Current perspectives on psychedelic therapy: use of serotonergic hallucinogens in clinical interventions

Albert Garcia-Romeu, William A. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Humans have used serotonergic hallucinogens (i.e. psychedelics) for spiritual, ceremonial, and recreational purposes for thousands of years, but their administration as part of a structured therapeutic intervention is still a relatively novel practice within Western medical and psychological frameworks. In the mid-20th century, considerable advances were made in developing therapeutic approaches integrating administration of low (psycholytic) and high (psychedelic) doses of serotonergic hallucinogens for treatment of a variety of conditions, often incorporating psychoanalytic concepts prevalent at that time. This work contributed seminal insights regarding how these substances may be employed with efficacy and safety in targeted therapeutic interventions, including the importance of optimizing set (frame of mind) and setting (therapeutic environment). More recently, clinical and pharmacological research has revisited the effects and therapeutic potential of psychedelics utilizing a variety of approaches. The current article provides an overview of past and present models of psychedelic therapy, and discusses important considerations for future interventions incorporating the use of psychedelics in research and clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-316
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Review of Psychiatry
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 4 2018

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Keywords

  • hallucinogens
  • LSD
  • psilocybin
  • Psychedelic therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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