Psychedelic Medicine


The Role of Peer Support in the Psychedelic Ecosystem with Joshua White, JD


In this episode of the Psychedelic Medicine Podcast, Joshua White returns to discuss the role of peer support in the psychedelic ecosystem. Joshua (he/him) is founder and executive director of Fireside Project and has prior experience as a volunteer counselor on a hotline and as a volunteer at the Zendo Project. He has also practiced law as a deputy city attorney at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, where he focused on suing business exploiting vulnerable communities. He also co-taught a nationally-renowned clinic at Yale Law School.

In this conversation, Joshua shares updates from the first two years of Fireside Project, the psychedelic peer support hotline. He mentions that the hotline has grown nearly 1,000% since their first month, with the number receiving 1,500 calls this past month. Joshua also discusses the intricacies of peer support, sharing why he thinks this form of support is particularly well-suited to psychedelic experiences and how he understands the relationship between psychotherapy and peer support. In closing, Joshua reminds listeners that Fireside Project is available to take calls from anyone working through a psychedelic experience—whether they are in the midst of an altered state of mind or seeking to integrate a past experience.

In This Episode

• When to call the psychedelic peer support hotline
• The history of peer support and when it may be helpful
• Why Joshua believes its important for peer support volunteers to have had their own psychedelic experiences
• The ways peer support and psychotherapy differ
• The limits of peer support
• How peer support is similar to the methods used in MDMA-assisted therapy
• Critiques of peer support Joshua has heard and his responses
• The relationship between peer support and theoretical frameworks in psychotherapy


“In non-psychedelic peer support, often the peer-ness starts with a pathology—alcohol use disorder, tobacco use disorder, etc. Psychedelic peer support, the idea is that having had a psychedelic experience by itself is the layer of peer-ness that’s needed to go deeper with someone regardless of other aspects of your identity you may have.” [8:55]

“One of the, I think, key parts of peer support is that we don’t interpret a caller’s experience for them. We are present with them so that they can interpret their experience and we can create a safe and non-judgmental space for them to engage in that kind of interpretation.” [18:32]

“I think especially with an experience as vast as the type that can be precipitated by psychedelics, having multiple forms of support is essential.” [22:23]


* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.