Examining the Effects of Pre- and Post-Ceremony Factors on Self-reported Therapeutic Experiences to Identify Preliminary Guidelines for Mental Health Clinicians Regarding the Ritualized Use of Ayahuasca
Melanie Oliveira, Hons. B.Sc.
Co-authors: Gerald Thomas and Anna Khaylis
Although evidence is accumulating that the ritualized use of ayahuasca can facilitate therapeutic experiences, outcomes appear to be highly variable and there is little scientific understanding of the effects that pre- and post-ceremony factors have on individual outcomes. Consequently, there is little to no guidance available for mainstream mental health clinicians encountering clients participating in, or planning to participate in, ayahuasca ceremonies. Given the increasing availability and popularity of ayahuasca in North America, it is important that pre- and post-ceremony factors that may impact outcomes be identified and translated into practical guidance for health care professionals. This presentation will convey findings from a study that uses thematic analysis of participants drawn from different ritualized approaches to qualitatively assess the impact of various pre- and post-ceremony factors on the depth and sustainability of self-reported healing from ceremonies conducted in British Columbia, Canada. The ultimate goal of this work is to inform the development of guidelines for mental health clinicians so they can better understand and assist Western clients who have used, or are planning to use, ayahuasca for therapeutic purposes.
Melanie Oliveira, Hons. B.Sc., is a Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) student at Adler University. She is presently in the 4th year of the Psy.D program, completing her dissertation research (the presented study) and practicum training. Her research interests include the use of entheogens and psychedelics for psychological healing, and the integration of spirituality and spiritual healing practices into Western models of psychology. Melanie’s clinical work focuses on counselling children, adolescents, parents, and adults. She weaves empathy, unconditional positive regard, and humour to assist clients along their self-growth process and journey to well-being. On her downtime, Melanie enjoys being in nature, kayaking, camping, and spending quality time with family and friends.