The use of the psychological flexibility model to support psychedelic assisted therapy

This theory-building paper (2020) presents the ACE (Accept, Connect, Embody) model and how it’s being used in a trial (Psilodep 2) with psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression.


“Psychedelic assisted therapy comprises three stages: Preparation, Psychedelic Session, and Integration. Preparation is key for maximising the potential of a beneficial psychedelic experience and integration is important for prolonging improvements. The psychological flexibility model (PFM) appears to be a promising one to guide psychedelic preparation and integration. This paper proposes a model that utilises the PFM as informed by a previously published qualitative study of patient accounts of change processes in psilocybin therapy that identified themes of acceptance and connection as associated with positive outcomes. This new model, the ACE (Accept, Connect, Embody) model presents the six psychological flexibility processes, renamed and rearranged in an acceptance triad (defusion, present moment focus, willingness) and a connection triad (self as context, values, committed action). This paper describes the ACE model and how it is being used in an ongoing trial of psilocybin treatment for major depression. It also describes qualitative evidence supportive of the idea that psychological flexibility may be key to characterizing the processes of change involved in psilocybin assisted therapy for depression. These and other results suggest that psilocybin may be specifically increasing psychological flexibility and point to the possibility that psychotherapy approaches incorporating the PFM may serve as a means to deepen and extend the benefits of psilocybin treatment, thus bridging the experiential gap between a potent inner experience and an outer life better lived.”

Authors: Rosalind Watts & Jason B. Luoma


Highlights from the authors:

  • “The psychological flexibility model can be used to guide psychedelic-assisted therapy
  • A new model, the ACE (Accept, Connect, Embody) model, is outlined
  • The paper describes how this new model is being used in a psilocybin trial
  • Qualitative data is re-analyzed in terms of psychological flexibility processes”

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The use of the psychological flexibility model to support psychedelic assisted therapy

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Published in
Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science
December 15, 2019
37 citations

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