Insight Conference
Dr. Paul Soons
6:05pm - 7:05pm


ACT as a Theoretical Framework for the Integration of Psychedelic Experiences

Psychedelic experience, be it pharmacological or non‐pharmacological, has at least two aspects: ﴾1﴿. The psychological level and ﴾2﴿. The spiritual, mystical or non-dual level. Those experiences can be part of psychotherapy or coaching, when the client has had psychedelic experiences. The aim of this presentation is to understand these psychedelic experiences with help of the ACT‐model. To achieve this it is necessary to refine and make more explicit some aspects of the model. ACT is primarily used as a psychological model, but has originally also some spiritual aspects.ACT has six core processes, all part of the so-called hexaflex ﴾Hayes ea., 2012﴿: ﴾1﴿ acceptance, ﴾2﴿ cognitive defusion, ﴾3﴿ mindfulness, ﴾4﴿ self‐as‐context, ﴾5﴿ values, ﴾6﴿ committed action. All these processes can contribute to psychological flexibility, which is considered essential for mental health. The more one is psychologically flexible, the less the chance for psychopathology. To understand the mystical aspect of the psychedelic experience, some refinements are needed for ﴾3﴿ mindfulness and ﴾4﴿ self‐as context. Because these processes contribute primarily to the integration of experiences on the level of the personality ﴾Soons, 2008﴿.

The development that happens when performing mindfulness meditation is from personality ﴾body, emotion, thought﴿ to soul consciousness ﴾calmness, equanimity, mildness, love, wisdom﴿ or wise mind ﴾Linehan, 1993﴿. There is another level necessary to process psychedelic experiences, which goes beyond the person, i.e. non-dual level, the level beyond mindfulness ﴾Dunn, 2011﴿. Only from this perspective it is possible to interpret and process nondual experiences. The self‐as‐context is the capacity of taking perspective or distancing from your experiences ﴾Hayes ea., 2012; McHugh & Stewart, 2012﴿. This functions on the level of the personality and does not necessarily include spiritual experiences. Hayes ﴾2012﴿ distinguishes three aspects of self‐as‐context ﴾1﴿ spirituality as a feeling of transcendence, ﴾2﴿ consciousness as social and interconnectedness with other people and the world ﴾3﴿ compassion and acceptance. These aspects mainly belong to the level of wise mind. The aspect of transcendence may encompass the nondual, but that should be further elaborated, theoretically and practically. By experiencing psychedelic states there is the possibility of awakening experiences ﴾= nondual﴿. By repetitive experiences and thorough integration a final and definitive, stable liberation is possible. For example by doing the workshop “Beyond Experience” of the Mind Foundation.

In this presentation, the above will be further elaborated. A CASE study is added to illustrate the above model.


‐ Dunn, J. ﴾2011﴿. Toward an understanding of non‐dual mindfulness, Contemporary Buddhism, 12:01, 71‐80.

‐ Hayes, S., Strosahl, K. & Wilson, K. ﴾eds﴿ ﴾2012﴿. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The Guilford Press.

‐ Linehan, M. ﴾1993﴿. Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. The Guilford Press.

‐ McHugh, L. & Stewart, I. ﴾eds﴿ ﴾2012﴿. The Self and Perspective Taking. Context Press.

‐ Soons, P. ﴾2008﴿. The Witness in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Buddhist Psychology. In: T. Oei & C. Tang ﴾eds﴿. Current Research & Practices of Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Asia.


Clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, philosopher

Dr. Paul Soons

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