Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy – The Mental Health Trip of the Future?

Originally  published on brainblogger.com

by Carla Clark, PhD | October 5, 2015

“If I told you we could condense years of successful therapy, safely, down to a few hours using currently illegal psychedelic drugs would you believe me?

This is the view of advocates, such as Brain Game’s Jason Silva, supporting a new research-backed psychedelic therapy movement, where accumulating evidence from psychedelic research is revealing remarkable results that could dramatically change psychotherapeutic and psychiatric practices.

What is psychedelic therapy?

The term “psychedelic” literally means “mind-revealing” or “mind-manifesting”, although colloquially the word has been synonymously linked with psychedelic drugs (hallucinogens). This is largely due to the idea that psychedelic drugs allow us to tap into our subconscious by altering the filtration of perceptions, thoughts and emotions from reaching the conscious mind.

Psychedelic therapy refers to an approach to treating mental health problems using psychedelic drugs as an adjunct to psychotherapy, arising in the early 1950s following the first published scientific study on lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). As many psychedelics were pronounced illegal largely worldwide by the 1970s the practice was driven underground as board certified therapists risked losing their license.

Today, following publication of the few studies that have managed to break through the legal red tape, psychedelic therapy is making a rapid comeback and is gaining substantial media attention. As reported in a 2014 paper published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology many researchers agree that:

“The evidence behind the proscription of classical hallucinogens to prevent harm to recreational drug consumers appears misguided at best, and frankly illogical when compared to alcohol and some legally available prescribed medications; moreover the freezing effect this has on clinical research is harmful, and with an untold cost.”

Nonetheless, recent research into psychedelic therapy has revealed potential uses of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of depression, various anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and even drug addiction and cluster headaches, using drugs such as MDMA (ecstasy), LSD, iowasca [Ayahuasca], psilocybin, DMT, mescaline, ketamine and 2C-B.

A typical approach to psychedelic therapy involves patient participation in therapy prior to taking the drug and after, to screen the individual for any potential complications and help integrate their psychedelic experiences in a therapeutic manner.

For the actual psychedelic trip, therapists are nondirective and instead, simply support the patient in exploring their inner experience, usually followed by an overnight stay at the facility. A recent publication reporting enhanced suggestibility under LSD, and possibly other psychedelics, may have implications for its use as an adjunct to psychotherapy, where suggestibility plays a major role.

How does psychedelic therapy work?

The therapeutic effects predominantly shared by these hallucinogens are well-articulated in a recent article in the Oxford Journal of Psychopharmacology, exploring the use of LSD-assisted psychotherapy for anxiety associated with a life-threatening disease:

“Evaluations of subjective experiences suggest facilitated access to emotions, confrontation of previously unknown anxieties, worries, resources and intense emotional peak experiences à la Maslow as major psychological working mechanisms. The experiences created led to a restructuring of the person’s emotional trust, situational understanding, habits and world view.”

In other words, one predominant view is that psychedelics exert their therapeutic potential through providing access to peak experiences. The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow asserted that peak experiences, which are pure and positive experiences where all doubts and fears are consciously left behind, contribute to self-actualization, the most profound and esteemed human need as described in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

In line with Maslow’s theories, by providing a short-cut on route to self-actualization, psychedelic therapy reportedly includes giving patients access to acceptance and compassion for the self and others, a fresh appreciation of life, new-found confidence in one’s own perceptions, profound interpersonal relationships, comfort in solitude and a more proficient sense of reality.

How is it possible that such profound changes in consciousness can be achieved with psychedelic therapy in such a short time?” CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>>

Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy – The Mental Health Trip of the Future?