Understanding Psychedelic Therapy

Contact Us

Long associated with the 1960s counterculture, psychedelics have recently garnered renewed attention for their use in mental health treatment. Studies on psychedelic therapy have shown that these substances can have a profound positive impact on people who have been living with a variety of physical, mental, and behavioral health challenges.

What is Psychedelic Therapy?

Psychedelic therapy can be referred to by several names, including psychedelic-assisted therapy, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAP), and psychedelic medicine.

Regardless of which term is used, the principle is the same: To incorporate substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin (the psychoactive ingredient in “magic mushrooms”), MDMA (ecstasy), and ketamine into treatment for mental health disorders. 

Research into the potential benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy suggests that it may help people who have been experiencing concerns such as:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Substance use disorders (addictions)

Pros and Cons

Typing “psychedelic therapy near me” into a search engine may return a list of providers in your area. But before you decide to contact a psychedelic therapist, take the time to thoroughly research this topic.

Let’s start by looking at some of the pros and cons of psychedelic therapy. First, the potential benefits of participating in this type of treatment include:

  • Studies have shown that some forms of psychedelic therapy may help patients make greater progress (and experience positive results sooner) than more traditional medications or therapies can.
  • Psychedelic therapy may be helpful to people whose symptoms have not responded to prior treatment. For example, ketamine therapy has shown great promise for patients who have treatment-resistant depression (TRD).
  • Taking psychedelic drugs under the guidance and supervision of a trained professional can be much safer than self-medicating on your own or with others who do not have the necessary clinical expertise.
  • The medications that are used in psychedelic therapy do not typically lead to dependence or cause withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using them.


On the “con” or negative side, here are some of the concerns that have been raised about psychedelic therapy:

  • Some of the drugs that are used in psychedelic therapy can be habit-forming, and may be dangerous of used outside a properly supervised clinical environment.
  • As this is an emerging (or re-emerging) service, safety and quality of care can be quite difference from one psychedelic therapist to another. 
  • For some people, psychedelic drug use can be a harrowing experience, involving both physical and psychological distress.
  • Laws governing psychedelic therapy can vary considerably throughout the U.S. 

Types of Psychedelic Therapy

Psychedelic therapy can be categorized in several ways, including by what type of drug is used, how the drug is used, and what disorder is being treated.

Viewing this from the perspective of what drugs are used, here are three of the more common types of psychedelic therapy:

  • Ketamine therapy: A nasal spray containing a ketamine variant called esketamine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat depression. This medication is self-administered by patients in a doctor’s office or another approved clinical setting. Some therapists also provide ketamine infusion therapy, which involves the administration of ketamine via intravenous or intramuscular injections.
  • LSD therapy: LSD is typically administered orally. In some cases, psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions involving LSD include music or pleasing imagery. In other cases, the therapist may conduct a form of talk therapy with the patient while they are under the influence of LSD. In still other cases, a person may simply take the medication in a comfortable space under the supervision of a professional who is charged with keeping them safe and helping them process any distress they experience.
  • Psilocybin: Therapy involving psilocybin doesn’t always rely on the substance’s psychedelic properties. Some clinicians (and their patients) have found that a technique called microdosing is most beneficial. Microdosing involves taking small, sub-hallucinogenic amounts of psilocybin. Other psychedelic therapists may prefer to provide more powerful doses, which can cause effects that are closer to what patients experience when they participate in LSD therapy.

What Does Psychedelic Therapy Treat?

Psychedelic therapy employs various mechanisms to address a spectrum of mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal ideation, and substance use disorders (SUDs). Here’s how it may treat each of these conditions:

  1. Anxiety Disorders: Psychedelic therapy can help individuals with anxiety disorders by facilitating deep emotional processing and promoting a shift in perspective. By inducing altered states of consciousness, psychedelics can reduce the intensity of fear responses, enhance emotional regulation, and foster a sense of interconnectedness and acceptance.
  2. Depressive Disorders: Psychedelic therapy for depressive disorders involves accessing and processing underlying emotional trauma, negative thought patterns, and existential distress. Psychedelics can induce profound experiences of interconnectedness, empathy, and insight, which may lead to a reduction in depressive symptoms, increased self-awareness, and enhanced emotional resilience.
  3. Bipolar Disorder: While psychedelic therapy for bipolar disorder is still being studied, preliminary research suggests that it may help stabilize mood fluctuations, reduce depressive episodes, and promote emotional balance. By facilitating introspection and emotional release, psychedelics may support individuals in managing symptoms and improving overall mood stability.
  4. Eating Disorders: Psychedelic therapy for eating disorders focuses on addressing underlying psychological issues, such as body image distortions, trauma, and self-esteem issues. Psychedelics can facilitate deep introspection and promote acceptance and compassion toward oneself, leading to shifts in attitudes and behaviors related to food and body image.
  5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Psychedelic therapy for OCD involves challenging rigid thought patterns and compulsive behaviors by promoting acceptance, flexibility, and emotional processing. Psychedelics may help individuals gain insight into the root causes of their obsessive thoughts and compulsions and develop new coping strategies.
  6. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Psychedelic therapy for PTSD focuses on processing traumatic memories, reducing hyperarousal, and promoting emotional healing. Psychedelics can facilitate a state of heightened psychological openness, allowing individuals to revisit traumatic experiences in a safe and supportive environment and integrate them into their broader life narrative.
  7. Suicidal Ideation: Psychedelic therapy for suicidal ideation involves addressing underlying psychological distress, existential despair, and feelings of hopelessness. Psychedelics can induce profound mystical experiences, fostering a sense of interconnectedness, purpose, and meaning, which may alleviate suicidal thoughts and promote a desire to live.


In each of these contexts, psychedelic therapy emphasizes the importance of creating a safe and supportive therapeutic environment, integrating insights and experiences into daily life, and providing ongoing support and follow-up care to maximize therapeutic outcomes. Additionally, it may complement traditional psychotherapeutic approaches, medication-assisted treatments, and lifestyle interventions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Research Behind Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy

In the United States, the first wave of psychedelic research for mental health purposes occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. However, by the 1970s, concerns about the possible detrimental effects of psychedelics caused many of these efforts to be abandoned.

Over the last quarter century, psychedelic research increased considerably. Here are a few examples of what more recent studies have found about this type of treatment:

  • A 2017 review of prior research on LSD therapy concluded that “a few single administrations of LSD or related substances within a therapeutic setting may be beneficial for patients with anxiety associated with severe illness, depression, or addiction.”
  • A February 2022 report about psychedelic therapy involving psilocybin noted that the drug has “promising therapeutic effects” and “a wide range of possible medical applications,” such as helping people who have substance use disorders, depressive disorders, and end-of-life anxiety.
  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research has published several studies on the effectiveness of psychedelic therapy for a variety of physical and mental health concerns.

How to Find a Psychedelic Therapist Near You

When you are evaluating providers to find the right psychedelic therapist near you, it can be helpful to ask the following questions:

  • How long has the provider been offering psychedelic therapy?
  • What are the qualifications of the professionals who will be providing your care?
  • What types of psychedelic therapy does the provider offer?
  • What types of disorders has the provider treated with psychedelic therapy?
  • What other services does the provider offer?
  • How will the provider determine if you are a good candidate for psychedelic therapy?
  • How long will you need to remain in treatment?
  • How does the provider define success in terms of psychedelic therapy?
  • What happens if your symptoms return after you complete treatment?
  • Does the provider offer aftercare support services?


Representatives of any reputable treatment centers should be happy to answer these or any other questions. If a therapist or facility is hesitant or unwilling to provide you with the information you are seeking, you view that decision as a significant red flag.

Contact Conscious Health About Our Therapies in Los Angeles, CA

Conscious Health offers ketamine therapy and a dynamic array of other innovative services to help adults who have been living with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and other mental health concerns.

When you choose our center in Los Angeles, California, you will be cared for by a team of highly skilled and deeply compassionate professionals. We will work closely with you to assess the full scope of your needs, identify your short- and long-term goals, and then provide the focused services that will help you achieve new levels of wellness and consciousness.

Every step of the way, we will encourage you to play an active role in all aspects of your care, with the goal of empowering you to become an informed self-advocate.

To learn more about our programs and services, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.

one of our compassionate specialists will reach out to you shortly

We look forward to hearing from you