Research - Ongoing Projects

In the following list you can find the projects that are currently being developed within the framework of the research protocol of the Takiwasi Center.

1.
The Effectiveness of Ayahuasca for the Treatment of Addictions in Latin America

Researcher / Responsible : Brian Rush

Partner Institutions: Center for Addiction and Mental Health - Camh, Nierika.

The objective of this research is to systematically evaluate the therapeutic effects and effectiveness of the treatment for additions developed and applied for more than 20 years by the Takiwasi Center, in the San Martín region, Peru, which is based on the complementation of Traditional Amazonian Medicine with modern psychotherapy. It is an observational and longitudinal study of a prospective cohort that includes mixed methods. A sample of 30 resident patients of Takiwasi will be included. Participants will complete quantitative measures and conduct qualitative interviews at the beginning and at the end of treatment, and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after medical discharge. The instruments measure severity of addiction, quantity and frequency of consumption, motivation for treatment, mental health, quality of life, spirituality and satisfaction with the service. The interviews will explore in depth the subjective experiences of the patients about the treatment and about the possible explanatory mechanisms regarding the effectiveness of the treatment. In addition, this research will include an ethnography of Takiwasi's therapeutic context describing both the physical location and the cultural ideas about the problem and the healing processes among the Takiwasi staff. This research is part of an international research project called ATOP in which several American countries collaborate (Brazil, Canada, Peru, Mexico and Argentina). The results of this research will be shared with those carried out by other countries in order to jointly evaluate the effectiveness of the use of traditional Amazonian medicine for the treatment of addictions at a transcultural level. See the full presentation: Ayahuasca Treatment Outcome Project


2.
Exploring perceptions about ‘the purge’ within Ayahuasca rituals in the context of drug addiction: a qualitative study with healers and therapists in a drug rehabilitation center in Peru

Researcher / Responsible : Svet Lustig Vijay

Partner Institutions: Master's student in public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), UK.

Through face-to-face interviews with therapists, healers and plant preparers at the Takiwasi Center, and a secondary analysis of data from the lived experiences of patients with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), the proposed study aims to investigate the perceptions and narratives of therapists, healers, and patients about "the purge" within the Ayahuasca ceremony in the context of drug addiction. To the best of the author's knowledge, no such study has yet been conducted to date. Given that the proposed study aims to explore perceptions and narratives around purging during Ayahuasca rituals in healers, therapists, and patients with SUD, it seems reasonable to refrain from formulating specific hypotheses, as is often the case in conventional research of mostly quantitative hypothesis testing. However, preliminary analysis of the material published by the Takiwasi Center and the researcher's previous experience at Takiwasi suggests that therapists, healers, and plant preparers may perceive "the purge" in terms of its effects on (A) the "physical body ", detoxifying the body of addictive substances (B) the "psycho-emotional body", through emotional relaxation after intense vomiting, which is reported to release psychological charges, negative emotions or attitudes (C) the" spirit " or the "energetic body", "cleansing" the body of evil spirits that are sometimes reported to possess the patient.


3.
Neurology of perfume rituals: Experimental study of the effect of perfumes and smells on neural activity during the rituals performed in Takiwasi

Researcher / Responsible : Antoine Renard

Partner Institutions: PhD program, art and science SACRe, University PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres).

This study on the effect of perfumes and smells on brain activity is a development of a larger research on “perfumeros healers”, initiated in 2019. The research aim is to better understand the impact of perfumes and smells on patients during the healing process of Takiwasi center. For this phase of the experimental research, the researcher will undergo a series of perfume related rituals within the pedagogical context of Takiwasi, wearing a special equipment called “EEG” helmet, which is a tool that captures brain activity and codes it into raw data. This data will later be analysed and interpreted into visualisations. It is important to keep in mind that this research is situated in between the academic world and the artistic world. The goal of the PhD program SACRe is to allow artist researchers to work on the creation of knowledge via creative processes, within a frame recognized by academic institutions. Since the beginning of the research on perfumeros, one problematic aspect is to define how the perfumes and smells generate the healing effect, until now the focus has been placed on the sensitive, intellectual and emotional perception of the perfume, the present research sets the aim to access neural data generated by the brain itself, as proof of efficiency of the healing process.


4.
Integration of traditional and conventional therapeutic practices. An analysis of the professional evolution of psychotherapists at the Takiwasi Center

Researcher / Responsible : Clémence Forestier-Dupuch

Partner Institutions: Master's student in clinical psychology, Free University of Brussels.

The general framework of this study refers to the integration of traditional medicine with conventional/"Western" one. This topic will be approached through the study of the professional evolution of the Takiwasi Center's psychotherapists when integrating the practices of traditional Amazonian medicine. The main objectives of the research are: to collect the testimony of therapists who use psychotherapy combined with traditional Amazonian medicine in their clinical practice; understand what led these therapists to become particularly interested in Amazonian shamanism as practiced at the Takiwasi Center; understand what path of training and/or initiation was necessary to build their clinical practice; observe if they keep, in their definition of healing, theoretical contributions of their "initial" training and know the theoretical contributions that add to or replace the initial theoretical paradigm of the therapist; highlight the factors that encourage therapists to practice a treatment that includes traditional Amazonian medicine; propose illustrations of this practice with patient cases, to describe the way in which traditional Amazonian medicine is associated and how they perceive the benefits and limits of this therapeutic association, according to the therapist's point of view. We propose to carry out an exploratory qualitative research, through the following data collection procedure: interviews with Takiwasi’s therapists (mostly psychotherapists), in the form of a semi-structured interview; observation of clinical practice as a practitioner in the therapeutic area. Given the exploratory nature of this study, the expected results are open to the discoveries made during the study. We will expect to observe a conception of care and illness different from the one used by "Western" psychotherapists, thus redefining the objective of care and its means. We wish to be able to offer practical examples of clinical practice integration between “traditional” and “Western” medicine.


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