What Is Psychedelic Assisted Therapy?

Have you ever wondered if there is a groundbreaking therapy that combines the power of psychedelics with professional guidance?

Well, the truth is, psychedelic assisted therapy is a rapidly growing field that holds immense promise for the treatment of various mental health disorders.

But what exactly is it, and how does it work?

In this discussion, we will explore the history, science, substances used, process, and potential benefits and risks of psychedelic assisted therapy.

So, buckle up and prepare to uncover the fascinating world of this innovative therapeutic approach that is capturing the attention of researchers and clinicians alike.

History of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy

In exploring the history of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy, it’s important to understand its origins and the key figures who paved the way for its development. The use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where indigenous cultures incorporated visionary plants into their healing rituals. However, it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that modern research began to explore the potential benefits of psychedelics in a therapeutic setting.

One of the key figures in the early development of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy was Dr. Stanislav Grof. He conducted extensive research on the therapeutic potential of LSD and developed a method known as Holotropic Breathwork. This technique uses controlled breathing and music to induce altered states of consciousness, similar to the effects of psychedelics.

Another influential figure in the history of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy is Dr. Timothy Leary. He conducted groundbreaking research at Harvard University in the 1960s, exploring the use of psychedelics for personal growth and spiritual experiences. Leary’s work sparked a cultural revolution and brought attention to the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.

In the following years, due to legal and social pressures, research on psychedelics came to a halt. However, recent scientific studies have reignited interest in Psychedelic Assisted Therapy, showing promising results in the treatment of mental health conditions such as depression, PTSD, and addiction.

Understanding the history of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy helps to contextualize its development and appreciate the contributions of those who pioneered this field. It serves as a reminder that this therapeutic approach has deep roots and has the potential to offer profound healing experiences for individuals seeking alternative treatments.

The Science Behind Psychedelic Assisted Therapy

Psychedelic Assisted Therapy operates on the premise that psychedelic substances can facilitate transformative experiences and promote psychological healing. But what’s the science behind this therapy?

Research suggests that psychedelics, such as psilocybin and MDMA, can have profound effects on the brain. When ingested, psychedelics interact with serotonin receptors in the brain, leading to changes in perception, mood, and cognition. These substances can enhance neuroplasticity, allowing for new connections to form in the brain. This neuroplasticity may explain why psychedelic assisted therapy has shown promise in treating conditions such as PTSD, depression, and addiction.

Studies have also shown that psychedelics can increase the connectivity between different regions of the brain that are typically disconnected in mental health disorders. This improved connectivity can lead to a greater sense of self-awareness and a shift in perspective, which are crucial elements of the therapeutic process.

Furthermore, psychedelics can promote the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are involved in mood regulation and emotional processing. This release of neurotransmitters may contribute to the positive emotional experiences reported by individuals during psychedelic assisted therapy sessions.

While the exact mechanisms of action are still being studied, the science behind psychedelic assisted therapy suggests that these substances have the potential to facilitate profound healing and transformation in individuals seeking psychological support.

Common Psychedelic Substances Used in Therapy

One commonly used substance in psychedelic assisted therapy is psilocybin, a naturally occurring compound found in certain species of mushrooms. Psilocybin has been used for centuries in traditional rituals and spiritual practices, and it has recently gained attention for its therapeutic potential. When administered under controlled conditions and with proper guidance, psilocybin can help individuals explore their inner thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a profound and transformative way.

Another commonly used psychedelic substance in therapy is MDMA, also known as ecstasy or Molly. MDMA is a synthetic compound that affects the brain’s serotonin system, leading to feelings of increased empathy, emotional openness, and decreased fear and anxiety. These effects make it a valuable tool in therapy, particularly for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MDMA-assisted therapy has shown promising results in reducing symptoms of PTSD and improving overall psychological well-being.

LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is another psychedelic substance that has been used in therapy. It alters perception, thoughts, and feelings, often leading to a sense of expanded consciousness and a heightened sense of spirituality. LSD-assisted therapy has been explored in the treatment of various mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and addiction.

It is important to note that these substances should only be used under the supervision of trained professionals in a controlled therapeutic setting. The therapeutic use of psychedelics is still a relatively new field, and further research is needed to fully understand their potential benefits and risks.

The Process of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy

To begin the process of psychedelic assisted therapy, you’ll undergo a thorough assessment and preparation to ensure a safe and effective experience. This initial step involves meeting with a trained therapist who’ll evaluate your mental and physical health. They’ll ask about your medical history, current medications, and any previous experiences with psychedelics. This assessment helps to identify any potential risks or contraindications for psychedelic therapy.

Once the assessment is complete, the therapist will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan. This plan may include setting intentions for your psychedelic experience, discussing your goals for therapy, and outlining any specific issues or traumas you wish to address. The therapist will also provide information and education about the chosen psychedelic substance, its effects, and what to expect during the session.

Before the actual psychedelic session, you’ll have several preparation sessions with your therapist. These sessions focus on building trust, establishing a safe and supportive therapeutic environment, and teaching coping strategies to navigate any challenging experiences that may arise. You may also be encouraged to engage in practices such as meditation, journaling, or breathwork to enhance your readiness for the psychedelic experience.

Potential Benefits and Risks of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy

After undergoing a thorough assessment and preparation for psychedelic assisted therapy, it’s important to understand the potential benefits and risks associated with this form of treatment.

One of the potential benefits is the opportunity for deep self-exploration and personal growth. Psychedelic substances can help individuals access suppressed emotions, memories, and beliefs, allowing them to gain insights and make positive changes in their lives.

This therapy has also shown promise in the treatment of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It can provide relief from symptoms and help individuals develop new coping mechanisms.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the potential risks involved. Psychedelic experiences can be intense and overwhelming, leading to feelings of fear, anxiety, and even panic. It’s essential to have a trained therapist present to guide and support the individual throughout the session.

Additionally, there’s a risk of triggering traumatic memories or experiencing a ‘bad trip,’ which can have long-lasting negative effects on mental health.

Furthermore, psychedelic substances aren’t suitable for everyone. People with a history of psychosis, severe mental disorders, or certain medical conditions should avoid this therapy due to the potential risks involved. It’s crucial to undergo a thorough screening process to ensure suitability and safety.


Psychedelic Assisted Therapy is a promising approach that combines the use of psychedelic substances with therapeutic support. This therapy has a rich history and is backed by scientific research, showing potential benefits for various mental health conditions.

While there are risks involved, such as potential for adverse reactions or misuse, the potential benefits of this therapy are worth exploring further. With proper guidance and caution, psychedelic assisted therapy holds the potential to revolutionize mental health treatment.


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