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Research at PSI

PSI is focused on interventions that maximize the therapeutic benefit of psychedelic medicine. Unlike MAPS, universities and other research organizations that are focused on moving medicines such as MDMA and psilocybin through an FDA regulatory approval pipeline, PSI is focused on fine tuning the psychotherapy to fit the psychedelic state of consciousness. We know that psychedelics are highly reliant on context: set, setting, relationship, therapeutic modality, and processing pathways for their outcomes. Having psychedelic medicines available but only using psychotherapy that was designed for ordinary states of consciousness, such as traditional talk therapy or CBT, is a missed opportunity. We reason that the use of psychedelics for mental health aught to be accompanied by a psychedelic specific modality, a set of interventions specifically designed to operate in the non-rational, non-ordinary, non-linear, dreamlike state of consciousness that is induced by psychedelic medicine. 

 

As such, our focus is on the therapy itself and how it functions in non-ordinary states of consciousness. We are gathering data on the PSIP model with legal and readily accessible psychedelic medicines such as ketamine and cannabis in the US, as well as on non-medicine assisted PSIP.

 

The particular research detailed below is an unpublished, pilot study of non-medicine assisted PSIP conducted by Oshier-Andrews, Wolterstorff, & Razvi in 2008. The study is a quasi-experimental design as there was no control group but only an experimental treatment group. The treatment involved 12 hour long PSIP sessions given to a sample size of 14 participants (11 female, 3 male) who presented with stress, anxiety, childhood trauma and general PTSD symptoms as measured by the TSI-2 scale. A notable aspect of this study is that none of the counselors providing the treatment were seasoned clinicians but rather psychology grad students in the final year of their internship, or recent graduates that were completing an externship year. They were trained in the non-medicine assisted version of the PSIP protocol and were given regular supervision as they delivered the treatment over a period of 12 weeks. 

 

While the results are quite promising, we are limited in any causal inference that can be reached from this study based on the lack of a control group and the limited sample size. With that caveat, the chart below details pre treatment and post treatment scores for the 14 study participants. Items on the TSI's clinical scales marked in yellow are considered problematic and items in red are considered clinically significant for a mental health condition. We see a marked decrease in both problematic and clinically significant areas for all the participants after 12 sessions except participant 1008. 

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Pre-test Scores on TSI-2
Post-test Scores on TSI-2

Furthermore, in a survey of participant's assessment of how helpful the PSIP model was to them: 

  • 57% rated as "very helpful"

  • 29% rated as "quite helpful"

86% found the model helpful