OPEN Foundation

J. Dwyer

Experience of Music Used With Psychedelic Therapy: A Rapid Review and Implications.


Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music emerged following discontinuation of psychedelic therapy research in the early 1970s, but psychedelic therapy research has since revived. Music remains a vital component. This study examined participants’ experiences of music in psychedelic therapy research. A rapid review of qualitative and quantitative journal articles in four major databases was conducted in February to April, 2019, using the terms hallucinogens, psychedelic, “lysergic acid diethylamide,” psilocybin, ayahuasca, music, and/or “music therapy.” Of 406 articles retrieved, 10 were included (n = 180; 18-69 years old). Participants had varied backgrounds. Music was widely considered integral for meaningful emotional and imagery experiences and self-exploration during psychedelic therapy. Music transformed through its elicitation of anthropomorphic, transportive, synesthetic, and material sensations. Music could convey love, carry listeners to other realms, be something to “hold,” inspire, and elicit a deep sense of embodied transformation. Therapeutic influence was especially evident in music’s dichotomous elicitations: Music could simultaneously anchor and propel. Participant openness to music and provision of participant-centered music were associated with optimal immediate and longer-term outcomes. Many studies reported scarce details about the music used and incidental findings of music experienced. Further understanding of participants’ idiosyncratic and shared responses to music during drug therapy phases will inform optimal development of flexible music protocols which enhance psychedelic therapy. Music therapists could be involved in the psychedelic therapy research renaissance through assisting with research to optimize music-based protocols used. If psychedelics become approved medicines, music therapists may be involved in offering psychedelic therapy as part of therapeutic teams.

O’Callaghan, C., Hubik, D. J., Dwyer, J., Williams, M., & Ross, M. (2020). Experience of Music Used With Psychedelic Therapy: A Rapid Review and Implications. Journal of Music Therapy.,
Link to full text

Ketamine as a Treatment for Adolescent Major Depressive Disorder


Nearly 1 in 4 adolescents will experience major depressive disorder (MDD). Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in this age group. 40% of adolescents with MDD fail to respond to initial treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Of that SSRI-resistant population, nearly half remain depressed despite alternate medication and psychotherapy. Thus, better treatments for adolescent depression are urgently needed. Subanesthetic doses of ketamine, an NMDA antagonist, produce rapid antidepressant and anti-suicidal effects in depressed adults. There are few case reports and no prospective controlled trials of ketamine for the treatment of adolescent MDD.

Dwyer, J., Sanacora, G., & Bloch, M. (2017). 1002-Ketamine as a Treatment for Adolescent Major Depressive Disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 81(10), S405. 10.1016/j.biopsych.2017.02.729
Link to full text

27 June - Spiritual & Existential Dimensions in Psychedelic Care: Challenges & Insights