to describe their experience, including any insights they had. Talk them through any challenging moments and ask them why they think they experienced those hardships, and whether they think there was a lesson in them. This step is always a good idea but it can be especially helpful if the tripper had a difficult experience during the trip.
Don’t try to control the tripper’s experience. Your job is not to make sure the person’s trip goes according to any plan. It’s to support them and help them make the best of their trip, whatever comes up. If, for example, they start to have a negative thought, your job is not to get them back on track to a positive trip. It’s to help them talk about and sit with the challenging experience.
Don’t contradict the person’s experience or emotions. For example, insisting on being positive when the tripper is feeling negative, telling them to look on the bright side, telling them why their struggle is actually a good thing, etc. Provide comfort and reassurance and keep the tripper safe, but allow them to have their experience, whatever it is. Instead of telling what to think or feel, ask them open-ended questions and allow them to explore their experience on their own terms.
Don’t make or accept any sexual advances. Heightened sexuality is particularly common with MDMA, which isn’t a classical psychedelic but has psychedelic-like effects. The tripper is in an altered state and you are there to keep them safe and support them, nothing else. Don’t initiate anything sexual, and if they express interest in you, deflect with something like “Are you feeling intimate? Why do you think you’re feeling that way?” or “Let’s talk about that after your trip is over.”
How to Find a Trip Sitter
The best way to find a trip sitter is to talk to friends, family, or loved ones whom you trust and find someone who would like to sit with you during your trip.
Ideally, your sitter will have previous experience with psychedelics, although it isn’t required. The most important thing is that you feel safe and comfortable with the person you choose.
There are also professional trip sitter services in some cities. The good ones will set you up with a sitter whom you talk to ahead of time to develop a sense of familiarity and trust. Avoid services that simply send a stranger to you the day you plan to take a psychedelic.
Are There Alternatives to a Trip Sitter?
While there’s no substitute for a trip sitter, you don’t need someone with you to have a good psychedelic experience. Plenty of people take psychedelics without a guide.
If you’re going to trip alone, make sure you pay attention to set and setting. Go into the experience with the mindset that you’re willing to explore anything that comes up, positive or negative, and take the psychedelic in a safe, comfortable environment.
You may also want to make note of these services, which can provide support if you want to talk to someone while tripping:
- Fireside Project – (623) 473-7433: The Psychedelic Peer Support Line offers free, confidential peer support by phone and text message every day from 3:00 PM to 3:00 AM PST.
- Spiritual Emergence Service – 604.917.0117 (Canada): This free service assists people experiencing psychospiritual and transformational crises.
- TripSit Chat: A free, 24/7 chat room that provides live support for people who are tripping and in need of assistance.
Trip Sitter Frequently Asked Questions
Is a trip sitter necessary for the first time?
A trip sitter is not necessary—you can take a psychedelic without a guide. Plenty of people do. However, a comforting presence can make you feel more secure and will decrease your odds of a bad trip. Some people always have a sitter, even if they’ve done psychedelics many times before.
What makes a good trip sitter?
A good trip sitter is someone you know and trust and whose company you enjoy. Ideally, you’ll choose a close friend, family member, loved one, or someone else who knows you well and who puts you at ease. Your sitter should stay sober during your experience.
Will a trip sitter prevent a bad trip?
Nothing can prevent a bad trip with 100% certainty. However, taking a psychedelic with someone you trust can put you at ease and greatly decrease the chances that you’ll have a negative psychedelic experience. Remember to also consider set and setting.
A good trip sitter can help usher you through a bad trip, which could lead to a good outcome despite the distress while you were under the influence of a psychedelic.
Trip Sitter Things to Know
What is a trip sitter?
A trip sitter is someone who stays sober and sits with you while you’re under the influence of a psychedelic drug. Ideally, a trip sitter is a person you trust and whose company you enjoy. Tripping with a sitter can decrease your odds of having a bad trip.
Why is a trip sitter important?
- Psychedelics are more unpredictable than most other drugs.
- Their effects vary depending on your mindset and surroundings.
- Having someone with you who is a positive presence increases the chances that you will have a good experience while tripping.
- A trip sitter can also take care of practical concerns, like making sure you stay hydrated and that your environment is safe.
- A trip sitter decreases your odds of a bad trip.
- Many people choose to always trip with a sitter, although you don’t need one to have a good experience.
How to find a trip sitter
- Choose someone you trust and whose company you enjoy.
- Friends, family, and loved ones all make good trip sitters.
- Choose someone who’s comfortable being with you while you’re taking a psychedelic.
- There are also professional trip sitter services in some cities.
- These services will set you up with a trained sitter who can guide you through your trip.
- If you decide to do a service, find one that connects you with the sitter ahead of time so you can get to know them. Avoid places that simply send a stranger to your house the day of your trip.
Trip sitter dos and don’ts
As a trip sitter, you should stay sober during the tripper’s experience. Agree on a setting beforehand and make sure you both find it safe and comfortable. Your role as a sitter is to provide support and stay with the tripper through their experience, no matter what comes up.
A good trip sitter can be the difference between a wonderful psychedelic experience and a stressful, negative one. It’s especially helpful to trip with someone else if you’re nervous about taking a psychedelic or if it’s your first time.
Choose your sitter wisely, plan the setting ahead of time, set expectations and boundaries, and enjoy your trip.