Hospice Chaplain and Interfaith Spiritual Director
From 150$ USD/session
Areas of expertise
About Anthony Pleetanino
Psychedelic experiences have the potential to remind us that there is far more to this world and far more to our lives than we often realize. Sometimes these realizations are exhilarating, expansive, and blissful. Other times they can be unsettling, chaotic, and difficult to navigate. I am called to serve as an integration coach because I have experienced both of these polarities and have spent the last fourteen years learning to make my life a direct response to that which is sacred in all things.
This chapter of my story begins in 2009. As a young college student, I was experimenting regularly with a variety of psychedelic substances in both intentional and recreational settings. I was searching for something real, though I was not sure what that might be. One afternoon on a particularly strong psychedelic journey I found what I was looking for. Out of seemingly nowhere I experienced the intrinsic interconnectedness of the universe and remembered my inseparable unity with a God/Divinity that I hardly believed in up until that moment. Rather than studying literature, this experience (and a few others like it) compelled me to pursue a degree in religious studies. I suspected that there were others who had seen what I had seen and I wanted to know who they were, and what they did about it.
A few short months later, another trip brought me to an equal and opposite place; sitting on a couch at the afterparty of an EDM show, my world seemed to come unglued. What I would later come to understand as the spontaneous resurgence of a repressed childhood wound felt like incomprehensible chaos. By attempting to resist and suppress the terrifying thoughts and emotions welling up inside of me, I effectively lost touch with my body; entering a surreal, dissociative state. Whereas the “God experiences” from some of my other journeys had naturally dissipated as the drug wore off, the dissociative haze and the resultant fear of what felt like impending madness haunted me with shame, confusion, and anxiety attacks for many months and rendered me unable to enjoy any psychoactive substances for nearly a decade.
Over the next year or so my world gradually regained its balance. I slowly began to understand that rather than overcoming my difficulties and returning to “normal”, I was meant to integrate both my wounds and my strength into my sense of self. While I probably could have arrived at this insight many months sooner had I been willing to seek more direct professional support, once I got the message, I got to it. Along the way, I studied and later ghost-wrote a book about the Enneagram. I began a meditation practice and attended retreats in the Zen, Vipassana, and Vedanta traditions. I spent six months apprenticing with a shamanic practitioner from the Kogi lineage of Colombia. I learned how to feel my emotions more deeply. How to dwell in my body. How to grieve. I re-explored my Christian roots, becoming a member of a Quaker community in Berkeley, CA. I studied the work of Joseph Campbell and Fr. Richard Rohr pertaining to rites of passage and initiation. These tools also helped me hold space and provide guidance for others and gave me the confidence to begin offering support to people from a wide range of backgrounds.
Because I did not yet feel ready to return to the use of psychedelics, during these years I also found myself playing the role of sober-sitter for my community as friends of mine continued to explore altered states of consciousness. The more time I spent in service to others, the more clearly I could understand that my own inner struggle had not been an error or a punishment, but rather the beginning of a calling.
As I continued my study of theology at a graduate level starting in 2014, I also expanded my service work, volunteering at a hospice centre and later at a street outreach organization in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighbourhood. Whether I was sitting with someone facing death, grieving tragedy, or deep in the throws of addiction, I found that there are common themes and energies that emerge during life’s major highs, lows, and transitions. In this sense, we are all walking each other home; down the same paths, through the same struggles, and past the same opportunities to make meaning and turn pain into beauty. I now work full-time as an interfaith hospice chaplain, providing spiritual guidance, deep listening, and yes, integration support to people on the cusp of the ultimate “psychedelic” experience—death.
Anthony Pleetanino's approach to integration
The foundation of my work is set on the belief that every part of life is sacred and therefore meaningful; especially your direct experience. We, therefore, begin with your story, which may centre on a recent or upcoming psychedelic experience, but undoubtedly begins far before.
As we sift through the bright points and dark valleys of your life, we will work together to identify themes, explore personality structures, and utilize the wisdom and spiritual resources that are already within you. As a wider map of your inner landscape begins to emerge, we will also work to notice both the presence and the absence of the sacred–whether you refer to that essential aspect of reality as God(s), Goddess, Truth, Source, or something else.
I will then help you cultivate practices consistent with your own spiritual lineage and perspectives in order to forge a more consistent relationship with the Sacred–both within you and without. It is from this more expansive place that deeper meaning and a more enduring sense of direction can emerge. It is from this place that even the most challenging experiences and confounding contradictions can exist within a world that feels vital, connective, and holy. It is from this place that you may find yourself ready to embark on a new or deeper chapter of your life’s journey and to contribute the best of yourself to this world.
In addition to offering preparation and integration services surrounding psychedelic experiences, I offer longer-term Spiritual Counseling for anyone navigating past psychedelic or spiritual experiences or seeking support around religious questions or beliefs.
- Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Philosophy (University of North Carolina, Asheville)
- Master of Divinity (Starr King School for the Ministry)
- Certificate in Spiritual Direction (Interfaith Chaplaincy Institute)
- Certificate in Psychedelic Therapy and Research (California Institute of Integral Studies)
- 4.5 Units of Clinical Pastoral Education (Kaiser Foundation Hospital and University of California, San Fransisco)
Anthony Pleetanino's offerings
- Single Session — $150
- Short-Term Integration Package — 3 sessions for $400
- Long-Term Integration Package — 6 sessions for $800
- Preparation and Integration Package — 2 prep sessions and 3 integration sessions — $700