What Makes A Good Psychedelic Practitioner?


Welcome to my blog entitled ‘What Makes A Good Psychedelic Practitioner?’.

Before we start, other blogs that you might be interested in, include:

So let’s get started! The public are becoming increasingly aware of the psychedelic renaisance and the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, and more importantly, psychedelic assisted psychotherapy. It saddens me that many have been aware of this for decades but due to President Nixon’s “war” against “public enemy number one” (i.e drugs) research and use of psychedelics medicines ceased.

I was amazing when I learned that “1950 to the mid-1960s, there were more than 1,000 clinical papers published about the sessions of some 40,000 patients, scores of books and six international conferences on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy” (1)?

This blog summarises a paper entitled ‘Developing Guidelines and Competencies for the Training of Psychedelic Therapists‘ by Janis Phelps. I have also shared a lecture of hers below.

The paper discusses how “the time has come to have serious conversations and inquiry dedicated to psychedelic therapist competencies and training in anticipation of these developments.” Research has discussed six key competencies for a psychedelic practitioner:

  • Empathetic abiding presence
  • Trust enhancement
  • Spiritual intelligence
  • Knowledge of the physical and psychological effects of psychedelics
  • Therapist self-awareness and ethical integrity
  • Proficiency in complementary techniques

MDMA was viewed as a “penicillin for the soul” by therapist guides for enhancing empathy, creativity, and team building

Learn About Legal Psychedelic Retreats

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Watch the author of this paper I am discussing at a Breaking Convention conference:

The Curriculum For A Psychedelic Practitioner

In the paper Janis Phelps also discusses key topics that should be incorporated into training.  The 12 ‘curricular domains’ of study for training in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy are the following:

  1. The history of clinical research and current legal status of psychedelic assisted therapy
  2. Neurobiology, neuropharmacology, drug disposition, and drug interactions
  3. Best practices in sets and settings: preparation, psychedelic session, and integration
  4. Psychedelics and therapeutic relationships: transference, boundaries, ethics, and self-care
  5. Supervised observation of psychedelic session videos
  6. Variations in therapeutic models: client-centered and psycholytic psychedelic therapy
  7. Complementary therapeutic techniques in psychedelic-assisted therapy
  8. Co-therapy methods and interprofessional skills for working on mul- tidisciplinary teams
  9. Current models of consciousness, spiritual intelligence, and mystical experiences
  10. Ceremonial use of psychedelics in religious and community settings
  11. Individual and group clinical supervision during an internship as a psychedelic therapist in FDA-approved clinical trials or expanded access clinical research programs
  12. Personal experience of being guided as a research participant in an FDA-approved study

In regards to this final point Janis Phelps explains that there are four reasons for such experimental training. Ultimately to support trainees to develop the following:

  1. Skilful means of personal healing practices that foster spiritual intelligence and empathetic abiding presence
  2. Personal knowledge of the primacy of the inner healing capacity and the secondary impact of the guide on psychedelic-assisted corrective emotional experiences
  3. Personal knowledge and attitude of appreciation for numinous qualities of the mystical realms of consciousness
  4. A comfort with unexpected and difficult experiences in induced alternate states.

This is why during my training with The Synthesis Institute to become a psychedelic practitioner, I will both be involved in a 10 day immersion in the Netherlands experiencing 3 ceremonies, but also while I be making additional trips to experience legal psychedelic ceremonies. It is also why I am training in Transformational Breathwork, a more accessible way of fostering spiritual intelligence, of gaining knowledge or our inner healing capacity, experience with mystical reals of consciousness and gaining greater comfort in experiencing unexpected and difficult experience indued by alternate states of consciousness. I have also been attending holotropic breathwork sessions for these exact same reasons.

The healing and transformational experiences to be found in psychedelic- assisted exploration in therapeutic and supportive sets and settings are a birthright. The diligent and devoted work of the scholars and researchers in this field will be looked on by future generations as absolutely heroic (1).

References: What Makes A Good Psychedelic Practitioner?

  1. Developing Guidelines and Competencies for the Training of Psychedelic Therapists: click here.
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