Insights on Building a Career in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy From the Experts

Insights on Building a Career in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy From the Experts!
by Amanda Giesler, Director of Training at Numinus

 

Embarking on a career in psychedelic-assisted therapy can be a deeply rewarding journey. This checklist is designed to provide a clear roadmap for those considering this field, detailing our recommended steps from initial interest to a thriving and enriching practice. We reached out to experts in the field to share their thoughts and insights about what it is like working in the Psychedelic Industry.

 

1. Understand the Field

· Research Psychedelic Therapies: Learn about the different types of psychedelic-assisted therapies, including ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin therapy. Understand their uses, benefits, and current legal status. For a free course on psychedelics, take the Introduction to Psychedelics program here.

· Read Foundational Books: Dive into key literature such as "How to Change Your Mind" by Michael Pollan, "The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide" by James Fadiman, and "Psychedelic Medicine" by Richard Louis Miller. A few other favorites are "After The Ecstasy, The Laundry" by Jack Kornfield and "Inner Ethics" by Kylea Taylor to support your personal work as a practitioner. 

· Follow Leading Organizations: Stay updated with organizations like MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), Heffter Research Institute, and Numinus Wellness.

 

2. Educational Prerequisites

· Undergraduate Degree: Obtain a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, nursing, or a related field.

· Optional Graduate Degree: You could also pursue a master's or doctoral degree in clinical psychology, psychiatry, counseling, social work, or nursing.

"Psychedelic medicine is a rapidly evolving speciality. While many of us have been trained in a variety of specialities, psychedelic medicine is a speciality of its own. Recognizing the uniqueness of fragile balance integrating medical and behavioral techniques, I’d recommend every medical and behavioral specialist to consider this program as it provides a base of understanding for many foreign concepts." Kathryn Walker, Revitalist CEO MSN-Anesthesia, MSN-Psychiatry

 

3. Clinical Experience

· Gain Relevant Experience: Work in mental health settings, such as hospitals, clinics, or private practices, to develop foundational therapeutic skills.

· Specialize in Trauma and Addiction: Seek opportunities to work with clients experiencing trauma or addiction, as these are common areas where psychedelic therapy is applied.

 

4. Training and Certification

· Select a Certification Program: Choose a reputable training program for psychedelic-assisted therapy. Numinus offers certification in ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin therapy.

· Complete Training Modules: Engage in coursework covering the history, pharmacology, therapeutic models, ethical considerations, and integration techniques for psychedelic therapy.

· Participate in Experiential Learning: Gain hands-on experience through supervised sessions, role-playing, and participating in psychedelic sessions firsthand.

· Obtain Certification: Upon completing the program, receive your certification, demonstrating your expertise and readiness to practice.

 

5. Licensing and Legal Considerations

· Understand Legal Status: Stay informed about the legal status of psychedelic substances in your state or province. Advocacy and policy change are ongoing, and regulations can vary widely.

· Obtain Necessary Licenses: Ensure you have the appropriate licenses to practice as a mental health professional in your state or province.

 

6. Set Up Your Practice

· Choose a Practice Model: Decide whether to join an existing practice or clinic or set up your own private practice.

· Create a Safe Space: Design a therapeutic environment that is safe, comfortable, and conducive to deep psychological work.

“To thrive in Psychedelic-Assisted care, therapeutic patient support needs to be a mindset for the organization from top to bottom. This is needed to ensure that every step of the treatment process has been curated and refined to maximize patient outcomes by leveraging empathetic human touch.” ~Steve Suntala, Executive Director of New Pathways Clinic

· Develop a Business Plan: Outline your services, target market, pricing, and marketing strategies. Consider the costs of setting up and running your practice.

· Network with Professionals: Build connections with other mental health professionals, especially those involved in psychedelic therapy, to gain referrals and collaborative opportunities. You can join the Numinus Community Network platform HERE.

 

7. Ongoing Professional Development

· Stay Updated: Continuously educate yourself on the latest research, best practices, and emerging trends in psychedelic therapy.

· Attend Conferences and Workshops: Participate in industry conferences, workshops, and seminars to stay connected and informed. We will see you Psycon in Denver, CO, this October.

· Engage in Supervision and Peer Support: Regularly meet with a supervisor or peer group to discuss cases, seek advice, and gain support. Numinus hosts these regularly through the Numinus Network platform.

"Psychedelic-assisted therapy demands a practitioner's full presence, self-awareness, and knowledge to effectively support clients. Regular clinical supervision is essential for two primary reasons, skill enhancement and self insight. 
Skill Enhancement fosters your ongoing development of clinical expertise, keeping you at the forefront of best practices in this evolving field. Where self-Insight provides a space for personal reflection, helping you to recognize and address your own biases, reactions, and areas for growth. This self-understanding is crucial in maintaining your role as a clear and effective facilitator in the client's healing journey. Your own development as a clinician  and individual will help to ensure that you remain an optimal therapeutic tool in service of your patients transformative processes." ~Shari Kaplan LCSW, CEO of Cannectd Wellness
8. Ethics and Self-Care

· Adhere to Ethical Guidelines: Follow ethical guidelines specific to psychedelic therapy and general mental health practice. Prioritize client safety and informed consent.

· Practice Self-Care: Engage in regular self-care routines to maintain your well-being. Working in psychedelic therapy can be intense, and it's crucial to establish a routine that allows you to rest and recharge while providing this level of care.

 

9. Client Engagement and Integration

· Educate Potential Clients: Provide clear information about what psychedelic-assisted therapy involves, including potential benefits and risks. You should develop a publicly accessible website with patient information materials and videos.

"It's important to remember that the majority of patients don't often exist in the spiritual or holistic world, and when we're communicating about the process of the psychedelic experience, especially regarding the preparation and integration, it's imperative to use language that's familiar to them. It's very easy to get carried away with very spiritual and erudite language around mystical concepts, but we must keep the initial language of communication in the "native" language of the patient, which is usually more primary medical and day-to-day conceptual language." ~Ashley Southard COO of the Healer Collective

· Facilitate Integration: Offer post-session integration support to help clients process and apply their experiences. This can include follow-up sessions, group integration circles, or referrals to other supportive services. If you are looking for where to start your own integration and learn how to provide it for others, dive into our Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration stand-alone course. This introductory program helps you to prepare and integrate medicine for yourself and others while also providing a valuable framework for your practice.

· Collect Feedback: Regularly seek feedback from your clients to improve your services and better meet their needs.

"The therapeutic alliance is the relationship that the person has with their therapist, their coach, their physician, and the medicine itself — it's an understanding of the self, the experience, and what to expect — and a knowing that there will be people to support (and a safe space to exist within) afterward.

Sometimes, it takes the willingness to detach from identifying with the past moments and stories to allow us to create a new path. Our brains seek "safety" in the comfort of what we know. 

By embracing mindful therapy and, in some cases, exploring the profound insights of psychedelic assisted therapy, we empower ourselves to look inward and actively shape our journey - and to reset  and rewire our brain's chemistry called neuroplasticity. 

We can choose to make the rest of our lives, the best of our lives." ~Michelle Weiner, DO, MPH Director of  NeuroPain Health

 

10. Advocacy and Community Building

· Promote Public Awareness: Advocate for the integration of psychedelics into our system of care and for more access through various public funding or insurance coverage. This can be through public speaking, writing, sharing on social media, and participating in online dialogue.

· Support Others: Stay active in a community of practice to help mentor and support new practitioners who are beginning their journey in this space. Demonstrate reciprocity and give back time and knowledge to providers who were in the same spot as you when you first started this journey.

 

"Mentorship is extremely important when working with altered states. It brings up so much for the provider that having a place to process this becomes crucial. So many unexpected events can happen, and it is very important to have a place to go where you can share how you handled something and be able to get feedback on alternative approaches and what to do next for your client." Julia Mirer, MD Director of Strategy & Impact at Nushama, Director of Compliance & Community at NeuroPain Health

 

We hope this checklist provides clarity and enables you to competently navigate the path to becoming a psychedelic-assisted therapist. You are embarking on an incredibly exciting and rewarding career that will make a meaningful impact on mental health care and the well-being of your clients. We hope our team at Numinus can be an important resource and support for you as you go.

 

For the first time in six years of business, we are offering a special early bird discount on the newest version of our Fundamentals in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy program. Starting with our August 2024 cohorts, we have integrated an experiential component within Fundamentals of PAT, right at the start of your certification pathway. You will experience Cacao medicine under the mentorship of a traditional medicine holder, Marcela Enriquez Wakeham, from the Yaqui bloodline family lineage in the Sonora desert of Mexico. This exclusive discount is only available until July 19th, 2024. Use EARLYBIRD15 during your registration process to receive a savings of over $400 USD.

 

Written by our Director of Training, Amanda Giesler. She provides operational leadership and strategic guidance on the development, delivery, and evaluation of the Numinus training programs and certification pathways. She has been working on the cutting edge of program development and health system capacity building for nearly a decade and is passionate about creating a sustainable system of care for people with various mental health and substance use disorders. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated an innate ability to lead highly productive teams and is a passionate innovator in clinical education development and implementation. If you would like to connect with Amanda, you can email her at amanda.giesler@numinus.com.