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Rita Águila

Psychedelics and Highly Sensitive People: a Discussion of Best Practices

This presentation is based on the concept of the highly sensitive person (HSP), which American psychologist Elaine Aron introduced into the mental health field in the 1990s. She researched and wrote about this particular trait, estimated to be present in 20% of the general population. The HSP is a neurodivergent individual who is thought to have an increased or deeper central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli. This can be viewed and experienced as a great personality strength, but may also bring many challenges to these individuals: our society is not prepared for HSPs, often labels them as too sensitive or fragile, and dismisses or ignores their experience.

Because psychedelic experiences can exponentially raise the capacity of our senses, for HSPs this can often be an overwhelming experience, and can even lead to a traumatic episode. This presentation is aimed to elucidate the main traits of HSPs; to clarify the most appropriate psychedelics for HSPs; to brainstorm best practices in preparation and during the experience; to clarify the most appropriate set and setting; and finally, to offer suggestions for integration of the experiences in a way that specifically addresses the emocional, physical and spiritual fields, to help HSPs work toward desired transformations.


Rita Águila is a clinical psychologist with a transpersonal approach, hypnotherapist, music therapist and other skills learned and lived in training and retreats in the area of personal development in the last 27 years. She works in private practice with teenagers and adults and facilitates retreats for women and couples. Curious and challenged by life, she entered the world of psychedelics more than 10 years ago when she discovered the therapeutic side of these substances. She graduated from the California Institute of Integral Studies and MAPS in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy and works at festivals (like Boom) in collaboration with Kosmicare. She has a specialization in Trauma and is training in Family Constelations.