Psychedelic Psychotherapy: Insights from 25 Years of Research

William Richards, PhD

Abstract: Reflecting on his past involvement in clinical research with psychedelic substances at the University of Göttingen and the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, and in the current investigations at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Richards will discuss the discrete alternative states of consciousness that appear to facilitate psychotherapeutic progress, and the factors of set, setting, and dosage that increase the probability of their occurrence. Attention will be paid to both the art and the science of psychedelic psychotherapy with appreciation for the phenomenology of psychedelic experiences, and for techniques of integrating new insights in normative states of consciousness.

William A. Richards, PhD, is a psychologist in the Psychiatry Department of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bayview Medical Center, currently pursuing research with entheogens, and also a clinician in private practice in Baltimore. His graduate degrees include MDiv from Yale Divinity School, STM from Andover-Newton Theological School and a PhD from Catholic University, as well as studies with Abraham Maslow at Brandeis University and Hanscarl Leuner at Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, where his involvement with psilocybin research originated in 1963. From 1967 to 1977, he pursued psychotherapy research with LSD, DPT, MDA, and psilocybin at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, including protocols designed to investigate the promise of entheogens in the treatment of alcoholism, severe personality disorders, narcotic addiction, the psychological distress associated with terminal cancer, and also their use in the training of religious and mental health professionals. From 1977-1981, he was a member of the psychology faculty of Antioch University in Maryland. His publications began in 1966 with “Implications of LSD and Experimental Mysticism,” coauthored with Walter Pahnke, and published in the Journal of Religion and Health.

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