The Importance of the Therapeutic Community in Ibogaine Aftercare Programs

“Illness is inevitable if we forget the sense of belonging and connection” -Jeanne Achterberg

Inscape Recovery is an integrative addiction treatment and ibogaine aftercare program. We suggest our participants commit to a six-week period during which we receive a small group (no more than 7 participants) with whom we work in a retreat setting.

The basis of our program is to offer a therapeutic community that provides a safe and nurturing environment for the restructuring process that participants undergo. We achieve this through group and individual therapy sessions, collective ceremonies of plant medicine, sweat lodge ceremonies, daily yoga, meditation, art and music classes, as well as hours of occupational therapy in which participants help in the different activities of the center.

In all of these practices, interaction with staff members as well as with other participants is constant. We work together, we take meals together, and we participate in group therapy and native ceremonies together. Our therapeutic process focuses on self-discovery, which means the recognition of the relationship between our emotions, beliefs and our behavior patterns: processes in which the therapeutic community is centrally important.

We know that ibogaine treatment is not a miraculous cure, but a highly effective aid in facilitating long periods of abstinence and, with adequate subsequent care, recovery from addiction. The neuronal connections of the person who takes ibogaine are in the process of reconfiguration and reconnection during the weeks and months that follow, and it is during this time when healthier and more harmonious patterns of behavior can be established, opening the possibility of building new skills and a new lifestyle. It is a period of opportunity. That is why most providers of this medicine emphasize the importance of an aftercare program in achieving successful results after ibogaine treatment -- a program that provides direct psychological support, as well as the structure and additional emotional support of a therapeutic community.

Modern psychiatric research is increasingly finding that the emotional and mental imbalances which lead to addiction are correlated with poor quality or absence of significant relationships -- situations which induce feelings of loneliness, isolation and non-belonging. This is shifting the understanding of addiction toward being a problem not simply confined to the inner life of the individual, but also relating deeply to rifts or voids of an interpersonal nature.

Tension, anger, fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, depression and nervous crises – which often accompany or lead to addictive behavior - are basic symptoms that appear when the communication system of an individual breaks down. With this in mind, our aftercare program understands the group itself as a crucial part of the therapeutic presence. The group becomes a dynamic in which the relational patterns of the individual can be recognized and reconfigured through daily practice and the support of a peer structure.


1) Interpersonal communication within a therapeutic group has a cathartic effect both as a platform for expression and one for listening and empathy, especially as participants often have shared feelings and experiences alongside those that are unique

2) The respectful atmosphere of the group is one of the few social spaces in which the individual can behave freely without having to maintain an image or status.

3) The presence of the members of the group generates a container and a supportive environment that allows the individual to express himself more freely without having his/her emotions become overwhelming.

4) Sharing with the therapeutic community the emotional processes that one goes through when recovering from addiction generates empathy, self-compassion and self-understanding.

5) Sharing our own experiences creates an empathic and harmonious atmosphere which helps to generate or reinforce interpersonal bonds.

6) The act of communicating our emotional experience and receiving feedback results in a better organization and clarification of the facts. The experience is perceived in new ways, and the feelings it produces become more objective, less diffuse and more manageable.

Psychiatrist Jurgen Ruesch emphasizes the importance of this communication at an emotional level with a community which the individual feels part of, describing it as the cornerstone of mental health. In a period of neuroplasticity such as the one that follows the intake of ibogaine, the immersion of the individual in an everyday social environment is absolutely not recommended because such environments do not offer the necessary containment for what is nearly always a very delicate process. On the opposite side, the presence of a therapeutic community generates a sense of security and trust which allows the participant to cultivate feelings of belonging, empathy, solidarity and clarity. This is how we understand the process of recovering from addiction through self-uncovering.


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