Global interest in psychedelic substances increases by the day, and although clinical trials have yielded positive results, psychedelic research and clinical practice is in its infancy. We find ourselves at a unique moment in time where increased access to information about psychedelics, even to the psychedelics themselves, is moving forward at a faster rate than the cultural and relational foundations can shift to accommodate this change in a safe, accessible, meaningful way.
Alyssa Gursky and Rafael Lancelotta come on the Psychedologist to discuss the implications of this psychedelic “gold rush.” We talk about how the vast and rapid growth of psychedelic businesses and therapies is not trauma informed. We ponder questions such as, can psychedelics relieve the mental health crisis in the world, or is this an oversimplified pipe-dream, similar to the revolution SSRIs were expected to be? How does privilege come into play when it comes to psychedelic healing? Should we slow things down, rather than pressing forward to bring psychedelic therapies to the general population? Is there a more responsible, ethical, trauma informed model for rolling out psychedelic therapies than what is currently happening in the psychedelic landscape?
The conversation shifts to how important resources are in predicting outcomes from psychedelic work. In the face of so much excitement worldwide at preliminary research results, Rafael describes a need for us to conceptualize and contextualize what is being published right now and how that relates to mental illness.
Leia asks, is there an over-professionalization of mental health? Can community carry and support some of the responsibility around developing resources to get the most out of psychedelic experiences?
Licensure boards provide some external accountability for practitioners. Coaching does not have an ethical board or even widely recognized best practices, especially for psychedelic coaches. How can organic systems be introduced to support accountability amongst non-licensed practitioners? How can we revise structures that are currently in place in order to expand, grow and accommodate the way that human beings are expanding, growing and evolving?
We leave off the conversation with the notion that psychedelic therapy is a whole, embodied path, not a job. Stand by for the second half of this dialogue!
Rafael Lancelotta is a Social Work PhD student at The Ohio State University focusing on levels of social/therapeutic support and their relationship to improvements in mental health symptoms in the context of psychedelic-assisted therapy. Before starting their PhD program, they worked as a somatic-focused, trauma-informed therapist in private practice in Golden, Colorado supporting clients’ use of cannabis and ketamine to facilitate the therapeutic process. They have authored, co-authored, helped design, carry out, and present over 20 research papers and projects on psychedelic use and psychedelic-assisted therapy. They serve as a Founding Board Member and Secretary of the Source Research Foundation, a foundation which aims to connect, inspire, and support students who study all contexts of psychedelic use. They are passionate about expanding accessibility to psychedelic-assisted therapies to all people that may benefit as well as helping to raise awareness as to the responsible clinical applications of psychedelics/entheogens. They hope to continue working to help develop evidence-based practices for psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions and integration to empower individuals to make lasting positive change in their lives and in their communities. They are also the administrator of 5meodmt.org, which is a forum dedicated to facilitating community discussions on harm reduction, integration, and safe practices around the use of 5-MeO-DMT.
Alyssa (she/they) is a therapist, researcher, and artist based out of Portland, Oregon. They received their master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, concentrating in Transpersonal Art Therapy. They are an above-ground trained Ketamine & MDMA-Assisted psychotherapist and are incredibly passionate about the intersection of somatic awareness, creativity, and relational healing. She is passionate about creating spaces of safety for those who identify as LGBTQIA+ in the field of psychedelic therapy. Creatively, she focuses on mixed media & collage art. Alyssa can be found at www.alyssagursky.com or on Instagram at @mycelialyssa