Psychedelic therapy, the use of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of an array of mental disorders, is slowly becoming a big part of western medicine. There is a rise in the number of professionals in the field across the world, and going by the growth and discoveries, there sure will be more professionals as time goes by.
In this article, I will be guiding you through the steps to becoming a psychedelic therapist—a licensed and certified one who succeeds with patients, getting the best out of your work and your personal life. This article gives answers to the question: of how to become a psychedelic therapist.
What Is Psychedelic Therapy?
The first step thing you have to do in your journey to becoming a psychedelic therapist is to understand everything about psychedelic therapy. This will give you a broad understanding of where you would fit and what is expected of you when you eventually become licensed.
As mentioned earlier, psychedelic therapy is the use of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of disorders such as depression and anxiety. The treatment happens due to the effect of these drugs on the nervous system—they have an impact on altering the release of certain neurotransmitters.
Though psychedelic therapy is still being cross-examined in modern medicine and is only getting accepted, it has been around for quite some time, mostly used by traditional medicine men.
In modern clinical practice, psychedelic therapy is performed in three stages, each stage conducted by a professional:
This is the first stage of psychedelic therapy. Here the patient in need of the therapy is examined to make sure he or she is fit to get psychedelic drugs. It is more of a time the therapist familiarizes themself with their patient. The consultation phase is important because it takes the patient’s history into concentration.
In medical practice, history taking has to precede any treatment because it is via this practice that you know exactly what a patient can or not have. The psychedelic therapist, therefore, has to be skilled enough to take history correctly; he or she must be able to establish a rapport with his or her patients so that they feel safe speaking with him.
This is the second phase of psychedelic therapy. It involves the actual swallowing or injecting of the psychedelic substance while a psychedelic therapist supervises it. The number of sessions involved in this phase depends largely on the kind of psychedelic substance indicated for treatment.
With the use of MDMA, there are usually at least 3 therapy sessions. With Ketamine, there are usually up to twelve sessions. With psilocybin and LSD, there are up to two and sometimes three sessions.
This is usually the third phase of psychedelic therapy and requires the supervision of a therapist the most. It is where the patient seeks healing by relating his experiences to a therapist. The therapist then assists him in finding that place of mental stability.
The three phases of therapy can take a while. Psychedelic therapy is usually not done in isolation—it is done alongside regular therapy. So, every psychedelic therapist has to have some knowledge about how psychology works. This brings me to the next point.
A College Degree
As you can already tell, psychedelic therapy can be quite complex. One of the chief requirements to become a psychedelic therapist is that you attain a certain level of education. This means only well-schooled individuals in the area of psychology and medicine are allowed to get further certifications and eventually work as psychedelic therapists.
What degree do I choose?
Well, it is important that you get a college degree that qualifies you to work in a clinical setting because you have to acquire a clinical license to be allowed to function as a psychedelic therapist, especially as the FDA closely supervises psychedelic therapy. You can have a degree in the following areas: medicine, psychology, nursing, etc.
These degrees do not approve of you as a licensed therapist, but they sure push you a step further. Not only do they open your understanding of the vast world of medical practice, but they also make it easier for you to be accepted into training, where you will be offered certificates in psychedelic therapy.
For example, you would know exactly how to deal with patients and understand the concept of drug administration if you get a degree in medicine and surgery. The same can be said if you have a degree in nursing. Nursing schools invest a lot of time in teaching future nurses how to manage patients. This training comes in very handy if you go on to become a psychedelic therapist. The list goes on and on.
Certifications and Licenses
When you have gotten your degree, the next step is to go on to get certifications from the necessary bodies which offer them and then go on to get licenses. Currently, there are a number of training centers that offer training in psychedelic therapy—we will be making a list of each.
Please realize that we are not comparing any of the training centers to the other. They are all amazing. What matters is what you want and how much time you are ready to invest:
Mind Foundation’s Augmented Psychotherapy Training
The MIND foundation is a non-profit organization passionate about mental health. It is no doubt one of the most recommended psychedelic therapy training centers.
Max Wolff, Ph.D., heads the MIND Foundation’s APT – Augmented Psychotherapy Training. He is a psychologist and clinical researcher at the MIND Foundation.
In the program offered by the MIND foundation, you will be taught by some of the brightest minds in clinical psychology from around the world.
There will be psychologists from renowned training centers such as the John Hopkins Hospital, Yale University, Stanford University, University of Adelaide, etc.
At the end of your study, you will be awarded a certification that you can use to practice. The application for the training is online here.
CIIS Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research
This is one of the foremost programs for the training of interested individuals in psychedelic therapy. CIIS is short for the California Institute of Integral Studies.
The first batch of individuals trained here gained admission around 2016. Strikingly, they have been able to train up to 300 professionals since then.
Janis Phelps, Ph.D., runs the CIIS center of psychedelic therapies and research. Janis Phelps is a doctor of clinical psychology. She was a former professor at the school of consciousness and transformation at CIIS.
Skilled psychologists and therapists run the psychedelic therapist training. The CPTR is a post-graduate program. It goes on for eight months. The training is quite intensive. You can apply on their website.
You can also get a certification from Fluence. This certification comes after training which takes approximately 120 hours and is only for licensed therapists. It is a certification in psychedelic integration therapy.
This therapy is what is needed by clients who have already begun and executed regular psychedelic therapy and are trying to incorporate what was learned during the process into their own lives. Fluence is sponsored by Usona Institute and is quite credible.
IPI Psychedelic Training Program
This is yet another renowned program from whence you can receive the necessary certification. It is also a post-graduate program, so you are required to have a college degree.
There is now an online training option for individuals who would love to learn remotely. IPI is short for Integrative Psychiatric Institute. The training lasts 200 hours and is taken by professionals in the area of medicine and psychology. The truth is, this training costs quite a fortune. Becoming a certified psychedelic therapist costs between $8,000 to $10,000.
MAPS MDMA Therapy Training Program
This training is strictly for professionals in the area of psychology who like to go further with their practice in psychedelic therapy. It has already trained up to 2,000 clinicians. The requirements for this training include:
- Clinical license
- Post-doctorate degree or post-graduate internship in the area of mental health.
- Up to 1,000 hours of experience in mental healthcare.
How Long Does It Take
The time it takes to become a psychedelic therapist depends chiefly on where you are starting from and what programs you choose to go in for.
If you are starting as an undergraduate, it might take quite a while, as you have to go through college and get the necessary degrees.
If, on the other hand, you have the required degrees and are venturing into psychedelic therapy when you already have a license, the process can take months and maybe even span across years.
Once you become a psychedelic therapist, understand that it is going to take a huge part of your life. You may constantly have to pursue more certifications and get more training.
Does it Cost Much
The simple answer is yes. It will cost you quite a fortune to become a certified psychedelic therapist. Most psychedelic training programs cost thousands of dollars.
So, you do have to consider if it is worth it. The good news is that psychedelic therapy is rising in demand. This means the prospect of earning much is there. You sure will enjoy practicing as a psychedelic therapist.
Approval for the use of psychedelics in the treatment has to come from FDA. The therapy will only be performed by individuals who have acquired the necessary licenses.