Anja Katharina Loizaga-Velder, PhD
The contribution of indigenous plant medicine traditions to modern psychedelic medicine
The author will provide a synthesis of two observational studies on the use of ayahuasca for the treatment of addiction and eating disorders, that were based on similar research design. She will complement findings from her research with experiential knowledge acquired in over two decades of training and collaboration with indigenous plant medicine practitioners, as well as experiences gathered as psychotherapist accompanying patients in the preparation for and integration of sessions with diverse natural psychedelic compounds in intercultural therapeutic settings. Therapeutic experiences indicate that psychedelic plants can support the therapeutic process of a variety of psychological and psychosomatic disorders including addiction, eating disorders, trauma, difficult grief and depression. Therapeutic mechanisms of well-guided plant medicine experiences will be explored that facilitate psychotherapeutic change in mental health challenges. Finally also the shadow side of the use of psychedelic plants will be addressed reflecting on experiences from psychotherapeutic work with patients who have suffered trauma from inappropriate psychedelic use, shedding light on the importance of well structured and supportive contexts in the work with psychedelic plants as well as integration.
Anja Loizaga-Velder is a German-Mexican clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, who has been investigating the therapeutic potential of the ritual use of psychedelic plants for over 25 years, in collaboration with indigenous healers. She earned a PhD degree in Medical Psychology from Heidelberg University in Germany with a doctoral dissertation on: The therapeutic uses of ayahuasca in addiction treatment. She is founding member and director of research and psychotherapy of the Nierika Institute for Intercultural Medicine in Mexico and is adjunct professor and researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she researches the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in intercultural therapeutic settings. Additionally she works as psychotherapist with humanistic and transpersonal orientation in private practice.