top of page

133. Mystical Drug Experiences, Connection, and Existentialism With Dr. Nick Beller

Nicole: So, the first question I like to ask each guest is, how would you introduce yourself to the listeners?

Dr. Nick Beller: I would introduce myself as Nick. Other people probably would refer to me now as Dr. Beller, Dr. Nick, um, you know, my therapist, my friend, my brother, I'm just Nick.

Nicole: Well, thank you for coming onto the show, Nick. And I'm excited to talk about relationships, the ones to higher powers of education, right?

The healthcare field, all of that today with you. Yeah. So we can start this anywhere. Where does your story begin? Where would you want to take the listeners?

Dr. Nick Beller: I think the first thing that stands out to me was a class that I had to take first year of graduate school. And in this class, we had to do this immersion assignment.

And that immersion assignment was basically put yourself In a community, not your own do a project on it. So this was, I believe, 2018, all of 2018. So at that time, I was really starting to get worried. I was very concerned about what I was seeing politically after the, the election in 2016, um, escalating.

Episodes of extremism that I was, that I was following around the country. It was very worrisome to me. And so this project that I wanted to do, I'm like, I want to sort of embed myself in a white supremacist group, because this was the thing that was most concerning to me right now. And just based on how I look, like I'm core demographic, those people.

So I felt like that was something that I wanted to get a better understanding about, like, why is this? Something that is reemerging again. Um, that was very worrisome to me. So brought this to my professor at the time, like, I'm going to embed myself in a white supremacist organization and she was like, I might have to run this up the flagpole to see if we can allow you to do that.

Um, so that got sent up to the Dean. Uh, Dean was like, this is over my pay grade. So sent up to the president of the university president said no. I'm like, okay, so I'll figure out something else. So again, this is 2018. This is pre 2020 election, pre January 6th. One step down in my eyes, instead of like a full on, like, hate group, white supremacist organization, um, was they had a local chapter of the Proud Boys, not too far from where I lived.

Maybe this would be something that would fill the requirements of this project, but still be related to this thing that I wanted to do. Mm hmm. Same, same thing. Really? I mean, president. No, no, no. So I'm getting frustrated at this point because this was the general area that I wanted to investigate and met the parameters of what they wanted us to do.

And so I had to dial it back 1 more time and I proposed just interviewing Arthur Jones. So I don't know if you're familiar. No. So Arthur Jones is a, um, he's run for political office a number of times. He has an office in Lyle and he is a known, uh, Holocaust denier during the midterms in 2018. I believe he got like 18 percent of the vote.

Very, very concerning. A hundred thousand people like, yep, that's, that's someone that we want to represent us in Congress. And he's old. He's, I think in his seventies now, so pretty. Benign has like a, like an actual office outside the suburbs of Chicago. So like, what if I just like interview this guy? He likes talking, right?

I don't feel like there's really a threat there. And it was the same, same thing, you know, like, no, no, no. So this whole, this whole escapade of me trying to do this, I think unfolded over the course of like two or three weeks and it ended up. I want to say probably foreshadow some other things that ended up transpiring like during graduate school with hitting these barriers.

Yeah. And I think the real, the real big thing about that's that's that situation that unfolded for me is when you walk into our school, there's this big mural of Gandhi that says be the change you want to see in the world, but they should probably put an asterisk that says be the change you want to see in the world under these conditions.

Yes. So I was, I was very frustrated with, yeah. That's my, my first year of graduate school, but, but yeah, that, that really set the tone for, I feel like the next thing that I ended up hitting a big career on, which was something that I still am very committed about and care deeply about and feel like is kind of where mental health care is eventually going to be integrating more effectively, like into treatment, which is like psychedelic assisted psychotherapy.

So my dissertation, I investigated the intersection of improve resiliency to global stressors, mystical experiences that had resulted from psychedelics and several people that I had interacted with. Staff faculty, you know, why are you looking at that? That's not going anywhere. You're wasting your time.

Wow. That was kind of disheartening to hear that. But, um, apparently those people don't know me say some stuff like that to me, and it's almost like, I'm going to I'm going to double down on this now and why you're wrong with regards. This because I have a, it's not just like a conviction. It's like, this is an evidence based conviction based off of what I've looked at.

So that I think was more an exercise in finding people that were going to be supportive in that process to me and how to work around some of the obstacles being other people. You know, that were keepers more or less, you know, in the gatekeeping of getting, um, a doctorate, the gatekeeper towards becoming recognized as a professional in the field.

There's a lot of that, you know, yes. And so, luckily, I found some people, you know, the people in my dissertation committee, my dissertation chair that were really supportive through that process. But even they were pretty up front. They're like, you're probably going to meet some resistance on this neck.

But that was good. I'd rather have someone be honest about it and help me work through that rather than have me try to navigate it on my own because it's way harder to try to figure it out on your own. Not having anybody in your corner that actually believes in you, you know, you and something that you have a conviction about.

So that that was really helpful to have some of those people behind me at the time. And I guess, like, some of the barriers that came up with that were, I don't want to assume that this was the case, but my, my chair had told me that she had not had someone that had their IRB approval sent back so many times, and she's like, I feel like it's just the nature of this project, Nick, you're investigating people's illicit drug use and the positive benefits that they've had from that.

Oh, no. So. But, but honestly, Nicole, that, that has come from talking with so many people over the last decade or so and talking about their experiences with psychedelics, both in like a spiritual or like ceremonial setting or in a recreational setting and having profound positive impacts. On their life, we'll say that maybe it was they had some difficult experiences with it, but just fundamentally, they would talk about it differently than other drugs, friends that I know that are in recovery from alcohol abuse or opioids or stimulants or anything else.

It was. Just talked about in such a different way that it almost didn't feel like it was a drug per se, in the same way that some of these other substances were just having that on an ongoing basis was very reinforcing and finding community and the people that were using these and talking about experiences and trying to process what was happening in the world at the time and how this was.

A way to do that, that didn't cause their anxiety to spiral or have them feel more grounded despite all the chaos that's been going on, particularly for us, you know, the last, I don't know, last 10 years, they've been wild for our generation, but like, historically, like the amount of things that have transpired have been pretty, um, atypical.

Nicole: Absolutely huge and our access to even knowing this information right in the last 10 years and is wild as a society to change into. But yeah, thank you for sharing your story and unpacking that here in this space together with all the listeners. I'm, I'm thinking it brought up a lot of things for me, even just when I first was thinking about doing my dissertation on non monogamy.

I remember one of my professors literally asked, is there enough people to actually do that research on? And I was like, yes, but like, even that question, right, like, is there enough people to do a dissertation on non monogamy? I'm like, damn, you get that sort of power differential, right? And I could have taken that and been like, oh, maybe I shouldn't do this and ran away from that question, you know, but even more, I think it's interesting.

I had someone who I knew in the program who wanted to do their dissertation research on um, sexual violence perpetrators and how to rehabilitate them. And they couldn't get approval anywhere to do that sort of work. And it's like, we need someone doing that work, right? Like that is deeply what we need.

So it's really frustrating to hear the amount of gatekeeping for these areas that are maybe more, what, like you said, potentially dangerous for the student. I don't even know what their, you know, reasoning was with the proud boys and all the other pieces, because we need someone who can do that work.

Right. So it is a hundred percent frustrating. One of my colleagues at sauna now, like her institution isn't even recognizing the hours that she's doing for training at sauna because they wouldn't approve it as actual hours to accrue towards her requirements. So my school luckily approved it and said it's okay.

But her school, she can't even put it on her application for, um, training for internship and list those hours. Cause it's not. Approved by the school, even though, like, you know, I know the amount of vast research on the benefits of this sort of work. So it is absolutely mind boggling to me that we have to go through all these different gates, um, and the power that they hold within that to control our careers and control the type of research we can put out into the world.

Dr. Nick Beller: And that that's sort of attitude I feel like is endemic of just like large institutions generally not I'm not going to say for everybody, but I think for a lot of large institutions, it's, it's like trying to steer like an aircraft carrier, you know, it takes so long for it to even. Change direction a little bit, and it takes so much effort to do so that I think people that have new ideas, they just stay away from those places because they know that they're going to have their wings clipped or going to be put in a position that prevents them from trying to be innovative and trying to be creative and advancing.

I mean, for us, the field of psychology, but this applies to anything. And it could be for technology. It could be for other sectors of health care, for the arts, it could be anything. Yeah. That I think is really, really a shame that there's not more fostering of that, that you need to have experience for, for experience sake, that you can't just, you know, have spaces to try new things, see what works, see what doesn't work, and then pursue that in a more rigorous way.

Well, that's how everything has progressed over history, and I don't have a good answer as to why I think that has increased, particularly over our lifespans as we're emerging professionals and the world. Yeah, but I don't think that, again, this might be just me just putting ideas out there, but I don't feel like other generations had those same barriers they were able to enter into things.

With less restrictions earlier on in their life. And that's what allowed so much innovation to happen, like over the last, you know, 200 years, basically. So I don't know if you have any thoughts on that.

Nicole: Well, I mean, that's how the research started with psychedelics, right? There wasn't this big pushback on it.

There was lots of exploration, right. Before we clamped down with the drug wars, right? Like that was the history of it. You might know more specifically of it, given your research background of, you know, I've heard about like, yeah, just the expansive ways that we were using psychedelics, like MDMA and couples therapy and all this other stuff.

And we're seeing really great data with that. And that was happening. Yeah. In the 70s, right?

Dr. Nick Beller: I was before this in the 50s, in the 50s, and then all of that research that was. There was a lot of it, maybe not to the same level of scientific rigor that we have today, but there was a lot of it. Um, there was a lot of it.

That was very promising. And it, to me, it almost feels like, like, it's a, it's a professionalism issue. It's an ethical issue. And it's almost like a moral issue because there was basically a political incentive that handicapped the field for 50 years. You know, what could have happened if that was not put into place that's, that stopped this initial wave of research in this field from progressing for 50 years.

That's a long time.

Nicole: It's a lot of healing that could have happened.

Dr. Nick Beller: And the flip side of that is like, what is the amount of pain that has resulted because there are not good modalities and ways to address these real issues that people are facing on a daily you know, the, the data for suicides came in recently for last year and last year.

Were the most suicides most completed since we started recording data on that and I even tell people when they look at statistics for mental health related issues that every any number that you probably see is probably artificially low because those numbers are what we know. are reported. Those numbers are what are confirmed.

You have an issue like suicide or you have things like depression or anxiety or trauma or any of these other issues that, you know, they're an influx of people trying to get real help for. I don't know what the order of magnitude is difference in terms of what the actual number is versus what's reported.

I don't know if it's Double triple 10 times. I have no idea, but I know that the numbers that we see are artificially low. And even those numbers are really shocking. They're very shocking for the amount of loss of life, you know, so it's, um, you know, I'm sure you feel the same way about this, but I part of what led me.

To getting into the field in the 1st place was it's been embarrassing that this field of mental health has settled for mediocrity for so long and that that has been the status quo. And that to me is unacceptable. Like, as as a provider. To just piddle along in a way where you're not trying to make lives better in a very tangible way by exploring what else is available other than throwing pharmaceutical drugs at people for the rest of their lives.

That to me is insane. It really is. And it's what gets me up in the morning. It's what keeps me going and knowing that I'm able to work with people and we've helped them get off of psychiatric medication. We've been able to see what might be other potential modalities. Not saying that like psychiatric medication, like, isn't helpful.

But I think that it's the first line of intervention for people, and it might not be needed. There's been so many people that I've worked with, and they, they're not saying that they need meds. They're isolated people. They've had these deep seated traumas that have occurred for repeatedly over a number of years, and just throwing a pill that blunts your emotional response is not going to resolve any of that.

Nicole: Yeah, and I love that. We can talk about this in the space, right? And be able to name that because I think that's even a narrative in and of itself. That isn't talked about enough how like, someone can go to a primary care physician. They mentioned any sort of light anxiety and they're like, here you go, take this and even as someone who was on them myself, like, I don't think I was given the full, like, informed consent discussion of what these drugs are, right?

It was like, Hey, this will help you try this, but there wasn't any sort of discussion about the, like, even the withdrawal. Yeah. Like the fact that this is a drug that you're going to have a withdrawal from and have this whole process. Um, and so it was fascinating to go into my psychopharmacology class and like learn about SSRIs, right?

And they were like, yeah, these drugs, blah, blah, blah, they have this, there's no withdrawal at all, blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, raise my hand. As someone who's taken this drug, let me tell you, getting off of it produced a significant body experience. Let alone like the obvious, like, meaning making experience existentially of like, every time there was any sort of anxiety.

Um, producing event. It was a question of. Can I handle this? Or do I need to be back on the drug? Right? Like, it creates such this complex cycle, um, that I think it's important to name the amount of people who are given this drug so quickly when there are other modalities that are helpful, um, and being able to name that, I think, is an important piece.

And it's funny because I've heard, you know, how, um, there's the prescribing privileges. For, um, people who want to get that additional training to have that as a psychologist, but I've heard that most psychologists who get prescribing privileges actually are helping people get off of medications rather than onto further medications, because typically clients have such like a, a slew, a cocktail, right, of all these different drugs going on and frequently there's not even writers doing the work to like, look at, hey, you're on a lot of different medications.

Like, how are these all interacting? You just keep getting prescribed, prescribed, prescribed. And. It's wild to me, all the, the drug prescribing we're doing, and especially when there's other options available that have other benefits to talk about,

Dr. Nick Beller: you know? What's the goal? That's what I think of when I prescribe something.

What is the goal? Is the goal just to not feel depressed or not feel anxious anymore? And, you know, this has become like a core part of my therapeutic approach with people, Nicole, where... Yeah. If you come in and you tell me you want to get rid of the anxiety, or you want to get rid of the depression, or you want to get rid of like the trauma response from what has happened in the past, there's going to be some other stuff that comes along with it.

I'll tell the story really quickly because there was someone that I was working with earlier this year. Was dealing with very intense, um, situational panic when she would drive to the point where she really couldn't get on the highway, had difficulties driving to work, difficulties going to the grocery store, because she would have almost to the point of having a panic attack when she would get, and we started to go through as to, well, what was The precipitator for this, and she kind of already knew, but just really hadn't made a lot of contact with it.

A lot of conscious contact with the precipitator. And so she had a, a very traumatic phone call from her son, who had been very severe car accident son was fine, ended up being, but at the time was unsure whether or not like son was going to make it. So it was every time she got in her car, it was almost like it took her back to this phone call that her son had made to her after this really significant car crash.

And I like this stands out in my mind that she had told me like, I just don't want to feel so anxious and panicky whenever I drive because it's so impairing to my life right now. Right. And I said, okay, I'll make you a trade. I will take away. The anxiety, but I got to take something else that comes along with that.

And she's like, well, what else has to come along with that? I'm like, I also have to take away how much you love and care about your son, like, you want to make that trade and that I think was the 1st time that you recognize that the anxiety was signaling something else. And she just wasn't paying attention to what the signal was.

So I use that language a lot. Nicole, I use the language of, are we going to talk about these things as symptoms? Yeah. Because if it's a symptom, you're going to look at it as a problem. And if you're looking at it as a, as a problem, you're going to think it's got a solution to it. And that I feel like is not the right way of approaching psychological distress, because if you look at these things, like their signals, that means that it's, it's a message.

They're trying to communicate something to you. You know, if you don't know Morse code, Morse code is just. It's going to sound like beeps, but if you understand Morse code, it's like I understand like what this is trying to communicate to me now, and I'm able to. Interact with the world in a way that I didn't previously have the ability to do it.

Kind of helps to reshape this narrative of like yourself as a person, rather than yourself as a problem. And I think a lot of people have that internal narrative of themselves when they're dealing with some of these issues. It's like they are a problem, not that they are a person dealing with something that was very difficult at the time.

And I know a path forward, right? But there's gotta be hope. Like, if you can't, if you don't even believe it's possible, you know, it's, it's tough.

Nicole: Absolutely. Absolutely. So then it's that reframe for you. That makes that huge difference when you're working with clients of how you're assessing these things.

Dr. Nick Beller: That's a big reframe that I'll do just to see if they even are open to considering that. Thank you. The thing that they are identifying as the quote unquote problem. I don't even like saying that things are problems to be honest with you. I'm like, if I was to take, like, if you take away the pain response, like you're, you're most of the people that don't have that, like the genetic disposition to not feeling pain, like they don't live very long because they're not able to take in that information from the environment that's crucial for survival.

So it's almost like that, but in a more abstract way, wanting to shut down something that is crucial for you to stay grounded and. Be aware of what's happening in the world, or do you want to just totally feel blunted and disconnected from everything? That aspect, the feeling disconnected from people's bodies, from their communities, from their families, from their friend groups, from their work, from everything.

That comes up so much in the work that I do with people. So much.

Nicole: Everything, dare I say. I mean, there's experiences like that one you just mentioned with your client where there's like moment happens, but frequently what I'm seeing is how much the lack of connection that a lot of people have or the connections that they do have are ones that are maybe harmful or not empowering connections that bring people down.

Like, a lot of the psychological distress that I see is, is centered around that, like, community and connection factor. Okay. And maybe that's my lens as a, uh, I work from like a relational cultural theory perspective. So it would try and take away even all of the diagnoses to come back to a question of like, yeah, are they connected to their environment, the people, um, all those other pieces to look at what is causing the distress rather than placing the blame on the individual as much.

Dr. Nick Beller: Or what is having the biggest impact on their distress right now, you know, for some people, it might, you might be looking in the wrong place. I know a question that I really, because I work primarily with people that are struggling with addiction, a question that I usually will ask after they sort of told me, like, these are the substances that are causing issues for me right now.

Not that everything is a problem for them. I just want to know which ones are causing problems. And I'll ask, what does it feel like when you. When you drink, when you drink alcohol, what does it feel like when you, when you shoot heroin? What does it feel like when you're smoking meth? And the description and the detail that people put into that answer is probably something that really helps me.

Because it really gets to the core of what they're looking for, you know, I had someone that told me that when they shot heroin, it felt like being hugged by their mom just shatters your heart. Yeah, someone tells you that, that that's what it feels like when they're shooting up heroin. And then this, this traumatic childhood disconnected.

From a, from a parent that they were just seeking this like love and connection from. Totally. And other descriptors like that. I had someone else that told me that when he would exhale meth, that it felt like he could visibly see all of his insecurities leave his body. Powerful. Powerful imagery. Yeah. Mm hmm.

People are thinking about this when they're, when they're using and they find themselves stuck in this, this cycle of addiction. Um, that helps me way more than how much are you using, you know, is, you know, just going through the diagnostic checklist of like, whether or not it would meet criteria for a substance use disorder or not like that doesn't tell me a whole lot in terms of.

How to address this, because if someone tells me that when they're exhaling smoke of when they're smoking meth, it's releasing all their insecurities. Well, like, what are the things that you're insecure about that you're holding on to that are causing issues, you know, when you're, when you're telling me it feels like you're being hugged by your mom.

When was the last time someone hugged you, man?

Nicole: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Right. I mean, it's wild to me. You had mentioned like the more morality issues of the field, right? And stuff and like this, this view of drugs and the moral issue that's connected to that. And then the judgment that comes on to any sort of client who has it may be a chaotic relationship to substances, right?

Like it's all tied up in that, um, as well as the disease model, right. That we sometimes work from of like, this person has this disease. Here it is. I'm sure you've seen the video about, um, the rat park city with addiction. Yeah. And like rethinking the frame, right? So then if we're rethinking the frame, it's like, yeah, when was the last time you were hugged?

Right. Exactly. Rather than let's get into the specifics of how often you use and create a plan to stop that, um, certain sort of, you know, or to change up. Let's talk about when was the last time you were hugged and taking that larger frame. And I think kind of what you were talking about earlier about all the things that we're experiencing as a society right now, it makes a tremendous amount of sense why people would want to escape, right?

Like, well, people would crave that so badly because there are so many things going on that are so difficult right now. And, you know, climate change is one of them. I was, uh, we sent an email around in, um, my training site that I'm at now where I guess, uh, some therapists. Have been a part of trying to, like, kind of down play and almost kind of deny climate reality so that their clients could have less stress and anxiety.

And so it's fascinating, like, how, you know, again, power, right? These systems, how, like, someone like a clinician could have someone come in and be anxious about climate change and kind of say from a CBT framework, if that's what they're working from, like, Hey, those are some maladaptive thoughts. Let's like, calm that down and stop, you know, in a way that kind of denies.

Climate change. It's fascinating, right? Rather than like accepting it and working within that frame. I mean, there's just so many reasons right now. I think politically as well as environmentally, et cetera, et cetera. Why so many people would want to be using substances to escape this current reality.

Dr. Nick Beller: And I, I think for a lot of people, at least I'm speaking for the people that I've worked with, I feel like it's not escaping reality.

It's just like feeling connected to something. Again, this is my conceptualization from what I've heard from people, you know, at a very, a very dire. Points and like their addiction, you know, like previously I was working with people that had gotten to the point where they were being considered for organ transplant.

So either they had been drinking to the point where their liver is no longer functioning or their kidneys have shut down from other substance use. And so that's, you know, that's, that's really going to the far end. Of of chaotic, chaotic use with something. But again, you get talking people about it and it doesn't feel like they're trying to necessarily escape reality.

They're just like trying to find a sense of grounding in any way that they can. And that's something that's very reliable. It's very reliable. It's very consistently reliable. And if you find something that's consistently reliable, your brain doesn't give a shit. It doesn't care if it's. You know, healthy or unhealthy.

It's just, oh, we found something that works. Keep doing that, you know, it has moral impetus at all. It's just trying to find the fastest way to solve whatever thing you've considered to be a problem. And the thing is, I don't know if the thing is like lack of. Connection in your life and you're feeling more connection because, you know, maybe you feel like you experience emotions more intensely when you're under the influence of substances.

That's something that comes up often for me. It's like under normal circumstances, I'm so walled off and that creates such like an internal conflict with myself. That I, I still am trying to tap into that, but this is the only way right now that I feel like I'm able to do that. Yeah, so you're getting, you're trying to get your needs met and that's the only way you know how.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I really appreciate your perspective of thinking about it as connection, right? Huge, right? Maybe the connection, you know, like you said, that example, it gives you that hug from your mom. It's a stable source of connection when maybe you don't have that in your life. And, or like you said, yeah, amplifying those emotions to feel more connected to yourself.

Right. And it kind of reminds me of, yeah, when we're thinking about even, yeah, something like SSRIs, right. Or, um, something like psychedelics, we're talking about, yeah. specifically and all the other drugs in between, right? Like, like we're talking about frameworks where SSRIs reduce your emotional capacity, right?

Make that as much smaller, narrow window compared to these other ones that expand it into bigger frames of connection of your emotional range, right? That's huge.

Dr. Nick Beller: Yeah, I feel like is the focus trying to reduce emotional intensity so you can cognitively process things a little bit more because I think there's definitely value in that.

I do a lot of that in my work, but that comes at the detriment of the other side of things. Like what can we do to amplify? You know, emotional responses to things that previously have been very blunted period of time. And that's not necessarily something that gets emphasized quite as much because you can't really address that in, like, a standardized way, like, and with, like, a cognitive processing model.

No, there was, and again, like, I feel like this is where the creativity aspect of, like, what I like to do comes into play. If that is what we're trying to do, if we're trying to do more like emotional processing, we're trying to get more in touch with somatic connection with emotions and physical sensations, trying to reconnect, you like,

well, what are things that you like? What are things that you don't like, you know, just how are you living life outside of this office right now? You know, I've had people where they, they talked to me about music that they like, they tell me about types of movies and shows and, you know, and like art, all sorts of stuff.

And I'm like, okay, so now we have a general framework of things that you like to do. Maybe you haven't been doing that for a long period of time. How can we reintegrate that in a way that is also going to be therapeutic in the short term? You know, I've had, I've had people where like, I will prescribe them.

I'm like, you told me that this is like the, this band that you like. I'm also familiar with this band. I want you to sit in your bed with the lights off and listen to this album, like from the back without any other distractions. And then we're going to. Afterwards, and that stuff is super, super helpful for people.

They're like, I haven't done that in years. Nick, that was like, really powerful that I, like, how did I get away from like, they, like all these things start to come up. They're like, how did I get away from this thing that previously was so foundational in my life? You know, and you just need an opening. You just need one little opening.

And if you can find that opening, it gives people hope. It gives people a sense that there can be meaning in their life. From a sense that like, maybe I can figure out like what may be my purpose is for today. Maybe not for the rest of my life, but at least I can find a purpose for today. And that keeps, that keeps people going.

You know, at least in the short term stuff that I've done. It's like more crisis management stuff. So if we can keep, you know, my, my supervisor says, you know, we need to make sure that, you know, your heart is beating and your lungs are breathing, you know, whatever that is going to be for you. We have to make sure that that's at the forefront right now.

If we can do that over time, then it's not going to become like a daily struggle. We can start to get into some of the deeper stuff that might be related to like resolution of things that have occurred in the past. Sure.

Nicole: So powerful. I love that you use the word prescribe, right? Like, yes, go and sit and listen to that album and tell me what comes up for you.

How powerful, right? To be able to help people to connect back to those things that are so meaningful and so pleasurable for them rather than, hey, do this CBT thought log and tell me what came up. Right? I just think there's a lot more power with connecting to the things that are meaningful, that bring more life and vitality to your life than trying to log out your thoughts in that way.

Dr. Nick Beller: One thing that I usually do at termination, Nicole, is I will ask, you know, what were things that were Helpful not helpful about this site, like, as a whole, like, your experience at this site. And then I'll ask the same question about, like, their work with me, both in, like, group therapy and individual therapy.

And as. As like time has gone on the feedback that I've gotten for myself personally has become less specific and I think that that has to me been better. It's been a sign that I'm moving in the right direction because people aren't identifying interventions specifically there. They're saying. Just you, man.

Just you. This, this has been, this has been helpful. This has been therapeutic. Just, just this. And so, I know what I'm, what I'm pulling from therapeutically, intervention wise, but it's passing through the prism of, of me. And if you can't still be a person, it's, I don't know why, like, that's not emphasized more in, like, healthcare professions, where it's like, you still have to be a person.

They have to look at you like a person. Otherwise, you're only going to be able to get so far. With recovery with, you know, processing of things with resolution towards, like, a sense of meaning and purpose. That's always my goal. Like, if you walk out of here feeling like there's hope if you walk out of here, at least thinking that there's a possibility of, like, finding meaning and purpose in your life, then we're.

We're on the right path.

Nicole: Huge, huge. Absolutely. And yeah, from my theoretical perspective, like the relationship that we form with clients is so key. Like it is the crucial piece. It's, it's about the ways that when clients share pieces about their lives, the point is quite literally to move the therapist and have that reaction where the client feels connected to another.

And then the therapist responds. bonds, right? Like that actual process of deeper connection with the therapist. Obviously you use all the tools of our training of different things and the modalities and yada, yada, yada, but right. But like at the core of it is actually that connection. That's the piece that brings therapeutic change.

And it's fascinating when you think about it, like as someone who's been in therapy for years, myself, like my therapist exists in my psyche. Do you know what I mean? Like, it's not like I'm just, you know, moving about going to therapy and coming out. Like, I, I know her in my head where, you know, things will happen.

It's like, oh, I'm going to process that in therapy or like, what would, you know, Heather, my therapist say about that? Right? Like the ways that we internalize these relationships play such crucial roles. Right. And obviously it's not like we're just showing up. Bringing all of ourself into the container, right?

We're, we're holding that space for them where we're in a relationship where we're holding it for them, but like the need to be able to bring yourself in that container is so, so crucial. So I am definitely on that vein with you rather than this completely blank tabula rasa cannot acknowledge, you know, like.

You should be able to acknowledge the way that you as a therapist are a human in a relationship with a client where both of you internalize that relationship. Like I hold like you do, like my client stories up in my head, right? Like I have to, that's part of the work. And so when I'm moving through the world, maybe I see something that reminds me of them, right?

Like we're, we're all in relationship and we try to take this like professional lens to it where that's not happening, but that's. It's quite literally absurd in my opinion. And if you're not acknowledging the ways that the relationship is present, then maybe there's potential harm there because you're not even acknowledging what's happening in that relationship.

I think we should all have the awareness of how the relationship is affecting the work, you know?

Dr. Nick Beller: Yeah. I think also to some of my own work that I've done, like outside, I feel like on myself that I feel like has been really helpful in, I take a very like existentialist approach to therapy. And maybe a couple of years, I was kind of.

You know, you're, you're stumbling around, you're trying to figure out the best way to do a thing. And for me personally, I felt like because I came from a hard science background, um, you know, thought I was going to do like surgery, I thought I was going to be like an orthopedic surgeon at one point, but I was going to be like a theoretical physicist at one point, that was the world I was living in for a long time.

So it's like. The world of the scientist that was the world that I was living in for so long and I felt like the thing that was anathema to that was like the world of emotion and for a long time. I felt like those 2 were in con conflict with 1 another, but I had gotten to a point where these really can't be in conflict with 1 another.

Because for me personally, the emotional aspect of like, my existence, like, never really. Poses a threat to, like, the scientists, the inner scientists, because the inner scientists can explain emotion, like, it still has, like, an explanation behind it, even if it's not something that is number driven. And again, this is, this was part of, like, my own personal response to, like, my dissertation on, like, mystical experiences and, like, emotion was not in conflict with.

My, like, scientists, it was like, it was like mysticism, like, well, like, that was the thing that posed a threat to that way of viewing the world because you can explain emotion and like cognition, like, kind of under the same framework, but like, when you start to bring in like mysticism, like, that is, that is a framework that typically does not mesh well with the sciences side of things.

And You know, and this was part of, like, discussions that I had with my supervisor, where they basically said, like, Nick, you have to allow, like, the scientist and the mystic to cohabitate with with 1 another. And that that is kind of in the direction that I've been going, because that that scientist is going to be always the thing that how, like, my brain works, like, Generally, but the, the mystic is how it's being communicated now, you know, like the existentialists, like more spiritual side of things, like not necessarily religious, but it's the stuff that's tapping into, like, the core things that are important to you that lead to that sense of connection at like a profoundly deep level, you know.

Nicole: Absolutely. And like the scientist, it makes me think of even like the stuff that we know in terms of the edge of the universe, right? Like if we want to get really scientific, like we don't know the edge of our universe, like fascinating. That starts to hit some deeply mystical feelings for me, right? Or even the stuff of quantum mechanics and how, you know, the atoms act differently when we observe them versus when we know like what, I mean, these are huge questions that I feel like when you get to the edge of science, it hits This point of how we don't know, you know, and brings in a big mystical space for all of it, in my opinion.

So I'd be curious, like, what did you find in your dissertation research? What were some of the pieces that like stand out to you today?

Dr. Nick Beller: Some of the big things that I think stood out to me was the consistency and the intensity of people's experience related to how that impacted them. After it was over, particularly the intensity of at the time were negative experiences.

You know, they were profoundly difficult. They were profoundly challenging, but those are the ones that people had indicated were like, the most salient for them. After the experience has subsided, the acuteness of the experience had subsided and, and that I think tracks with literature that tracks with, you know, religious texts, you know, there's always this, this narrative of like the, the journey, right?

There are, yeah, and it's not just the hero's journey. It's like for, for Muslims, there is the journey to Mecca, you know, for, for, for Catholics, people go to the Vatican and to the Holy land, you know, for. You know, for some of the stuff that I've investigated or like some holy areas and like in Asia. So there is like, there's like a mountain in Tibet called Mount Kalash.

And it's like a holy site and like seven different religions. And so people from all over Asia go there to travel. Experience some profound sense of the divine. And I think there's some aspect of, like, that travel. I'm going someplace. I'm working through something over a period of time. You know, you could do that, like, in Transcript External space, or I think people's experiences when they had had these like really intense experiences on psychedelics.

It's like a traversing of internal space, really, over a period of time that becomes warped. So, you know, maybe a couple of hours is how much linear time has passed, but it feels like it's been much longer. So that that again, it's like the breakdown of. What reality feels like it is most of the time. And to me, I think that's where the mystical, the spiritual side of processing these experiences, like, comes into play.

Like, what do you do when your general sense of reality starts to break away? But not in a way where like, you're actively psychotic. Like, you know, why it's breaking away. How do you interact with that experience? Because this thing happens in like deeply intense meditative States. It happens when people have like genuine religious experiences.

I've talked with people that have, that have like very deep set convictions in their religion. And like, they've had similar experiences, just maybe not to the same, like visual phenomenon, the same type of sensory phenomenon that are. Um, but like in service, you know, people that I've talked to at like music festivals, people like all of these different things, I feel like are facilitating something that's similar, but how you get there, you can take a whole bunch of different routes.

Nicole: Totally, totally. And I'll add kink on top of there. I read this book. Play pain and religion, I think is what it's called. And like the ways that people connect to the mystical experiences, when you get into those head spaces, playing with the sensory experiences of kink, right. And how do people frame those into meaning, making paradigms and.

Yeah, I mean, definitely concerts, these huge experiences of bringing people together and the energy. It's, it's always interesting to think about, like, some of the first churches in the days would bring people together based on the ability to have music that was so loud compared to where we're at now.

We're like, yeah, you can have that at a concert and some people become so detached from that as a. spiritual space, but for me, it is like, I'm literally in a crowd of all of my people. And I guess maybe I say this also as someone who was raised very, very, very Christian. And I have some friends who are, and we, you know, we go to a concert and we're like, God, this feels a lot like it did growing up in the church.

Like you would feel that movement as an everyone would be singing these hymns and you'd feel like your body kind of respond in this way. And like, to feel that again at concerts and a non religious framework to me is. deeply, deeply spiritual. And in some frameworks, when I think about existential theory, like I, this might sound extreme, I don't know, but I feel like we all are God to a degree.

Um, in the ways that we create meaning, right? Like. My whole experience of how I'm taking in this world is creating my own narrative, my own meaning making to the whole thing. And in that I am a sort of God as much as you or any other human is in this world of creating our story and having the power up there to shape all of that reminds me very much so of like the idea of like a higher power in that.

As well as the ideas that the atoms that I'm made of are the same, you know, types of atoms that create this whole room that I'm in that they create the atoms that make you right. Like, at the end of the day, that like, oneness to all of that paired with our ability to create narratives up in our head of meaning making to me seems very divine.

Dr. Nick Beller: So I feel like the only thing that. I would maybe add to that is I personally don't like using like the God word. I think we're hitting on a similar phenomenon where I will say, like, it's like one aspect of like consciousness that has manifested itself coming into contact. With another aspect of consciousness that's also manifest itself in a particular way, and it seems like that is part of the same source, I guess, like that, that that aspect of consciousness and how it is manifesting, you know, from like a human perspective from an animal perspective from a plant perspective, you know, you can expand things outwards, you know, where you have a bunch of people collectively, and Like, that is a way that a bunch of aspects of consciousness are interacting with one another.

That is sort of like how I think about, again, I don't like using the higher power like language personally, but if, but that would be the closest thing that like relates to that for me. Um, we're talking about this because again, I've worked in a lot of addiction sites. They're all 12 step based. Yeah. Such a main component of that, and people struggle with that so much.

And I think a big reason why is just like the language. That, that seems to be very antiquated

Nicole: now. I would agree with you. Yeah, and even as I said, it makes me cringe. I would say based on my own experience growing up in such a conservative, radical Christian framework. Like, yeah, the idea of God is like really laden with a lot of pain points.

So I would love to have different language to it. So I, I like the frame of one consciousness.

Dr. Nick Beller: Yeah, that's what I think has worked better for me because I have like imagery related to that versus like if someone says like higher power or God or things like that, like that has specific imagery.

So even if I reframe that in my head, like that imagery is still there and that's not the imagery that I want when I'm thinking about this existential aspect of existence of human. of existence generally. Um, and particularly like when people are talking about like their own personal psychological development, you know, existence in the context of all these different areas of, of their life, you know, like, what does it feel like when your consciousness is altered in a way from like a psychoactive substance?

What is it like when your consciousness is altered when? Like orgasming. What is it like when your consciousness is altered, when you're sitting in a sensory deprivation chamber or at a cop or eating a good meal or any of these different things where there's like a scale of like mild alterations of consciousness to extreme alterations of consciousness.

And I think for some people, they live their whole life in that mild range. And that's. Very satisfying to them. Like they live very fulfilling lives and they don't want to be on this other end of the spectrum because that might be destabilizing for for them. You know, they feel like they're at where they need to be.

And I feel like that is something that is great. You know, I hope that everyone kind of is where they ultimately need and need to be whatever that might be. Um, because again, I feel like the one maybe criticism I have about some of the white people in the psychedelic world is there is like some evangelizing and like you, I know that this is something that worked for you and I know that this is something that was very intensely profound for you, but profound for one person could be like destabilizing for another person.

Yes. So again, it's just being mindful. It's just being mindful about that. Everyone is. At a different point in their life,

Nicole: yeah, and having a beautiful journey that works for them wherever that takes them. For me, I, I rock climb and that has been a deeply, I would say spiritual practice in terms of all the ways that that practice somatically and trust with other people and trust in myself to do these high risk things that could be destabilizing.

Right? Has given me so much. For my life and how I view myself and connection to other people and to nature. But I'm not up here saying that everybody has to rock climb and you know what? Probably most people shouldn't. You know what I mean? Like it is a risky practice in and of itself, but for me it's so great.

But we can't just come out here being like everyone needs to rock climb or you're not hitting the qualities or the boxes for what it means to live a good life. That's, that's scary to me when anyone starts. Say there is one way to live a good, pleasurable life, right? And you're right. Often in the psychedelic space, it is this, we need to put it in the water, right?

We need to give everybody this and have that sort of experience, which is not accurate.

Dr. Nick Beller: And you don't need that for that experience. You know, some people maybe yes, other people, maybe not again. There's lots of different ways. I feel like of having whatever is defined. It's like a spiritual experience for people because it's like these touchstone moments in your life.

They have, you know, there are intense things that happen that maybe come at the. You know, the ingestion of something psychoactive and there's other things that that is nothing to do with anything that you put in your body. It's just a really what's happening in the world around you. I've had several of those things like, like running in the Himalayas.

It was again, like I'm a, I'm a long distance runner had been for a long time done ultra marathons. I don't recommend people doing that either. Yeah. Right. thing, you know, being there like by yourself. Um, I live in Minnesota now and in the winter time I love running when it's, when it's really cold and when everything is snowed and iced over because no one's outside and everything's frozen and it feels like you're kind of like the only person in the world, you know?

And so it's. It's like spiritual in a different way, you know, then, you know, the ingestion of a substance, like in a, in a sacred context, for example, that's going to be, that's going to be spiritual in a different way, having like meals with, with my family. Now, something that I like pay attention to, I'm like, I'm there versus not necessarily fully.

Being there that that's taken practice like that, you know, mindfulness has become like a buzzword and I hate it that so many have become, but I think if you like take some of these things, if you really take them seriously, and you really try to foster a sense of what it is that is being discussed. You know, it really opens up a new way of experiencing the world that, you know, I've, I've had dinner with my family hundreds of times.

I've gone for runs hundreds, probably thousands of times, but like your engagement with that thing in the moment does really change, like how it is impacting you, like at that moment in time presence, right? They don't teach that in school, you know, and I feel like that's like the foundational thing to be a good therapist.

Nicole: Well, Nick, that's because the problems with the client, we need to diagnose them and blame them and tell them that it's their fault,

Dr. Nick Beller: but it's so true.

Nicole: They don't teach that and they don't teach the body and that's the other half that I'll scream. And I mean, obviously they don't talk about sex, which I'll scream about too, given the traumas. In that category, but like, they just don't even talk about anything of the body of feeling, you know, the ways that our emotions are in bodied wild idea, right?

Like, we can even know that from a neurochemical standpoint, you know, stress and cortisol, et cetera, et cetera. But like, dare we even talk anything about the body at at grad school? Nope, not at all. That's not important. Not important at all. So I'm definitely with you on the amount of ways that the field because it, I think you use that idea of the, the airplane, right?

Like taking so long to move. Like, it's just very archaic in ways that I think the research that is unfolding is happening at a much faster rate. And so then us as people training in that, in it have to like, Subsequently take additional trainings to actually get the pieces that are more helpful. Like, yeah, mindfulness or somatic approaches or anything like illicit drug use, right?

That's not allowed to be researched or all that sort of stuff. It's, it's wild to me.

Dr. Nick Beller: I think that the presence piece. Has probably been the biggest thing this past year because I haven't had classes. I haven't had dissertation. I'm like, this is intentional. Like I, this is the only thing that I'm focusing on right now because this is something that feels like it's the most important thing.

And you know, it was something that I talked about with my supervisor, probably more than anything else. And they had communicated back to me. I was asking like, why is this? Like, trying to foster this over time, like, engaged presence, because it's a more abstract thing, you know, like, monitoring. Your focus and monitoring your presence and interact with somebody and what she said kind of stood out to me and I'm in agreement with her with regards to this, where if you are, if you're engaged in your present to the degree that we were trying to facilitate during this past year of clinical work, you are opening yourself up to change as much as the person in front of you.

Opening themselves up to change. And she's like, Nick, I do not think that a lot of clinicians are willing to be changed by the people that they work with. I agree with that. I really do with talking with more people. I think that they figure out a way that it's like, this is kind of what I'm going to do with people.

But I don't know if it's if it's fear based. I don't know if it's If it's just like, it's a challenge that people just don't have the energy to take on at the moment, but I, I very much agree with that because I feel like I've been profoundly changed by all the people that I've worked with, but that has not always been the case.

That has not always been the case. So I feel like because I've been more intentional with being present with being engaged in a way that I haven't before, that is. What comes with the gig, you know, you have to open yourself up to being changed as much as the person that's sitting in front of you is hoping to change in a positive direction.

Nicole: And my clients inspire me. I'm often brought to tears by some of the pieces that they're going through and the work that they're doing and the strength that they have. It's, it's amazing. And such an honor that they would trust us to open up about these parts of their lives. Right? Like it's so profound.

And I think. At least for me, as you were saying that, like, it's hard to be present if this is just my thoughts. It's hard to be present when, if a client is speaking, you're going through your head going, okay, does this sound like the DSM criteria for blah, blah, blah, blah, blah diagnosis? Oh, my God. What about this?

Oh, my God. What about this? And staying in that framework of the diagnosis of trying to run through your head of all the different categories versus. Wow, what is this client saying to me right now? What are they feeling? Like, and actually trying to, like you said, to be present in that moment with them, rather than up in the head trying to create some sort of diagnosis or rah, like all of that.

I think that's a huge piece of this too, along with like the vulnerability it takes to actually be moved and present with someone, right?

Dr. Nick Beller: And that's pressure that's been created by compensation, by, By school, you know, you have to provide interventions that are geared towards XYZ. So for me, I've just basically distilled it down to, um, after, you know, you kind of just like, hey, how you doing, you know, introduction to meeting somebody, you know, in your office.

And, and I've told other people too, I'm like, I need. Enough time in the hour or however much time that I have for three sentences, I don't technically need to see and say anything else. You know, if that other person is kind of working through their own their own stuff. So usually the three questions that I'll ask is, you know, towards the end, like, you know, is it okay if I.

Like, give you some feedback. Like, this is what was coming up for me. These are some things. Love that. So just asking, Hey, do you want to hear? And usually they're like, yeah, that's why here. And they'll look at their watch. They'll be like, Oh my God, it's been an hour. It's been however long. Sometimes I won't have like someone the next hour.

So there's been times where I've sat with people for 90 minutes, two hours sometimes, because they, they felt like it felt like they needed it at the time. Like, I don't want to cut this off right here because they're not done. So we'll, we'll finish when you're done. We'll, we'll figure it out. I, my schedule is flexible today on days where I have that more flexibility.

This is what I was hearing. You know, would you want, do you want to hear like kind of what was going on for me, like during this interaction, almost always it's just, and then I usually provide that, that feedback to them, you know, maybe it's a sentence cause I have to be able to distill down everything that they just said into something that is going to like hit them, you know, that sort of like.

How I think about it, like they just kind of took all this time to tell what their story is right now from the last time that I saw them. And I have to synthesize that into something digestible because you can't digest like an hour's worth of dialogue, you know, that that's, that's too much to take away.

So I'll try to distill it down. As much as I can in a way that still feels representative of what they have said, then usually there might be some like, do you agree with that? You know, just like, does that kind of sound right? And most of the times it's yes. Sometimes it's not most of the times it is. And then the last thing that I'll ask is, what are you walking out of here with today?

Yeah, I don't want them walking out and not. Articulating what it is that they felt was the most important thing. Sometimes it's some specific content that they hadn't disclosed before. Maybe it's something intensely emotional that came up for them. But honestly, the highlights for me is when this comes up every once in a while, but it'll be very simple to be like, I'm walking out of here with hope.

And when that is said, I know that I'm like, okay, I feel, I feel good about what we just done. So

Nicole: powerful. Your clients are very lucky to have you.

Dr. Nick Beller: So everything else is gravy, but if that's the minimum I need, I need those three sentences. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So good. So good. And even to ask that question of, do you want my feedback?

Right. I mean, Nick, you and I both know that that is radically different than how some clinicians work versus. You actually don't see what's going on in your psyche. Let me tell you, it's based on this really deep problem that you've had over here. And if you don't see it, it's because your defenses are coming up, right?

Like radically different paradigms of like, Hey, I'm a human. Do you want to hear my perspective from my toolkit? Yes. No. And, and when you offer that, you know, feedback, yeah. Does that seem accurate? This is what I see. Does that seem accurate for you? And it gives the, it takes away the power differential to allow them to say what is accurate for them versus coming in as the clinician to say, this is what's going on, which is, I think some of the ways that clinicians can really enact harm, depending especially on what sort of education you received and the bias that can be deep in that.

So like you're creating such a. container that's so relational and creating space for the clients to have power in that dynamic. That's huge. And yeah, one of the questions that my therapist asked me yesterday that was really how, uh, powerful is. How do you wanna show up, right? You got all this stuff going on, like how do you wanna show up?

Very much so in the same vein of like what are you taking away from this session? Like you're in this complex scenario, how do you wanna show up? And having the space to like flesh that out and create your own narrative of how you wanna move into this new part of your life that you're exploring can be so powerful.

Dr. Nick Beller: It's trying to maintain an internal locus. For the person in front of me that I remind myself of, you know, and the only way that I feel like I can do that is one. This person's got to trust me because if they can't trust me, how can I ever expect them to trust themselves in the future to? I cannot judge anything that comes out of this person's mouth.

Good, bad, indifferent. You know, this has got to be a judgment free space. Regardless of how troubling something might feel like for somebody, they, I can't have them walking in here thinking that they have to be shielded around some aspects of why they might be there because it's probably one of the most important things.

They feel like they have to shield that. So if I can't be nonjudgmental with them, how can I expect them to be nonjudgmental with themselves? And last thing is just like a sense of autonomy and decision making. Like I can't be the one that's making decisions at the end of the day. It's not my life. I have to make sure that.

Any feedback that I provide that it's just my feedback. It doesn't, it's, it's theirs if they want it, you know, it's not like it is a mandate. It's not like it's a, an edict that you have to take away from this interaction. This is just my experience of what has just occurred based off of my training and my expertise.

And you can choose to take that or not, you know, it's, um, the analogy that I'll use for that is like, You know, it's like we're driving a car in the desert. I'm sitting in the passenger seat. I got a bunch of roadmaps. I know potentially different areas that we could go because I've been there before, but I'm not steering.

I'm not, I'm not pushing my foot on the accelerator and I'm not pushing the brake. Like, I can just tell you like, hey, this is a path we can go and you can choose to steer that way. You can choose the brake stop. You can choose to accelerate down that pathway, but I'm not doing any of that. You know, because most of the people that I've worked with, and I don't know if this is true just for the addiction population or for all people that are seeking psychological help, is that those three core things seem to be missing for a lot of people.

They don't trust themselves, they don't trust their decision making process, or they feel like their own ability to make decisions. Has been taken away from them, either from like a relationship they might be in, their work, their family, their religion, their community, they feel like they don't have a say in what it is their life is right now, and they feel like they are imposing a lot of self judgment that usually is not coming from them, it's usually some other place when we will do like exercises related to like, you know, I am whatever or like what are like negative things that people will say about themselves.

I usually will say, like, who told you that? Absolutely. That's my favorite question. Because most of, I guarantee you, it wasn't you. I guarantee you it was probably maybe it was a boyfriend of parents, you know, a teacher, the news. I guarantee you it was not you that said that to you.

Nicole: Right. Society. Did society say you're wrong?

Did God say you're wrong? Right. Depending on your framework, like all of that. I always ask that question because I don't think that that self judgment comes from our innate self. I think it always comes from some sort of outside factor that is giving us that. And so being able to find that thread and then have that awareness of it and challenge it can be so powerful.

But yeah, what you were saying about The, you know, that unconditional positive regard that lack of judgment, all of that sort of stuff. I mean, I don't know about you Nick, but it sounds like love. Dare I say that? Dare I say that? You know, Carl Rogers could say unconditional positive regard. You got to give the client unconditional positive regard.

It's like, what if we took a step further to acknowledge that that's love? That's too taboo for the professional. Space, obviously.

Dr. Nick Beller: Yeah, those are the things that I always try to keep in mind because again, I just don't think that a lot of people genuinely believe that it's possible to have those things in their life for whatever reason, you know, circumstances, you know, histories.

But if I am able to, I feel like successfully facilitate those things. And this isn't a unique thing to me. This is a thing a lot of clinicians do. If you're able to facilitate those things, I think that's what kind of elicits that hope response from from people. They didn't know that it was possible that they could, like, trust somebody else, which means that it might be possible to trust themselves in the future.

We didn't know that, you know, there might be somebody that isn't going to enforce. Something else on their life. In addition to all these other, these power influences that are trying to push people in different directions that you have a say, you know, you have the say and what is happening and ultimately that sense of non judgment because I, you know, I, I mean, This comes up sometimes when people talk to me about sex, I'm sure that you probably hear it way more with some of the work that you do, but I hear it all the time with people's drug use.

You know, people are still guarded around that, not necessarily because it's like illegal, but it's because they feel like they're going to be judged by other people. And that has created like this internal self judgment narrative. I'm a shitty person because I do this thing. And it's like, no, we're not, this is no bearing on like your morality as a person.

And so you got to believe that it's possible to facilitate those qualities because everything else is going to probably look different. But for me, like when I conceptualize and like work with people, that's foundational, like everything else, I feel like. You know, some people take it or leave it, but those three things to me feel totally 100 percent crucial for everybody.


Nicole: Yes. 100%, which is why I'm so thankful that we can have this conversation and get to share it with all of the listeners in a public place. Platform, right? Because the reality is not everyone's going to have access to a therapist in this world with our economy and all of that. Right? And not everyone is going to have access to a therapist that works in this way, even right?

So, like, being able to have this. Platform where we can talk about these pieces so that people can start to think about them. You know, what are you taking away from this conversation that we just had? Dear listener, right? Like what are the pieces you want to integrate moving forward from what we talked about and, and taking that space to start reflecting on that could be so powerful.

And I want to open up space for you to Nick, if there's anything you want to share with the listeners in the end, otherwise I have a closing question I ask every guest and then we can move towards that as well.

Dr. Nick Beller: I know the only thing that I would probably say is what I tell everybody when they leave my office is like, what do you take it away from this, you know, was there, you know, was this just like on in the background, which is fine, you know, but if you were like listening to the conversation, and A mindful way.

What do you, what are you taking away with it? You know, it could just be just like, I got a break from the grind. It could just be something as simple as that. Um, but, but whatever it is, you know, have, have something that you're taking away because that will help to help you moving forward and whatever you're doing the rest of the day, the rest of the week, rest of the year.

Nicole: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, with that being said, I'll guide us towards our last question, if that's okay with you. Great. Okay, the question that I ask every guest on the show is, what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal?

Dr. Nick Beller: More people are using drugs than you know. Your family members are probably using drugs.

Your doctors are probably using drugs, your lawyers are using drugs. A lot of people that you might not think are using drugs are probably using drugs. So, I really don't want people to have this image in their mind of like a drug user as someone that is passed out in... You know, an alleyway with, like, a dirty needle sticking in their arm.

More people than you know are using drugs, and it's not causing problems in their life. Huge. Huge.

Nicole: And I, man, I'm about to claw my eyes out with this paradigm of, like, drugs and alcohol. First off, as if alcohol is not a drug. Like, Like, at what point do we have to come back with scientific facts and say, like, it's, it's not appropriate to separate those two categories because alcohol is a drug and like, I will claw my eyes out even further with the fact that caffeine is a drug, right?

Like, we're just like drugs, you know, coffee, that, that somehow doesn't fall into this category at all, regardless of the fact that, like, when we're thinking about anxiety, right, and taking something like Coffee, which produces that response in the body. Like that is a huge point of the conversation when we're thinking about our, you know, anxiety in the body and stress.

So it's just, I I'm literally going to claw my eyes out of this paradigm where we're like, drugs is this almost sort of like separate category that is like factually false compared to the reality of like how many people use drugs of all different calibers in our society.

Dr. Nick Beller: Yeah. I appreciate that clarification, Nicole, because I think.

You know, for anyone that's listening to this, when I said drugs, what came to mind for you? Yes. Was it, was it heroin or was it coffee? Yes. Was it meth or was it a beer that's sitting in your fridge? Because that statement that I said still holds true across the spectrum, you know. I was drinking a tea when we were having this conversation.

Very mild, but still in a way, a psychoactive substance, you know? So try to rethink what your idea about drugs is, because everybody that you know is probably consuming some kind of drug.

Nicole: Yeah, so powerful. I think that frame will change the world as we start to see that. Well, thank you for coming on to the podcast today and sharing all of your expertise and with the listeners today, Nick.

Dr. Nick Beller: Thank you, Nicole.

Nicole: Yeah. So then where would you want to plug all of your stuff so that people could connect with you and all of your work?

Dr. Nick Beller: Um, best way to get in contact with me is on my LinkedIn profile. It's a Nicholas Beller, uh, side D C A D C.

Nicole: Perfect. I'll have that linked below so people can connect with you directly.

Thank you. If you

enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast. And head on over to modernanarchypodcast. com to get resources and learn more about all the things we talked about on today's episode. I want to thank you for tuning in and I will see you all next week.


bottom of page