Psychedelic Therapy: Where to Go for Psychedelic Therapy Training in 2021?

With a growing acceptance within the political and social climate surrounding the use of psychedelics in a therapeutic setting, there is a need for providers to have both training and awareness of harm reduction practices and knowledge of how psychedelics work in a therapeutic setting.

So, where can you go for psychedelic therapy training? There are several options to build both awareness of psychedelics and practical experience using them in therapy. Options are varied and include:

  • Online courses
  • Face-to-face courses
  • Institutes 
  • Universities
  • Conferences
  • Workshops 
  • Substance-specific training

Read on to find out how to access these training and workshops, as well as the significance of psychedelic therapy training in today’s social and political climate.

Why Is Psychedelic Therapy Training Important?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may soon be approving MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. According to promising research conducted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the FDA approved MAPS expanded research in 2019 with the goal of MDMA being a prescription medication available to those undergoing MDMA-assisted therapy by 2022. 

It is also expected that the FDA will soon recognize the benefits of psilocybin for treating treatment-resistant depression. Because of the expansion and growing legitimacy  of  psychedelic-assisted therapy, there are increasing opportunities to become psychedelic therapists. The FDA does not currently regulate psychedelic therapy, but medical services do require certification to show competency and proof that therapists continue with training to maintain skills.

Unique Challenges for Training

Until recently, there has been a lack of controlled research that offers validity to the claims about the positive impact psychedelics can have in therapy. Furthermore, the legal status of psychedelics in many parts of the world makes it a challenge for therapists to add psychedelics to their practice. 

Online Courses

In order to meet the needs of busy learners, many institutions and organizations have online and at-home learning programs available. 

Psychedelics Today

Psychedelics Today offers a variety of online psychedelic educational courses, including  an eight-week course, Navigating Psychedelics for Clinicians and Therapists, designed to meet the growing need for psychedelic literacy in the mental health profession. This course is geared to those that already have a therapy practice and the goal is to provide “everything a mental health professional needs to know about psychedelics and psychedelic integration.”

  • This live course gives therapists the framework for understanding how psychedelics help in a therapeutic setting. 
  • It explores the practices of integrating psychedelics. 
  • Furthermore, the course provides an opportunity for learners to collaborate, discuss, and ask questions. 

Embodied Philosophy

Embodied Philosophy works to transform lives at a spiritual, psychological, and physiological level. In addition to having several ongoing learning programs for those who already work in a clinical setting and wish to grow their practice, their programs are also suitable for anyone who wishes to transform their lives. Embodied Philosophy has an expansive list of learning opportunities ranging from topics on trauma to tantra. These classes are a combination of on-demand courses and live courses with scheduled online meetings. 

One offering is a psychedelic integration course available online. This integration course is a six-part series with lectures from well-known psychedelic facilitators, researchers, and therapists. They discuss the research surrounding psychedelics, including the changes to the nervous system and brain after a psychedelic experience. 

The Synthesis Institute

Synthesis, a retreat center in the Netherlands, has created an institute that offers a nine-month psychedelic practitioner training certification program, starting in 2021.  This course is for both professional mental health providers and non-professionals.

  • The program is online, but includes an optional 10 day in-person module.
  •  This course includes a combination of science, academics, personal embodiment, wisdom traditions, and practical hands-on experience.

Fluence

The mission of Fluence is to “educate the broader health care community about psychedelic science and equip practitioners with relevant clinical skills,” through “increasing access to this field by offering highly interactive training delivered online and in-person.”  These trainings have a focus on psychedelic integration and are geared toward clinicians, psychotherapists, and wellness practitioners. Fluence offers a range of online courses,  as well as certification programs in psychedelic integration therapy, and ketamine-assisted therapy.  In addition, retreat training programs are available.  These interactive training programs include experiential learning, demonstrations, self-reflection, and role-play exercises. 

Face-to-Face Courses

Some learners prefer to train in a face-to-face environment, and there are a few courses that meet that need. Some of the in-person courses include a component of online learning, which is an added benefit from the combination of the flexibility of online work, and the personal experience of in-person classes.

Medicinal Mindfulness

Medicinal Mindfulness is based in Colorado. According to their web page, they offer training for psychedelic sitters designed for therapists and non-therapists alike who wish to assist others through their psychedelic experience. In this case, the sitters work more as guides as they practice journeywork, holding space, and guiding. A credential is provided after successful completion of the course.

Furthermore, Medicinal Mindfulness offers a psychedelic training program. 

  • This program provides 30 hours of online courses that occur before the  in-person psychedelic therapy training. 
  • Also, the program includes psychedelic experiences in both group and individual sessions. 
  • While the credentials are Cannabis-Assisted Psychedelic Therapy, the skills taught are the same practices used in other psychedelic medicine sessions. 

California Institute of Integral Studies

The California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) has a psychedelic training program called the Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research. Only professionals who hold specific advanced degrees and licensure, commissions, or ordinations are eligible to apply to this certificate program. 

  • The program was developed by Dr. Janis Phelps, Director of the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research. 
  • The course is a hybrid program that consists of four weekend-long workshops and a week-long residential program. 
  • In total, there are 180 hours of instruction and 120 hours of face-to-face learning. 
  • Additionally, there are 60 hours of video instruction, mentoring, and volunteer work. 

Center for Optimal Living

The Center for Optimal Living offers a Harm Reduction Psychotherapy Certificate Program for professionals who work with patients with substance abuse issues. While this program is not necessarily a psychedelic therapy program, the elements of harm reduction and the awareness of the social context of using substances is a vital component of treating patients. 

The Center for Optimal Living offers several other online training programs and events to support health care providers. These courses count as continuing education credits. 

Universities

There are a few universities that have programs or courses that offer education in the area of psychedelics and transpersonal studies, according to the MAPS section of Academic Programs and Institutions.

Sofia University

Sofia University’s co-founder, James Fadiman, Ph.D. is a supporter of psychedelic science. Fadiman co-teaches a class that covers psychedelic substances as a part of psychotherapy. 

Sofia University is one of the few institutions that support graduate work in this area. For more information about multi-disciplinary studies at both the graduate and undergraduate levels at Sofia University, go  here

Other institutions that offer psychedelic therapy training programs:

AWKN Life Sciences
Bard College
Carrol Community College in Maryland
The Institute of Imaginal Studies
John F. Kennedy University
Liverpool John Moores University
Naropa University
New College of Florida
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine
Pacifica Graduate Institute
Psychedelic Medicine
Psychedelic Somatic Institute
Psychedelic Support
Sage Institute
Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center
School of Consciousness Medicine
State University of West Georgia, Psychology Department 
SCPTR

Conferences and Workshops

Conferences often have workshops for participants to learn tools that can be implemented within their own practices. There are also options for workshops, both in-person and online, through various institutions.

Several major psychedelic conferences can be attended both in-person and online. Due to the current social distancing requirements, many events have been switched to online. 

Though several events have been postponed with dates yet to be determined, organizations that host conferences and outreach programs are still listed and include links to their events.

  • Psychedelic Liberty Summit – This online summit’s goal is the  discussion of current issues related to psychedelics. These topics revolve around legal issues, as well as the cultural and political standing of psychedelics. To access content from this conference, click here
  • Sacred Plants in the Americas II is a virtual psychedelic summit on the globalization of plant medicines and indigenous reciprocity.  Speakers will include indigenous leaders from the Americas, researchers, practitioners, and community builders from around the world. Indigenous voices are often marginalized in psychedelic conversations, this conference seeks to give a platform to these voices. Presentations will address the traditional and modern uses of various psychoactive plants and include a diverse range of perspectives and fields of knowledge. Click here for more information.
  • MAPS also has a variety of webinar series.  Check here for the latest offerings.
  • The Zendo Project is an organization that provides services to festivals and other events to teach festival-goers and staff how to practice psychedelic harm reduction. This organization is a judgment-free resource for users and volunteers to work with one another productively. The volunteers are mental health professionals and researchers who are well-equipped to hold space for those who find themselves in the middle of challenging psychedelic experiences. The Zendo Project offers training for peer support offered at events. While their training is both online and in-person, the events they work with have been rescheduled. You can find out more about the training here and more about the events here

Psychedelic Workshops for Guides

In some cases, the available workshops revolve around creating guides for those who use psychedelics in a more casual setting, rather than a clinical setting. These workshops are valuable for learning proper harm reduction techniques and to introduce interested individuals to the current social and political climate around psychedelics. The workshops create a culture of support for those who wish to assist those who use psychedelics, either in a clinical or less formal setting. 

Here is a list of workshops from reputable organizations committed to harm reduction and the promotion of psychedelic awareness. 

Tam Integration

Tam Integration is a community dedicated to psychedelic integration and support. Their website is located here, and the information regarding coaching,classes, and weekly integration circles is easy to locate on their main page. They offer several classes, including the following:

  • Sitting for Psychonauts is a four-week course offered online. The course is designed to cover coaching and a connection with community, guidance, and conscious practices. 
  • Discover Meditation for the Journey, Cultivate Your Inner Mastery, Live your Highest Vision is a four-week online course to create spiritual practices to integrate and embody altered state experiences. 
  • Psychedelic Integration Coaching is a training offered by Tam Integration that focuses on teaching users how to process the personal experience of psychedelics and how to take that new understanding and use it to manifest meaningful life changes. 

MIND Foundation

The MIND Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to psychedelic science. Their goal is to bring together researchers and other professionals to build awareness and shift social and political views regarding the use of psychedelics. The MIND foundation has an educational platform called the MIND Academy, and the Academy offers several relevant events. 

Due to the current health crisis, the MIND academy is broadcasting many events and utilizing online collaboration to bring their series to a broad audience. Their events include: 

  • Drug Science Program – Reshaping practice, research, and policy – this program consists of five modules ranging from necessary psychedelic information to drug law and history. This course results in a Drug Science certificate, which is useful to add to a resume and to build expertise in the area of psychedelic substances. 
  • Beyond Experience Psychedelic Integration Workshop – This workshop is a course to develop knowledge about using an altered state to change one’s life. The goals of this workshop include personal benefit, collaborating with others to have the same goals, and learning about harm prevention.
  • UniMIND sets up academic discussion groups aimed at students and professionals in the field. Topics cover all areas of psychedelic science. 

Psychedelic Sitters School

Since 2012, the Psychedelic Sitters School has been involved in psychedelic harm reduction and integration work.  Through their training program teachers guide psychedelic journey work and share best practices for holding space for journeyers.. The information about this school is located here. This is accomplished by teaching guides a series of skills, including:

  • Foundations in Psychedelic Therapy – This level teaches foundational skills.
  • Psychedelic Guide Training is a four-day training that begins with an online course.
  • Advanced Practices in Psychedelic Therapy is a five-day training that includes some online work, as well. This level includes trauma work and healing aspects.
  • Psychedelic First AidTM/CPR Certification is also a stand-alone course. It is a four-day training that includes 10 hours of mental health lectures.
  • EcoPsychedelics – This Sustainability and Psychedelics Retreat is the culmination of the course.

Substance-Specific Training Through MAPS

MAPS, according to their MDMA Therapy Training section, offers its MDMA Therapy Training Program because of its FDA approved expanded research. This training is offered to mental health practitioners who wish to learn more about and be a part of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in a clinical setting. 

MAPS have the following requirements for these training programs: 

  • The practice must be conducive to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. 
  • There must be a physician with a DEA schedule 1 license. 
  • Also, there must be two or more therapists who have completed the program and are able to be providers in a protocol. 
  • This program has five parts that include online training, retreats, experiential learning, practice, and supervised practice. 

Continuing Education 

Continuing education is essential for professionals to continue to discuss their findings in their practice and to evolve. The majority of training opportunities geared toward established professionals are eligible for continuing education credits. Please consult the specific program or workshop to determine if and how many education units are available for continuing education credit.

To Conclude

With growing research supporting the therapeutic use of psychedelics, the need for skilled medical professionals and guides  to meet the demand of  psychedelic-assisted treatments will continue to rise. Medical professionals, coaches, and guides are increasingly seeking out psychedelic therapy training to be in the best possible position to help patients and seekers.

Options for training include online and in-person courses through institutes, universities, conferences, and workshops. Through this training, providers can learn the basics of psychedelics, including understanding the research behind the use of psychedelics in therapeutic settings, as well as gain experiential awareness of altered states. 

Additionally, providers learn the necessity of implementing harm reduction strategies in all aspects of psychedelic use. Training provides skills for ongoing support and guidance so that providers can help clients integrate the profound experiences of psychedelics into their everyday lives in order to make a positive life-long impact. 

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