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Exploring the Role of Psychotherapy in Psychedelic Treatments for Psychiatric Disorders

Published:December 12, 2023

Exploring the Role of Psychotherapy in Psychedelic Treatments for Psychiatric Disorders

In the realm of psychiatric treatment, the integration of psychedelic substances with psychotherapy is emerging as a ground-breaking approach. A recent article, titled “Treatment with psychedelics is psychotherapy: beyond reductionism,” authored by Gerhard Gründer, Manuela Brand, Lea J Mertens, Henrik Jungaberle, Laura Kärtner, Dennis J Scharf, Moritz Spangemacher, and Max Wolff, delves into this fascinating topic. Published on December 1, 2023, this article challenges conventional perspectives and advocates for a more holistic understanding of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.

The Intersection of Psychedelics and Psychotherapy

Since the 1950s, the use of psychedelic substances in treating psychiatric disorders has been conceptualized as an adjunct to psychotherapy. This approach, known as psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, leverages the profound biological effects of psychedelics to catalyse changes in thinking, emotions, and behaviour. The therapy component is deemed crucial for both the safety and efficacy of the treatment.

Challenging Traditional Views

Recent clinical studies have sparked a debate by suggesting that the therapeutic effects of psychedelics might be attributed solely to the substances themselves, minimizing the role of psychotherapy. In this view, the therapist’s role is seen merely as a safety measure during substance administration. However, the authors of the article argue against this reductionist view, emphasizing the importance of psychotherapy in the treatment process.

DMT entity encounter

Transcending Reductionist Approaches in Psychiatric Practice

The article challenges the outdated, reductionistic view of psychedelic treatment as merely biological, advocating for an integrated approach that acknowledges the crucial interplay of biological and psychological factors in therapy.

Beyond Reductionism in Psychiatry

The article posits that viewing treatment with psychedelics as a purely biological intervention, with psychotherapy serving only as a safety component, is an outdated and reductionistic approach. This perspective has long dominated psychiatric treatment and research, but the authors advocate for a more integrated approach that recognizes the interplay between biological and psychological factors in treatment.

Implications for Future Research and Regulation

This discussion has significant implications for how we study and regulate psychedelic compounds. It calls for a shift in perspective, recognizing the essential role of psychotherapy in enhancing the safety and efficacy of psychedelic treatments.


The article by Gründer and colleagues is a compelling call to re-evaluate our understanding of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. It underscores the need to move beyond reductionist views and embrace a more holistic approach to psychiatric treatment, one that fully integrates the psychological and biological aspects of therapy.


Gründer, G., Brand, M., Mertens, L. J., Jungaberle, H., Kärtner, L., Scharf, D. J., Spangemacher, M., & Wolff, M. (2023). Treatment with psychedelics is psychotherapy: Beyond reductionism. The Lancet Psychiatry, 0(0).


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