Fundamentals of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Training: Claudia's Experience

The below testimonial was written by one of our Fundamentals of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy learners, Claudia Bastien. Claudia is a breath work and cold exposure facilitator who applied her studies in this course to holistic healing - an indirect yet adjacent and highly applicable field of work for this certification. 

At the end of 2023, I completed my Fundamentals of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy (PAT) Training with Numinus.

To be honest, when I signed up for this training, my primary motivator was not to hold plant medicine sessions.

To be honest it still isn’t my motivator.

No, I choose to take on this training to expand my tool box in assisting and supporting individuals through altered states of consciousness that aren’t achieved by ingesting a psychedelic substance… but instead, altered states of consciousness that one can tap into via one’s own breath and body… through breath work and cold exposure therapy.

After 3 years of guiding cold exposure and utilizing breath to help individuals to regulate their own nervous systems… I’ve seen first hand the sheer power that breath and cold water can have on an individual. After 7yrs of my own practice, I know first hand the impacts that these modalities have on the psyche. I have felt the psychedelic-like effects that wash over the body after a particularly good breath work or cold exposure session. The out of body feeling - the floating - the melting - the humming. The interoception of feeling one’s heartbeat, the circulation of the blood around the body - the lungs collapsing and expanding. The tingles. The sounds in the ears, the deafening silence, the ringing.

In my experience breath work & cold exposure therapy can lead to impactful psychedelic-like effects. Although short-lived in experience - the “downloads” one receives can be concentrated and intense.

It is all this that lead me to training with Numinus.

Here is what impressed me most during my 8-week long intensive.

Whether you are a licensed or unlicensed practitioner, I think anyone who works with individuals who enter altered states of consciousness could benefit on the knowledge expansion that you receive by taking the Fundamentals in PAT training.

It was a challenging 2 months, but I couldn’t recommend this training enough… and that’s my honest, unsponsored opinion.

Westernized Education Framework.

The training is set up within a westernized education framework. As someone who dedicated 10+ years of my career to working with postsecondary education - I highly value an education that makes me feel like I'm attending a recognized university.

Professional. Responsible. Accountable. 

With 2.5 hour pre-work modules, 3 hour live interactive sessions with Numinus practitioners (registered and practicing counselors & physicians), small group learning sessions, and interactive exercises with the class every week… for something as serious as guiding others through medicine journeys, I find peace in knowing that this course is challenging and demanding. After losing a loved one to an intricate mental health journey that was spurred by an intense plant medicine session, I was glad to see that Numinus takes the weight of training seriously.

Comprehensive Curriculum.

The volume of information divulged module to module was intense. I still can’t believe how much was covered in essentially 50 hours over 8 weeks. I learned new and innovative ways to make adjustments to the way in which individuals can prepare for their session, language that can be helpful in communicating boundaries and expectations, and best practices around supporting individuals through their unique integration journeys. Much to my delight, we talked at length about the Nervous System and how altered states of consciousness can benefit the regulation and reset of the NS. We covered medicine sessions, different medicines, case studies, practitioner self care, and so much more.

Click to learn more about our Fundamentals Course and the entire Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Certification Pathway.

Psychedelic Therapist Training: The Fundamentals

By Julian Bost

So, you’re thinking about becoming a psychedelic therapist? Numinus' goal is to pave the path to certification for folks interested in this profound healing modality. We offer a range of courses to help fully prepare you for work and experiences in this field. Our Fundamentals of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy course is the first step. Collaborating with the folks over at Healing Maps, we created this blog series to provide both scientific rigour and practical insights into the training journey of a psychedelic-therapist. Whether you're a therapist looking to expand your skillset, or someone curious about the intricacies of this therapeutic field, you're in the right place.

 

The Emergence of Psychedelic Therapy

The undeniable potential of psychedelics, from MDMA's effectiveness in treating severe PTSD to psilocybin's impact on major depression, signals a profound shift. The word 'psychedelics' now echoes in coffee shops, office corridors, and even the National Football League. This cultural shift is evident when highly public figures like Aaron Rodgers discuss their ayahuasca use without repercussions.

 

On a larger scale, philanthropists and institutions are actively backing psychedelic research. The CEO of TOMS pledged $100 million to this cause, while venerable, longstanding institutions like Johns Hopkins University are conducting groundbreaking studies on the link between psychedelics and consciousness. On a global scale, Australia became the first country to legalize MDMA and psilocybin for prescription use.

 

Psychedelics have entered our culture through various avenues, from microdosing to shamanic retreats. However, the most regulated and standardized path may be through therapy. Over the last seven decades, psychedelic-assisted therapy has proven both safe and effective in Europe and North America, with Numinus being at the forefront of today’s movement. As psychedelics gain more approvals globally, the demand for mental healthcare professionals trained in this therapy is set to surge.

 

The Questions That Arise

The growing prominence of psychedelic-assisted therapy prompts crucial questions: How can one become a psychedelic therapist? What is the path, and what does it entail to step into the realm of psychedelic therapy?

 

In being a psychedelic therapist, your job will combine two key elements: The use of a psychedelic substance (such as psilocybin, ketamine, MDMA, etc.) coupled with traditional psychotherapeutic practices. 

 

It's important to note a couple of critical points. Without the therapeutic component, psychedelic use is often considered “recreational.” While recreational or “underground" use has its place, psychedelic therapy is deemed particularly effective due to its professionalism, safety, and therapeutic integration components.

 

The Role of a Psychedelic Therapist 

 

The role of a psychedelic therapist varies based on location but generally requires being a licensed mental healthcare professional. This includes clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and chaplains who have received specialized training in psychedelic therapy. In essence, a psychedelic therapist is a licensed mental health professional equipped to combine psychotherapeutic practices with guided psychedelic experiences, unlocking individuals' innate healing potential.

 

How to Get Involved

The future holds significant demand for certified psychedelic therapists, and you could be one of them. Explore Numinus' Certification Pathway for more information. As this field continues to evolve, it is vital to ensure our knowledge is rooted in evidence and thoughtful consideration. 

 

Stay tuned for our next article, where we will explore the global legal landscape of psychedelic therapy.

 

The Impact of Psychedelic Harm Reduction In Therapy

3 Benefits of Using a Harm Reduction Framework in Your Therapy Practice

According to a recent study by the National Institute of Health, psychedelic use is on the rise. The percentages of young people who said they used hallucinogens in the past year had been fairly consistent for the past few decades, until 2020 when rates of use began spiking. In 2021, 8% of young adults said they have used a psychedelic drug in the past year, the highest proportion since the survey began in 1988. Reported hallucinogens included LSD, mescaline, peyote, shrooms, PCP and MDMA (aka molly or ecstasy).

With this increase in recreational psychedelic use, there is a growing need for mental health professionals to expand their practices to support harm reduction and psychedelic integration needs. Here are the top 3 reasons practitioners should adopt a harm reduction framework in their therapy practice.

 

1. Builds Trust & Rapport With Clients

By maintaining a non-judgemental, accepting, compassionate, curious, and positive stance when exploring a client’s substance use, as well as other risky or harmful behaviours, you are directly contributing to the trust that client has with you. Being open and curious signals to the client that they are safe to walk through their thought process and current decision-making around psychedelic use, where you can gently advise on any dangers and practices they should take into consideration. When supported in this way, these clients are more likely to stay with you long-term and if you decide to provide psychedelic-assisted therapy in the future, they may feel comfortable turning towards psychedelic care provided by you. 

 

2. Helps Clients To Make Informed Decisions

When psychedelic medicines are used outside of clinical settings, proper education, preparation, and support can mitigate potential harms and increase the likelihood of clients having productive experiences (Gorman et al., 2021).  

Particularly with the medicines used in psychedelic-assisted therapy, clients may start treatment with some inaccurate information about the psychedelic medicine being used. The internet (particularly social media platforms) is full of misinformation about psychedelic medicines, their effects, adverse effects, and anticipated experiences. 

When a client has a more fulsome understanding of experiences and the decisions associated, potential benefits and harms are affected in ways that can enhance and protect their experiences, further contributing to trust this client has with you. 

 

3. Presents A Unique Opportunity To Work With Your Clients

When discussing psychedelic use, an important role you can play with your clients is to help with the integration work. Working on integration is your opportunity to keep the positive changes engendered by psychedelic experiences alive. In this regard, good integration work with your clients will help facilitate lasting changes and could reduce the need for ingesting medicines recreationally outside of a clinical setting. Not only is this an opportunity to work more with your client, but it’s a unique opportunity to really dive into positive and meaningful changes that are important to your client, which can facilitate deeper connection and meaning making as part of your regular appointments. 

 

In Conclusion: 

“Using a harm reduction framework in your clinical practice allows you to support your clients with non-judgmental, compassionate, and acceptance-oriented care. We should expect that clients may choose to use substances outside of the clinical setting, and that providers can play an important role in mitigating any harms associated with that, through building trust and rapport. We teach a harm reduction framework in our Psychedelic-Harm Reduction and Integration course at Numinus, which includes transparent discussions around the legal and ethical responsibilities in doing this work. Psychedelic use is going to continue to rise as more folks seek the healing potential of these medicines, so education in this area is going to become increasingly important.” 

- Amanda Giesler, Director of Training

 

Learn More: 

Join us for a 2-day introductory workshop on the practice of Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Integration (PHRI) and learn the tools needed for educating clients about altered states of consciousness and how to integrate these experiences. Click here to learn more.

 

*The continuing professional development program in no way promotes, condones, or facilitates illegal activity, and is strictly for educational and harm reduction purposes only. Please be aware that certain psychedelic substances still remain illegal in many jurisdictions, including Canada. This program and the contents of this website do not constitute medical advice, and are not a substitute for professional medical advice and treatment.

Experience & Collaboration: A Practitioner's Approach To Teaching

Foundational Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Training, Taught By Experts. 

Dr. Steve Thayer is a licensed clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. He started his career in the U.S. Air Force, overseeing a mental health clinic and managing programs for preventing and treating alcohol and drug abuse. Currently, he focuses on helping his clients through psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, teaching counselling courses, and co-hosting a podcast on psychedelic therapy. Steve is facilitating the upcoming cohort of the Fundamentals of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy, and we asked him questions about the course and his teaching approach.

 

What experience do you bring to the Fundamentals of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy course?

As a clinical psychologist specializing in psychedelic-assisted therapy, I have helped thousands of clients navigate their own healing journeys. I have been trained by MAPS in MDMA-assisted therapy, provide ketamine-assisted therapy in my practice, and serve as lead therapist on several psychedelic clinical trials. I also supervise clinicians providing psychedelic-assisted therapy and facilitate psychedelic medicine retreats abroad.

 

What can students learn from you?

Students can expect to learn the essential skills, qualities, and principles necessary to provide effective, compassionate, and ethic psychedelic-assisted therapy. I like to emphasize the importance of clinician self-knowledge, self-development, and self-care as a key component to doing this work well.

 

How do you approach teaching this course?

I take a collaborative approach to teaching. There is so much we can learn from each other! I try to draw out the collective wisdom of each group I teach so that we can elevate and support one another .

 

Why should people take this course?

This course will equip professionals with the foundational knowledge and skills to practice psychedelic-assisted therapy. I have extensive experience teaching, supervising, and mentoring therapists and I am committed to helping the rising generation of practitioners wield psychedelic tools safely, powerfully, and responsibly.

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To learn more about the Fundamentals of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy, click here. To listen to Steve on the Psychedelic Therapy Frontiers Podcast, visit Spotify, here.