Psychedelics and Couples Therapy: potential benefits and risks
Psychedelic therapy is a buzzy topic lately, with good reason – there’s lots of promising research coming out indicating it can help with everything from end of life anxiety to PTSD.
Regarding couples therapy, less research supports it, but big publications like New York Times have shared articles with anecdotal evidence and stories from folks who have tried it. Some therapists already provide ketamine-assisted couples therapy, another experimental treatment. I’ll talk more about what these look like below, as well as risks to keep in mind if considering these options. Please note: this is not medical advice, and I am not suggesting you try these drugs on your own.
More and more couples have come out in public talking about how MDMA use helped them get “unstuck.” They report feeling closer and have important conversations that were difficult before. While research on MDMA assisted therapy for PTSD is promising (check out this organization, MAPS, if you want to learn more) we don’t really know for sure how it impacts relationships. (Is MDMA even a psychedelic? There’s some debate about this). As with micro-dosing, in the absence of much research, and despite its illegal status, people are still trying it out on their own.
Ketamine assisted couples therapy
Unlike MDMA, you can try ketamine legally when a medical professional prescribes it to you. Some therapists have moved forward with offering ketamine assisted couples therapy. At a psychedelic assisted therapy training this fall run by Fluence, in the Catskills, I met a therapist doing that work in Woodstock, NY named Jayne. I’m fascinated by the work she’s doing. She mentioned she’s doing a retreat for couples in the spring of 2022. If you want to learn more about trying this, you can reach out to Jayne at the Woodstock Therapy Center.
Harm reduction therapy
If you decide to try MDMA, ketamine or another psychedelic, whether on your own, with your partner, with a group, “above ground” or underground, consider the risks and seek support from a trained therapist who can explore those with you.
- Medical risks: Have you consulted with anyone about potential health complications of trying a substance? For example, MDMA can cause heart issues and if you’re taking antidepressants it’s also contra-indicated.
- Purity of the substance: Have you tested your substance to make sure it’s pure? You can buy drug testing kits online to make sure.
- Finally, consider risks to your relationship. MDMA can act as a “truth serum” and you might share information you and your partner aren’t ready to process. Ketamine can have similar effects.
Work with a therapist for preparation and integration
Part of psychedelic harm reduction is having preparation and integration support around your experience. You can work with a therapist to talk more about harm reduction, your motivations for trying this now, what your goals are for the experience, and more. You can also talk with your therapist after your experience to integrate what happened. Sometimes experiences with psychedelics can be frightening or not go as planned; having integration sessions is important so that you can process whatever came up for you.
I hope this brief article about psychedelics and couples therapy was useful. If you’re interested in connecting with me, feel free to reach out for a free consultation.