In the context of psychedelics, TLO stands for "Therapeutic-Model L Experience". This term was coined by Dr. William Richards, a psychologist and researcher who has been involved in psychedelic therapy research for several decades. TLO refers to a particular type of psychedelic experience that is characterized by a sense of unity and interconnectedness with all things, a feeling of transcendence of the self, and a sense of sacredness or profound meaning.
The "L" in TLO refers to the Latin word "ludus," which means play or game, and reflects the idea that this type of experience can be both profound and joyful, like a child's sense of play. According to Richards, TLO experiences can be particularly valuable in a therapeutic context, as they can help individuals to gain a new perspective on their lives, connect with their sense of purpose and meaning, and overcome feelings of anxiety, depression, or existential distress.
It was originally coined during the initial wave of psychedelic therapy trials as a universal guide to help clients orient themselves to their upcoming experience, and also as a tool that clients can use within the experience itself to navigate and understand the content of the experience.
As everyone’s journeys are unique to them, and each session is a unique experience itself, it can be difficult (and sometimes unwise) to give highly generalized advice when approaching the psychedelic experience. Through countless individual sessions and research protocols, the clinicians and practitioners of universities and personal practices eventually landed on T.L.O. as a tried and true mantra that each person can use to prepare and help navigate an experience should it ever become disorientating or challenging.