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Spiritual Counsellor & Somatic Integration Specialist

My Story

Over ten years ago, I had my first glass of ‘Daime’. After its first introduction, I kept returning to this mysterious brew from the Amazon many times and slowly but steadily started turning the central pillars of my life upside down. All of this with the great force and clarity that this powerful Spirit Plant brought me into contact with. She goes by many names, ‘the Queen of the Forest’ is my favorite.

The years that followed were by no means easy. I clearly felt that the life I was leading (tied to a strenuous international job and caught in an unstable love relationship), was not making me happy and fulfilled. But…where to go from here? I spent years in an ambiguous grey zone, intuitively knowing what I wanted to leave behind, but not yet seeing clearly where to navigate.

Being introduced to psychoactive Plant Teachers like Ayahuasca, Psilocybin and San Pedro has been a true blessing. It has helped me tremendously to shed all that was not serving me anymore, to regain self-trust and an honest look in my ‘inner mirror’ while going forward. Saying that I am not the same person I was a decade ago is not an exaggeration (in the slightest), but this process was a lot of hard work and required commitment and perseverance every step of the way.

Life after ceremony

During these years in transit, what I noticed in my process and that of fellow beings ‘on the path of the plants’, was the overall lack of attention for this ‘life after the ceremony’ phase. The integration or ‘after the ecstasy the laundry’ part of the experience. The coming back home after a difficult, confusing or impactful hallucinogenic experience that has turned you inside out in every way imaginable.

Being educated as an Anthropologist, I noticed that ‘we’ in the West are often isolated and lack the genuine ‘togetherness’ that defines a traditional community. A safe container where there is attention for your experiences, emotions, existential doubts and worries coming out of an altered state of consciousness. A trusted space where you feel welcomed, validated and seen. Something that is embedded in the general fabric of the many indigenous communities around the world and the traditional wisdom keepers that are working closely together with Plant Medicine like Ayahuasca, Psilocybin, San Pedro, or Peyote (to name a few).

If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.

Lao Tzu, 604-531 BC

New Phase

During this transformative period, I was already informally approached for Spiritual Counselling sessions and organically started supporting people in their spiritual development.

After some years spent at the University of Amsterdam, I had finalized a BA in Cultural Anthropology and an MA in International Relations (Political Science) and had spent the first decade of my professional life in various international job sectors (from development to journalism, diplomacy and law to human rights + health).

However, the Summer of 2014 catapulted me into a new phase of my life. The onset was unexpectedly losing 2 direct colleagues because they perished in the MH17 plane crash on their way to the international AIDS conference in Melbourne. I was pulled into a complicated grief process, feeling both gratitude and guilt at the same time for still being alive.

Because, at the time, I was working for a Dutch NGO and a few weeks before this fatal flight, I was taken off the passenger list because my manager decided for me to stay in Amsterdam instead and monitor the work for our international program (combatting the disease HIV/AIDS) from our home office. She never came back, as did our team lobbyist (who had also become a dear friend). 

It wasn’t until many surreal and chaotic months later, that I started to acknowledge feeling more and more unstable and exhausted, both mentally and physically. And it turned out that, next to the grief process, the implications of chronic stress and unprocessed trauma also started to surface.

I was boarding a plane to go to Bali and realized just before taking off that we were going to fly the same route as my colleagues back then. Frozen in my seat, I experienced my first-ever panic attack and was convinced that we were not going to come out alive for hours on end.

Eventually, my body simply collapsed during the last weekend of a 200-hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training and the company doctor sent me home for an ‘undefined period of time’. 

After being in regular psychotherapy for some months, I started to experience that the elements that were making me truly feel better were connecting with my body (through various forms of yoga, meditation and mindfulness techniques), instead of ‘just talking’ and cognitively trying to make meaning of my life experiences, beliefs or coping strategies.

I spent some time at a Dutch Kadampa meditation center following the daily routine of the monks that were living there and also traveled to Belgium to learn the Vipassana meditation technique in 10 days, meditating for 100 hours. Having practiced the ‘Yang’ (dynamic forms) of yoga for quite some years already, Yin yoga turned out to support me greatly during this burned-out period and I ended up also finishing a 200-hour Yin Yoga Teacher Training.

Fast forward, after these transformative years and successfully ‘cleaning out my closet’ with the great help of several Plant Teachers (while regularly participating in Plant Medicine group ceremonies), I felt ready to truly start serving the community and decided to study some more in the process.

Stepping Up

Being born in a family of ‘helpers’ with both parents working in the therapeutic field and from their private practices (my father as a counsellor and my mother as an acupuncturist), it felt very natural to pursue a similar path. I had always been deeply interested in the human mind and grew up in a house full of knowledge on spirituality, esotericism and alternative mental health.

Eventually, I didn’t find my way to study regular psychotherapy because I felt that, especially after my own direct experiences as a client, other schools of therapy would fit me better. In a very natural way, I was drawn to Counselling and it turned out to be a perfect fit.

In order to pay the bills, next to studying, I worked as the People Manager of an international tech start-up in Amsterdam and this role gave me a lot of valuable ‘on the job’ experience, especially because I also functioned as the company’s ‘confidant’ (trusted person to turn to whenever there are personal or at-work issues of all sorts).

After completing the two-year course as an all-round Counsellor with a special focus on grief, stress, and trauma-related issues at the CIVAS training institute, I felt ready to officially open up the doors of Practice Lazet; My private practice that serves as a safe haven for those in need of trust and support in their life journey.

Bringing it together

The positive impact that working with Plant Medicine can have is enormous, but when I started offering online Counselling sessions, I soon noticed that most of my clients who came back from psychedelic ceremonies and retreats also experienced difficulties successfully integrating these experiences into their everyday lives.

While completing two consecutive Plant Medicine integration training programs (led by specialists in the field Mark Aixalà* and Atira Tan**), I decided to specialize in somatic Plant Medicine preparation and after-care. Also embedding my ‘hands-on’ experience after starting my own plant medicine journey 10 years (and over 100 ceremonies) ago.

Next to this, preceded by two 200-hour yoga teacher trainings almost ten years earlier (both Vinyasa and Yin yoga), I also completed a Trauma-Sensitive Yoga teacher course created by Bessel van der Kolk’s Trauma Centre Boston***.

This rich body of knowledge about yoga, meditation and breath work has also been embedded in my work as a somatic practitioner.

*      Integration Specialist Training Program, led by Mark Aixalà (ICEERS, 2023).
**    Somatic Plant Medicine Integration Training Program, led by Atira Tan (Aya Healing Retreats, 2022). 
***  Trauma Sensitive Yoga Teacher Training, led by Esther van der Sande (Trauma Sensitive Yoga Netherlands, 2018).

Somatic approach

During all my sessions, the main point of focus is on the sensations of the body (or: your ‘inner experiences’). Following the somatic approach, I will offer trauma-sensitive support in decoding what the body is communicating to you (emotions, sensations, or messages through mental images or words). We will do this together and always from a place of safety and with respect for you and your unique process. To make this more concrete, we will take small steps, move slowly and, at all times, we will work together. Always honoring your autonomy and inner wisdom by following only what feels good for you in the present moment. In sum: You lead the way and I will meet you where you are.

By consciously connecting with the sensations of the body and allowing them to shape into emotions, you will be able to make meaning out of your (both ceremony and day-to-day) life experiences. Learning to work with your body like this, could be a very helpful tool for the rest of your life. It will help you to better identify your feelings and needs.
And as a result, feel empowered, confident and safe in your body.

“The deep psychological and spiritual dynamics potentially brought to our awareness during ceremony require guidance, both before and after, for their full integration. Even participants who have lovely experiences may not derive the complete benefit without some guidance and help with interpretation.”

Dr. Gabor Maté

What does a Counsellor do?

The approach of a Counsellor is based on unconditional trust, respect and belief in the client’s inner wisdom, strength to overcome obstacles and ability to find answers. A Counsellor is not a Coach and not a Therapist either, but is positioned more or less in the middle of these schools of thought. I don’t use the ‘pro-active action plan orientated approach’ of a Coach and I am also not focused on the ‘protocols and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy methodologies’ of a general  Psychotherapist. Therefore, please note that formulating a clinical diagnosis or treating mental health conditions is not within my scope of work. If needed, I have a few trusted professionals in my therapeutic network who I can refer you to instead.

Find your own answers

Similar to the experiential and client-centered forms of therapy, Counselling is ‘not just talking, but also doing’, in providing the client with countless opportunities to experience, practice, visualize and ‘re-live’.
In a non-directive way and always with the choice and agency to let you fully take charge of your own life. As a Counsellor, I provide a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental space where there is room for you and the struggles, teachings and victories that make your own path in life valuable, sacred and unique.

What happens in a Regular Counselling Session?

Next to specialized Plant Medicine support sessions, I offer Regular Counselling Sessions (in a package of 5 or 10 sessions), focusing on spiritual development, stress, grief, and trauma-related issues. You can choose to (deepen our) work together by focusing on this specific issue.

To make this more concrete; it is not uncommon that working with plant-based psychedelics will bring unconscious or suppressed memories and traumatic experiences to the surface. Existential questions (or even crises) are also frequently reported after an experience with psychoactive plants (for example: ‘What is my greater purpose?’ or, What happens after we die?’).

Many clients also knock on my door because (often with the help of their psychedelic journey) they realize being stuck in recurring patterns or unhealthy behaviors and recovered the willingness to learn to connect better to their body and its needs.

Generally, we will focus on a specific theme or issue per package of multiple sessions and take a break after this has been sufficiently addressed before we possibly continue our work on another issue or theme. Because you might find that, over time, resolving one element might spontaneously bring positive movement into other areas of your life as well.

Next to working Trauma-Informed, I also incorporate tools and techniques from (Somatic) Experiencing, Curious Enquiry, Gestalt therapy, Somatic Psychology, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, Existential therapy, Mindfulness and both Stress & Grief Counselling.

Before booking a Regular Counselling session (or a package of 5 or 10 sessions), it is recommended to first schedule a free 30-minute introduction call to meet and chat about how we could start to work together. Also, it will allow me to assess if and how I can support you*.

* Please note: There is always a possibility that I need to refer you in case your specialized needs exceed my field of expertise. If needed, I have a few trusted professionals in my therapeutic network who I can refer you to instead.

“Working with Marijntje has been remarkably beneficial in preparing for and integrating my experiences with plant medicine. Having participated in numerous ceremonies over the years, the recent ones, where her guidance was included, proved to be especially transformative. In her sessions, I’ve developed a deeper awareness of the insights that emerge during these ceremonies. The somatic exercises she suggests are notably effective, enabling me to reconnect with profound experiences and emotions that surface in my personal journey, thereby aiding in their more complete processing. I greatly appreciate how Marijntje creates a relaxed and comforting environment, where I feel secure and accepted in all vulnerability. Additionally, I find the detailed and thoughtful written feedback she provides after each session very useful. It contributes to a more organized comprehension of the progression of the work”.

Miguel
Switzerland

“We have been working together for almost one year now and Marijntje helps me find alignment, that enhances my trajectory, thus this very existence. Awesome being. Sublime conversation partner. Truly compassionate. Plethora of wisdom. Open-minded to the moon! ”

Kim
Norway

“I had a before and after session with Marijntje. I found her open-minded and non-judgemental which to me is very important. The workshop I participated in was profoundly helpful and the integration session with Marijntje helped me to process”.

Michael
Ireland

“Working with Marijntje has been a profoundly moving and regenerative experience. She has laser-sharp focus when it comes to identifying painful pressure points in the psyche and a way of resolving them on a mental, physical and emotional level. This approach is truly multidimensional and it brings out new layers of being that were previously obscured by conditioning or trauma. There are issues that need extra holding to integrate and Marijntje is the best person to take care of those in the safest possible container. In addition to deeply benefitting from her therapeutic gifts, being in the presence of Marijntje is an honor and a transformative experience in its own right”.

 

Marina
Italy

“After my trip to the Amazon, I scheduled a session with Marijntje. Her inviting and unconditional attitude encouraged me to start working together. I felt safe during the session. This way I was able to open myself up completely. Marijntje is a powerful listener who can also perceive very subtle things. Her somatic method was very valuable. Together we examined what (wisdom) is actually in the body, and which signals from the body were ignored too much. This session helped me to feel more in tune with my body, with confidence and inner strength”.

Elias
the Netherlands

“I had two sessions with Marijntje, both a Preparation session and an Integration session. Both times it was very well and professionally done. She guided me through the sessions on Skype.
I got a lot of clarity from it” 

Milad
Sweden

“Marijntje and I have been in close contact since she embarked on her journey of becoming an integration specialist. When being guided into the somatic part of my very first integration session, I remembered an important insight that had faded from my memory. Even though I’ve got experience with high-dose psychedelics and knew in advance of the somatic part of the session, I was surprised to realize I had actually forgotten this insight. This is what she calls “the harvest” or “golden nuggets”. Highly recommended, even if you think you’ve seen it all!”

Philip
The Netherlands

“Although I have already made quite a few medicine trips, I was very happy with the sessions I had with Marijntje. It was extremely helpful for me to state my intentions in a different, more intuitive way. And the integration session provided extra depth and a good basis for further integration. I experienced Marijntje as a professional and also an open person, which in turn made it easy for me to open up. Thank you!”

Marc
The Netherlands

“Marijntje attended my Somatic Plant Medicine Integration practitioner program, and having her participation in the program was a delight and pleasure. Her thoughtfulness and professionalism in the training impressed me, as well as her passion in trauma-informed care, and working with compassion and curiosity. I would highly recommend her as an excellent guide and support in your healing journey.”

Atira Tan, Somatic Trauma Specialist and Educator
Australia

“Some 13 years ago, I had two plant medicine experiences. The outcomes gave clarity on the many life issues that kept my mind busy at that time. Many questions found an answer, but after a longer period there appeared to be some unsolved remains that had to be addressed. In the integration session I had with Marijntje, even after these many years, my insights were greatly actualized. It was astonishing how effective the method of somatic integration that she uses opened paths to new ways of understanding the true message and answers.”

Thank you, Marijntje.

Johan
Germany