hands in water

Health Canada's Special Access Program & Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy

Below you will find a general overview of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and Health Canada’s Special Access Program.

Have any further questions? Feel free to book a call with us below.

What is the Special Access Program?

The Special Access Program is a program regulated by Health Canada that allows people to access certain medications that are not yet authorized or available to the general public.

Historically, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies have not been available for application through the Special Access Program due to past regulatory exclusions. That meant that these therapies were only available for short periods of time to small numbers of people who were participating in clinical trials.

However, Health Canada has made recent amendments to add certain psychedelic therapies back to the program. That means physicians can now request access to treatments, including MDMA- and psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy, on behalf of people who have serious, treatment-resistant, or life-threatening conditions. With these changes, the program has the potential to positively affect the lives of those who have serious health conditions when other therapies have failed, are unsuitable, or are unavailable in Canada.

Behind the scenes, a growing body of scientific evidence supports this regulatory change. Research is increasingly showing evidence of the efficacy and safety of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to treat a broad range of mental health conditions that, otherwise, are difficult to treat when using conventional therapies.

Close up of a face

Am I eligible?

Eligibility is considered on a case-by-case basis, and we will be able to connect with you regarding your eligibility in the next few months.

Once you connect with us, one of our physicians will work with your existing health care provider to review your treatment history, confirm your health status, and recommend a treatment that is suitable for you.

If your medical condition meets the criteria set by Health Canada and your Numinus physician feels you are a suitable candidate for the Special Access Program, they may apply to the program on your behalf.

However, it must be kept in mind that the final decision to approve any application rests with Health Canada. If your application is not approved, the Numinus team will continue to work with you to identify and connect you with other treatments and services to support your care needs. 

Get in touch
Mountain view

What is Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy?

Psychedelic-assisted therapy is a breakthrough therapy practice that combines the use of psychedelic medicine with psychotherapy. This approach draws on the latest scientific developments in psychotherapy, scientific research on psychedelic compounds, and traditional healing practices.

Many conventional mental health treatments currently work by managing and reducing the severity of certain symptoms and behaviours. However, they are often prescribed in isolation and do not include appropriate treatment of the underlying causes of the symptoms.

Unlike symptom-managing treatments, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is delivered with the intent to target and potentially cure root causes of various mental health conditions. It works by creating a mind-opening effect through the psychedelics that allows you access to deeper levels of personal insight and healing. When combined with psychotherapy, this can lead to dramatic and lasting changes in your mental state and may improve your health and wellbeing. This is because this form of treatment aims to treat you as a whole person rather than just viewing mental illness as a chemical imbalance that can be addressed through band aid use of medications.  

mushrooms

The History of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy

Though psychedelic-assisted therapy is a relatively new form of treatment in Western biomedicine, Indigenous Peoples have stewarded sacred psychedelic plant medicines in healing ceremonies and cultural practices since Time Immemorial. At Numinus, we draw on the latest research to ensure the highest quality of care possible for you. We are committed to doing our part in the process of Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, while also developing our approaches for practising reciprocity, and prioritizing meaningful, inclusive, and ongoing partnership with Indigenous Peoples.

Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy at Numinus

At Numinus, this combination of psychedelic medicine and therapy is delivered in a safe and highly curated program. The scientifically backed psychotherapy techniques used work in combination with the effects of the psychedelic medicines. As the psychedelics work in our brains, they bring about neuroplasticity––enabling the brain to change and adapt more easily. In this state, the brain is especially open to healing and growing, and through guidance by our trained therapists, you will work to address some of the core issues of mental health conditions.

This experience is also heavily tied to the “set and setting” of your healing journey. “Set” is your mental state when entering the psychedelic experience, while “setting” refers to the physical environment in which you undertake your psychedelic journey. At Numinus, both elements are highly curated to ensure that your healing process is optimized.

Throughout your program at Numinus, a team of professionals will guide you through every step of the way. Our medical and mental health professionals are all licensed, specialized, and highly trained, and favour an approach that provides treatment to you as a whole person, not just a group of symptoms.

Interested in learning more about Health Canada's Special Access Program?

The Numinus team is here to help – fill out the form and a Care Coordinator will be in touch. 

Location*
Consent

Psychedelic Safety at Numinus

At Numinus, your safety is our top priority. To help us meet that commitment, Numinus has put in place policies and protocols to protect our clients while they access our therapists and services.

Psychedelic-assisted therapy offers strong potential to help individuals struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, trauma and addiction. In research trials, compounds used in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies – such as MDMA, psilocybin and ketamine – have been found to be safe from a human toxicology perspective and, while research is ongoing, may provide substantial improvement over available pharmacotherapies in terms of both safety and efficacy.

We recognize that there can be risks to patients while under the influence of psychedelic substances and potentially for days or weeks following administration, when close attention is not paid to the appropriateness of the clinical setting, the therapeutic protocols, or the calibre of attending therapist(s). Specifically, people undergoing psychedelic-assisted therapy may be vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation for a period before, during and after psychedelic experiences. Additionally, many people seeking psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy have unresolved trauma and are at risk of re-traumatization if accompanied by unskilled practitioners.

To mitigate risks, Numinus has implemented strict processes for the recruitment and training of highly skilled and professional therapists with expertise in trauma therapy. All Numinus therapists have passed criminal record checks in their local jurisdictions. In addition, they must comply with a Numinus Wellness Code of Ethics that prioritizes client care and safety.

Numinus’ protocols are based on international best safety practices, and our clinic infrastructure has been specifically developed for client safety. A range of safeguards are in place, including the filming of psychedelic sessions. Storage of the recording is secure and confidential and meets all medical regulatory standards.

All safety protocols are explained to clients as part of our admission procedures, and all our services are in compliance with local, provincial and federal health regulations.

References

Agin-Liebes, G. et al. (2020). Long-term follow-up of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for psychiatric and existential distress in patients with life-threatening cancer. Journal of Psychopharmacology 34(2), 155-166. 

Al-Naggar, R.A. et al. (2021). Effectiveness of Psilocybin on Depression: A Qualitative Study. Electronic Journal of General Medicine 18(3), em296. 

Bahji, A. et al. (2020). Efficacy of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 96, 109735. 

Barone, W. et al. (2019). Perceived Benefits of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy beyond symptom Reduction: Qualitative Follow-Up Study of a Clinical Trial for Individuals with Treatment-Resistant PTSD. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 51(2), 199-208 

Davis, A.K. et al. (2020). Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry 78(5), 481-489. 

Feduccia, A.A. et al. (2019). Breakthrough for Trauma Treatment: Safety and Efficacy of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy Compared to Paroxetine and Sertraline. Frontiers in Psychiatry 10, 650. 

Jerome, L. et al. (2020). Long-term follow-up outcomes of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD: a longitudinal pooled analysis of six phase 2 trials. Psychopharmacology 237, 2485-2497. 

Malone, T.C. et al. (2018). Individual Experiences in Four Cancer Patients Following Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy. Frontiers in Pharmacology 9, 256. 

Sloshower, J. et al. (2020). Psilocybin-assisted therapy of major depressive disorder using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a therapeutic framework. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science 15, 12-19.