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Today we have the interesting topic to look into, of how psychedelic compounds are now being used in psychotherapy. With promising results in clinical trials from Imperial College around the mid 2010’s, a flourish of trials at other medical schools across the world has seen a renaissance of the psychedelic movement for treating, particularly depression and PTSD, that was started by transpersonal psychologists like Stan Grof in the 1960’s before then being banned.


Along with this renaissance has come interest from pharmaceutical companies and psychonauts, psychotherapists and members of the general public suffering from treatment resistant conditions. With all this activity there is confusion about what the results from the studies actually show, how the treatment should be done safely, ethically and with lasting results and who to be contacting if you want to try it out. So I thought it was important to speak about these matters here for anyone interested in getting a data led picture of the fast evolving situation, among all the noise out there on the internet.


Fortunately my guest today is a clinical psychologist who’s been at the centre of the field since the beginning of the renaissance, and not just as a researcher but as a hands on psychologist in the therapy room with the subjects at all stages of the process, Dr. Rosalind Watts.


Dr. Watt’s work as the Clinical psychologist Lead for Imperial College London’s psilocybin trials,  have made her one of the most prominent voices and minds in the field of psychedelic research. She has been named as one of the 50 Most Influential People in Psychedelics, However, what sets Dr Watts apart is her focus on integration, harm-reduction and inclusion in the psychedelic space.

Apart from treating she also builds tools and structures to foster connectedness after psychedelic experiences, finding inspiration for their design from nature. The most recent of which is the integration community she’s created - ACER Integration, which we’ll be touching on today.

Now we do have a previous episode #10 on ‘Testing the use of psychedelics for treating depression’, with one of Rosalind’s collaborators psychologist Ashleigh Murphy-Beiner, which focuses on the results of the first 2 psilocybin Imperial college Studies, if anyone wants to get deeper into those, but I have always wanted to speak to Rosalind too, about her unique take on treatment and integration as so many therapists are adopting her protocol.

What we speak about:

00:00 Intro

04:30 Clubbing community

07:40 The psychedelic therapy process: step by step

08:40 1. Screening: for people it could suit VS cause problems for

09:50 2. Preparation: Building trust and safety in vulnerability

11:15 The psychedelic experience is the beginning not the end of the work

13:05 Sharing meals; music and essential oils used to encourage relaxation and surrender

16:50 At least two guides needed for ethical and practical reasons

17:10 Budget cuts are cutting important elements of the program

19:50 The ‘Pearl Dive’ analogy, deep down to the hidden traumas

26:50 3. The therapy session itself

28:50 A non-directed approach to the journey from the guides

29:50 Sense deprivation, near darkness and not getting freaked out

33:05 4. Integration: after the experience, maximising benefits

34:35 The experience and meaning looking back

35:10 Planting the pearl of insight to nourish and nurture them

35:40 6 months later the depression was back

40:20 Issues with support for participants from GP’s

44:20 The role of ritual and ceremony in effective results

46:20 Appropriated from Mexican Mazatec tradition of psilocybin for healing

49:50 How to talk about the ceremonial without deities and religions

54:50 Opening up to the sacred wound VS numbing the feelings

58:50 Ros’s first experience: Fear before and transformation after

01:05:50 Ego death and the resistance of the ego to release control

01:07:35 The ‘brain reset’ analogy and the expectations it created

01:08:50 Actively doing the daily work instead of passive medication taking

01:12:05 Mystical experience’s importance in the transformation

01:18:05 Adverse psychedelic effects: actively facing the hardest places

01:21:50 Facing bad trips: Compassion, curiosity and courage



ACER Community Integration Group

Rosalind Watts, A.C.E. Accept, Embody, Connect model paper

Maria Sabina, Mexican shaman - Life magazine 1957

Gaia Hypothesis

Adverse effects trial at Greenwich University website, and Vice magazine Article

Increased brain connectivity result in psilocybin study

Little Pharma (Dr. Ben Sessa)

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