LAURA KAERTNER

The Ceremony Study - Findings from The Experience Retreats

In this presentation, Laura Kaertner and Ciara will present the findings of the Ceremony Study completed by the participants of the Experience Retreats. The Experience Retreats are the pioneering psilocybin-assisted retreat programme in Europe. They offer an accessible and grounded space in which to experience psilocybin in a ceremonial context. The main intention of the Experience Retreats is to create a comfortable and trusting container in which experienced facilitators share tools to guide participants through the preparation, navigation and integration of the psychedelic experience.

Founded in 2016, the have held 50 retreats with 600+ participants to date. The programme has since developed to offer women’s retreats, retreats for returning participants and private retreats for specific group types. How do the Experience Retreats work? Which are the psychological, social and environmental factors, that determine acute and long-term responses to ritualised psychedelic use? And how does the acute psychedelic experience affect long-term changes in personal well-being? Laura and Ciara will explore these questions closely and present Ceremony Study data collected from individuals that participated in Experience Retreats.

The presentation will focus on how individual traits (e.g. personality) and variables pertaining to set and setting shape the acute experience. Furthermore, they aim to identify aspects of the acute psychedelic experience (e.g. emotional breakthrough, insight) that shape long-term responses to ritualised psychedelic use; focusing on the effects on general well-being, feelings of connectedness and nature-relatedness, political perspectives and metaphysical assumptions. This will be first official individual retreat group study of non clinical group ceremonies. The data collection at the Experience Retreats was enabled through the Ceremony Study, a project coordinated by Hannes Ketter, Leor Roseman and Robin Carhart-Harris at the Centre for Psychedelic Studies, Imperial College London. Data analysis appraisal goes to Hannes Ketter, Laura Kartner and Rita Issa.

Laura is a research intern at the Centre of Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London, investigating the subjective effects of microdosing psychedelics, focusing on identifying potential risks and therapeutic benefits. She has a degree in Psychology (M.Sc) with focus on Clinical & Behavioural Psychology. Furthermore, she is involved in harm reduction work with PsyCareUK. Her vision is to work supporting personal and spiritual development and creative breakthroughs while following a career in psychology/psychotherapy.