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First Professional Guidelines for Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Published
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First Professional Guidelines for Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Published

Seraiah Alexander
Seraiah Alexander
August 18, 2023
2 min

 The first set of professional guidelines for psychedelic-assisted therapy practitioners was announced on August 8th by the American Psychedelic Practitioners Association (APPA) and BrainFutures. The comprehensive guidelines have been crafted to accommodate the evolving field of psychedelic-assisted therapy and issue guidance for mental health providers engaged in this practice. The creation of these guidelines results from an overall consensus on the professional standards for this treatment approach, outlining a guide for exceptional care rooted in current clinical research and expert advice.

 A growing need for comprehensive guidelines

As psychedelic-assisted therapy becomes more popularized, it is important to have clear and professional guidelines for facilities and practitioners. Currently, Oregon and Colorado are the only states that have legalized psychedelic-assisted therapy. However, there is a growing interest throughout the U.S. to legalize psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA for therapeutic use. As this treatment option becomes more mainstream, it will be necessary to have a comprehensive and accepted approach to the professional standards of psychedelic-assisted therapy. In an interview with Psychedelic Health, APPA Executive Director Stephen Xenakis points out, “These are the most important first steps because they now set up the context for clinicians to use these particular compounds and medicines in a therapeutic way.”

The guidelines discuss topics like ethics, patient screening, procedure safety, and consent, 

providing recommendations for psychedelic-assisted therapy practitioners and discussing the professional standards for this form of treatment. Since the practice of psychedelic-assisted therapy is relatively new, these guidelines will help structure our current approaches to ensure safe and effective treatments for patients. 

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Key takeaways of the guidelines

  • Practitioners must be in good standing with the healthcare licensure and/or certification organization within their professional field.
  • Practitioners should have specialized psychedelic-assisted therapy training tailored to their area of practice. They should be knowledgeable about the fundamentals of psychedelic-assisted therapy and the possible physical, psychological, and spiritual effects of psychedelics.
  • Practitioners should be dedicated to continually improving their therapeutic skills, such as establishing strong relationships with patients, remaining emotionally present, upholding patient dignity and respect, and adhering to the highest ethical standards.
  • Prior to treatment, practitioners should acquire and record informed consent from the patient and respect the patient’s right to retract consent at any time throughout the process. They should also view consent as a continuous process that should be addressed on multiple occasions throughout the course of therapy.
  • Practitioners should specifically discuss the potential use of touch within the informed consent process with their patients. This consent involves the patient’s right to decline touch except when physical contact is necessary to present severe injury, harm, or damage.
  • Practitioners must verify that patients undergo comprehensive screening based on established evidence, guidelines, and clinical expertise.
  • Practitioners should establish rapport and trust with patients in the preparatory phase.
  • Practitioners are required to prepare patients for medication administration sessions by encouraging them to share their personal histories, explaining the logistics of the session, outlining potential experiences that could occur during the session, offering guidance to navigate through potentially challenging moments, and addressing patient queries.
  • Practitioners should enable a secure and therapeutic administration session conducted in a confidential and comfortable setting.
  • Practicioners are responsible for monitoring patients for any adverse effects during and after the medication administration session, taking necessary actions to address any complications.
  • Practitioners should support patients in comprehending and deriving meaning from their psychedelic medication experience while integrating the desired changes into their lives.
  • Practitioners are required to engage in communication and coordination with other relevant provers to guarantee the seamless continuity of care.

Future steps

Since the growing understanding of psychedelic-assisted therapy will continue to evolve, so should the associated practices that have been detailed in the document. With an increasing body of research coming to the forefront, the guidelines will likely undergo several changes, resulting in the two-year expiration date for the current version. According to the APPA, the next move would be to implement clinical accreditation standards and ethical guidelines for practitioners within the coming year.


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Seraiah Alexander

Seraiah Alexander

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Table Of Contents

1
 A growing need for comprehensive guidelines
2
Key takeaways of the guidelines
3
Future steps

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