Psychedelics have been utilized throughout the ages for a myriad of purposes.
Some cultures and schools of thought have denounced the use of these substances. Others have regarded them as powerful tools for supporting healing and garnering insight. After years of condemnation, psychedelics are re-emerging as a promising conduit of healing.
Psychedelics made their first appearance in the clinical field in the early 1960s. Two well-known pioneers in the integration of psychedelics and therapy are Richard Alpert (also known as Ram Dass) and Timothy Leary.
Alpert and Leary launched the Harvard Psilocybin Project. In sum, they found that the psychoactive substances had the potential to make profoundly positive impacts on patients’ perspective, insight, and thought processes.
A promising new paradigm
Psychedelics and hallucinogenic substances have since gained recognition in the clinical field for their healing potential. Psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, and ketamine have been used to treat a range of disorders including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Recent studies show that a combination of psychotherapy and psychedelic therapy can drastically reduce troubling symptoms including nightmares, sleeping problems, fear, shame, and anxiety. Psychedelics have also been shown to increase feelings of empathy and purpose. As a result, this sense of connectedness can produce powerfully healing effects for individuals partaking in this process.
As the field of psychology grows and diversifies, so do the practices we use to foster healing.
While the future of psychedelics in therapeutic settings is yet to be clearly defined, it appears to be hopeful and bright.
Here are some helpful resources if you or someone you know is interested in learning more or pursuing psychedelic therapy:
- Psychedelic Therapy Is Having a Moment — Here’s What You Need to Know
- 10 Centers for Psychedelic Healing, Therapy, and Exploration
- A Long, Strange Trip: Psychedelics Meet Mainstream Medicine
- About Psilocybin Therapy
Aurena Green, LGPC & Resident in Counseling, is a therapist at the Viva Center in Washington, DC. She works with people experiencing anxiety, depression, panic, trauma, LGBTQIA issues, and grief. Aurena takes a person-centered, mindfulness-based approach in walking with her clients through their healing journeys.