Presentation Title

A Guide to Ayahuasca-Related Clinical Issues for Mental-Health Practitioners


Despite increasing cultural and scientific relevance of the South American sacrament ayahuasca, many mental health clinicians may not be familiar with its traditional religious and contemporary health-oriented uses by members of the public. There may be widespread misconceptions about why and how patients might use ayahuasca, as well as the impact such use may have on psychological health (Snider, Magalhaes, Duran 2017). This presentation will discuss results from interviews with mental health care professionals who have experience supporting clients for whom ayahuasca use figured prominently as a topic of psychotherapy or psychiatric consultation. Interviews were conducted with clinicians in the United States, and included clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists, and clinical social workers. Participating clinicians were given a semi-structured interview protocol designed to assess various domains relevant to clinical practice with this population. Results from these interviews, as well as a literature review, were used to develop a resource for clinicians to increase competence in supporting clients who use ayahuasca. Several clinical scenarios involving ayahuasca use will be described, as well as safety, legal, and ethical issues relevant to psychologists supporting a client who uses ayahuasca.

Snider, A., Magalhaes, C, Duran, R. (2017, April). Psychotherapy with clients who participate in ayahuasca ceremonies. Paper presented at the 2nd Psychedelic Science Conference, Oakland, CA.