Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission


Capstone Advisor

Dessa Bergen-Cico

Honors Reader

Max Malikow

Capstone Major

Public Health

Audio/Visual Component



psychedelic medicine, psychedelic research, mental health, clinical trials, cost-analysis, mental health crisis, practitioner shortage, indigenous wisdom, Buddhist psychology, transpersonal psychology, wellbeing, resilience, neuroplasticity, breakthrough therapy, MDMA, psilocybin, compassion, psychedelic renaissance, medicalization

Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Public Health


Before they were criminalized, psychedelics were once used in mental health research. Today, they are making a resurgence in the medical field following a long hiatus. Current clinical trials for psychedelic-assisted therapy reveal their potential to treat a variety of mental health conditions. While this novel treatment provides promise, there are many implications to consider regarding its integration into the Western medical model. This paper includes a literature review of the past and current use of psychedelics for healing purposes and mental health research. The literature review provides background for understanding the resurgence of psychedelics within a larger context. Additionally, an analysis of the promise and perils of medicalizing psychedelics was conducted, which determined that psychedelic-assisted therapy will likely be inaccessible for several years. With the United States currently in a mental health crisis, this paper combines psychological, neuroscientific, psychedelic, and contemplative research to understand how psychedelics function to improve mental health. It also provides evidence-based alternatives to psychedelic-assisted therapy that the general population can benefit from. It appears that psychedelics help form new neural connections and expedite the process of deep introspection; however, other practices can achieve similar results. This paper seeks to provide context for the emerging field of psychedelic medicine and demonstrate its potential applicability to various methods of healing.

Included in

Public Health Commons



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