Exploring the Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy framework for supporting the integration of clients’ psychedelic experiences: Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of client’s testimonies
About the researcher:
Sophie is a counsellor/psychotherapist (PGDip in integrative counselling and psychotherapy, University of East London) & Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS) practitioner (Levels 1 & 2, UK IFS institute). She is currently studying for a MA in the School of Psychology at the University of East London. This qualitative research study is part of my MA curriculum.
Read more about her here: https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellors/sophie-sarrassat
University of East London, UK
To understand, in greater depth, the extent to which the Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy can support clients in the “integration” of their psychedelic experiences. Ultimately, it is hoped that findings of this research shed light on how IFS therapy can help to maximise benefit and minimise harms from psychedelic experiences.
Research proposal abstract
A number of psychedelic substances have now completed clinical trials for mental health disorders revealing “large” to “very large” effect sizes. In UK, one of the largest trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of psilocybin for treatment resistant depression is currently conducted in collaboration with King’s college. The Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy provides a therapeutic model for preparing, navigating and integrating psychedelic experiences. It offers means to navigate protective and vulnerable psychic inner systems, while the psychedelic magnifies this process by unlocking access to one’s parts and authentic Self. An increasing number of individuals seeks psychedelics for healing purpose, and including in contexts where access to psychedelics is illegal, psychotherapists have an ethical duty to attempt to reduce harms and maximise benefits among clients in need of support for psychedelic integration. Without integration, insights gained are likely to fade without actualising meaningful change, less obvious contents to not be processed and difficult experiences can reinforce traumas or existing patterns of defenses.
To my knowledge, while there is a growing literature reporting personal accounts of psychedelic experiences, little is said about the process of psychedelic integration from a client’s viewpoint. Thus, this qualitative study will use Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to understand, in greater depth, the extent to which the IFS therapy framework can support clients in the integration of their psychedelic experiences. Ultimately, it is hoped that findings contribute to the growing need for education about psychedelics within the mental health field.
I am currently conducting qualitative interviews to hear testimonies of people’s “psychedelic experiences” and their integration.
If you have:
- used a psychedelic (e.g. psilocybin, MDMA, ayahuasca, …) – regardless of the context, but for healing purpose (as opposed to recreational purpose),
- attended psychotherapy/counselling (IFS or another approach) as a way to reflect upon and “integrate” your psychedelic experience,
I would like to invite you to participate in an interview about this.
I will conduct the interview with benevolence, curiosity and non-judgement hoping that this will feel like having an informal chat.
Psychedelic experiences can foster self-discovery and worth, but can also be challenging. Along with other participants, your testimony will be confidential and anonymous, and will contribute to understand, in greater depth, how the IFS therapeutic modality can support people in the “integration” of their psychedelic experiences.
If you have attended a therapeutic modality other than IFS, your testimony will highlight experiences from more than one distinctive vantage point. This will help to better understand a phenomenon in the round and will contrast the IFS model.
This project is conducted as part of my postgraduate studies in the School of Psychology at the University of East London, and has been approved by the School of Psychology Research Ethics Committee.
Your participation is voluntary and would be deeply appreciated.
Should you like further information, have any questions about my research or wish to participate, you can contact me using the form below. I look forward to hearing from you.
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