Albert Garcia-RomeuDepartment of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USACorrespondenceagarci33@jhmi.edu
View further author information &William A. RichardsPages 291-316 | Received 23 Apr 2018, Accepted 04 Jun 2018, Published online: 13 Nov 2018
Humans have used serotonergic hallucinogens (i.e. psychedelics) for spiritual, ceremonial, and recreational purposes for thousands of years, but their administration as part of a structured therapeutic intervention is still a relatively novel practice within Western medical and psychological frameworks. In the mid-20th century, considerable advances were made in developing therapeutic approaches integrating administration of low (psycholytic) and high (psychedelic) doses of serotonergic hallucinogens for treatment of a variety of conditions, often incorporating psychoanalytic concepts prevalent at that time. This work contributed seminal insights regarding how these substances may be employed with efficacy and safety in targeted therapeutic interventions, including the importance of optimizing set (frame of mind) and setting (therapeutic environment). More recently, clinical and pharmacological research has revisited the effects and therapeutic potential of psychedelics utilizing a variety of approaches. The current article provides an overview of past and present models of psychedelic therapy, and discusses important considerations for future interventions incorporating the use of psychedelics in research and clinical practice.