We help you tap into your intuition to gain fresh perspectives and insights while we handle the earthly matters so you can completely dive in.
AMANDA GELENDER // Founder & Guide
Amanda Gelender is the Founder of Psychedelic Exploration. She is a strategist, psychedelic guide, and Partner at Vaya Consulting, a leading diversity, inclusion, and culture consulting firm based in Silicon Valley.
Amanda graduated with honors from Stanford University and received a Fulbright Scholarship. For the last several years, Amanda has guided leaders and visionaries from around the world through transformational psychedelic experiences. Previously, she worked with the ACLU of Northern California death penalty policy project and led flagship social impact programs at GitHub, the world’s largest software development community. She co-founded one of tech’s first employee resource groups for people with mental health challenges and spent several years organizing mental health support groups with The Icarus Project. She is a writer and featured speaker with Prompt, an international mental health speakers bureau.
Amanda is from the San Francisco Bay Area and currently resides in Amsterdam where she can often be found cycling along the canals and taking nature walks.
Why I do this work…
In my 20s and already a very anxious person, I was really scared to try psychedelics for the first time. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to them by a healer who treated psychedelic work with great care and guided me through best practices. These sessions were nothing short of life-changing. Blown away by these tools, I started acting as a guide for her and working with more people.
My psychedelic experiences have provided me with more healing, insight, wisdom, and impact than I ever could have imagined possible. They have helped me heal through deep trauma, usher in newfound creativity and energy, deepen my connections, explore spirituality and consciousness, hone my intuition, break through fears and blocks, and engage more deeply and fully in social impact work. Regular, intentional psychedelic use has helped me become much more centered, open, aligned, and grounded. Psychedelics have helped make me a better executive, activist, friend, colleague, and family member.
I have the tremendous privilege of living in a country where I can access psilocybin mushroom truffles safely and legally, so I started supporting friends through powerful psychedelic experiences. Soon I became enamored with being part of people’s transcendent journeys. I studied more about psychedelic healing, its roots deeply stationed in indigenous traditions and inextricably linked to colonialism, white supremacy, and the war on drugs.
As I facilitated more sessions, I was continually struck by the ways in which psilocybin mushrooms have such an profound impact on people with such a wide range of challenges and needs. I love helping people work with these tools to come back to themselves, seemingly rewiring their brains, shaking up old habits and unsticking unhelpful thought patterns. I don't believe psychedelics are a silver bullet - but they are very powerful tools that should be widely accessible and used with great care and respect.
I love doing this work because I get to meet and build with incredible influencers, healers, artists, engineers, social change makers, entrepreneurs, and executives from around the world. I work with deeply curious people who often have tireless commitment and passion for their endeavors and hold up worlds for others. I love being able to hold space for my clients so they can focus fully on letting go, connecting, and transforming themselves. People often emerge fresh, renewed, aligned, and more whole.
NIKOLITSA PARANOMOS // Guide & Experience Designer
Nikolitsa is an artist, designer & entrepreneur from the San Francisco Bay Area. Nikolitsa 's career is rooted in her time as a educational counselor, which is at the core of everything she creates. She travels globally as the Director of Design at Vaya Consulting, a leading diversity, inclusion, and culture consulting firm based in Silicon Valley, employing an empathetic design strategy to help companies and individuals solve more abstract people problems. From creating harmonious workplace ecosystems to developing curated experiences, Nikolitsa's creative vibrancy and artistic vision helps to transform organizational culture and foster innovation. Nikolitsa studied UX Design at General Assembly and graduated with honors from UC San Diego in Ethnic Studies and Visual Art. She is the founder of Naturally Niko, a premiere plant-based catering & events company based in Oakland, where her design experience meets her culinary chops to create lush food & drink experiences. She's created various healing tools, including her Mad Girl Coloring Book, an artistic exploration of trauma and healing. Nikolitsa has collaborated with Amanda in developing customized guided sessions for clients from across the globe, creating the right setting for peak consciousness experiences. On her down time, she enjoys dancing salsa and kizomba, playing capoeira and roller skating around the world.
What does a guide do?
We got your back as you go on your journey.
In a psychedelic context, there are several terms to describe people who support others during altered states of consciousness. This includes sitter, guide, facilitator, shaman, therapist, and healer. Each person who does this work has a different perspective on their role. Some have more of a specific focus (ex. a spiritual journey or psychological healing) but at its core, we are all people who hold space and create an environment optimized for people to gain from altered states of consciousness. Core to our work is the recognition that psychedelic practice is rooted in indigenous culture and inextricably linked to systems like colonialism (to learn more about how we think about psychedelics and indigenous culture, see the FAQ).
We are not therapists by training, nor are we shamans. We are people with a great deal of personal and professional experience with mental health and altered states of consciousness. Amanda’s greatest source of knowledge in this field is from working extensively with psychedelics (primarily LSD and psilocybin), navigating her own mental health and medication challenges (depression, anxiety, OCD), and supporting friends and loved ones through altered states and mental health crises. Nikolitsa has used psychedelics (primarily LSD and psilocybin) over the course of 10 years, and has worked through states of anxiety and depression to access her highest creative potential.
When you're exploring psychedelics, physical reality can get put on the back burner so it's good to have a team on this plane that ensures that you stay as safe and comfortable as possible throughout the experience.We provide an environment that helps you delve completely in. Some clients have very internal trips and others are more actively processing during their session. As guides, we are there if you'd like to engage with us but there's no pressure to do so. You + the substance are where the magic is happening, we’re there to handle the earthly matters while you explore, heal, and perhaps stumble upon some of the deepest revelations of your life. We are also there if you hit a block or need any support or guidance.
Psilocybin helps re-connect people with their own intuition and clarity. People often say that they encounter and feel guided by their "higher" or truest selves. You are your own guide, we’re there to keep an eye on your safety and comfort and help things flow if you get stuck. So if we see a way your experience could be enhanced or more comfortable, we may make a suggestion. We provide everything you could need including chef created spreads, weighted blankets, soothing scents, poetry and art books, spiritual tools, and creative supplies. You shouldn't have to think or worry about anything other than surrendering to the experience.
To set-up an initial chat about working together, fill out the intake form here.