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Psychedelic Psychotherapy

  • 10-08-2016 9:09pm
    Registered Users Posts: 5 Mave

    Are there any psychotherapists who have a positive view on the role psychedelics can play in healing?

    I am searching for a therapist (or network of therapists) with psychedelic experience, and a familiarity with the associated literature & therapeutic applications. I would like to work with someone who brings this worldview to their practice.

    Ostensibly, in Ireland there is yet to be a paradigm shift in current mainstream thinking among mental health professionals regarding the use of psychedelics for the treatment of trauma, end-of-life anxiety, and mood disorders.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,735 ✭✭✭ dar100

    It's illegal

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Mave

    dar100 wrote: »
    It's illegal

    But talking about the use of psychedelics is not.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,735 ✭✭✭ dar100

    The research on it pretty much ended in the 70's. Those who still practice do so illegally, I don't imagine they conduct much research!!

    It is dangerous, to give a person a substance that has not been tested, in fact it is reckless!! And I mean that from a doctors perspective lot alone a therapist!! Messing with the mind is highly unethical.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Mave

    The reason these substances have not been tested to date is because of the political ban on research into their mechanisms of action and therapeutic applications. I would argue this blanket ban has been unethical, but that is just my personal opinion.

    Actually, over the past 10 years regulated scientific research into psychedelics has gone from strength to strength. It is a really interesting field showing very exciting results.

    For example, the Hefter Research Institute in Switzerland, has been using psilocybin (the active compound in magic mushrooms) for treating cancer distress and addiction (they have completed phase II studies).

    The Beckley Foundation in the UK, is investigating the use of LSD to treat anxiety and addiction.

    The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in California, are having unprecedented success in the treatment of PTSD using MDMA (they have completed FDA approved clinical trials stage II).

    Anyway, my question was not asking if anyone practices psychedelic psychotherapy in Ireland because as you say, it is illegal. What I did ask for was information on psychotherapists who have informed themselves on current research trends in the area and have a "positive view on the role psychedelics can play in healing."

    Did you know, that Hofmanns discovery of LSD shed light on the important role serotonin plays in brain function and regulation? This breakthrough lead to the development of SSRIs which of course are still used today in treating mood disorders. So research into psychedelics has previously lead to scientific advancement and continues to do so.

    "Psychedelics are to the mind what the microscope is to biology and the telescope is to astronomy." - Stanislav Grof

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,735 ✭✭✭ dar100

    Psychedelics alter the mind, just like all psycho-active substances. They produce a state of mind that is not based on reality, therefore, you would be conducting "therapy" with an individual who's experience is altered and and most likely irrational. The persons emotional experience, will again, most likely based on their experience of the substance, and psychedelics are notorious for an experience not based on reality (given dosage of course). Hallucinations, auditory and visual etc. How does the individual, let alone a therapist account for this therapeutically?

    Even if the above was not an issue (and it is a issue), how does this method integrate a therapeutic experience, when the whole encounter is likely based on a experience not based on reality?

    Again I don't know a great deal about this, so just some personal opinion.

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 17,644 CMod ✭✭✭✭ The Black Oil

    This is a like a flashback to Roger Sterling in an episode of Mad Men.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Mave

    This is a like a flashback to Roger Sterling in an episode of Mad Men.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,864 ✭✭✭ JuliusCaesar
    I had stopped working with LSD when I left Marlborough Hospital in London. It was legitimate at that time, and they were thinking that it gave a sort of model psychosis which was, of course, incorrect. All it does actually is expand consciousness.
    I worked up to the 1970s with LSD but then, because of all the bad publicity, it wasn’t possible to obtain it. I owe a debt of gratitude to Stan Grof because he came up in the early 1980s with the Holotropic Method, which was an alternative way of achieving altered consciousness. I don’t regard what I do now as holotropic – I mean he’s patented that particular aspect. We’re using a number of modalities to bring about or assist change, but it made me return to that way of working. Since then we’ve developed a form of experiential work using a number of channels to assist the person to break down the blocks, to open up what is hidden from them so that they can change and let the past go. In the last ten years, and particularly the last five, we’ve been mainly working with people who have suffered trauma.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Mave

    Thanks so much for this article - its just what I was looking for. I have read a couple of interviews with Ivor Browne since and I find his approach refreshing. Much appreciated :)

  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 963 ✭✭✭ Labarbapostiza

    I had stopped working with LSD when I left Marlborough Hospital in London. It was legitimate at that time, and they were thinking that it gave a sort of model psychosis which was, of course, incorrect. All it does actually is expand consciousness.

    I think before you can say something expands consciousness, you need a pretty clear idea of what consciousness is.

    A bad LSD trip might give someone a good idea of how distressing psychosis can be for a schizophrenic. And everyone in the psychiatric profession should be made try medications with known rough side effects, to get a taste of their own medicine.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 134 ✭✭ Noggle

    I am convinced that there is merit to the use of psychotropics but the legality is a difficulty.

    As pointed out above the (limited) research is ongoing and there are many online articles that cover this, also prohibition is becoming increasingly unpopular e.g.
    VICE caught up with Haden to talk about the growing body of research into psychedelic therapies, and his vision for how they'll be used in a post-prohibition world.

    VICE: Psychotherapists and shamans have been using psychedelics with clients, under the radar, for a long time. There's a lot of anecdotal research out there that these therapies are successful. But your paper is suggesting a Psychoactive Substance Commission. What does that look like?
    Mark Haden: The four options really are: a for-profit running it, a not-for-profit running it or the government running it, and so we looked at all of those and thought no: it needs to have some kind of government level of authority but it needs to be hands-off, at arm's length from government so that it can have a stable mandate and vision. The idea that we proposed was to have a commission responsible for all currently illegal drugs. There would be essentially public health folks at the top—people who really understood that that was the vision that needed to be implemented—but then there's different streams.

    As one of the few Grof Certified practitioners of Holotropic Breathwork in Dublin , i run semi-regular workshops and would see an equivalence in the breathwork system:


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,735 ✭✭✭ dar100

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,072 ✭✭✭✭ Jimmy Bottlehead

    I also highly recommend reading studies by Roland Griffiths, Robin Carhart-Harris and Charles Grob.

    To summarise the last 10 years and focusing on psilocybin and MDMA research:

    - Psilocybin enhances a number of positive traits measured by the NEO PI R
    - It decreases depression in long-term majorly depressed patients
    - It decreased anxiety in terminally ill cancer patients
    - It helps with cessation of smoking and alcohol abuse
    - It is viewed as one of the most significant events in the lives of participants, who claim improved life quality. This claim has been verified by friends and family.
    - MDMA has shown promising results when administered to PTSD patients

    Now this doesn't mean going out and getting blasted on these substances is the key the nirvana, but careful theraputic application does seem to show extremely promising results and I'd like to think that psychology, psychiatry and society can hold them to the same light as any other substance or medicine that can help individuals suffering from mental health issues.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1 Molumba


    A lot of the replies you have received are pretty ignorant. Psychedelics are still illegal yes, but if you find a therapist who has studied a lot of the use of entheogens then he/she may be willing to treat you while you are under the influence. However, they will not be able to admit that they are willing to treat you in this way. So here is what I suggest. Inform the psychologist that you intend to take a substance before your therapy session - Psilocybin mushrooms for example - and let them know that you know the he/she "doesn't encourage this practice". That way the therapist is not liable. They haven't given you the substance, or encouraged you. The only thing that has happened is that you have informed them that you intend to be under the influence during the sessions.
    If your therapist is knowledgable then they will know that this will greatly increase the odds of a breakthrough in terms of your psychological state. If the therapist is not knowledgable about psychedelics then they will dismiss the idea asap and talk to you about addiction and substance abuse.
    I am spending every waking minute studying psychedelic healing and the psyche in general and I can attest to the profound transformations that psychedelic substances can bring when used in a spiritual, psyche exploring, personal development setting (But the potential for confusion and distress is also very real)
    It is only a matter of time before these substances: MDMA, LSD, Psilocybin, DMT, etc. become legal for medical use. The results from the ongoing research is too positive and significant to ignore.
    So there you have it. No therapist who doesn't want to lose their licence can encourage, supply, even be seen to slightly support the use of illegal drugs, but they can continue the therapy while you are under the influence as long as they have nothing to do with it. They can't lose their licence for treating you while you are high. That was your decision. Finding a therapist in the know who knows how to help you navigate the psychological minefield of transpersonal experience is another matter altogether. I'll be qualified in another few years and I hope to lead the way in Ireland, but for now... It's all illegal and the masses are ignorant and cast judgement about substances they know nothing about while pouring alcohol down their throats and popping pain pills.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,099 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Black Swan

    R. L. Carhart-Harris, et al, Implications for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy: functional magnetic resonance imaging study with psilocybin, British Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 200, Issue 3, March 2012 , pp. 238-244.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,655 ✭✭✭ jkforde

    Michael Pollan's latest book is worth the read/listen.. we all need to disregard the moral panic of the late 60s and 70s and come to our own generation's decision on LSD et al