Relational Psychotherapy and Psychedelic Treatment

This article by James Barnes and Saga Briggs appears on the Mind Foundation website. It begins:

Talking about changing one’s relationships is a common feature of therapy sessions. A direct change in one’s experience of relationships is a common feature of psychedelic sessions. How can therapy harness this directness? Focus on the relationship at hand—between therapist and patient. 

Positive outcomes of both psychedelic experiences and therapeutic treatment frequently depend on changes in one’s experience of relationships. In a study on patients’ perceptions of the value of psilocybin for those diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression, Watts, et al. found enhanced connectedness to be a primary mechanism of improved well-being: After treatment, many patients reported being able to re-connect with family members, friends, strangers, and even people who had wronged them, identifying “a change from disconnection (from self, others, and world) to connection” as one of the most valuable aspects of treatment.1 At the same time, the quality of connection between therapist and patient (known as the ‘therapeutic alliance’) is thought to be one of the most influential aspects of psychotherapy.2 Despite these links between positive intersubjective experience and well-being, most contemporary therapy methods, and therefore most psychedelic therapy techniques, focus on individual subjective experience, and avoid drawing attention to the ‘relationship in the room.’ In this post, we argue for relational psychotherapy, with its focus on the connection between therapist and patient, as a promising adjunct to psychedelic treatment …”

You can read more from here.

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