About the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research at CIIS Play Video
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"Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded."

--William James (1987; 1902), The Varieties of Religious Experience, Library of America, p. 349

About the Program

This Certificate is housed in the new CIIS Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research at CIIS Public Programs. The Center also provides diverse public education about psychedelic research and the use of psychedelic substances in psychotherapy, as well as teaching on topics such as creativity enhancement, consciousness studies, comparative mysticism, well-being enrichment and harm reduction. Book readings and lectures by scholars of psychedelic medicines and entactogens have been presented since 2015 and a film series is planned.

The Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Certificate 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. Research therapists in this field are sometimes termed sitters or guides. Enrollees will be specific licensed or licensable professionals in mental health and medicine or eligible ordained/commissioned clergy and chaplains.

The roots of this Certificate are in the work of scholars and researchers on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies, transpersonal psychology, consciousness studies, psychoanalysis, comparative mysticism, and anthropology. While this certificate will emphasize the therapeutic models of psychedelic research, we will address the philosophy and theory from these other scholarly traditions as well. CIIS has an outstanding reputation of 50 years in graduate instruction which integrates consciousness studies, spirituality and psychology, including psychedelic studies.

Read about the development of the Certificate in CIIS Today.

Format and Development of the Certificate

The format of instruction and curriculum has been developed by Dr. Janis Phelps, Director of the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research, in collaboration with many clinicians and researchers in the field. As former Dean of Faculty for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Janis Phelps is well positioned to create a multidisciplinary team of teachers from across the United States and Canada. The certificate will be conducted during an eight month period. The schedule is comprised of six weekend workshops, which include two residential retreats. The curriculum entails 180 total hours of instruction, including 25 hours of online video instruction. This semi-hybrid program will be a benefit for trainees who come from regions beyond California.

The learning environment will be in the form of lectures, small group discussion, experiential learning (e.g., Holotropic Breathwork, role-play, guided imagery, expressive arts, journaling) and applied work in clinical and therapeutic settings. We will meet approximately every four weeks, except in the summer. Classes begin at the end of March, 2017. We meet until the middle of June, then have the summer off for volunteer work, and meet again from September through November, 2017. The first retreat in June at the Marconi Conference Center in Marshall, CA. is a version of the MAPS training program for therapist guides. We are excited that the MAPS founding trainers, Dr. Michael Mithoefer and Annie Mithoefer, RN, will be our June retreat's expert instructors. The second retreat in September will include a session of Holotropic Breathwork with Diane Haug from the Grof Transpersonal Training.

Many leading psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists from Johns Hopkins University, New York University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin will be teaching in the program. Stanislav Grof, Ralph Metzner, other CIIS faculty, and Bay Area experts will complete the Certificate faculty.

Philosophy and Goals of the Certificate

Consistent with CIIS ideals, this certificate strives to encompass all aspects of learning: intellectual/didactic, the personal/experiential and applied (clinical and pastoral work). The research and therapy training will be done with processes embedded in self-reflection, community-building and embodied ways of knowing and mentoring. The global wisdom traditions related to alterations of consciousness (meditation, yoga, fasting, solo wilderness retreats, healing methods, etc.) will play a role in the theoretical underpinnings of the curriculum, as well as being directly enacted as part of the personal/experiential aspect of the training.

It is important to note that at no time will the program promote or require the use of psychedelic drugs in any manner. Students taking the certificate will learn about the competencies required of therapist guides in federally approved medical treatment and psychedelic research.

Our purpose is to gather and deepen the knowledge applicable to practices such as meditation, the use of psychedelic substances and breathwork. We train those who feel called to use that knowledge in the service of others. Our graduates will have a deeper understanding of the nature of these transformative processes and multiple skills with which to provide wise, therapeutic and loving support for people's natural healing capacities.

Full Information Packet about the Certificate: Download the Info Packet PDF

Institutional Partners and Council of Advisors

Many renowned researchers and scholars have advised and supported the development of this certificate program at CIIS. They represent the prominent U.S. and Canadian research centers that are funded by the Heffter Research Institute HRI, Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies MAPS, the Council on Spiritual Practices CSP and the Usona Institute.

Please see the full list of our esteemed Council of Advisors and primary teachers for the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research.

We would like to publicly thank the following key thinkers and researchers for their significant contributions to the development of this Certificate. They co-inspired with the Center's director, Janis Phelps, to bring together a wealth of engaging ideas and training processes as the basis for this program. Thank you to Anthony Bossis and Jeffrey Guss (NYU); Karen Cooper, Nicholas Cozzi and Dan Muller (U. of Wisconsin); Rick Doblin, Michael Mithoefer and Annie Mithoefer (MAPS); George Goldsmith (Compass); Betsy Gordon, George Greer and David Nichols (Heffter); Roland Griffiths and William Richards (Johns Hopkins University); Charles Grob (UCLA); Stanislav Grof; Robert Jesse (CSP and Usona); and Ralph Metzner. Many of these researchers were featured in the influential New Yorker article by Michael Pollan.

We give a deeply felt and hearty acknowledgement especially to Dr. William Richards of Johns Hopkins University and Robert Jesse of the Council on Spiritual Practices and Usona Institute for their tireless, consistently inspired and wise counsel on multiple levels of this certificate training program.

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Click here for 2016 Schedule, Presenters, and Course Descriptions

Schedule and Teachers Planned for 2017

Planned 2017 Certificate Presenters include:

  • Dr. Anthony Bossis (NYU)
  • Mary Cosimano, MSW (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Dr. Nick Cozzi (University of Wisconsin)
  • Dr. Alicia Danforth (UCLA)
  • Dr. Rick Doblin (MAPS)
  • Dr. Frank Echenhofer (CIIS)
  • Dr. Amy Emerson (MAPS)
  • George Goldsmith (Compass)
  • Dr. George Greer (Heffter Co-founder)
  • Dr. Charles Grob (UCLA)
  • Dr. Stanislav Grof
  • Dr. Jeffrey Guss (New York University)
  • Diane Haug (Grof Transpersonal Training)
  • Bob Jesse (Council on Spiritual Practices and Usona Institute)
  • Dr. Gabor Mate
  • Dr. Ralph Metzner, Green Earth Foundation
  • Dr. Michael Mithoefer (MAPS, 4-day June training retreat)
  • Annie Mithoefer (MAPS, 4-day June training retreat)
  • Dr. David Nichols (Heffter Co-founder)
  • Dr. Janis Phelps (CIIS)
  • Dr. David Presti (UC Berkeley)
  • Dr. William Richards (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Dr. Berra Yazar-Klosinski (MAPS)

The 2017 Schedule for the Certificate

March 24th, 25th, and 26th Welcome weekend at CIIS
May 5th, 6th, and 7th Weekend at CIIS
June 4th - 9th June Training Retreat:
with the Mithoefers of MAPS at Marconi Conference Center, Marshall, CA
Summer Break
September 15th, 16th, and 17th September Training Retreat:                           
at IONS Earthrise Center, Petaluma, CA
October 13th, 14th, and 15th Weekend at CIIS
November 10th, 11th, and 12th Weekend at CIIS and Graduation

The Daily Schedule for the Four Weekends at CIIS:

    Fridays from 3 pm to 7 pm
    Saturdays from 10 am to 5:30 pm and 7 pm to 9 pm
    Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm

The Daily Schedules for the Two Residential Retreats:

The June Retreat at the Marconi Center:
Begins Sunday, June 4th, at 1 pm. and ends on Friday, June 9th at 4 pm.  

The September Retreat at the IONS Earthrise Center: 
Begins Friday, September at 1 pm. and ends on Sunday, September at 5 pm.

These are the assigned dates for the certificate classes and the exact schedule with the teachers will be announced shortly.

Curricular Modules of Study:

Find all the details on the in-depth topics covered in the Certificate.

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Testimonials from Our Council of Advisors

From Dr. William Richards, scholar, clinician and researcher at Johns Hopkins University:

"Accompanying the rebirth of psychedelic research and its many promising clinical, educational and religious applications, CIIS has stepped forward to design a program that not only offers techniques and information, but also nurtures the psychological and spiritual maturation of future investigators and practitioners. It is an honor to be associated with CIIS and to contribute to the rich unfolding of this educational trajectory."

From Dr. Anthony Bossis, clinician, researcher and scholar at New York University:

"I am delighted to contribute to the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research at CIIS. The return of government approved scientific research into psilocybin and related compounds has significant potential for myriad scientific and clinical studies including the important treatment of existential and psycho-spiritual distress at the end of life. The re-emergence of this field will require serious multi-disciplinary academic centers to address the theoretical, research, and clinical domains of this work. With its history integrating psychology and spirituality, CIIS is uniquely and enormously qualified to meet this historic challenge."

Testimonials from Our Students

From Dr. Robert M. Grant, MD, MPH, Professor, School of Medicine, UCSF:

"This certificate program involves an extraordinary panel of pioneers whose knowledge and skills have grown over decades of research and practice.  You learn from founders, current academic leaders from leading US medical schools, shamans, healers, and other visionaries.  People with awesome knowledge and wisdom embrace and celebrate your experience as you become part of this work."

From Robert Krause, MSN, APRN-BC, Lecturer, Yale University, School of Nursing:  

"I have been so pleased with the program in psychedelic psychotherapy here at the California Institute of Integral Studies.  The program has been of the highest quality of any educational programs I have participated. I am looking forward to putting this to use in upcoming research at Yale and when possible to integrate this into my private practice."

Who Should Apply?

The certificate is designed for advanced professionals working in related therapeutic areas: licensed mental health clinicians, specific medical professionals and ordained/commissioned clergy and chaplains. Under specific circumstances, prospective medical and mental health professionals, who are not yet licensed, may apply if they have completed their coursework and 1,000 training hours of counseling and psychotherapy.

See the Apply page for further details on applicable credentials.

  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC)
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)
  • Registered Nurses
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Naturopathic Doctors (ND)
  • Clinical and Counseling Psychologists
  • Physician and Psychiatrists
  • Physician Assistants
  • Ordained/Commissioned Clergy and Chaplains

The Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research especially encourages applications from individuals within the above list who: are military veterans; identify as people of color; and/or serve marginalized or under-represented populations. There is a special discount available for applicants of color: see Scholarship and Discounts section.

What can I do with This Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research?

Three primary opportunities could await you as a certificate graduate:

Certificate graduates will have a strong foundation in skills and knowledge at a high standard for entry level training. This will ideally be built upon by further mentoring via specific training with HRI, MAPS and Usona researchers who are conducting psychedelic-assisted or entactogen-assisted psychotherapy clinical trials. We use the term "psychedelic" in this certificate summary to refer to both the classic psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, peyote, ayahuasca, etc.) and to those drugs specifically termed "entactogens" and also known as "empathogens"(MDMA, MDA, etc.). 

Over the next years in the Bay Area, we will be supporting the development of several psychedelic-focused research initiatives with other local clinician researchers. Some of the certificate graduates, pending pursuit of advanced training with research centers, could be brought in to sit as study therapists in these ongoing research projects. This is dependent on the unfolding regulatory processes, the attainment of advanced training and the available number of therapist researcher positions.

Most experts in this field are predicting that in 2 to 3 years, in the midst of the next stage of research (phase 3), the leading researchers will initiate applications for expanded access processes to the FDA for MDMA and psilocybin. Expanded access for investigational drugs is designed for medicines that have been determined by the FDA to have sufficient efficacy and baseline safety, but are not yet fully approved for the researched symptomologies. If approved by the FDA, psychiatrists and some physicians will be able to prescribe psilocybin and/or MDMA for people with intractable conditions that have shown only partial response to traditional medications or for whom traditional medicines are contraindicated.

In these cases, carefully trained therapist researchers will need to be present throughout the process as guides, work under supervision of physicians at approved sites, and conduct themselves within FDA treatment protocols. While the FDA's response to such applications will not be known until then, the first permitted expanded access treatment could be for people whose medical conditions meet FDA criteria for severe chronic PTSD or advanced cancer distress and anxiety. At CIIS we are working at the forefront of these coming opportunities. Join us!

A helpful overview of Expanded Access.

Read more about Expanded Access and Compassionate Use and FDA Guidelines.

A third opportunity to be gained from the Certificate is an enhanced ability to serve people in our culture who have used psychedelics or other potent practices (e.g., breathwork) with insufficient support for the challenging experiences that sometimes occur and less than ideal support for the unfolding of even positive experiences. Most clergy, therapists and medical professionals have people in their practices and communities who are not disclosing that they are using these psychoactive substances. With this training our graduates will be skilled in addressing psychological material that has arisen in clients and congregation members as a result of their personal psychedelic usage. People in our graduates' practices will be more likely to disclose and to ask for help in the integration of their psychedelically induced mystical, insightful and/or challenging experiences. Graduates might choose to make this integration work a specialization within their practices and communities.

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What Are the Benefits of Attending the Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research?

By enrolling in this certificate program, you will:

  • Have a unique opportunity to train with most of the prominent psychedelic researchers and therapist guides in the United States and Canada.
  • Become a member of the founding years of the CIIS Certificate on Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research.
  • Be mentored in monthly supervision with an expert clergy member, clinician and/or researcher in the field of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies.
  • Develop your clinical and/or spiritual direction skills to an advanced level of expertise that utilizes: sacred knowledge, skills for creating the desired qualities of therapeutic relationship within this specialization, new skills in therapeutic presence, advanced psychedelic research design knowledge, and astute integration of protocols for set and setting with psychedelic substances.
  • Enjoy the support and conviviality of a cohort of medical professionals, clergy, therapists, chaplains and medical professionals with whom you might practice and/or conduct research in the future.
  • Learn to be present to the ways in which you can more deeply promote your own personal journey of transformation, well-being and connections with your own inner healer.
  • Join an engaged and healing classroom atmosphere that nurtures our human capacity for spiritual aliveness, well-being and community.
  • Expand your scope of practice within your profession to include skills and insights from the certification training that would allow you to more ably help people navigate through life's challenging and difficult states of consciousness.
  • Take advantage of applicable continuing education credits for this Certificate.

Stay Informed

For more information about the certificate program, please contact the Center for Psychedelic Therapy and Research at rvalenzuela-ours@ciis.edu or publicprograms@ciis.edu.  

Information Packet and Application for the Certificate: Download the full Information Packet PDF

Need to Contact Us?

CIIS Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Rachel Valenzuela-Ours
CPTR Program Manager
Email: rvalenzuela-ours@ciis.edu
Phone: (415) 575-6243

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