Psychedelic therapy apps: innovation or investor greed?

Investors around the world are pouring millions of dollars into start ups aiming to revolutionize mental healthcare with psychedelics. And although the benefits of psychedelic therapy are becoming clearer, it remains a very labour and time intensive form of treatment. Hours-long psychedelic sessions coupled with multiple follow up appointments for integration make it difficult to provide this kind of therapy at scale. The answer, according to start ups like Atai Life Sciences, is to use psychedelic therapy apps specifically designed to outsource some of this labour.

“If we can free up some time in the therapy which can be substituted by technology, we believe that’s a very good thing to address the scalability question of psychedelic therapies. Through technology-assisted psychotherapy, we believe we can actually achieve more durable and better results.” says Atai CEO Florian Brand.

Critics, however, argue that these initiatives are driven more by investor greed than patient outcomes.

Michelle Baker Jones, a licensed counsellor in the UK and member of the Psychedelic Research Team at Imperial College London, says: “We are relational beings. Our wounds happen in relationships and they can be healed in relationships. And the more we diminish that, then the less effective I feel the treatments will be. So for me, it doesn’t feel like a great idea.”

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