Measuring Psychedelic Integration

Integration is a fundamental part of psychedelic therapy, and new scientific research has found a way to measure this process.

Evan Lewis-Healey

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“Fractal Cosmos”, retrieved from Flickr

A recent paper has been published with the first ever validated scales for measuring psychedelic integration. Published in Frontiers in Psychology, the paper represents a step forward in the way that clinicians may apply and measure integration throughout psychedelic therapy.

The Stages of Psychedelic Therapy

Unbeknownst to some, taking psychedelics for healing purposes is much more than simply swallowing back a handful of psilocybin mushrooms and letting the medicine work its magic. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple, nor as easy, as that.

High dose psychedelic therapy, which is the most commonplace in current research trials, generally entails three stages. The first stage is all about preparation. Patients that are going through this protocol will often have a debilitating mental health issue, such as severe depression. They are incredibly vulnerable, and won’t know what to expect throughout the psychedelic session, which may be extremely intense, and has the potential to shatter someone’s worldview in the space of several hours.

This first stage therefore allows patients to iron out any specific anxieties about the upcoming dosing day, and build a better bond with their therapist, who often doubles up as their trip sitter. It’s argued that proper preparation will ultimately contribute to a more therapeutically beneficial trip.

The second stage is the psychedelic experience itself. That is, the act of swallowing down the mushrooms, or LSD, or MDMA. This is taken in a comfortable setting, usually a hospital room that’s been adorned with nice artwork and pleasant lighting, with the patient’s therapist present to soothe any rough patches of the trip that may occur. A playlist of music is also listened to during the experience; these are curated so that they can guide the trajectory of the psychedelic trip.

Last, but certainly not least, the final stage of the therapeutic process is integration. This can be defined as, “the process by which a psychedelic experience translates into…

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Evan Lewis-Healey

PhD candidate at Cambridge University. Studying the cognitive neuroscience of altered states of consciousness.