Therapeutic frameworks in integration sessions in substance-assisted psychotherapy: A systematised review

Sascha B. Thal, Paris Baker, Jonathon Marinis, Michelle Wieberneit, Jason M. Sharbanee, Raimundo Bruno, Petra M. Skeffington, Stephen J. Bright

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Serotonergic psychedelics and related substances have been explored as potential adjuncts in substance-assisted psychotherapy (SAPT) for treating various disorders. SAPT can be divided into three phases: preparation, administration and integration. Integration is commonly defined as the comprehension and effective application of insights from psychedelic experiences into everyday life. However, there is limited research regarding the most appropriate therapeutic approach during SAPT. In this article, we discuss the current evidence for different therapeutic frameworks for integration sessions when serotonergic psychedelics and entactogens are used as adjuncts to psychotherapy. We conducted a systematised review of the literature following PRISMA guidelines and searched PsycINFO, MEDLINE and Cochrane Library databases. The final synthesis included 75 clinical trials, mixed-methods investigations, treatment manuals, study protocols, quasi-experiments, qualitative investigations, descriptive studies, opinion papers, reviews, books and book chapters, published until 11 November 2022. The effects that various therapeutic approaches for integration sessions have on therapeutic outcomes have not been investigated by means of rigorous research. Most of the available evidence we retrieved was not supported by empirical data, thus limiting any conclusive statements regarding appropriate therapeutic frameworks for integration sessions for SAPT. Current clinical studies have used a range of therapeutic frameworks with the majority drawing from the humanistic–experiential tradition. While integration is regarded as crucial for the safe application of SAPT, there is currently an insufficient evidence base to suggest that any type of therapy is effective for guiding integration sessions. A systematic investigation of different therapeutic frameworks for integration and additional therapy-related factors is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2945
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Volume31
Issue number1
Early online date26 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

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