Real, Relational, and Embodied: The First Qualitative Study of Patient Experiences of Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy
Findings will be presented from the first qualitative study of participant experiences in psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 13 adult participants aged 22 to 69 years (M = 50 years) with clinically elevated anxiety associated with a cancer diagnosis. Participants received a moderate dose of psilocybin and adjunctive psychotherapy. Transcribed interviews were analyzed by a five-member research team using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results suggest new psychological mechanisms of action: patient experiences were relationally embedded, physically embodied, affect laden, biographically instantiated, and deeply meaningful. These findings suggest that the current measures being used in psychedelic research are incomplete, and that the domain of psychedelic research should be broadened to assess emotional range and catharsis, interoceptive and embodied phenomena, attachment style, and human relationships.
Alexander Belser, Ph.D. (cand.), M.Phil., is a Fellow and Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Applied Psychology at New York University (NYU). He co-founded the psychedelic research team at NYU in 2006. Alex is the Lead Investigator of a study at NYU exploring how patients with cancer experience psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.
Alex serves as the Co-Primary Investigator of the NYU Psilocybin Alcohol Dependence Qualitative Study. He is also helping to design a qualitative study of religious leaders who are administered psilocybin. Finally, Alex serves on the Research Advisory Board of Compass Pathways, a medical research foundation that supports innovation in mental health through translational research.
Alex has authored articles appearing in publications such as the APA Journal of Family Psychology and the Oxford Handbook of Prosocial Behavior. Alex lives with his partner in New York City.