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First Evidence-Based Psychedelic Integration Scales Designed By Veterans Organization, Here's What We Know

Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions (VETS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the current epidemic of veteran suicides and related mental health issues integration, most notably psychedelic-assisted therapies for traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction. VETS’ psychedelic therapy coaches Tomas Frymann and Sophie Whitney, along with fellow researchers David B. Yaden, Ph.D., and Joshua Lipson, published the first-ever validated scales for measuring psychedelic integration in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

What Is Integration?

Integration is the process of translating psychedelic experiences into positive changes in patients’ everyday life. It takes place immediately after a psychedelic experience, and to a smaller extenrt in the following weeks and months. It is the post-acute period of time following the drug administration. Therefore, integration is an essential part of psychedelic therapy. 

Up to this point, researchers and therapists had a difficult task of reliably measuring it, which in turn made evaluation of the overall therapeutic process complicated. The fact that practices diverge depending on individual patient needs and provider styles results in disparities in systems of measurement and in the difficulty in quantifying results across data sets. 

There is a growing need for reliable data to inform regulatory outcomes, since the medical potential of psychedelic compounds is being seriously considered on both medical and governmental levels.

The study, issued on May 23 and titled “The Psychedelic Integration Scales: Tools for Measuring Psychedelic Integration Behaviors and Experiences,” intends to make the new device available for individual users and patients as well as for practitioners, clinics, researchers, and training providers.

On the study release, the authors said, “We encourage the sharing of the scales with researchers for use in studies, with facilitators for tracking and supporting client integration progress, with integration guides for use in sessions, with psychedelic centers for improving services, with individuals embarking on psychedelic journeys for self-reflection, and with anyone else for whom the Psychedelic Integration Scales and research might be helpful.”

The Theoretical Model

The paper describes the development and initial validation of two psychometric scales for measuring psychedelic integration: the Integration Engagement Scale (IES) for positive behavioral engagement with integration, and the Experienced Integration Scale (EIS) for internal aspects of feeling integrated. 

The scales are brief and face valid instruments designed for practical use in applied and research settings. Scale items were generated and refined using the Iterative Process Model of scale development, with input from psychedelics experts and clinicians. 

Content validity, internal structure, and reliability were assessed via expert surveys, content validity analysis, cognitive interviewing, convergent validity analysis, exploratory factor analysis, and confirmatory factor analysis. The data indicates the scales are valid and reliable measurements of the behavioral and experiential forms of Psychedelic Integration.

Experts’ Reviews

Some of the leading psychedelic researchers and clinicians have expressed their support and praise for the Psychedelic Integration Scales: “Finally, we have access to valuable rating scales, carefully-constructed, that capture and reflect integrative processes,” said William A. Richards, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research. 

Ingmar Gorman, Ph.D., co-founder of psychedelic therapy training provider Fluence, added, “The psychedelic integration scales are a vital contribution to the field of psychedelic research. They will be essential in qualifying changes that may occur through psychedelic experiences as a consequence of the integration process. This work will pave the way for empirical data to be collected, helping us understand how psychedelics ultimately translate into healing and greater wellbeing.”

Photo Courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay.

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