Jakobien van der Weijden is the co-founder of Microdosing.nl, Director of Customer Service at the Synthesis Psychedelic Retreat Centre in Amsterdam, a Microdosing Guide, as well as a certified Holistic Coach at her own company, Holistic Works.
In this interview for our Amplify series, we invite you to learn more about Jakobien’s many roles, her vision on women in psychedelics, and the future of the industry.
This interview was conducted and transcribed by Marlies Van Exter and condensed for clarity.
WOOP: Can you share a bit about your background and how you found yourself on the path of psychedelics?
Jakobien: I was 18 and by coincidence, I started working in a smart shop in Amsterdam. It was my first job as a student, and I had no clue about psychedelics - I didn't know about their potential, and had no experience whatsoever. But along the way, as I became familiar with these substances, I started to see how powerful they are.
In 2015, the OPEN foundation was organizing a conference on psychedelics. At the time, psychedelics were still very much a niche in the Netherlands. I decided to join as a volunteer to help to organize the conference to get a full perspective of the potential of these substances.
A year later, the Psychedelic Society of the Netherlands was founded and I decided to join them too. Through one of their events, microdosing came into the picture. I met Hein, the other co-founder of microdosing.nl, and we both recognized how powerful this was. However, even though it was legal to microdose with truffles in the Netherlands, there was no information in Dutch available, and no way for people to connect and exchange their experiences. So Hein and I felt we needed to create a platform.
We launched our website and a closed Facebook group in August 2017, and it really took off. Today we're coming close to 4,000 active members in our Facebook group, and our website gets around 300 to 400 visitors per day. We organize meetups, workshops, and an annual seminar.
A lot is happening, but I feel like I'm still just halfway on this journey. I am really excited about what is to come.
WOOP: As a holistic coach, you bring people's systems back into the natural order through a combination of biofeedback coaching and energetic process work. Your motivation is to connect our inner worlds and the outside world. Can you explain a bit about that?
Jakobien: The holistic coaching method is about us being the master of our own life and discovering what is standing in the way to create a nice and juicy life for ourselves. When we suffer from things that seem outside our control, we are not in the natural order with our system. Our body is designed to go back into that natural order, but what prevents us from doing that? That's usually where the coaching begins.
Biofeedback is a technique, also known as kinesiology. It’s the body’s energetic reaction of either a yes or a no. There are many possibilities to see if somebody is on the right path. For instance, if a person is convinced that certain things happen to them because of how they were treated in the past, we can check with the kinesiology test if that is true. The results can be surprising, sometimes even paradoxical, but we can go a lot deeper in our coaching.
Our body, our whole system, speaks the truth. It's the energy going through all the meridians. In acupuncture, they use the same principle. The energy is either flowing, or it's blocked.
WOOP: What are psychedelics to you?
Jakobien: I would definitely say that psychedelics are a tool and an aid. They are reminders of how I want to feel, who I want to be, who I am. It’s about that deeper connection.
I microdose once every three days, and it seems some of the barriers or mental chatter are just not that present. It offers me a more direct experience in a positive way. That’s why I think it brings you closer to your authenticity.
When I go on a psychedelic journey every now and then, it’s about healing and insights about the more difficult things that I need to feel or need to come to the surface. It’s not only love, light, and rainbows, but it brings me further down the path.
WOOP: Do you think that all women could use psychedelics as a tool for healing and insights?
Jakobien: Of course, it would be nice if we could all benefit from these tools in the same way. But I believe it might not be safe for everyone. This depends on your background, whether you feel a call to use psychedelics, or whether the timing is right for you.
I’ve come across people who might be good candidates to work with psychedelics, but it was just not the right time for them. They were not in a steady place, and dealing with a lot of confusion, too eager to find just anything that would help them. Some people obviously want to deal with their trauma and go back to life with more firmness and hope, but perhaps they just have to sit and deal with their emotions first.
People somehow tend to believe that there is magic involved, that psychedelics will immediately bring them into a more positive state. They may not realize that it might bring you face-to-face with the darkness of what you may have already experienced.
Psychedelics are an amplifier, and you need to be able to handle that.
I think women can work in this way. We are strong. We’re designed to give birth and to deal with the emotions of ourselves and our children. We are able to hold space for so much.
Therefore, I believe that women might be able to extract even more from psychedelics than men, but I have not fully explored that yet. I would love to invite other women on this channel to tell their stories - women who have been trained by female shamans, who can - for instance - talk more about the role of the womb and the feminine energy.
WOOP: What would you advise women who are looking to do this kind of inner work for the first time?
Jakobien: I see that most women have already done a lot of inner work, so it’s hard to come up with generic advice. However, I would definitely recommend anyone to get out of their heads as much as possible.
I’ve seen the most significant changes when you drop into your body and start to notice the sensations that come up. What are you feeling? What does your body tell you? When you don’t know what to do, your gut feeling and the sensations in your body are a good guideline. Just tune in with yourself and see how that feels.
There’s a lot for us to learn when it comes to somatic experiences. Breathwork is an excellent way to get started with that. It’s so healthy and rebalancing. It’s helpful as a gateway to access your inner knowing, but also as a daily practice to regulate your mood and stress levels.
WOOP: Based on your professional and personal experience, what are the most common issues that women come up against in psychedelic therapy?
Jakobien: In psychedelic therapy, it often has something to do with stepping into their full potential. They feel like they’re holding themselves back, always caring for, or putting others in the first place instead of themselves.
There is often a lot of self-criticisms and being hard on themselves. It’s a pattern. From early childhood, we have been told what to do, and what not to do, we’ve been programmed as to how to behave, which qualities other people would or would not appreciate in us.
Dating back many generations, it has been deeply ingrained into our culture that women should know their place. As caregivers, we are not supposed to step up, take the stage, and be leaders. So when we want to be the leaders of our own lives, we sometimes hold ourselves back.
WOOP: Tell us more about Microdosing.nl
Jakobien: When we started in 2017 we weren’t entirely sure how this was going to evolve. We thought it could be just some kind of trend that would maybe taper off in a few years, but now we see that microdosing is here to stay.
At Microdosing.nl we offer consultations and short coaching trajectories to people who prefer not to microdose on their own. Maybe they feel it’s too much of an experiment because psychedelic substances are new to them. Sometimes they’ve had a negative psychedelic experience in the past and are a bit wary, so they prefer to do this in a guided way. Besides the consultations and coaching trajectories, we offer tools to get the most out of your microdosing experience.
We’ve always seen a lot of interest from people from different countries, so our platform is also available in English now. Thanks to James Fadiman, the “founding father” of the science of microdosing, our website became so well-known all over the world. He mentions us to other people saying that we do it the proper way, not advocating blindly for microdosing and psychedelics. However, we say that you can do it safely and responsibly and we’re here to guide you.
WOOP: You also work for Synthesis. Can you tell us a little bit more about this work?
Jakobien: It’s an amazing company. They wanted to become a leading institute, and they’re well on their way. Before COVID-19, I was guiding people on psychedelic retreats at Synthesis. These days, my role is Director of Customer Service.
More than 700 people have already come to our retreats, which gave us a chance to really optimize the experience. We’ve seen this whole range of people and the possibilities. How do they go in versus how do they go out? How does the group setting work for them? How does breathwork impact them? How does the truffle ceremony impact them? What are their expectations?
The main thing we’ve noticed is that people want to be part of a group after a psychedelic retreat. They want to have a safe space where they can share what’s going on and what came up for them. Psychedelics are not the endpoint or the pivotal point, but usually the starting point of the next phase of your development. So after your retreat, you remain connected with your group to continue the integration process, for which every circle continues to meet online.
WOOP: What current trend of psychedelics most excites you, and what most worries you?
Jakobien: The psychedelic space is predominantly white, and when I started, the issues around diversity, gender, inclusivity, and racism were not being addressed much. Now there are some platforms and more people who are really advocating for this, and that brings a lot of knowledge forward.
Psychedelics bring to the surface all these things that have been suppressed. That could be gender issues or race issues, or even something that your forefathers have gone through. But now, you are the person at the frontline having these experiences and having to deal with it. Therefore, it’s important that people feel safe from the beginning to the end.
Another one is respect for indigenous people and their traditions. For them, the substances are a tool that nature offers us to help advance and have a better relationship with everything around us. Here in the West, people tend to see psychedelics as ‘The Magic’. That worries me. The focus is just too much on the substance. Some people just want to be told what to take and how much, and believe that if they follow these instructions, they will be cured.
Psychedelics can only bring you to a certain point, and from that point onwards that’s where YOU have to engage. The indigenous people knew this all along. Their ancient knowledge is so rich, involving storytelling and a worldview. It’s about being a community, a tribe, and acting in that togetherness. It’s realizing you cannot do it on your own and that it’s not only about fixing yourself.
We have appropriated a lot of that knowledge and call it Neo-Shamanism. We are molding it into something that is easier understood and better applied here. I don’t think anyone could be against that, because it is really helping us. But not paying enough respect and not doing enough to give back to those communities worries me.
Then there’s also the big companies and pharmaceuticals who are developing a synthetic version of any plant medicine, and they’re on the stock market. What is this going to bring? Will there be monopolies? How does that influence the actual treatment protocols? What will be the quality of that treatment if it is going to be profit-based? These are some things I worry about, and honestly, I don’t have any answers.
However, there are a lot of good, willing, and also wealthy people in this space who would like to advance things in a proper way. They want to work with people who really know what they’re doing. It’s not about having a really big, fast-growing company with lots of shareholders, and curing the three hundred million people in the world suffering from depression in no time.
There’s definitely something to be said for a slower but more embodied respectful approach. Hopefully, there are possibilities to help shape the future of the psychedelic industry. There are so many knowledgeable people in this field already. I think it might even be the psychedelics themselves that help us take a stand and help influence these companies from within.
If you would like to know more about Jakobien’s work, you can go to her websites Holistic Works, Microdosing.nl (Dutch) and Microdosinginstitute.com. You can also follow her on Instagram or request to become a member of the microdosing.nl Facebook group.