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 (1902), The Varieties of Religious Experience

About the Program

This Certificate Program is housed in the CIIS Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research. The Center also provides diverse public education about psychedelic research and the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy from the past decades, 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 have been presented since 2015.

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. Enrollees are professionals in specific licensed mental health and medical professions, as well as eligible ordained or 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 program emphasizes 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 education that integrates consciousness studies and psychology, including psychedelic studies.

Read about the development of the Certificate in CIIS Today.

Format and Development of the Certificate Program

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, Dr. Phelps was well positioned to create a multidisciplinary team of teachers from across the United States and Canada. The certificate training program is conducted during an eight month period with a summer break.

Hybrid Residential and Online Curriculum:

The certificate program course schedule is comprised of four weekend workshops and one weeklong residential program. The curriculum entails 180 total hours of instruction, including 120 of in-class learning and 60 hours of online video instruction, volunteer work and mentoring. This semi-hybrid online and in-classroom program is a benefit for trainees who come from U.S. regions beyond California and other countries. See the 2020 exact schedule below.

The learning environment is 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. Classes begin March 13, 2020 and end on November 8, 2020. The weeklong training June 21st to 27th will be held at the EarthRise Retreat Center in Petaluma, California, 50 miles north of San Francisco, and is done in conjunction with Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). The founding trainers from MAPS, Dr. Michael Mithoefer and Annie Mithoefer, RN, will be our training's expert instructors. Trainees receive instruction in new clinical applications of ketamine-assisted therapies. A special fall experiential weekend in September will include sessions of Holotropic Breathwork with Diane Haug who is a lead international teacher of the Grof Transpersonal Training. Opportunities for training in ketamine-assisted therapy will be offered either through volunteer work for credit or as an optional learning program. 

Many leading psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists from Johns Hopkins University, New York University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the other institutions will be teaching in the program. 

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. An exception to this can be if a student chooses to get volunteer work credit in a ketamine clinic, which may involve an opportunity to experience ketamine on a case-by-case basis. 

Full 2020 Information Packet about the Certificate: Download the 2020 Information Packet

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); Nicholas Cozzi (U. of Wisconsin); Rick Doblin, Michael Mithoefer, Annie Mithoefer, and Karen Cooper (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; George Sarlo; Robert Jesse (CSP and Usona); Ralph Metzner (Green Earth Foundation); Ron Mis (Co-founder of Boston Psychedelic Symposium); and Dick Simon (YPO, Psychedelic Group). Many of these researchers were featured in the influential book, How to Change Your Mind, and 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.

See the dropdown above for previous year class schedules from 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

The 2020 Schedule for the Certificate

March 13, 14, and 15 Welcome Weekend at CIIS
May 1, 2, and 3 Weekend at CIIS
June 21 to 27 June Training Program at EarthRise Retreat Center, Petaluma, CA
Summer Break
September 18, 19, and 20    Weekend of Holotropic Breathwork experiential work
November 6, 7 and 8  Weekend at CIIS and Closure Ceremony

The Daily Schedule for the Weekends at CIIS:

    Fridays from 1 pm. to 8:30 pm.
    Saturdays from 9 am. to 5:30 pm. and 7 pm. to 9 pm.
    Sundays from 9 am. to 1 pm.

The Daily Schedules for the June Residential Retreat:

The June 7-day Retreat at EarthRise Retreat Center in Petaluma, CA begins Sunday, June 21st, at 3 pm. and ends on Saturday, June 27th at 1 pm. 

Planned 2020 Teachers include:

  • Dr. Paul Abramson (UC San Francisco)
  • Dr. Brian Anderson (UC San Francisco)
  • Dr. Anthony Bossis (New York University)
  • Dr. Susana Bustos (CIIS)
  • Karen Cooper, RN (MAPS Ft. Collins Site)
  • Mary Cosimano, MSW (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Dr. Nick Cozzi (University of Wisconsin)
  • Dr. Alicia Danforth (UCLA and UCSF)
  • Dr. Rick Doblin (MAPS)
  • Dr. Wendy Feng (UCSF)
  • Amy Emerson (MAPS)
  • George Goldsmith (Compass)
  • Dr. George Greer (Heffter Co-founder)
  • Dr. Charles Grob (UCLA, Heffter Co-founder)
  • Dr. Stanislav Grof
  • Dr. Jeffrey Guss (New York University)
  • Diane Haug, LPC (Grof Transpersonal Training)
  • Patricia James (Cheyenne Pipe Carrier)
  • Bob Jesse (Council on Spiritual Practices, Heffter and Usona Institute)
  • Dr. Maria Mangini (Holy Names University)
  • Dr. Gabor Mate
  • Dr. Natalie Metz (CIIS)
  • Dr. Michael Mithoefer (MAPS, 7-day June training retreat)
  • Annie Mithoefer, RN (MAPS, 7-day June training retreat)
  • Dr. David Nichols (Heffter Co-founder)
  • Andrew Penn, RN, NP (UCSF School of Nursing)
  • Dr. Janis Phelps (CIIS)
  • Dr. David Presti (UC Berkeley)
  • Dr. Charles Raison (Usona Institute)
  • Dr. William Richards (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Dick Simon (YPO, Psychedelic Group)
  • Dr. Malynn Utzinger (Usona Institute)
  • Dr. Berra Yazar-Klosinski (MAPS)

Curricular Modules of Study:

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

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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. Professionals in these specializations must have a license and RN, MA, JD, PhD/PsyD or MD degrees in behavioral health, medicine, or mental health fields. Clergy and chaplains must be trained within one or more of the major world religions and be ordained or commissioned prior to application. Under specific circumstances, specific 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.

  • Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC/LPC)
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Clinical Social Workers
  • Occupational Therapists (OT with MA)
  • Registered Nurses
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Naturopathic Doctors (ND)
  • Clinical and Counseling Psychologists
  • Physician and Psychiatrists
  • Physician Assistants
  • Ordained Clergy and Commissioned Chaplains (M.Div. with 4 units of CPE)
  • Attorneys (JD in counseling specialties only)
  • Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LAADC with MA)
  • Physical Therapists (PT with MA/MS)
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors (TCM with MA/MS)

The Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research encourages applications from individuals within the above list who: are military veterans; identify as people of color; are clinical CIIS and ACTCM faculty, students, alumni, supervisors, adjuncts, and staff; in demonstrated financial need; and/or serve marginalized or under-represented populations. There are limited scholarships available for the above applicants: 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 Heffter, 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 1 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. As of August 2019, MAPS is in the process of speaking with the FDA about approval of their expanded access protocol. The psilocybin researchers in the US are a year or two away from being a position to speak to the FDA about expanded access. 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 such syndromes as severe chronic PTSD; major depression or treatment-resistant depression; and end-of-life distress. 

A helpful overview of Expanded Access.

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 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.

At CIIS we are working at the forefront of these coming opportunities. Join us!

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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 periodic 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.
  • Specialize in your knowledge of the best therapeutic and research practices with the classic psychedelics, MDMA, and ketamine.
  • Enjoy the support and conviviality of a cohort of medical professionals, clergy, therapists, social workers, 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.
  • May be able to apply for 25-40 hours of applicable Continuing Education hours for eligible professions for this Certificate.

Click to Download the 2020 Information Packet

Need to Contact Us?

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

Dr. Cathy Coleman
CPTR Admissions Manager | Certificate Manager
Email: ccoleman@ciis.edu
Phone: (415) 575-6261

Dr. Laura Pustarfi
Associate Director of the Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Certificate Program
Email: lpustarfi@ciis.edu
Phone: (415) 575-6243

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