A transdisciplinary exploration of synergies and crossroads in psychedelic research and therapy
Full schedule and Call for Speakers here.

Join us for a day on the integration of research across disciplines and practice, and explore with us innovative tools to solve some of the complex problems of today.

The uniMIND Symposium is a hybrid event that takes place online via Zoom and on-site at Maastricht University. Online participation is entirely free. On site tickets are limited and cost 10 Euros to refinance the event. Invitation links will be sent via mail to all registered guests.

Depending on the pandemic situation, we will start with a 50 person on site registration and may extend to a total of 150 guests. If you would like to join on site but are uncertain given the present conditions or if all seats are already booked, please register for online participation and check yes at “Add me to the waiting list”.

Concerning on site participation, the local Covid 19-protection rules apply. We’ll keep you updated with any changes.

On-site and online registration are possible:

To attend online, please register via THIS FORM.

For on-site registration, please buy your tickets below. Any money generated through ticket sales or donations will be used exclusively to refinance the event. Please consider donating to help us promote young talents in psychedelic research.

 

Please register HERE.

The APT – Augmented Psychotherapy Training is a major professional training course on the platform of the MIND Foundation’s Academy. This online info meetup on ZOOM will provide you with ADDITIONAL information and help to answer questions after you have read the program description on the MIND Website (we strongly recommend reading the FAQs, too).
The APT training will provide you with the knowledge and skills to use legally available tools to augment your psychotherapeutic practice today – and get ready for new psychedelic pharmaceuticals that will be available in a few years, if studies deliver on their promise.
The meetup will be moderated by one or two people from the training faculty. You are very welcomed to ask your questions!

APT is an advanced training course for medical doctors, psychotherapists, and complementary mental health professionals.

Please register HERE.


Bitte hier registrieren

Das APT – Augmented Psychotherapy Training ist eine professionelle Weiterbildung der MIND Academy. Dieses Online-Meetup auf ZOOM bietet Ihnen ZUSÄTZLICHE Informationen und hilft bei der Beantwortung von Fragen, nachdem Sie die Programmbeschreibung auf der MIND-Website gelesen haben (wir empfehlen dringend, auch die FAQs zu lesen). Wir arbeiten daran diese Beschreibung auch ins Deutsche zu übersetzen.
Das APT-Training wird Sie mit dem Wissen und den Fähigkeiten ausstatten, legal verfügbare Werkzeuge zur Erweiterung (“Augmentierung”) Ihre psychotherapeutischen Praxis zu zu nutzen. Sie lernen mit dem atypischen Psychedelikum Ketamin einen psychotherapeutischen Prozess zu gestalten – und sich auf die neuen psychedelische Arzneimittel vorzubereiten, die in einigen Jahren verfügbar sein werden, wenn die laufenden Studien ihre Versprechen halten.
Das Meetup wird von ein oder zwei Personen aus dem Ausbildungsteam moderiert. Sie sind herzlich willkommen, Ihre Fragen zu stellen!

APT ist eine Weiterbildung für Mediziner, Psychotherapeuten und komplementärmedizinische Heilberufe.

Bitte hier registrieren

Join us for the third uniMIND Central Session with James B. Close and Julia Bornemann to discuss their research article Co-design of Guidance for Patient and Public Involvement in Psychedelic Research, Front. Psychiatry, 30 September 2021.

***

The uniMIND Program

uniMIND is the MIND Foundation’s international journal club network. With more than 25 groups at universities worldwide, uniMIND provides a well-connected platform for intellectual exchange and mutual academic support in the field of psychedelic research. To learn more about uniMIND, to join or start a group, visit our uniMIND page.

We also recommend connecting to our uniMIND community on the MIND Community Platform. Here we schedule events, discuss feedback and ideas, and more.

***

uniMIND Central Sessions

Monthly web-based journal club meetings, open to everyone in and around the uniMIND community. We invite academic authors to discuss their very own publications with us.

For every session, there will be one selected text that we share here in the event description. Please make sure to read the article in advance, prepare questions and feedback. Having the authors present at our sessions can be a huge benefit in your understanding of the text and its context.

The uniMIND Central Sessions discussion format is a semi-structured conversational exchange. It is facilitated by the session host and open to input and questions from guests at any given time.

Download the Article here

Please register here

The APT – Augmented Psychotherapy Training is a major professional training course on the platform of the MIND Foundation’s Academy. This online info meetup on ZOOM will provide you with ADDITIONAL information and help to answer questions after you have read the program description on the MIND Website (we strongly recommend reading the FAQs, too).
The APT training will provide you with the knowledge and skills to use legally available tools to augment your psychotherapeutic practice today – and get ready for new psychedelic pharmaceuticals that will be available in a few years, if studies deliver on their promise.
The meetup will be moderated by one or two people from the training faculty. You are very welcomed to ask your questions!

APT is an advanced training course for medical doctors, psychotherapists, and complementary mental health professionals.

Please register here


Bitte hier registrieren

Das APT – Augmented Psychotherapy Training ist eine professionelle Weiterbildung der MIND Academy. Dieses Online-Meetup auf ZOOM bietet Ihnen ZUSÄTZLICHE Informationen und hilft bei der Beantwortung von Fragen, nachdem Sie die Programmbeschreibung auf der MIND-Website gelesen haben (wir empfehlen dringend, auch die FAQs zu lesen). Wir arbeiten daran diese Beschreibung auch ins Deutsche zu übersetzen.
Das APT-Training wird Sie mit dem Wissen und den Fähigkeiten ausstatten, legal verfügbare Werkzeuge zur Erweiterung (“Augmentierung”) Ihre psychotherapeutischen Praxis zu zu nutzen. Sie lernen mit dem atypischen Psychedelikum Ketamin einen psychotherapeutischen Prozess zu gestalten – und sich auf die neuen psychedelische Arzneimittel vorzubereiten, die in einigen Jahren verfügbar sein werden, wenn die laufenden Studien ihre Versprechen halten.
Das Meetup wird von ein oder zwei Personen aus dem Ausbildungsteam moderiert. Sie sind herzlich willkommen, Ihre Fragen zu stellen!

APT ist eine Weiterbildung für Mediziner, Psychotherapeuten und komplementärmedizinische Heilberufe.

 

Bitte hier registrieren


Please register here

The APT – Augmented Psychotherapy Training is a major professional training course on the platform of the MIND Foundation’s Academy. This online info meetup on ZOOM will provide you with ADDITIONAL information and help to answer questions after you have read the program description on the MIND Website (we strongly recommend reading the FAQs, too).
The APT training will provide you with the knowledge and skills to use legally available tools to augment your psychotherapeutic practice today – and get ready for new psychedelic pharmaceuticals that will be available in a few years, if studies deliver on their promise.
The meetup will be moderated by one or two people from the training faculty. You are very welcomed to ask your questions!

APT is an advanced training course for medical doctors, psychotherapists, and complementary mental health professionals.

 

Please register here

Bitte hier registrieren

Das APT – Augmented Psychotherapy Training ist eine professionelle Weiterbildung der MIND Academy. Dieses Online-Meetup auf ZOOM bietet Ihnen ZUSÄTZLICHE Informationen und hilft bei der Beantwortung von Fragen, nachdem Sie die Programmbeschreibung auf der MIND-Website gelesen haben (wir empfehlen dringend, auch die FAQs zu lesen). Wir arbeiten daran diese Beschreibung auch ins Deutsche zu übersetzen.
Das APT-Training wird Sie mit dem Wissen und den Fähigkeiten ausstatten, legal verfügbare Werkzeuge zur Erweiterung (“Augmentierung”) Ihre psychotherapeutischen Praxis zu zu nutzen. Sie lernen mit dem atypischen Psychedelikum Ketamin einen psychotherapeutischen Prozess zu gestalten – und sich auf die neuen psychedelische Arzneimittel vorzubereiten, die in einigen Jahren verfügbar sein werden, wenn die laufenden Studien ihre Versprechen halten.
Das Meetup wird von ein oder zwei Personen aus dem Ausbildungsteam moderiert. Sie sind herzlich willkommen, Ihre Fragen zu stellen!

APT ist eine Weiterbildung für Mediziner, Psychotherapeuten und komplementärmedizinische Heilberufe.

 

Bitte hier registrieren

 blog-treated_ACE (3)  blog-treated_ACE (3)

Walking Each Other Home

Acceptance, Connection and Embodiment in Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy

  • Blog
  • Science
  • Perspective
  • 7 minutes
ianuarie 7, 2022
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Integrative Psychotherapeutic Counsellor

Michelle Baker Jones was one of the lead guides in the latest psilocybin trials for depression at the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College.

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With Psychedelic-assisted therapy becoming more widely available, therapies need to be adapted to each person’s needs on their journey to improvement. The ACE model as a thematic guide could provide one framework for accommodating these individual and specialized needs.

For some people, processing psychological issues through talk therapy can take years and be extremely expensive. One reason for this, as I’ve seen in my work as an integrative-relational therapist over the past ten years, is that those experiential moments which provide a real shift in the therapeutic process – such as the resurfacing of old wounds – are quite rare. Psychedelics, by contrast, reliably provide those experiential moments and thus hold great potential in catalyzing therapy. I am also hopeful about the possibility for increased access for the under-privileged in our society who don’t have the means to pay for years of therapy.

Despite the promise of psychedelics themselves, I want to convey the fundamental importance of therapy in this endeavour. Without the therapy – in the preparation for the psychedelic experience, during the experience itself, and in the subsequent integration of the experience – individuals may well have a confusing, overwhelming, possibly wonderful, and exciting journey into altered consciousness, and yet come away with nothing that makes a significant difference to their actual day-to-day lives.

During my time working on clinical trials with psilocybin at Imperial College London (headed by Prof. Robin Carhart Harris and Prof. David Nutt), my colleague Dr. Rosalind Watts conducted a qualitative analysis that led to the development of the ACE therapy model.1 Intended for therapists working around the psychedelic experience, ACE (loosely based on ACT therapy) is a rough guide, more thematic than formulaic, which harnesses the concepts of Accept, Connect, and Embody to promote greater psychological well-being in the participant. It provides a loose framework of key concepts and simple language with which to consider the participant’s internal process and encourage a deepening of each theme. The idea is that, depending on the patient and session itself, different aspects of these themes may be cultivated in the patient or adopted by the therapist herself and may be drawn upon differently in each case. Despite these variations in application, I believe it is these three fixed themes—Accept, Connect, Embody—that contributed to positive outcomes in our trial, thereby underscoring the importance of therapy as an adjunct to psychedelic treatment.

In this essay, I am going to use the ACE model as a template to explore the ways therapy can support and enhance the psychedelic experience throughout a clinical trial. To do so, I will illustrate how these themes can improve psychedelic-assisted therapy, drawing on the experiences of participants who received psilocybin during our clinical trial. It should be noted here that integration sessions for this particular trial were limited to the day immediately following the session, and that a therapeutic relationship did not continue beyond a check-in three months after the trial.

Preparation

From the outset, in the first exploratory phone screening, we are endeavouring to develop a connection with the potential trial participant. As our greatest wounds often occur in relationships and can be healed through relationships, we begin the process of building trust, safety, and shared purpose by understanding and attuning to the participant’s life stories, struggles, and hopes. Establishing this connection is an integral element of the potential of psychedelic-assisted therapy, an element that has perhaps not been given as much consideration as the neuropharmacological aspect of the therapy.

Exploring the experience of one of the participants on my second psilocybin trial – I’ll call him Dylan – helps to illustrate the importance of connection. Dylan was so anxious about the preparation session that he almost didn’t attend: He told us he was thinking instead of going for a beer and “knocking it all on the head.” He was weepy and vulnerable during the session. As we heard more of his history, we began to understand why he might be feeling this way. Dylan had an incredibly attractive mother – a ballerina – who admitted to never wanting children and thinking motherhood thwarted her career. His father adored her and so allowed her to treat their children punishingly and cruelly. Dylan was sent away to boarding school at the age of six with no real warning – his mother left him there without explanation.

Sensing that he needed to build connection and trust with both himself and others in order to feel safe going into the experience, we next drew upon the themes of Acceptance and Embodiment. Listening with empathy to Dylan’s story, we further explored his concerns about what might arise in the experience, finding that he feared his anger towards his mother might appear. We reassured him that it would be acceptable and that we could “hold” his anger should it arise. We also shared the “Diving for Pearls” visualization that is a central component of the prep session. This visualization prep is designed to foster an attitude of curiosity, courage, and acceptance towards our fears and pain, thereby preparing patients for the actual, “embodied” experience. The analogy is of diving for spiky oyster shells in the deepest and darkest part of the ocean (or our psyche). The hope is that a pearl of wisdom, or insight, or a feeling of connection may well ensue for the intrepid explorer. Dylan reflected later that he found that the visualization prepared him well for the experience and cemented his trust in me and my fellow guide, Jonny Martell.

Experience

Based on the belief that the client leads the process (their expressions of themselves – their wants, fears, desires, difficulties, etc.), ACE encourages the therapist to simply remain alongside the client throughout the session so that they can do their inner work, catalyzed by the psychedelic experience, in a safe and supportive container. Fundamental to the ACE model is the belief that the therapist’s warm, nondirective, embodied presence is one thing that allows for the therapeutic effects of psychedelic treatment to arise at all, creating the potential for an individual to feel brave and curious enough to delve into the root causes of what ails them.

Dylan’s experience was defined by greater embodiment, self-acceptance, and connection with his environment. He hadn’t eaten breakfast and therefore the ascent of the experience was quick. He spoke of feeling pleasurable body rushes and tasting sound (synaesthesia). He moved a great deal and reflected that he felt free in his body. We noticed how he seemed to be making prayer gestures often. He said he felt “bathed in God’s love.” Later, he spoke about feeling “I am ok to be me” and how this was felt as a huge revelation. He experienced a lot of humility and gratitude, commenting appreciatively on every aspect of the experience (looking at the Katie Scott nature book at the beginning, the “brilliant” playlist, the golden bowl that held the psilocybin capsules, the guides). He describes it thus: “Well, it was as if the body was emotional. It was almost as if I could taste the music.”

Another participant – I’ll call her Ella – told us how much being encouraged to “go in and through” difficult feelings with courage, curiosity, and acceptance helped her during her experience.  Ella grew up with a depressed mother and an absent father. She coped by being a caretaker child and contorting herself to make others happy. In her experience, she was able to reflect on the chameleon aspect of her personality – all the different “costumes” she had unwittingly worn to fit in – without judgment. Ella’s biggest emotional breakthrough moment was sitting with her self-doubt around her sense of identity and self-belief. She was able to move “in and through” that and then felt a surge of confidence, stating “I have a lot going on and a lot to offer.” Whilst in the experience, she felt she was taught how to feel again, as if she was trying on—or embodying— each emotion and enjoying the differences between them.

Integration

In my work as a therapist, I have found that individuals need to develop narratives that both hand them back their autonomy and encourage an awareness of how interdependent we all are. That’s why, in the integration stage of the trial, I provide a safe, nondirective container for participants to make sense of their own experience in ways that will allow them to connect more deeply with themselves and others.

During his experience, Dylan was able to access a capacity to be courageous and curious, to go towards the darkness and fear that arose. In our integration session he reported feeling “so connected,” experiencing a more whole sense of self, feeling the best he had in twenty-five years. Dylan reflected that he had felt safe and prepared for the experience, and how appreciative of this he was. He said, “Your advice on doing that was so, so helpful. I could imagine, if you are overtly pushing people in the direction where you don’t give them that sense of safety it could be incredibly …. scary. There are points where it was incredibly challenging…. I wanted to just deal with that internally, because I felt if I expressed that it would just overwhelm me. And you know that bit about loving yourself? I’ve never been able to let myself do that, it was just a really amazing experience. So, thank you.”

Dylan wrote to us a few weeks after his experience. He mentioned that his connection with others, in particular his family, had improved greatly and that he was still feeling that he no longer felt depressed, though expressed some awareness that it might return.

“Firstly, thank you for giving me the space and compassion to allow me to accept, that it is ok to not be ok. It was so helpful not be judged, discriminated, and judged for something that I have had no control over, and has ruled and ruined my life for the last twenty years. Being able to be open about my feelings and accepting of these was healing in itself.”

For Ella, a newfound connection to her sense of self was figural in her integration. She was like an excited child, bubbling with appreciation – for us, for the experience, for her newfound creativity. When we spoke to her after one week, she described “writing loads” and having signed up for an imaginative writing course.  She spoke about feeling she had the power to decided which thoughts she followed and which beliefs she adopted.

Conclusion

Being able to help people use psychedelics to enhance and encourage their healing processes is a humbling process. I am passionate about the potential for expanding this type of therapeutic endeavour – particularly to people who have been marginalized, traumatized, and oppressed.

If psychedelic-assisted therapy becomes a regulated treatment for mental health issues, however, I think a more nuanced approach that can be adapted to each person’s needs at a particular point in their healing journey would be preferable. Such an approach might enable us to help more of those suffering with the more complex forms of trauma. ACE could provide one framework for accommodating these individual and specialized needs. Psychedelics do have huge potential to help many people if used with the respect and care needed, which includes being paired with an appropriate therapy method.

In order to ground myself in my own role and remember that I am helping provide the container for an individual’s inner healing process to unfold, I hold in mind Ram Dass’s simple, heartfelt message:

“We are all just walking each other home.”

References
  1. Watts R, Luoma JB. The use of the psychological flexibility model to support psychedelic assisted therapy. J Context Behav Sci. 2020 Jan;15:92–102.
 blog-treated_relational-4  blog-treated_relational-4

Relational Psychotherapy and Psychedelic Treatment

  • Blog
  • Essay
  • 8 minutes
decembrie 20, 2021
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Psychotherapist and Writer

James is interested in post-modern psychoanalysis and philosophy. His core interest is in relational, intersubjective models of psyche, world and the distress in-between.

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Talking about changing one’s relationships is a common feature of therapy sessions. A direct change in one’s experience of relationships is a common feature of psychedelic sessions. How can therapy harness this directness? Focus on the relationship at hand—between therapist and patient. 

Positive outcomes of both psychedelic experiences and therapeutic treatment frequently depend on changes in one’s experience of relationships. In a study on patients’ perceptions of the value of psilocybin for those diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression, Watts, et al. found enhanced connectedness to be a primary mechanism of improved well-being: After treatment, many patients reported being able to re-connect with family members, friends, strangers, and even people who had wronged them, identifying “a change from disconnection (from self, others, and world) to connection” as one of the most valuable aspects of treatment.1 At the same time, the quality of connection between therapist and patient (known as the “therapeutic alliance”) is thought to be one of the most influential aspects of psychotherapy.2 Despite these links between positive intersubjective experience and well-being, most contemporary therapy methods, and therefore most psychedelic therapy techniques, focus on individual subjective experience, and avoid drawing attention to the “relationship in the room.” In this post, we argue for relational psychotherapy, with its focus on the connection between therapist and patient, as a promising adjunct to psychedelic treatment.   

An Overview of Psychedelic Therapy  

In the 1950s, after a series of studies on LSD and chronic alcohol abuse, British clinicians Humphry Osmond and Ronald Sandison introduced psychedelics to psychiatry, laying the groundwork for what would later become the first two forms of psychedelic therapy. Noting that some of his patients only seemed to be able to stop drinking after intense, hallucinatory episodes of an alcohol-related condition called delirium tremens, Osmond inferred that a single high dose of LSD might motivate patients to stop drinking as well.3 By the end of the 1960s, Osmond and colleagues had treated over 2,000 patients with LSD, reporting that 40-45% of patients ceased drinking without a relapse over the following year.4 Meanwhile, Sandison had been conducting his own studies using LSD to treat patients with psychosis at Powick Hospital in the UK, leading to the establishment of a purpose-built LSD unit on site.5  

Although the political climate and legal restrictions of the late 60s brought Osmond and Sandison’s efforts to a halt, their respective forms of “LSD therapy” laid the foundation for the psychedelic therapies we see today. Osmond’s method, called psychedelic treatment, involved a single high dose meant to elicit a mystical/peak experience, with little psychotherapy offered; Sandison’s method, called psycholytic therapy, involved lower doses and was paired with psychoanalysis, reflecting the Freudian flavor of the time (though Sandison often followed Jung in his own work). Osmond’s patients spent most of the session on a couch with eyeshades; Sandison’s patients were additionally given colored chalk and encouraged to capture images arising from their unconscious on a blackboard. By the late 90s and early 2000s, when psychedelic research began to re-emerge, a wide range of psychotherapeutic frameworks beyond psychoanalysis had evolved as potential pairings for psychedelics, many of which are now positioned to build upon Osmond and Sandison’s methods.  

Third-wave cognitive-behavioral therapies including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Mindfulness Based and Cognitive Therapy have now been proposed as frameworks for further study alongside psychedelics.6 The Internal Family Systems (IFS) approach has also been proposed and is currently used in therapist training programs at organizations such as MAPS.7 Other promising models rising out of the third wave include blends of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), transpersonal, somatic, mindfulness, and ACT therapies. The ACE (Accept, Connect, Embody) model, a blend of CBT and ACT, was developed by clinical psychologist Dr. Rosalind Watts and adopted by Netherlands-based psychedelic retreat center Synthesis, as well as featured in research articles by Watts and her colleagues.8 The Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration (PHRI) model, a transtheoretical approach to psychedelic therapy proposed by Gorman et al., emphasizes patient autonomy and a compassionate rather than stigmatizing view of clients’ choices.9 Currently, the approach most frequently used in psychedelic integrative therapy settings is some combination of these techniques, typically more complex than a single traditional approach, and pursues the following goals: helping clients explore what experiences they might avoid, fostering greater experiential acceptance, cultivating meaning, identifying personal and community values, navigating peak experiences, and reflecting on the importance of set and setting.10  

What may make these third-wave techniques particularly well-suited to psychedelics, in contrast with earlier cognitive behavioral therapies and psychoanalysis, is their emphasis on acceptance, mindfulness, and detaching from the narrative-weaving nature of mental process rather than “fixing” aberrant thinking or scrutinizing the unconscious.11 Psychedelics themselves seem to encourage such an attitude in the experiencer. What these therapies don’t fully harness—and what psychedelics, on the other hand, tend to magnify—is the fundamentally relational nature of human experience. If psychedelic insights frequently arise from a direct change in one’s experience of relationships (whether it be with self, other, environment, or deity),12 then why shouldn’t this directness be extended to and explored through the therapeutic relationship itself? One therapy that mirrors psychedelics in this way, by placing intersubjectivity at the center of the treatment process, is relational psychotherapy.  

From Individual to Relational 

Despite their wide variation in focus, third wave cognitive-behavioral approaches are united by a common standpoint — a commitment to what can be called a “one-person psychology.” This term describes the presumption of an individualistic model of mind and development, which results in psychotherapeutic change being understood as an essentially internal, subjective process. From the standpoint of one-person psychologies, the key ‘others’ of our world —parents and psychotherapists, in this context — are understood to be outside of the transformational processes involved, there to facilitate (or hinder) change that is independent of them. This core model owes much to Piaget and Freud, both of whom maintained that we have primarily asocial, psychologically introverted origins (i.e., primary narcissism) and only secondarily — and developmentally much later — “reach out” relationally to others and the world. It is, in other words, an inherently individualistic model.13  

While this model perseveres in the majority of the psychological and psychotherapeutic literature, implicitly if not explicitly, it is increasingly being abandoned in favor of a different model — what we can call the relational model. Because one-person psychologies are rooted in philosophical and developmental ideas that have largely been refuted, we are seeing this change not just in developmental psychology and psychoanalysis, but in a wide range of disciplines including philosophy, cognitive science, and anthropology. In the simplest terms, the relational model is the inverse of the individualistic model. Instead of starting out as essentially psychologically introverted beings, only later coming to have reciprocal meaningful interpersonal experience with others and the world, the relational model maintains that we are from the very outset attuned to and reciprocally related to others. A ‘primary intersubjectivity’ replaces a ‘primary narcissism,’ in other words — not just chronologically, but existentially and psychologically — which, following the inversion, means the focus changes from what is going on in individuals to what is going on between people.14  

In the context of development, the relational model has been borne out by a considerable amount of empirical evidence.15-19 In the context of psychotherapy, we can see it in the oft-cited, key finding that the ‘therapeutic alliance’ is the best predictor of therapeutic outcome.2 The relational model also resonates with certain core critiques and assumptions of the phenomenological tradition. We see, for example, a clear connection with Heidegger’s foundational replacement of subject-object dualism with the separateness collapsing “being-in-the-world” and “being-with-(others).” Indeed, the phenomenological tradition is uncoincidentally enjoying a renaissance in the disciplines mentioned above, and it is often drawn on by relational theorists to flesh out the picture of the interwovenness of self and other.20-22 

In terms of psychotherapy, the most important thing that follows from this is a movement from a ‘one-person psychology’ to a ‘two-person psychology.’ There is a shift from the individual subject to the intersubjective dyad—which is to say, from what is going on in the client’s mental world to the relational interactions and intersubjective experiences with the therapist. The focus shifts from trying to change or fix aberrant or dysfunctional thinking, behavior, or emotions from outside the process to repairing relational wounds, absences, or trauma from inside of the relationship. 

While relational psychotherapists do not, by any means, dispense with thoughts and feelings about events outside the therapeutic relationship, they have a particular interest in drawing attention to what is going on in the moment. They may say things like, “Something very similar to what you describe seems to be happening between us now too. How about we look at that?” or, “It feels like every time I do this, you respond in [such and such] a way…” in order to invite the client to enter into forms of intersubjective dialogue. Relational therapy likewise encourages the therapist to judiciously reveal his or her own thoughts or feelings about the relationship for similar reasons. As a result, the aim shifts from trying to figure out new ways of thinking or behaving to developing new, more secure and rewarding ways of relating.  

Psychedelics and Relational Therapy 

What may make relational psychotherapy uniquely suited to psychedelics, then, is its emphasis on connection as therapy. Per the relational model, connection is the ground and impetus of psychic health and development, and the aim of relational therapy is essentially to foster connection unhindered by habitual dynamics. While clients still engage with their ‘internal’ selves, with a witness present, the main focus becomes the active relationship with that witness.  

Positive intersubjective experience not only prompts reorganization at the cognitive level, as evidenced by findings in interpersonal neurobiology,23 but it can also enhance the perceived benefits of psychedelics. In their paper on psychedelic communitas, Kettner et al. found intersubjective experience during psychedelic group sessions to predict enduring changes in psychological well-being and social connectedness. Namely, “a positive relationship between participants and facilitators” was especially important in mediating the aspects of perceived togetherness and shared humanity which contributed to these positive changes.24   

Recent studies on the neurobiology of psychedelics point toward relational therapy’s potential usefulness during integration as well: according to findings from Prof. Gül Dölen’s lab at Johns Hopkins University, psychedelics may reopen a social critical period in mice, changing their social learning long beyond the acute dosing. 25 This leads her to speculate that the brain’s “therapeutic window” may be open for weeks, if not months, after a high-dose psychedelic session.26 Rather than simply interpreting this window as a longer period for processing subjective experience, it might also be interpreted as a longer period for testing the waters of relationship exploration and/ or repair, here and now, with and through the therapist. Indeed, from a relational perspective, “quick fixes” are hard to come by, and more sustained and consistent psychotherapy in which relational work emerges may be necessary. What’s more, Dölen’s findings emphasize that this therapeutic window specifically relates to social reward learning, and that this learning can only be modified in a social setting.26 With these points in mind, the quality of the therapeutic alliance, which includes its potential for facilitating cognitive change, may have a significant impact on patient outcomes following psychedelic treatment.   

For these reasons, it seems a missed opportunity for psychedelic integration to focus only on experiences outside of the therapeutic relationship. While relational insights from the psychedelic experience would likely only be discussed in most third wave CBT settings, the relational psychotherapist has an opportunity to create space not only for talking about integration but for putting that integration into practice in real time. As the saying goes, “Psychedelics punish avoidance.” In that sense, a relational model of psychedelic therapy punishes avoidance too, placing human connection at the front and center of the integrative process.     

References 

  1. Watts, R., Day, C., Krzanowski, J., Nutt, D., & Carhart-Harris, R. (2017). Patients’ Accounts of Increased “Connectedness” and “Acceptance” After Psilocybin for Treatment-Resistant Depression. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 57(5), 520–564. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167817709585 
  2. Baier, A, et al. (2020). Therapeutic alliance as a mediator of change: A systematic review and evaluation of research, Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 82, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2020.101921  
  3. Dyck, E (2006). ‘Hitting Highs at Rock Bottom’: LSD Treatment for Alcoholism, 1950–1970, Social History of Medicine, Volume 19, Issue 2, Pages 313–329, https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hkl039 
  4. Tanne J. H. (2004). Humphry Osmond. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 328 (7441), 713. 
  5. Sandison, R., Spencer, A., & Whitelaw, J. (1954). The Therapeutic Value of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide in Mental Illness. Journal of Mental Science, 100(419), 491-507. doi:10.1192/bjp.100.419.491 
  6. Walsh, Z., & Thiessen, M. S. (2018). Psychedelics and the new behaviourism: considering the integration of third-wave behaviour therapies with psychedelic-assisted therapy. International review of psychiatry (Abingdon, England), 30 (4), 343–349. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540261.2018.1474088 
  7. Morgan, Nancy L. (2020). Integrating Psychedelic Experiences Utilizing the Internal Family Systems Therapeutic Model. International Journal of Social Sciences and Management Review. 03. 257-264. 10.37602/IJSSMR.2020.3417. 
  8. Watts, et al. (2020). The Use of the Psychological Flexibility Model to Support Psychedelic Assisted Therapy, Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, Volume 15, Pages 92-102, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcbs.2019.12.004 
  9. Gorman, I. et al. (2021). Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration: A Transtheoretical Model for Clinical Practice, Frontiers in Psychology, Volume 12, Page 710, DOI=10.3389/fpsyg.2021.645246     
  10. Reiff, Collin M., et al. (2020). Psychedelics and Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy, American Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 177, Number 5, Pages 391-410, DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.19010035 
  11. Wolff, Max & Evens, Ricarda & Mertens, Lea & Koslowski, Michael & Betzler, Felix & Gründer, Gerhard & Jungaberle, Henrik. (2020). Learning to Let Go: A Cognitive-Behavioral Model of How Psychedelic Therapy Promotes Acceptance. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 11. 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00005. 
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The APT – Augmented Psychotherapy Training is a major professional training course on the platform of the MIND Foundation’s Academy. This online info meetup on ZOOM will provide you with ADDITIONAL information and help to answer questions after you have read the program description on the MIND Website (we strongly recommend reading the FAQs, too).
The APT training will provide you with the knowledge and skills to use legally available tools to augment your psychotherapeutic practice today – and get ready for new psychedelic pharmaceuticals that will be available in a few years, if studies deliver on their promise.
The meetup will be moderated by one or two people from the training faculty. You are very welcomed to ask your questions!

APT is an advanced training course for medical doctors, psychotherapists, and complementary mental health professionals.


Das APT – Augmented Psychotherapy Training ist eine professionelle Weiterbildung der MIND Academy. Dieses Online-Meetup auf ZOOM bietet Ihnen ZUSÄTZLICHE Informationen und hilft bei der Beantwortung von Fragen, nachdem Sie die Programmbeschreibung auf der MIND-Website gelesen haben (wir empfehlen dringend, auch die FAQs zu lesen). Wir arbeiten daran diese Beschreibung auch ins Deutsche zu übersetzen.
Das APT-Training wird Sie mit dem Wissen und den Fähigkeiten ausstatten, legal verfügbare Werkzeuge zur Erweiterung (“Augmentierung”) Ihre psychotherapeutischen Praxis zu zu nutzen. Sie lernen mit dem atypischen Psychedelikum Ketamin einen psychotherapeutischen Prozess zu gestalten – und sich auf die neuen psychedelische Arzneimittel vorzubereiten, die in einigen Jahren verfügbar sein werden, wenn die laufenden Studien ihre Versprechen halten.
Das Meetup wird von ein oder zwei Personen aus dem Ausbildungsteam moderiert. Sie sind herzlich willkommen, Ihre Fragen zu stellen!

APT ist eine Weiterbildung für Mediziner, Psychotherapeuten und komplementärmedizinische Heilberufe.