Amplify #5 Kate Kincaid - LGBTQ+ & Integration Therapist
Updated: Jan 13, 2021
Kate Kincaid is a licensed professional counselor in Tucson, Arizona, running a group private practice that specializes in working with LGBTQ+ clients, people in ethically non-monogamous relationships, and people seeking psychedelic integration therapy. She has long been interested in non-ordinary states of consciousness and believes in the healing wisdom of plant medicines.
Her practice has applied to establish eligibility with MAPS PBC to offer MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy when it becomes an approved treatment. She works in collaboration with providers doing Ketamine Assisted-Therapy and is also the co-creator of Southwest Love Fest, a conference on relationships, identity, and community.
In this Amplify interview, Kate brings awareness to the importance of Integration therapy and the challenges of the LGBTQ+ community.
This interview was conducted and transcribed by Jessika Lagarde and condensed for clarity.
WOOP: Please share with us a little bit more about your story.
Kate: I am a licensed professional counselor in Arizona. I own and operate a group private practice, where we offer specialized mental health therapy for teens, adults, couples, and families in the LGBTQ+ population, as well as psychedelic integration therapy.
My work as a therapist introduced me to sitting with people as they go through their inner healing process. I've seen a lot of people unhappy with the effects of their pharmaceutical medications looking for alternatives or supplements, and that was when I first became more interested in Plant Medicine for healing.
I experimented with psychedelics recreationally when I was younger. Those profound experiences taught me a lot about myself and the world. It’s great that people are now doing more research on psychedelics and figuring out how to best integrate them into psychotherapy. That's what I am most interested in.
WOOP: What does the use of psychedelics as medicines represent for you?
Kate: They are a connection to the self, and that connection makes it easier to connect with the world. Plant Medicines that come from nature can especially get you feeling a deep connection with the environment you are in. You see the world in a different way, and the same happens to yourself. In the mind, there is a collection of synapses going and you can see how they work differently.
Let me share an interesting experience I had with San Pedro. I was so present and calm in my body that I could see all my typical anxious thoughts coming, but they were not having the same automatic responses in my body. I was not fused with those thoughts and had a bit of space from them.
Experiences like that are so powerful because you see them for what they are: just thoughts. They are part of you, but they are not all of you.
WOOP: Would you say then that this experience with San Pedro was the most powerful psychedelic experience of your life?
Kate: I would say that that experience stuck with me for so long, yes. It was so soft, so nourishing, and it felt like true medicine. I just felt so at peace. It was such a strong bodily feeling that I felt like I could take it with me for the rest of my life.
Even now, over one and a half years later, I can still tap into how my body felt that day. Whenever I am nervous about something, I connect with that memory and use it to relax, ground, and be present.
Another experience that comes to my mind is the birth of my son last December. Giving birth puts you into an altered state of consciousness. I did a lot of preparation beforehand, on having a safe space, with people that I trusted, and the belief that whatever would happen would happen for a certain reason and it's perfect in its own way.
I could let go of control, and it was a very transformative psychedelic experience. The afterglow from that lasted for a whole month after.
WOOP: We are curious to know more about birthing in a psychedelic state.
Kate: As I was preparing for the birth of my child. I read a lot of Ina May Gaskin and other articles (I recommend “The holistic stages of birth”) that friends sent me about birth being a non-ordinary state of consciousness and how the birthing process requires the birther to surrender to a different flow of brain waves. I think my midwife used the word psychedelic when she was talking to me about her experiences.
That got me more excited since I have had experiences with psychedelics, I intuitively knew that these experiences would help me with the birth. I looked at my preparation similarly to how I look at preparing for a plant medicine ceremony. I wrote about my mindset, I made plans to make the birthing room comfortable, I made playlists, I enlisted trusted support people and we talked about our roles during the birth.
My friends and partner who were present at the birth (thankfully this was before COVID) said it was like a wild acid trip and that they were in awe as they witnessed me surrendering to the waves of contractions like a pro. We all remarked on how time got wavy and we all felt like we were in a vortex together. This continued for about a month afterward.
I also spent a lot of time planning to have time to integrate the experience by thinking of postpartum as the 4th trimester, one that required me not to do much in the default world until at least 40 days after the birth. I made appts with my midwife, my doula, and my therapist and planned to attend new parent groups to talk about and integrate my experience.
I found that the people who were the most nourishing to me were those that had been through the birthing experience or at least had experience with non-ordinary states of consciousness because they had the necessary reverence for me and my sensitive state as we brought this child’s soul earthside together.
WOOP: Tell us more about why and how you started to work as a psychotherapist for the LGBTQ+ community?
Kate: I identify as queer myself and I think it's important for the LGBTQ+ community to have queer-friendly therapists with experience in LGBTQ+ issues. A lot of my work is also educating other therapists on how to be more queer-friendly, such as knowing about the importance of pronouns, how to apologize and move on when you make a mistake with people’s gender identity, how to observe and question your own cis/het/mono normativity.
I am part of the ethical non-monogamy community, which I think is also a radical practice of transcending much of the conditioning that we have in our culture. I do a lot of thinking about that in my own life, and that way, I am also able to help clients that are also exploring these issues for themselves.
A lot of LGBTQ+ people are marginalized. Many struggle to find adequate work where they can express themselves authentically, or are even being discriminated against at work, so we do a lot of free sliding scale therapy for those in need. There is a real need for this, and it's important to work that needs to be done.
WOOP: What are some of the common issues they face when they come for therapy?
Kate: Many people come to us because of relationship issues. Our relationships reflect a lot of what's going on in our lives. However, many LGBTQ+ people are also struggling with acceptance from their families, friends, and society at large. That makes their own relationship issues even scarier, or more difficult to manage.
And with marginalized people, more trauma is inflicted on them. So trauma is also another big thing that we work on: how to process your trauma in a still "sick" society, where you are likely to be retraumatized over and over again. How to feel safe and grounded in yourself in an unsafe world, especially for people who present themselves as queer. A world that is dangerous sometimes.
We don't want to teach that the world is safe for them, because it's not (yet).
But we hope to teach how they can foster more feelings of safety and empowerment within themselves, as well as how to be in communities where you do feel safe or foster relationships that are supportive.
WOOP: What does Integration mean to you?
Kate: To me, it means incorporating everything to make sense of it. Examining all these different parts of yourself and the world. How do you make sense of them, how do you hold enough space for all of it: the good or bad, the shadow and the light.
More recently, I have been learning about nervous system regulation and the polyvagal theory. Tuning in to the body and Integration represents the balance between our chaos and rigidity. It's when you are moving but also rooted. It is to be expected that our nervous system gets activated throughout the day, but becoming proficient at settling our nervous system is one of the most useful skills to have.
However, integration therapy is specifically about psychedelics for me. I help my clients go through their psychedelic experiences: what happened, what stuck out, what was beautiful and challenging, how they can make sense of all of it, and how that all fits into their lives and sense of selves.
For example, we have a lot of clients that go for Ketamine therapy at a clinic in town, but come to do the Integration work with us. And there are also a lot of people who have had these psychedelic experiences “underground”, so a large part of our role is also harm-reduction such as teaching them what to be cautious of, and how to find and vet a facilitator, etc.
With preparation, we do a lot of education upfront. Sometimes it’s slowing people down and helping them see that this is often lifetime work.
WOOP: What advice do you have for people that are now doing the Integration work?
Kate: I think when you go back into the default world after the experience you need to give yourself time and space. Take time off from work if you can, from your usual busy life. Schedule “downtime” in your calendar if you have to. Use this time to be outside, if possible, laying around, journaling, or talking with supportive people about what you just experienced. Often the body might be tired so you need to allow more time to sleep (which is a time when a lot of integration happens!), rest, and eat nourishing foods.
Anything that someone can do to slow down that process of re-integrating back into the default world can be very beneficial for Integration.
WOOP: Can you tell us a bit more about the importance of group and community during this process?
Kate: I think how we get to know ourselves and see ourselves is through others’ reflections of us. For example, if society is telling you that there is something wrong with you, you may start to believe it.
Finding a community or group that is encouraging and supportive will help you undo the social conditioning that tells you that there is something wrong with you. Especially for women, queer people, and people of color, much of society’s negative messages need to be undone.
When you can do that in chosen families or communities, and that applies to psychedelics and integration as well. We need each other. Even in therapy, we need someone to show us what we can't see for ourselves.
WOOP: Any advice for how to embody what happens during a session, or how to stay "at that moment" in the weeks that follow it?
Kate: I always tell people to journal as quickly as they can afterward. Make a record of what they want to remember, what the highlights are, and what they want to anchor in. It is also helpful to play some of the same music that was listened to during the session. That can help bring back the feelings and sensations of that experience.
Talking about it with people you trust, with your guide, or the group that you had the experience with is also incredibly helpful. Make a list of any profound insights and hang it in a place you can see it so you can keep thinking about them.
WOOP: How can women and queer folk use psychedelics for healing, self-liberation, and empowerment?
Kate: Psychedelics can help you foster your relationship with yourself. Self-acceptance comes from being ok with who you are, seeing yourself as a perfect being with an undamaged core self. That itself is liberating because when you connect to that, you see that it’s something that can’t be lost.
So when you go back into the world and all these messages are telling you that you are not enough, or not worth it, you can get back to that connection to yourself.
I feel like it also exposes the game of the world. You realize what is important and what is not, and that is really powerful and liberating.
Kate’s therapeutic style is informed by feminism and social justice, seeking to help collectively dismantle systems of violence and oppression. She believes that many issues clients come to therapy which is rooted in a logical response to an oppressive system that is then pathologized and stigmatized. She has an eclectic and intuitive approach that is influenced by attachment theory, humanistic psychology, somatics, and neuroscience.
You can learn more about her work on her private practice’s website Tucson Counseling Associates or reach out to her via e-mail or Instagram.