OPEN Foundation

M. Ross

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.,
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Psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression: How do we advance the field?


In the quest for new treatment options for depression, attention is being paid to the potential role of psychedelic drugs. Psilocybin is of particular interest given its mechanism of action, its benefits in early trials and its relatively low side effects burden. This viewpoint outlines a number of key issues that remain to be elucidated about its potential use in the clinical environment, including clarification of the profile of people most likely to benefit and those who might experience adverse effects, longer-term outcomes and the role of psychotherapeutic input alongside the drug itself. There are also opportunities to understand better, the neurobiology underpinning its effects.

Meikle, S. E., Liknaitzky, P., Rossell, S. L., Ross, M., Strauss, N., Thomas, N., … & Castle, D. J. (2019). Psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression: How do we advance the field?. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 0004867419888575.,
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22 May - Delivering Effective Psychedelic Clinical Trials