Special considerations for evaluating psilocybin-facilitated psychotherapy in vulnerable populations

Academic Article


  • Psilocybin-facilitated psychotherapy shows potential transdiagnostic efficacy for a range of mental health conditions. Though vulnerable populations bear disproportionate mental health burden, they have been largely neglected in the clinical psilocybin literature. However, if the field is to best respond to the diverse needs of individuals from vulnerable populations, care must be taken to ensure these individuals are represented in the empirical research. This report calls attention to this concern by detailing the challenges and opportunities associated with evaluating psilocybin-facilitated psychotherapy in vulnerable populations. First, we show how working with vulnerable populations must be considered in the context of an often-problematic past and differential exposure to and experience with classic psychedelics. We then provide actionable recommendations for future research testing psilocybin-facilitated psychotherapy in vulnerable populations, including an emphasis on recruitment strategies, the appropriate communication and assessment of subjective effects, building therapeutic alliance, multicultural competence, and flexible study designs. On these premises we call for future work in this area, underscoring that there is vast room for improvement and expansion in this rapidly advancing field of study.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Neuropharmacology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Ortiz CE; Dourron HM; Sweat NW; Garcia-Romeu A; MacCarthy S; Anderson BT; Hendricks PS
  • Volume

  • 214