Psychedelics and psychotherapy – the rise of wellbeing ‘gurus’

‘I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake’ Hemingway.

Psychedelics have been used for psychotherapy since the 1950s, but were later prohibited due to political and social pressures. Recently, there has been renewed interest in the use of psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca for the treatment of various mental health conditions.
Studies have shown that these substances have the potential to enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapy in treating conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, and end-of-life distress. They can help to promote introspection, emotional release, and an altered state of consciousness that can facilitate therapeutic breakthroughs.

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy typically involves a preparatory phase, a treatment session under the guidance of a trained therapist, and an integration phase. The treatment session typically involves the administration of a controlled dose of the psychedelic substance in a supportive and safe environment. During this time, the therapist provides guidance and support to help the patient navigate the experience and process any insights or emotions that arise.

While the use of psychedelics for psychotherapy shows promise, it is still considered an experimental treatment and is not currently legal in most countries. It is important to note that psychedelics can produce intense and sometimes unpredictable experiences, and should only be administered under the supervision of trained professionals in a clinical setting.
Overall, the use of psychedelics for psychotherapy is an area of active research and holds promise for improving mental health outcomes for those who are struggling with various conditions.

The use of psychedelics for psychotherapy can potentially create a guru culture in which individuals who have had profound experiences with the substances are seen as possessing special knowledge or insight. This can be problematic if these individuals start to view themselves as authorities or become overly reliant on the psychedelic experience as a means of achieving insight or healing. It is alarming to note our
increasing willingness to hand over our own sovereignty to healers who profess to know or have the thing — this feels largely fuelled by social media and notion of magic solutions to mental and emotional difficulties. It is easy to watch healers who profess to know or have the thing become distorted over time—to go from seeing themselves as a vehicle for whatever wants to come through them, to believing themselves to be the thing that’s coming through.

Many people are drawn to the idea of having a spiritual teacher or guide who can provide them with guidance and support on their path of personal growth and development. However, it is important to be discerning in choosing a teacher or guide and to be aware of the potential pitfalls of giving too much power or authority to any one person.

Ultimately, the use of psychedelics for psychotherapy should be approached with caution and with an awareness of the potential risks and benefits. While it can be a powerful tool for healing and personal growth, it is not a panacea and should only be used under the guidance of a trained professional. In this country we are far from being in a place where this is likely to incorporated into anyone’s therapeutic experience.

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