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Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research


Throughout its history, CIIS has been a leader in consciousness research. To address the demand for trained psychotherapists to work in the expanding field of psychedelic studies, CIIS created the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research in 2015. To date, our certificate program has trained more than 800 licensed and ordained professionals to become psychedelic researchers, and is advancing the field with the highest possible standards of scientific rigor and safety.

While the certificate program emphasizes the therapeutic models of psychedelic research, we address the philosophy and theory from these other scholarly traditions as well. The roots of this certificate are in the work of scholars and researchers on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies, transpersonal psychology, consciousness studies, psychoanalysis, comparative mysticism, cultural anthropology, and Indigenous plant medicine practices.

"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."

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

Center History

Throughout its history, CIIS has been a leader in consciousness research, including research into non-ordinary states of consciousness. In 1997, CIIS began offering the Robert Joseph and Wilhelmina Kranzke Endowed Scholarships, a gift of Robert Barnhart in memory of his parents, which supports scholarships for students conducting approved psychotropic research. 

Demand for trained psychotherapists working in psychedelic studies continued to grow. To address this need, and with the generous support of the many individuals and organizations passionate about the scientific possibilities of this field, CIIS created the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research in 2015. Founding Director Dr. Janis Phelps has remained at the helm since then, leading the Center with her expertise and decades of experience in clinical psychology. 

The Center built strong partnerships with other universities, medical centers, researchers, and research groups. Top psychedelic researchers and scholars work with the Center to teach in the certificate program and sit on the Center’s council of advisors. This includes collaboration with MAPS, the Heffter Research Institute, and the Usona Institute, three of the most renowned research groups for psychedelic studies. The Center’s certificate program is the largest collaborative program focusing on psychedelic studies within a non-medical graduate university. 

In 2020, the Center received a three-year grant of $1.0 million from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation to support the expansion of our certificate program. In addition to enhancing our course offerings and increasing cohort sizes, the grant supports new training sites, with Boston as the first additional location in 2021. In 2022, the Center received additional grants to share our curriculum and instruction with other universities beginning their own certificate programs. 

As we expand to meet national and international interest, we are continuously developing our certificate based on program evaluations. Of particular concern is support for diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the field of psychedelic medicines, and we have increased representation of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ teachers, mentors, and trainees for all cohorts.

Public Education 

We provide public education about psychedelic research and the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy, as well as teaching on topics such as consciousness studies, comparative mysticism, and harm reduction. Since 2015, the Center has presented lectures and readings by experts on psychedelic medicines.

Working with MAPS

Working with Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Public Benefit Corporation (MAPS PBC), CIIS offers education intended to raise awareness about the inner-directed therapeutic approach and treatment modality delivered in MAPS-sponsored clinical trials investigating MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD. The MDMA-assisted therapy curriculum incorporated into the CIIS Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research includes online asynchronous coursework and a week-long synchronous educational retreat, delivered by MDMA-assisted therapy teachers. Since 2016, CIIS and MAPS PBC have worked together in providing education on MDMA-assisted therapy.

Since 2016, CIIS and MAPS PBC have worked together in providing education on MDMA-assisted therapy. The MDMA-assisted therapy education delivered in the CIIS certificate program is intended to provide foundational information on the inner-directed therapeutic approach practiced in MAPS PBC clinical trials. The asynchronous and live MDMA-assisted therapy education content incorporated into the CIIS Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research program is consistent with the education content offered by MAPS PBC in 2023. 

While MAPS PBC is working on the New Drug Application to the FDA, there are no guarantees about the approval of MDMA-assisted therapy or what specific requirements will be for therapists wishing to deliver the treatment. It is likely that there will be a training requirement and that therapists and other qualified professionals who have previously participated in education programs with MAPS PBC, or through an institution such as CIIS working with MAPS PBC, will need to complete some supplementary training, while therapists who have not previously participated will need to complete the entire program. As part of these training requirements MAPS PBC continues to plan for all therapists to complete a required number of hours of experience delivering MDMA-assisted therapy and receiving consultation from a qualified MPBC Training Consultant.

About Our Terminology

Please note that we use the term psychedelic to refer to both the classic psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, peyote, ayahuasca, and others) and to those drugs specifically termed entactogens, also known as empathogens (MDMA, MDA, and others).

Values at CIIS from the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A diverse academic community offers a rich and dynamic perspective to CIIS's intellectual environment. Diversity is broader than the traditional categories of age, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, and sexual orientation. It also encompasses disability, socioeconomic status, family background, language, the level of academic preparedness, learning style, and even different communities with which our students, faculty, and staff are associated. As a result of intentional engagement with our own identities and the work of diversity, we uncover our similarities through our differences, thus allowing us to celebrate and honor our shared humanity.

Inclusion is respecting and embracing those distinctive characteristics each member of the CIIS community adds to the institution. It goes beyond numerical diversity. Inclusion is the creation of a climate where all feel valued and appreciated-where there is substantive interaction between and within groups, such that the very space becomes renewed by those included and all are willing to be challenged and enriched by the introduction of ideas, ways of knowing, and perspectives that were not originally centered. This inclusive environment best allows students, faculty, and staff to thrive as individuals and as a community.

The Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research has partnered with CIIS' Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to: 

  • Prepare trainees to meet the evolving challenges of diverse communities in an increasingly unjust world. 
  • Collaborate with faculty, staff, trainees, and community members to increase learning about BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Indigenous scholarship, worldviews, and cultures. 
  • Create a Culture of Belonging throughout the program in order to foster empathy, connection, and risk taking. 

More about CIIS' Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Instructions for Disability Accommodation

Students who request accommodation for a disability should contact the Office of Student Accessibility Services at the Office of Student Affairs by emailing osas@ciis.edu. Students will be guided through the registration procedures for accommodation. Any questions, requests for accommodation or access, or concerns regarding services for students or applicants with a disability as defined by law should be addressed to the Director of the Office of Student Accessibility Services. In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as Amended (ADAAA), the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) is committed to ensuring that students with disabilities have equal access to the programs and services available to all students at CIIS. Further, equal access for students with disabilities is fundamental to the mission and educational philosophy of CIIS.