Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Series: How to talk with your clients about psychedelic-assisted therapy with Dr. Elizabeth Nielson | POP 996

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What should you discuss with your clients when it comes to psychedelic-assisted therapy? Which trainings are available for you to do now? What is the harm reduction framework and how can you utilize it in your sessions to support your clients?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about how to discuss psychedelic-assisted therapy with your clients with Dr. Elizabeth Nielson.

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Meet Dr. Elizabeth Nielson

A photo of Dr. Elizabeth Nielson is captured. She is a co-founder of Fluence and a psychologist. Dr. Nielson is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.
Dr. Elizabeth Nielson is a co-founder of Fluence and a psychologist with a focus on developing psychedelic medicines as empirically supported treatments for PTSD, substance use problems, and mood disorders.
Through Fluence, Dr. Nielson provides continuing education and training programs for therapists who wish to engage in the integration of psychedelic experiences in clinical settings. Her research includes qualitative and mixed-methods projects designed to further understand the phenomenology and mechanisms of change in psychedelic-assisted therapy, including the experiences of trial participants and of the therapists themselves. Having completed an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at NYU, she has published and presented on topics of psychedelic therapist training, therapists’ personal experience with psychedelics, and including psychedelic integration in group and individual psychotherapy.
Visit Fluence and connect on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

In this Podcast

  • What to understand about psychedelic-assisted therapy 
  • The harm reduction framework 
  • What to talk to clients about 
  • Dr. Nielson’s advice to private practitioners

What to understand about psychedelic-assisted therapy 

Psychedelic-assisted therapy isn’t (at the moment) part of many traditional training programs, so if you are interested in this modality, you would need to take some training and supervision. 

A lot of therapists are trained to think of the use of any drug or any state of intoxication, if you will, as being negative or unwanted or hedonistic or even contrary to advancing in therapy, and those ideas can really get in the way of helping us understand how these states of mind could be useful and helpful for folks in a therapeutic way. (Dr. Nielson) 

Training for therapists when it comes to psychedelics is necessary since harm could be done to clients by uninformed or misinformed therapists if clients ask them questions about this modality. 

We have a theoretical model and we have a harm reduction informed way of holding that conversation and then from there we can see our clients through that process. If that’s a decision that they want to make … We can help them with the information … the decision making … and if they want to be able to talk about it in therapy. (Dr. Nielson) 

You don’t have to be trained in giving out psychedelic-assisted therapy, but knowing how these medicines work and being informed will help you work with your clients who are engaging with it outside of your sessions. 

The harm reduction framework 

The model that Dr. Nielson was trained in integrated harm reduction psychotherapy for several years, and this model connects harm reduction principles in the psychotherapy setting. 

Nowadays, they’ve taken this model and added in components from mindful-based therapy and interventions, and best practices from psychedelic-assisted therapy.

Some people think of it as you only have those conversations if you are the one that’s providing the psychedelic, but actually lots of people talk to lots of other providers about their decision and their experience … You don’t have to be the one administering the psychedelics … in order to have fruitful conversations going on around it … That’s where this model gives practitioners a foothold and a basis for having those conversations. (Dr. Nielson) 

For example, if your client is asking about different psychedelic medicines and which ones to choose, you can ask them; “What are you seeking? What are you pursuing? And why do you think any of these would be helpful to you?” 

Once you know this, you can give them more information and assist them with balanced decision-making. 

What to talk to clients about 

Remind them that this is a long-term process, especially since many of these medicines are still being researched, and that it will be a few years before everything becomes fully legal and endorsed in the Western medical system. 

For clinicians, Dr. Nielson recommends getting informed on what you can get trained in now within your scope of practice for the future. 

Dr. Nielson’s advice to private practitioners 

There is training and education that is available and relevant right now. You don’t have to wait for FDA approval before educating yourself on the scope of what’s available. 

Engaging in psychedelic-assisted therapy can be a paradigm shift!

Sponsors Mentioned in this episode:

Books mentioned in this episode:

Jonathan Robinson – Ecstasy As Medicine: How MDMA Therapy Can Help You Overcome Trauma, Anxiety and Depression…and Feel More Love

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Series: The politics, access, and best practices of psychedelic therapy in the US and Europe with Justin Townsend | POP 995

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Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners who are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

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