Preparing for & Integrating the Ayahuasca Journey: What is the Role of a Western Psychotherapist?

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Issue Date
2024-03
Authors
Korchinski, Amy
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Abstract
This capstone explores the use of ayahuasca as a healing modality and whether there is a role for a counsellor or therapist in the preparation and integration of an ayahuasca journey. A literature review provides an introduction to ayahuasca as an Indigenous medicine, its traditional usage and the efficacy of ayahuasca in treating Western concerns such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. Findings suggest that ayahuasca is a highly integrative medicine that works on the biological, psychological, physiological, emotional and spiritual levels, which makes it so effective. The phases of ayahuasca are outlined, focusing primarily on preparation and integration, with a brief discussion on ceremony. Preparation includes several medical considerations and adhering to a strict diet. Integration is a critical component of an ayahuasca journey in that it involves taking insights from the medicine and applying new behaviours or learnings into participants' daily lives. Ayahuasca integration is an emerging and important field of research with considerable opportunity for further exploration. This study is critical to counselling as no standardized training or comprehensive best practices exist for integrating plant medicine. Ayahuasca is a powerful healing modality which can be challenging. Potential participants should give ayahuasca much respect and consideration before embarking on a journey. The final chapter of this capstone offers a suggested list of considerations to help participants safely work with the medicine. The guide can also provide therapists insight into the complexity of preparing for and integrating ayahuasca. The most critical component of acting as an integration therapist is significant personal experience with the medicine.
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Keywords
ayahuasca , preparation , integration , integrative counselling , therapy , psychedelic therapy , plant medicine
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States , openAccess
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