I had my first intensive last weekend in SF for this certificate program in psychedelic therapies and research. It’s offered by California Institute for Integral Studies, an educational leader in new modalities for therapy. As a reminder, psychedelics is a re-emerging field: hundreds of new studies show promising results for the use of traditional psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD (entheogens) and MDMA (empathogens) to heal a wide variety of ailments including addiction, depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, IBS, eating disorders, fear of dying for terminal cancer patients, and even address the symptoms of long COVID. It can also help “healthy normals” feel more intimacy with God, connect to purpose, heal grief, and get insight and ease.
The weekend was very powerful. We covered topics like: the current legal environment, ethical considerations and boundaries, how to build a therapeutic alliance between facilitator and subject, best practices for supporting a subject on their “journey” (the traditional terminology for someone having a psychoactive trip), indigenous considerations, racial equity in the movement, and so much more.
I bonded with my mentor group and my “home group,” 2 different small groups to help me process what I am learning. There are 400 people in the program: 115 in Boston, 100 online, and 183 in San Francisco! Of those 183, I am one of only 3 ordained clergy, and the only pastor–but as I talk to clergy colleagues, I know this is going to change soon, because there is so much interest.
The vast majority of my classmates are therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, MDs and nurses, and a few others are osteopaths and Chinese medicine practitioners. They have a wide variety of experience, from people who were already practicing this medicine in the underground, to the “psychedelically naive,” those with no prior experience who are attracted to the healing potential of these molecules and their implication for a huge societal shift toward (one can dream!) a vision of Net Zero Trauma.
Topics I’d love to address in future columns: 1:1 psychedelic healing sessions versus group experiences, ethical edges of the movement, the legal path toward doing this work, the safety profile of psychedelics, and: what it might mean to really meet God face to face and live! Thank you again, Church, for the time and space to learn and for supporting me in my own journey!