POSTER PRESENTERS

Jeffrey Guss

Jeffrey Guss, MD

NYU School of Medicine

Psilocybin-assisted therapy of major depressive disorder using acceptance and commitment therapy as a therapeutic frame

Abstract

Jordan Sloshowera,b, Jeffrey Gussc, Robert Krausea,d, Ryan M. Wallacea, Monnica T. Williamse, Sara Reede, Matthew D. Skintaf


Psychedelic-assisted therapy is based on the premise that psychedelic substances can act as catalysts or adjuncts to psychotherapeutic processes. Recent clinical trials involving psychedelic-assisted therapy have generally employed a similar three-part structure consisting of preparation, support during the dosing sessions, and subsequent “integration.” However, the content of these sessions and the frame through which the therapists approach participants and understand the clinical process has thus far been inconsistent among studies. In designing a manualized therapy protocol for a small clinical trial of psilocybin-assisted therapy for major depressive disorder, our group sought to delineate an explicit and replicable, evidence-based model that intentionally builds upon both the neurobiological actions of the medication and the phenomenology of the drug experience. Having identified considerable concordance in proposed mechanisms of change between Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and psilocybin therapy, we employed ACT as an overarching psychotherapeutic framework. We hypothesize that the psilocybin experience can provide direct experiential contact with ACT processes that increase psychological flexibility, and that these deeply felt experiences may in turn be reinforced during ACT-informed follow-up therapy sessions. In this presentation, we describe the rationale for selecting ACT, areas of potential synergism between ACT and psilocybin-therapy, the basic structure of our treatment model, and limitations to this approach.

Biography

Jeffrey Guss, MD

Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

NYU School of Medicine


Jeffrey Guss, MD is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and researcher with specializations in

psychoanalytic therapy and the treatment of substance use disorders. He was Co-Principal Investigator and Director of Psychedelic Therapy Training for the NYU School of Medicine’s study on psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of cancer related existential distress, which was published in Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2016. He currently is a study therapist in the NYU study on Psilocybin-Assisted therapy in the treatment of Alcoholism, a collaborator with Yale University’s study on psilocybin-assisted therapy for Major Depressive Disorder and a study therapist with the MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) study on treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy.


Dr. Guss is interested in the integration of psychedelic therapies with contemporary

psychoanalytic theory and has published in Studies in Gender and Sexuality and Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society. He has published (with Elizabeth Nielson, PhD) a paper on “the influence of therapists’ first had experience with psychedelics on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy research and therapist training” in The Journal of Psychedelic Studies, August, 2018. He is an Instructor and Mentor with the California Institute of Integral Studies’ Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Mentor in NYU’s Fellowship in Addiction Psychiatry.


Dr. Guss maintains a private practice in New York City.

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