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Common Factors of Psychotherapy

This week's episode was with Dr. Natalie Gukasyan psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins at the Center of Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. Dr. Gukasyan is a psychiatrist and medical director at the Center of Psychedelic & Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University. Her current research focuses on the feasibility and efficacy of novel treatment strategies including psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for mood, addictive, and eating disorders. On this episode she discusses the common factors of psychotherapy and how they work in the context of psychedelic-assisted therapy clinical trials.


What are the common factors?

  • the therapeutic relationship

  • the healing setting

  • the rationale, conceptual scheme or myth

  • the ritual

Therapeutic Relationship

This refers to the rapport built between therapist and person seeking help. Typically, this is built over time starting at intake and continuing throughout the therapeutic process. In psychedelic-assisted therapy, this rapport building happens very quickly and can be greatly influenced by the psychedelic.


This relationship can change depending on the therapist, their method of psychotherapy and their methods of disclosing information during sessions.


Healing Setting

This refers to where the therapy is taking place. It contains everything from the practitioners office, the warmth of the therapists, the room, the lights or music.


In psychedelic-assisted therapy, there is sometimes little things that differ at each site. Setting is historically important in the use of psychedelics, and of course plays a large role in the overall experience. In the episode, Natalie describes the Hopkins setting and how that may influence the therapeutic process.


The Rationale

This is the "why" of the therapeutic process. The rationale, or the conceptual scheme, of why the patient is there should be understood between the patient and therapist. There should be a common goal discussed between the parties, allowing for the healing in the therapeutic process.


In psychedelic context, this rationale is also often discussed as "why is this working". This is a very popular question as researchers aim to understand the psychedelic-assisted therapy process and what is at work during the healing.


The Ritual

This is the "how" of the therapeutic process. This includes coming to the office, how the conversations in therapy are had, and is really an extension of the rationale.


Natalie discusses how the Hopkins ritual may effect the expectations of the trials. She talks about the use of specific cups or chalices to deliver the psilocybin, the rose placed in the therapeutic room and how these things all play a role in the ritual.


For reading on the Common Factors discussed in this episode:

As always, if you can't access a research article, please don't hesitate to email us and we will send you a copy if we have it!




see google books link here

A list of Natalie's publications can be found here


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