Therapists Sign Up For Training In Psychedelic Therapies

The use of psychedelics as a therapeutic tool is gaining momentum as a potential treatment for some mental illnesses, and some states may soon allow doctors to prescribe them. With clinical trials on psychedelics still underway and legalization efforts having successful outcomes, schools are intensifying their efforts to train future therapists and practitioners.

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Janis Phelps is in charge of training these practitioners. As a clinical psychologist, she founded and now leads the first accredited psychedelic therapy training program in the United States. San Francisco University opened its doors in 1968 and offers psychology, counseling, spirituality, and Eastern medicine courses.

Phelps says CIIS has trained 800 psychedelic students since 2016. More practitioners are seeking instruction in psychedelics as receptivity grows. Phelps estimates that at least 8,000 therapists will be needed over the next decade.

Phelps said, “We decided there weren’t enough trained therapists on the planet who knew how to use it effectively, so we started training people even before it was legal.” A 150-hour program and several in-person sessions are required for psychedelic therapy. There are many licensed therapists, psychiatrists, and physicians. People in non-medical occupations, such as social workers, nutritionists, clergy, and lawyers, are also eligible for this program.

A CIIS graduate, Dr. Yvan Beaussant, says CIIS students are taught Holotropic Breathwork without psychedelic drugs. Yvan Beaussant uses music and breathing techniques at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to induce a psychedelic state.

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CIIS offers an approved training program, an exam, and licensing fees for facilitators. Eventually, licensed centers will provide experiential training for students. CIIS graduates will be allowed to practice in Oregon in January, the first state that has legalized supervised psilocybin therapy.

Patients cannot just take psychedelic drugs at home; they are not for everyone. The effects of psychedelics can be profoundly visual and sensory distortions and emotionally challenging—clinical trials screen patients for harmful drug interactions when taking certain medications.