PRATI is honored to have Christine Pateros, RN, MA as the PRATI End of Life Program Director and Lead Faculty for our Foundational KAP Training Program. It is hard to imagine PRATI without Chris, and she continually reminds us to hold our mission of connecting with the sacred at the center of all we do. As she says in this interview, “All psychedelic work in my world is existential work. Entering the mystery beyond what the mind can know. Entering the place of the unknowable.”
Chris has led the launch of PRATI’s new End of Life KAP Training Program. She has been a guide for many people as they grapple with the mystery that is death, and she sits with clients in psychedelic-assisted therapy and also works as a shamanic guide.
Our first End of Life (EOL) and Existential Distress Ketamine and Psychedelic Medicine Training will be held July 27 – 30, 2023. There, Chris will be joined by our EOL faculty team and they will be sharing their knowledge, experience, and gifts with practitioners across the nation. We look forward to seeing what will grow from this work and the lives that will be touched. Thank you for everything that you do Chris, and for openly sharing your personal journey here in this interview!
If you’d like to learn more about the work that Chris does, visit Whispering Stones, her Psychedelic-Assisted Nurse Therapist practice in Denver/Boulder.
Can you share a little about your journey to the field of psychedelic medicine and your current work as a psychedelic-assisted nurse therapist and spiritual guide?
Over my years of shamanic practice with clients since I was initiated myself, I have witnessed profound shifts and transformative magic. Yet still, I became aware that not everyone could journey into non-ordinary states simply through a shamanic journey with my rattling or drumming. I of course can journey on clients’ behalf, but there is so much power owned when I can guide them on their own journey for them to receive information directly. I’m a mystical soul seer who empowers seekers to awaken their spirits and own their potent gifts.
Enter psychedelics — ketamine healed my terror of psychedelics in 2019. I had two KAP journeys with a dear shamanic friend who was also a psychiatrist. He pointed me to apply to be trained. In my Ketamine Training Center training, I had profound journeys including mystical experiences in both.
As an RN, it became clear that my expertise would be as a ketamine-assisted therapist who can collaborate with prescribers and psychotherapists. One of the gifts of my work is preparing clients and being part of the art and science of dosing within my scope of practice with orders to administer IM ketamine. And I also support clients who are more drawn to shamanic energy integration, always in the context of clients also having psychotherapeutic support as well. All psychedelic work in my world is existential work. Entering the mystery beyond what the mind can know. Entering the place of the unknowable.
As an ecopsychologist, I support clients as they explore the interconnectedness of all that is and the gift of leaving the body always in KAP to return. I believe the return into our sacred container is when the transformation can happen. I have the elements present in my journey space for clients because we are nature. And I invocate calling in the helping spirits when clients request it (this is happening more and more in my practice) and express gratitude to the Earth for the abundance of life.
I’ve also begun using sound as a part of the clearing before dosing. It’s really becoming the beginning of the journey for both 1:1 clients as well as groups. I am ultimately a bridge and a channel for those who I work with to receive their own direct revelation of clarity and connection. And it is a gift to be that bridge between worlds shamanically and between the Western world of medicine and the world of spirit.
What drew you to EOL care?
I held a starving woman in my arms as she took her last breath in Kolkata, India as I served in Mother Teresa’s mission house for the dying destitute in 2008. And I worked energetically with other women who were gravely ill there. This was my call to death work.
In my first psychedelic journeys with ayahuasca in the Peruvian Amazon in 2011, I was rebirthed the first night and I died the second night. My death launched me into the world of dying to live and dying before dying. I died a terrifying death in that ceremony and subsequently understood in my 8 years of integrating that I absolutely want to die a conscious death, so my life’s work is living consciously to be able to die consciously. I was at my Dad’s side when he died. I cleansed his body. I think it is the most profound experience to tend to another in death.
How do you see psychedelic medicine supporting EOL care?
Psychedelics are one way to enter NOSC (nonordinary states of consciousness) to explore what it is like not to be attached to a body. This can alleviate anxiety around the mystery that is death and the fact that death is a part of life. I feel as though I am tending to the practice of death as I sit with clients in ketamine-assisted therapy.
So safely exploring death…and alleviating the terror and anxiety that can come with existential distress with or without a diagnosis…inviting in with curiosity and wonder what might be beyond this corporal existence. Alleviating suffering. There are millennia of history with death and NOSC and rituals around death and dying. We’ll be dancing around death in these ways in the new training through didactics and experiential learning. Ram Dass said, “We’re all walking each other home.”
What is your vision for the new PRATI End of Life (EOL) Training program?
PRATI’s core purpose is Reconnecting to the Sacred and EOL work is central to PRATI’s holistic mystery-centered mission. Our theory of change is that through our work and trainings we are planting seeds for a new way of seeing and being in this world. PRATI seeks to support and nourish this growing cohort of alumni.
My vision for the PRATI end of life program is that after our first training this July, we will have our first cohort go out into the world and those folks will be contributing by guiding others in the ways that they’re called to reduce suffering and be conduits for connection to spirit so that there is more peace and connection in life and in death.
The bigger picture is that we continue to have annual trainings and those new cohorts will be out in the world continuing to do this work supported by a growing PRATI learning and transformational network. Personally, I’d also like to bring this international! I have a vision that we’ll have trainings at sacred sites around the world that have known the mystery of death and the gift of life.
What advice would you offer to a provider interested in starting to practice psychedelic-assisted therapy?
Practice the art and science of psychedelic-assisted therapy with heart. And continue to do your own inner work.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our community?
That I am deeply grateful to do this work. I have been called. I didn’t choose it. I didn’t plan any of this. And it is sacred and ineffable and I consider being a part of this community holy — an honor.