Psychedelic-assisted therapy has emerged as a possible alternative to pharmaceutical psychiatric medications in recent years. A growing body of research has revealed that hallucinogenic drugs such as ketamine, MDMA and psilocybin have therapeutic potential against mental health disorders, including depression and PTSD.
When paired with psychotherapy, psychedelics induce profound and long-term benefits relatively quickly and with minimal doses. As the psychedelics for mental health segment is still in its infancy, researchers are still working to develop psychedelic-assisted therapies that could be deployed to the mass market.
Some researchers have begun experimenting with virtual reality (VR) to figure out how physicians could use this new technology to enhance psychedelic-assisted treatments and make those treatments more effective. The majority of the research on VR-assisted psychedelic therapy is currently happening in Australia, where legislators recently passed a measure to legalize the use of MDMA and psilocybin to treat PTSD and treatment-resistant depression respectively.
Generally, psychedelic therapy can be broken down into three stages: preparation, dosing and integration. The preparation phase involves the therapist describing to the patient how psychedelics work, the kind of experiences they may have after the drug’s administration and how to process the experiences in real time. Next, both the patient and therapist will focus on an emotion or problem, referred to as an intention, that they wish to focus on during the psychedelic experience. The patient then takes the psychedelic during the dosing stage and is left to themselves. The therapist will remain at hand to offer support and guidance when needed. The final and most important phase is integration, where the patient takes any insights made during the experience and applies those insights to their life.
Therapists are charged with finding out the emotions that emerged during the session and any insights the patient may have gained. However, Swinburne University PhD candidate Agnieszka Sekula notes that this can be hard to achieve. While psychedelic experiences tend to be an experiential and emotional type of session, Sekula explained, psychedelic psychotherapy tends to be more cognitive and analytical in nature.
She believes that virtual reality can act as a bridge between dosing and integration by helping patients remember what they experienced while under the influence of a psychedelic. She founded a startup with medical professional Prash Puspanathan and developed a VR tool that uses visuals and audio recordings to create a virtual world that patients can interact with and build during their psychedelic experiences.
This VR tool was used in a pilot study in the Netherlands. According to Sekula, patients who used the VR tool during the dosing stage remembered their psychedelic experiences better.
Her startup, Enosis Therapeutics, has partnered with Ovid Clinics in Berlin for a larger clinical trial. The joint effort will be the first in-clinic trial in the world to test the effectiveness of using VR in psychedelic therapy.
As entities such as Delic Holdings Corp. (CSE: DELC) (OTCQB: DELCF) push the envelope of what psychedelics can do for human health and well-being, the world will gain a deeper understanding of how best to harness these substances.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Delic Holdings Corp. (CSE: DELC) (OTCQB: DELCF) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/DELCF
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