What is Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy?
Chances are you’re hearing and reading more and more about the ways trained psychedelic assisted therapists are using psilocybin and its psychedelic properties for healing and self-betterment. Psilocybin, found in over 200 species of fungi, is a natural psychedelic (as opposed to an artificial or lab-built compound). Its therapeutic potential is highly regarded for the initial positive results emerging for the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD and for end-of-life therapies. Studies examining specific indications and exploring the efficacy of treatment are on the rise, and a general anticipation and interest around psychedelic therapies is growing – and for good reason.
Derived from the Greek word psyche for “mind-manifesting,” or “soul-manifesting” the word “psychedelic” describes a way to induce an altered cognitive state and expand our consciousness. It is this cornerstone idea that taps into the therapeutic potential of plant medicine.
Natural psychedelics such as psilocybin effectively help to temporarily put aside the rational, thinking mind and allow for a different approach when considering past experiences. This provides the opportunity to find new and different meaning in past experiences and change long held belief systems. These plant medicines also provide greater access to bodily sensations, memories and emotions that are present on an unconscious level. The combination of psychotherapy and psychedelics allows a person to more readily reprocess experiences in a new way, creating a unique opportunity to understand and resolve issues that may otherwise be difficult to grasp. When upheld and guided by a trained psychedelic assisted therapist and a Plant Elder natural psychedelics can act as a catalyst for healing and enlightenment.
Psychedelic plant medicine has been a part of Indigenous cultures for thousands of years, and it has taken modern medicine a long time to catch up to the plant wisdom of these cultures. Psychotherapists, physicians and the well-being community as a whole are now embracing psychedelic therapy as a way to heal mental health issues. Research and peer-reviewed trials affirm the conclusions Indigenous populations reached millennia ago; their results indicate that psychedelic therapy offers positive benefits when dealing with treatment-resistant depression, anxiety and PTSD, as well as in end-of-life therapies.
Here’s how psychedelic-assisted therapy works:
When supported by a psychotherapeutic process (such as Somatic-based psychedelic therapy), psychedelics are capable of helping people to access deeper thinking and even to process and heal trauma. Gentle guidance is provided at certain times during an experience to support the natural ability of the body to release trauma stored within the body and nervous system. How does this practically work in our bodies? Natural substances such as psilocybin alter consciousness by affecting serotonin neurotransmitter function within our brains.
While psychedelic medicines such as psilocybin have independent benefits, their effectiveness is amplified when used in a therapeutic context. These medicines temporarily disrupt the default mode network of the brain allowing us to access our subconscious, our nervous system and our bodily sensations, in addition to our memories and emotions. Essentially, therapies of this nature do not just heal the mind, they heal the body’s memory of trauma and pain, where it is stored.
Growing in authority at a significant pace, psychedelic therapy is a fascinating and empowering bridge between historic cultures and modern medicine. The combination of natural psychedelic medicines and psychotherapeutic technique is a powerful strategy to address issues and reduce the impact of trauma – especially when healing is set in nature.