Abstract Details

Family-based Psychedelic-assisted Psychotherapy: Innovations in Research and Practice  Adele Lafrance (DENVER, CO )   C17

A new development in the field of psychotherapy is the attention paid to the role of caregivers in the treatment of mental health issues across the lifespan. Caregivers, including parents and partners, represent an often-untapped resource for enhancing change in individuals who struggle with mental health issues. Aside from the fact that caregivers know their loved ones best, and love them the most, there are also a number of practical reasons for the involvement of caregivers. First, those who struggle with behavioral or mental health issues often live at home, with a spouse or partner, or are dependent on their families in some way. Therefore, it is sensible to equip these individuals with evidence-based support skills for use in day-to-day interactions. When caregivers can offer support in the real-world settings where their loved one is most likely to struggle, outcomes also improve. Providing the caregiver with an active role in the service of their loved one?s healing also decreases their feelings of powerlessness and paralysis, which can lead to burn-out, relationship strain, and the possible maintenance of their loved one?s symptoms. There is strong data relating to the cost-effectiveness and the efficacy of structured family involvement and yet the treatment offered to many is individually focused, especially among adolescent and adult populations. This is also true in the context of psychedelic psychotherapies, where with few exceptions, research studies and treatment models focus on the 'identified client'. This talk will introduce three models of family-based psychedelic medicine. The first model involves the recruitment of caregivers who learn specific skills to support their loved one during the course of psychedelic psychotherapy, creating an optimal home environment for healing and growth. The second model involves the recruitment of caregivers who participate in medicine sessions alongside their loved one, thereby leveraging the neurobiological bond to deepen the process of healing and growth, including attending to relational patterns that may be reinforcing problematic patterns or symptoms. The third model involves caregivers who participate in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy on behalf of their loved one, who for medical or psychiatric reasons cannot participate themselves. Examples from research settings and anecdotal reports will be provided to illustrate each of these models. This focus on the engagement of caregivers as an extension of the therapist(s) can represent a departure from conventional methods, in particular when clients are adults. However, given the dearth of services available to those struggling - whether due to psychological or financial barriers, the model offers the possibility of filling important gaps in the mental health care system. More importantly, given that outcomes are improved for all involved in treatment efforts, family-based models of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy offer the possibility of healing that extends far beyond the 'identified client', and includes healing for broader systems and communities.