Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Certificate: Alumni Panel

Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Certificate: Alumni Panel

Meet graduates and learn about their work in the field

Ask our alumni!

Discover the benefits of the Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research training at CIIS and hear real-life career outcomes. Join our alumni panel to meet several accomplished graduates of the certificate to learn about their work in the field after earning the certificate.


Anthony Back, MD, 2020 alum, is a co-founder of VitalTalk, a national nonprofit that provides innovative, interactive clinician and faculty development courses to improve communication skills on an individual and institutional level. Dr. Back is a professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Back earned his MD at Harvard University. He is a triple-board certified in hospice and palliative medicine, medical oncology, and general internal medicine. Dr. Back is the PI of a randomized clinical trial of psilocybin-assisted therapy for clinicians with symptoms of depression and burnout associated with their frontline work in the COVID pandemic, and a Phase 1/2 study of a group retreat model of psilocybin-assisted therapy for patients with metastatic cancer. In his role as a medical communication educator and a VitalTalk co-founder, Dr. Back was the principal investigator for Oncotalk, co-wrote Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients, released the first iPhone app for clinician communication skills, and authored the online communication skills curriculum offered by the Center to Advance Palliative Care.

Julia King Olivier, MD, 2021 alum, earned her MD in 2000 from the University of Geneva Medical School. Following her four-year residency in Internal Medicine at the University Hospital of Geneva, she chose to specialize in Psychiatry. She earned two Swiss FMH certifications in Adult Psychiatry and Psychotherapy and Adolescent/Child Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. Julia founded the Compassionate Care Center in Geneva where Swiss residents can receive legal psychedelic assisted therapy in compliance with the compassionate use criteria of the Federal Office of Public Health. Julia actively contributes towards the education and training of professionals in her field. After earning the five-part MAPS certification in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in 2022, she completed the didactic portion of the MAPS PBC (Lykos) Consultation Training. In 2023, she served as a program assistant during the MAPS Pan Nordic training in Iceland and at Monash University in Melbourne. Additionally, she has joined the faculty at Mind Medicine Australia, supporting the historic implementation of psychedelic-assisted therapy on a large scale. In the fall of 2024, she is honored to join the CIIS-CPTR program as a mentor.

Robert Koffman, MD, MPH, 2020 alum, is a Retired Navy Captain and the Senior Medical Adviser for Warrior Canine Connection. He currently serves as a board member of Wesana Health, is on the VETS’ Academic Advisory Board, the SEAL Future Foundation, and is the current Chair of the newly formed Board of Psychedelic Medicine and Therapies. As a board-certified psychiatrist, psychiatric epidemiologist, and preventive medicine physician, he obtained his doctorate from the University of Santo Tomas, and his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. Among his many clinical, operational, and leadership positions, he was Chief of Clinical Operations at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) aboard the Walter Reed campus in Bethesda, Maryland, and he was appointed as the Navy’s first head of Combat and Operational Stress Control (COSC). A disabled veteran himself, Koffman has dedicated himself to improving the delivery of mental health care in operational settings and is a passionate advocate for increasing access of non-stigmatizing psychological services. He is also a seasoned medical acupuncturist and recognized expert in Animal Assisted Therapies. Robert is currently conducting research on treating depression in cancer patients with psilocybin, and is slated to soon begin MDMA-Assisted Therapy under FDA Expanded Access at the Bill Richards’ Center for Healing at the Aquilino Cancer Center. With passion, purpose, and commitment, Koffman hopes to champion these essential, healing modalities and medicines for service members and veterans.

Arlene Samen, APRN, 2016 alum, is a trained Family Nurse Practitioner with over 40 years experience in Maternal Child Health and Psychedelic Assisted Therapy. For over 24 years she was the CEO of One Heart World Wide, a US based non-profit working in developing countries to reduce maternal and newborn deaths. In 1998 she met His Holiness the Dalai Lama who asked her to go to Tibet and help save the lives of pregnant women and their newborn babies. To date, One Heart World Wide's model "the Network of Safety" has reached over 1 million mothers and babies in Nepal. She is trained by the Ketamine Research Foundation as a KAP trainee and is a consultant for Journese to train new therapist in KAP. In 2021, she started working for Novamind as a dosing monitor and now works part time at Numinus Wellness as a Clinical Research Dosing Monitor.

Tal Sharabi, MA, LPC, 2020 alum, is an experienced psychotherapist skilled in somatic and transpersonal models and is a Lead Educator at InnerTrek Center for Psilocybin Services in Oregon. Tal trained in psychedelic psychotherapy and research at the California Institute of Integral Studies, in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy through the Polaris Insight Center, and in MDMA-assisted therapy through her completion of Parts A-D of MAPS-Certified training. Tal is experienced in and enjoys designing and implementing therapeutic programs, mentoring new practitioners, and facilitating psilocybin journeys and retreats in Oregon.

Paul Thielking, MD, 2020 alum, is board certified in psychiatry, hospice and palliative medicine, and integrative medicine and Chief Science Officer at Numinus. Dr. Thielking is the principal investigator for a psilocybin enhanced group psychotherapy intervention for cancer patients with depression and a co-investigator on a study for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for opioid use disorder. He has extensive experience with creating innovative group therapy interventions for patients with serious illness and has successfully integrated ketamine-assisted psychotherapy services within an academic outpatient oncology clinic for cancer patients with depression. Dr. Thielking was director of psycho-oncology at the University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute for five years and was previously an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Utah. He was also the medical director of the tobacco treatment program at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

About the Program

The Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Certificate Program serves a growing need for the training of skilled therapist researchers who will ideally seek advanced training for future FDA-approved psychedelic-assisted and entactogen-assisted psychotherapy research, as well as therapeutic work during expanded access clinic research programs. Enrollees are from specific licensed professions in mental health and medicine.

For more information, see the Certificate Program page or download the 2024-2025 Information Packet