What does good psychedelic therapy look like?

As MDMA and psilocybin treatments become more mainstream, the therapy component has come under scrutiny. Here's what's common in many sessions - and what's not. [Andrei Cojocaru/The New York Times]

Psychedelic therapy is on its way to becoming a mainstream medical treatment in mental health care. In 2020 and 2022, residents of Oregon and Colorado voted to legalize the use of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, and the Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve it and MDMA, or Ecstasy, to treat depression and post-traumatic stress disorder by 2024.

While there is mounting evidence that psychedelics could offer much-needed new treatments for intractable mental illness, stories of abuse or trauma have also emerged - which have more to do with the therapists than the drugs.

Some cases involve clear instances of sexual assault. With others, the therapist may have had good intentions but still caused more harm than healing. In one recent clinical trial, which found that psilocybin could offer relief for treatment-resistant...

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