Ayahuasca: Risks and Benefits


Ayahuasca is a brew created from plants that grow in the Amazon.  It induces profound visions and inner experiences.  It has been used for centuries by indigenous people in the Amazon and is now sought after by health-seekers, people seeking relief from mental disturbances and addictions, and those searching for expanded consciousness.  Susana Bustos, PhD, was born in Chile,  trained as a psychologist, and worked at Takiwasi, a renowned Addiction Center that uses Ayahuasca in Peru for healing.  She reflects on the risks and positive potentials of using Ayahuasca.  She also gives valuable, practical details on appropriate preparation, usage, and after-care integration.



May 10, 2018–Webinar: Noon to 1:15pm EST (New York Time)
May 17, 2018–Discussion, Q&A:  Noon to 1pm (New York Time)

with Susana Bustos, PhD

Susana Bustos, PhD, has over fifteen years of experience in Peru and the USA facilitating the proper preparation, usage, and integration of the extreme states of consciousness Ayahuasca can lead people into. 

An increasing number of people around the world are seeking healing, inner growth, and direct spiritual experience through Ayahuasca, brewed from specific plants from the Amazon basin that induce visionary experiences. Ayahuasca has been used by traditional shamanic cultures in the Amazon for hundreds of years. It is now being scientifically studied in countries including USA, Europe, Canada, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador for its potential positive effects on recovery from addiction, chronic depression, anxiety, and other psycho-emotional problems.

Ideally, Ayahuasca intake follows strict rules for preparation, is taken under the supervision of a qualified guide, in a legal context, and with a peer support system in place. This supports a beneficial integration of the experience.

Riding this enthusiasm, a combination of factors (e.g. films, radio, youtube and TV interviews, and social media) have popularized Ayahuasca as a “magic bullet.” This has led people to take Ayahuasca under risky circumstances resulting in increasing numbers of cases of psychotic breakdowns, depression, and profound inner struggles.


Emma Bragdon will dialogue with Susana to explore her integration work, her understanding of the potential of Ayahuasca to foster healing and growth, the risks involved, and the necessary conditions to make this work effective. This dialogue will be supported by materials made available to course participants. Q&A with the live audience will follow. Participants can submit questions to be addressed in the May 17 discussion and use a chatbox during live events.

 Your Take Home:
  • Understand the positive potential of Ayahuasca
  • Understand the kinds of risks involved with taking Ayahuasca
  • Increase discernment about whether Ayahuasca is a good choice for you
  • Get a list of things to look for in choosing the right set and setting
  • Articulate your intention for using Ayahuasca
  • Fully comprehend the value of right preparation
  • Learn about the emotional material that may surface when taking Ayahuasca
  • Get resources for help with integration for you, your loved one or clients
  • Identify “red flags” that you or a loved one might need support in integration

AyahuascaSusana Bustos, Ph.D., was trained in her home country Chile, as a Clinical Psychologist and Music Therapist. She works in the Bay Area of California as an Integrative Counselor, and is an adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Currently, Susana is the Director of the Spiritual Emergence Network in the USA. She also offers workshops, lectures internationally, and leads groups into the Amazonian rainforest.

Susana’s long-term passion for indigenous cultures and their relationship to the natural world, along with her interest in the therapeutic potentials of non-ordinary states of consciousness, led her to the Peruvian Amazon in 1999. Since then, she has been studying Vegetalismo and other indigenous shamanic practices from the Americas. She has (also) periodically worked as a researcher, therapist, and clinical supervisor at Takiwasi, a renowned center for the treatment of drug addiction, which integrates indigenous and Western medicine.

Emma Bragdon, PhD. is the Executive Director of Integrative Mental Health for You. She facilitates IMHU’s Course for Spiritual Emergence Coach Certification. This involves 5 online webinars on “How to Effectively Support Someone in Spiritual Emergency”.


Online. After you register we will send you a link to the course materials, live webinar and discussion. We use zoom.us as our platform for live presentations. It’s user-friendly.  Recordings will be stored on our learning platform.


May 10, noon to 1:15pm, (New York Time)  AND May 17, 2018, noon to 1pm (New York time). These presentations will be recorded and can be viewed and reviewed at your convenience.


$40. This is a fundraising activity to benefit two not for profit organizations: the Spiritual Emergence Network and IMHU

Graphic above is by Peter Santenello, Petersantenello.com

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