Thanks to a recent surge in psychedelic research, we know that psychedelic drugs can be effective at treating the symptoms of a variety of mental health conditions. Referred to as the psychedelic renaissance, this period has been characterized by increased funding for psychedelic research coupled with a surge in mainstream popularity.
More people are willing to treat conditions such as depression, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder with psychedelic-assisted therapy, and these sessions have proven to be quite effective at mitigating symptoms. However, since psychedelics have been outlawed since the 1970s, most of this research is in its infancy, and the psychedelic industry as a whole is filled with people who are new to hallucinogenic drugs.
The recently established UC Berkeley Center of the Science of Psychedelics has embarked on one of the country’s first-ever programs to train and certify psychedelic guides. The nine-month program will involve 24 people drawn from several different professions including nurses, doctors, social workers, chaplains and psychologists.
Called the Certificate Program in Psychedelic Facilitation, the program covers a host of interdisciplinary issues such as contemplative science, psychotherapeutic methods, clinical science and spiritual care.
Tina Trujillo, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Education, will serve as the program’s faculty director. She said that the program participants would like to be prepared to “work safely as well as ethically” in the states where activists and voters are pushing to legalize psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin and MDMA.
Trujillo said in a recent interview with Berkeley News that the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics had gained FDA approval to carry out human clinical trials involving psychedelics. The center would use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as well as psychophysics to study how psilocybin affected cognitive functioning.
Although studies have shown that psychedelics can have profound mental health benefits, Trujillo noted that this usually happens when patients are with the right facilitators and in safe conditions. One of the mitigating factors that could determine the participant’s psychedelic experience is their relationship with their facilitator, she said, adding that participants must also be properly educated on what may or may not happen during their session.
Students in the new program will learn about the history of psychedelics, neuroscience, and professional ethics among others from a team of six instructors.
According to Trujillo, the program will mostly focus on psilocybin and touch on a few other psychedelics. At the end of the program, the students will be issued a certificate in psychedelic facilitation that emphasizes psilocybin.
This training program comes at an ideal time when many psychedelics companies, such as Seelos Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL), are fairly advanced in their drug-development programs. When FDA-approved treatments hit the market, there will be trained personnel to administer the psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to patients who need these treatments.
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