What Is Psychedelic Therapy?
Psychedelic therapy is a form of therapy that provides a patient a psychedelic trip within a controlled setting. While rare in the United States, these sessions are more common in Latin America and the Netherlands. Clinics practicing psychedelic-assisted therapy often use psilocybin (magic mushrooms, “shrooms”). MDMA may be a therapeutic option as well.
Psychedelic-assisted experiences tend to have profound and life-altering effects for patients. Promising studies show it reduces the effects of mental illnesses and dependancy. These include depression, anxiety and PTSD, as well as addictions such as alcohol.
A medical professional, such as a therapist, always guides psychedelic therapy sessions. That’s why it’s important to avoid self-medicating psychedelics, as there are risks involved.
How Does Psychedelic Therapy Work?
Clinics generally arrange a room to feel rather like a living room or otherwise comfortable, homey space. Patients often lie on a couch with sleeping masks on and/or earphones. This limits the sensory exposure and maximizes the internal experience. Therapists are present throughout the entire trip, usually lasting between four and eight hours. Therapists generally remain silent, only occasionally offering assistance and guidance where needed.
Another essential prior to a psychedelic therapy session is priming the mental space of a patient. Naturally, many patients going into this treatment will be suffering immensely from various disorders. Therefore, patients must be open to the experience and show willingness to process its healing and revealing effects. This can prove difficult for some.
If entering a session hesitantly, a bad trip often occurs. Through proper preparation with his or her therapist, patients can avoid such experiences. One example exercise is in Mind Medicine Australia: “If you see a door, go through it”; “If you meet something scary, walk towards it and ask, ‘what do you have to teach me?’”
Following an assisted trip is important as well. Patients typically meet with a therapist to discuss the session to uncover more about the experience.
What Can A Patient Expect During Psychedelic Therapy
Psilocybin is the most common drug during psychedelic therapy. In controlled studies or clinical environments, MDMA is available.
During psychedelic therapy settings, a patient receives a capsule form of psilocybin. As the psilocybin begins to take effect, the patient experiences much higher activity within the brain than one normally experiences. This allows patients to feel a sense of connectedness with all things, which, in turn, instils a sense of purpose.
The experience often allows patients to escape the harmful thought patterns in which they’ve been solely existing. Oftentimes, patients make radical shifts in perspective. This can lead to an openness into unfamiliar opportunities. It can give them a sense of comfort, which can even last a year after the session has taken place.
What Are Studies Showing About This Type Of Therapy?
A 2014 study from Johns Hopkins Medicine looked at how smokers treated their addiction with psilocybin-assisted therapy. Results showed that 80% of participants abstained from smoking six months following the study.
Similarly, a 2016 study used psychedelic therapy on 51 terminally ill patients. Responses from 60 percent of the patients following the session showed significant decrease in symptoms of depression.
As mental health continues to be a problem worldwide, psychedelic-assisted therapy will be studied more often. The FDA even recognizes the significance of this treatment for mood disorder and addiction, labeling it is a “breakthrough therapy.”
Psychedelic therapy continues to become readily available. It has proven effective against debilitating issues, both mentally and physically. With more research and further social acceptance, expect its popularity to continue to grow.