About this Research Topic

Manuscript Submission Deadline 01 February 2022
Manuscript Extension Submission Deadline 01 March 2022

Research into psychedelic drugs has gained renewed momentum. This so-called psychedelic renaissance has emerged from a series of studies pointing to the potential of these drugs to treat clinical disorders where conventional treatments produce insufficient treatment responses. Psychedelics are currently ...

Research into psychedelic drugs has gained renewed momentum. This so-called psychedelic renaissance has emerged from a series of studies pointing to the potential of these drugs to treat clinical disorders where conventional treatments produce insufficient treatment responses. Psychedelics are currently classified as Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, which is the most restricted designation and reserved for chemicals that have “no acceptable medical use”. It has therefore been, and still is, an important initial step to test the clinical efficacy of these drugs in attempt to refute the claim that they have no medical use. However, while this endeavor is certainly justified, it is also important to emphasize the interdisciplinary setting that necessarily goes hand in hand with the therapeutic application of psychedelic drugs.

Recent “breakthrough therapy” designations have been granted to psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin and MDMA which make it a realistic forecasting that these could be available as approved medicines within 3-5 years. In such a case, it is our opinion that the success of implementation will depend upon an interdisciplinary consensus of how psychedelic therapy is best and most safely conducted. The predominant focus during the resurgence of psychedelic research has been on the pharmacology and clinical efficacy of psychedelic drugs. However, there is a pressing need to also study the psychotherapeutic framing of their administration; such as the potential of psychotherapy to enhance the beneficial effects of psychedelic drugs and to protect against the psychological risks associated with them. While most of the early research into psychedelic drugs in the 1950-60s were more psychotherapeutically oriented, a lot has happened within clinical psychology since then and it is important that we learn more about the psychotherapeutic models and thinking that guide present day psychedelic therapists. This is all the more relevant since this is often not described in-depth in scientific papers in which the aims are oriented towards the pharmacological properties or clinical efficacy.

This Research Topic will bring together a selection of Original Research, Review, Hypothesis and Theory, Perspective, that explore the psychotherapeutic models and thinking that guide the administration of psychedelic drugs today. We invite empirical papers that describe and critically examine the psychotherapeutic models/approaches used in studies where these drugs are legally administered. We ask (if relevant) that psychological study procedures are described in detail, including (i) screening of participants, (ii) number of hours and sessions spend on preparation, acute administration and integration and (iii) the physical environment in which the drugs are administered.

For further author guidance see the questions listed below:
• What is the main psychotherapeutic model/approach involved in your study/studies?
• What are the reasons that this particular model/approach was chosen and what empirical evidence (if any) do you refer to?
• What specific interventions/exercises (if any) do you use and how are they anchored in your psychotherapeutic model/approach?
• What music (if any) do you use in your study/studies and do you include music as part of the interventions/exercises (if any) or psychotherapeutic model/approach used?
• What steps do you take to qualify or measure the efficacy of the psychotherapeutic model/approach used and how would you ideally test the appropriateness of your model/approach?
• What empirical psychological measures do you use in your study/studies?
• Which data (quantitative or qualitative) regarding the impact of the psychotherapeutic model/approach used have your study program yielded so far?

While all papers must pertain to the psychotherapeutic model/approach used, the above-listed questions are meant as guidance for authors and it is not required that all questions are addressed. It is also possible to include other or additional points of focus. If a review paper is conducted, authors are advised to make sure that enough in-depth attention is given to the scientific theory behind each of the psychotherapeutic models/approaches described.

Keywords: Psychedelics, psychotherapy, psychology, set and setting, music, scientific theory


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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