If you’ve ever attended a concert while under the influence of a psychedelic drug, you’ve seen how it can change your perception of music. It’s an idea that unites fans of Deadheads and EDM: When you get high, music becomes less of a listening experience and more of a sonic journey.
If listening to music while under the influence of a potent substance like MDMA or psilocybin can evoke powerful emotions and mental images in a public setting, imagine the role music plays in the context of psychedelic therapy.
The therapeutic role of music
Dr Mendel Kaelen is a neuroscientist, longtime musician and CEO of Wavepaths, a company that works with musicians to deliver curated music both for and as psychedelic therapy. His research clearly shows that the therapeutic role of music cannot be overstated.
“Wavepaths is inspired by my research into psychedelic therapy, an emerging form of therapy in which MDMA, psilocybin and LSD are being researched to be used safely and effectively to treat serious conditions such as depression, PTSD and substance abuse, ”says Kaelen. “Part of this therapeutic method has been at the heart of my research. We have learned that the music in these environments is not just background music… it plays an active therapeutic role.
What is essential in music selection in psychedelic therapy, says Kaelen, is that the music be tailored to the individual, what he calls “person-centered music.” He started the business realizing that he could simplify the process of conserving music for the patient experience.
The company worked with various musicians, including Jon Hopkins, Greg Haines, Robert Rich, and Christina Vantzou, to create adaptive music technology capable of responding to a patient’s emotional state during a session. The curation technology is powered by creative AI, “systems capable of creating music on the fly and unifying it with information about how the psychedelic psychotherapy method works,” Kaelen explains.
Practitioners work with Wavepaths during sessions and can modify the music to better suit the patient’s mood based on the content of their trip. The CEO calls it “a new generation of adaptive musical instruments that therapists can work with in their practice.”
Beyond psychedelic therapy
While the synergy between psychedelic therapy and music is the foundation upon which Wavepaths is built, Kaelen firmly believes that music can have an equally profound therapeutic effect within itself.
Kaelen points out that psychedelic therapy is based on the idea that the experiences and the content of those experiences are what shapes us: “It is experiential therapy, and the quality of the experience is what predicts the positive outcomes of. the therapy, not the prescription drug itself, ”he says. “No matter how tall you are, it really depends on the content of the experience.”
While it’s true that our experiences shape us, he says, it’s likely that the future of mental health care will evolve to be more experiential in nature – and that won’t necessarily involve psychedelic drug use.
“I think this is going to have implications beyond psychedelic therapy, and the future caregiver will be primarily concerned with how he or she can provide people with experiences that will help them feel better,” says he added that the therapy potential of music and sounds has been (until now) underutilized in society.
“Music is a deeply effective tool for facilitating the experience, and it draws on a whole body of research that really suggests that music itself can be a psychedelic – a soul revealing agent, a capable agent. to raise awareness of something that was not there before.
Where Wavepaths stands out
A wide range of environments, including hospitals, birthing clinics, hospices and schools, have already expressed an interest in the work of Wavepaths. It is currently in use in over 30 countries, with over 5,000 practitioners on a waiting list for public release. Wavepaths also works closely with research institutes, universities and psychedelic therapy companies, with advisory board members from Johns Hopkins and Imperial College London.
“We are honored to play our part in the growth of this new industry, as active participants and advocates,” said co-founder and COO Anna Rickman. While there are many emerging technology applications and tools to help with therapy, she says Wavepaths has worked diligently to ensure that its technology does not undermine the user’s agency.
“Providing a clinical-grade product designed to improve therapeutic outcomes during psychedelic therapy comes with a burden of proof and an ethical responsibility that we don’t take lightly,” she says. “We support other players in the industry by focusing on building an evidence base and refining technology and approaches that address different challenges. “
Major investment will help increase functionality
With the growing interest in psychedelic therapy, investment companies are paying attention to both drug development start-ups as well as ancillary companies like Wavepaths.
Adam Blackman of Heron Rock, who led the company’s first round of funding, sees it as an essential tool in psychedelic therapy and is excited about Kaelen’s larger vision of use personalized generative music as medicine. It has secured $ 4.5 million from investors such as Reflex Capital, Bridge Builders Collaborative, and Palo Santo, among others, who will help the team evolve the platform and increase its functionality.
Heron Rock, he says, has a simple philosophy of supporting founders “who demonstrate a strong fit with the founders market,” and Kaelen fits the bill perfectly: “Mendel is a neuroscientist, a musician and someone deeply committed to creating transformative and healing experiences. We are very happy to have the opportunity to support him.