About the Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research
2021 Application Period: October 15 to November 30, 2020
"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
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 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. We use the term "psychedelic" 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.). 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 cultural anthropology. While this Certificate Program emphasizes the therapeutic models of psychedelic research, we address the philosophy and theory from these other scholarly traditions as well.
CIIS has an outstanding reputation of over 50 years in graduate education that integrates consciousness studies and psychology, including psychedelic studies. The format of instruction and curriculum has been developed by an esteemed team led by Dr. Janis Phelps, Director of the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research, in collaboration with many clinicians and researchers in the field. As Heffter Research Institute trustee and former CIIS Dean of Faculty for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Phelps is well positioned to lead a multidisciplinary team of international expert teachers.
Read about the history of the development of the Certificate in CIIS Today.
The huge success of the CIIS training program is widely known in this field and has enabled us to expand our programming for 2021. Our Center is scaling the certificate training in 2021 to include two cohorts of students who are mental health and medical professionals or ordained clergy. We are thrilled to offer a cohort in Boston, MA, where East Coast based clinicians and clergy can more easily travel to be trained in psychedelic-assisted therapies and network in their local area. Another cohort will be based in San Francisco as in prior years. Because of our great success and significantly increased demand for admissions into this program, we are expanding the size of our program with an expected 100 trainees per cohort. The outstanding certificate curriculum will be markedly unchanged from the prior years with some improvements based on our program evaluations from the past five years. The engaging hybrid online-residential classes will continue to be conducted during an eight-month period with a summer break.
In addition to our successful San Francisco classes, we have carefully selected Boston as our second cohort location due to several key opportunities. Our applicants and alumni have given us feedback that an East Coast location will enhance the experience of the program for those from the eastern half of the country, Africa, and Europe. Boston is an emerging hub of psychedelic research with the presence of the active Boston Psychedelic Research Group (BPRG) of 500 professional members, as well as the newly created and forward-thinking Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Several leaders of the BPRG are graduates of the CIIS certificate training program, Harvard professors, on staff at MGH, or current local clinicians conducting psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy research. We are happy that many of these experienced leaders will be advisors, teachers, and mentors for the 2021 class. Our New England alumni will contribute to the growing professional network of psychedelic-assisted therapists and researchers in their regions.
Consistent with CIIS ideals, this certificate strives to encompass all aspects of learning: intellectual/didactic, personal/experiential, and applied. The research and therapy training is conducted with learning processes embedded in self-reflection, community-building, and embodied ways of knowing and mentoring. Students learn a wide variety of necessary skills and knowledge bases, ranging from pharmacology of psychedelics to research design to psychedelic therapist competencies to the history of use of psychoactive plants across the globe.
In order to accomplish such a holistic enterprise, the program values and implements the deconstruction of various perspectives and cultural viewpoints, along with didactic and experiential learning with teachers representing diverse specializations. The global wisdom traditions related to alterations of consciousness (meditation, yoga, fasting, solo wilderness retreats, healing methods, etc.) 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. Our scope of inquiry has the breadth and depth necessary for a graduate to have a sufficient understanding of the field’s empirical research methods and outcomes, the key clinical competencies, and ways to situate themselves in the constantly evolving streams of non-profit and for-profit organizations, and decriminalization movements. Our trainees have access to experts in the psychedelic field and in-depth mentoring that enables them to create professional connections not otherwise available among the influencers in this arena. In terms of personal connections and building opportunities, trainees are welcomed into affinity and special interest groups among their peers and join an engaging, active alumni association when they graduate.
It is important to note that at no time does 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 optional training in a ketamine clinic, which may involve an opportunity to experience ketamine on a case-by-case basis.
Full 2021 Information Packet about the Certificate: Download the 2021 Information Packet
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, Multidisciplinary Association for 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 training program. Thank you to Ron Beller (PSFC); Anthony Bossis and Jeffrey Guss (NYU); Nicholas Cozzi (U. of Wisconsin); Rick Doblin, Michael Mithoefer, Annie Mithoefer, Shannon Clare Carlin, and Karen Cooper (MAPS); Betsy Gordon (Betsy Gordon Foundation, CIIS trustee and emerita Heffter trustee); George Greer, and David Nichols (Heffter); Roland Griffiths, Mary Cosimano, and William Richards (Johns Hopkins U.); Charles Grob (UCLA and Heffter); Stanislav Grof; Diane Haug; Robert Jesse (CSP and Usona); Bill Melton (Melton Foundation) and Meihong Xu (CIIS Trustee); the late Ralph Metzner; George Sarlo (George Sarlo Foundation); Ron Mis, Dick Simon, and Anne St. Goar (Boston Psychedelic Research Group); and Shirley Strong (Former CIIS Dean of Diversity). Their tireless, consistently inspired, and wise counsel on multiple levels of the Center’s program has help refine and scale the excellent programs we are delivering.
Many leading scholars, psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists from Johns Hopkins University, New York University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the other institutions will be teaching in the program. Below is a list of most of our teachers, while other scholars and teachers are to be determined.
Hybrid Online and Residential Format
For both the Boston and San Francisco based cohorts, the certificate program course schedule will be comprised of six weekends and a 5-day in-person retreat. While this has always been a hybrid program, given the realities of the pandemic and Covid-19, the spring 2021 classes will be held online. This strategy is consistent with the decisions of many universities across the country for safeguarding the health and well-being of students, staff, and faculty during the pandemic.
The community-building training retreats will be conducted at a retreat center, community center, or conference hotel. Five of the six weekends are online and one fall, 2021 weekend will be in-person in order to experience Holotropic Breathwork during part of that course meeting. The 2021 curriculum entails 150 total hours of instruction, including 120 of in class learning (online and in-person) and 30 hours of individualized learning, mentor consultations, and online video instruction. This hybrid online and in-classroom program is beneficial for trainees who are at a distance from Boston and San Francisco. Applicants will choose their preferred cohort at time of application, either San Francisco or Boston. All applicants commit to the timing of the cohort to which they are admitted. See the exact 2021 schedule below.
Innovative Curriculum and Learning Environment
The learning environment is in the form of lectures, small group discussion, review of therapy session recordings, mentoring experiences, and experiential learning (e.g., Holotropic Breathwork, role-play, guided imagery, expressive arts, and journaling). Classes begin April 9, 2021 and end on December 5, 2021. The 5-day retreat training will be in the fall on two separate weekends: one near Boston and one near San Francisco. Lodging and coffee/refreshment service for this retreat is included in the cost of tuition. 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.
An engaging feature of the hybrid program is the use of frequent flip classes, an innovative online learning pedagogy. In this type of class, students preview a recorded lecture or presentation before the class weekend and bring questions and comments to the class meetings. During an extended discussion period, the teacher is then able to provide deeper discourse into the topics at hand during class. The training program includes opportunities each class day for more intimate small group discussions within a Home Group. These Home Groups are comprised of 7-9 trainees who co-create a learning pod together for the entire certificate training. Book chapters and peer reviewed journal articles are assigned by our teachers for each class. Throughout the program, prominent readings are required and recommended as foundational learning for this field. For a sneak peek see the 2021 textbook list.
Students work with a distinguished mentor who has experience in psychedelic-assisted and/or entactogen-assisted psychotherapy research or in related areas of clinical expertise. Our mentors are licensed clinicians and well-known researchers with expertise in the area of psychedelic studies. The mentors meet individually with students and with a small group of mentees regularly throughout the program. Professional development discussions, assessments, and confidential integration of learning will occur in mentoring. As part of the culmination of the training, students will write a final paper in the certificate, several of which have been published by our graduates in peer refereed journals.
Exceptional Collaboration with MAPS
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is currently requiring a five-module training for all eligible allied health professionals and clergy who wish to be permitted by MAPS to provide MDMA-assisted therapy after the FDA re-scheduling of MDMA. Since 2016, CIIS and MAPS have collaborated in organizing an opportunity for graduates of the CIIS program to efficiently complete MAPS therapist training. The five modules of the current MAPS training program are outlined here.
Notably, CIIS trainees will have completed three of the five modules required by MAPS to conduct MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in approved clinical settings. This means that our graduates will have completed half of the MAPS training program and are thus more readily able to finish their MAPS training. MAPS has generously granted this key benefit for CIIS graduates in which they save approximately half of the cost of the full MAPS training.
The two online June weekends and the 5-day fall retreats are collaboratively organized by CIIS and taught by MAPS. Michael Mithoefer, MD, and Annie Mithoefer, RN, will be our training’s MAPS expert instructors for the San Francisco cohort. Marcela Ot’alora, MA, LPC, and Bruce Poulter, MPH, will be the MAPS authoritative trainers for the Boston cohort.
Individualized Offerings Beyond the Classroom
The certificate program provides students an exemplary experience for a hybrid program by offering many additional opportunities for elective individualized learning and networking. Students may select from a wealth of optional workshop offerings, book clubs, topical consultation groups, as well as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy training. These offerings also provide occasions for students to deepen their understanding of that expert’s work and field, to engage with one another in small groups, and acquaint themselves with more influential mentors and teachers. Opportunities for training in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy will be offered through affiliated, highly skilled instructors and may have a separate fee. In consultation with their mentor, students may receive credit for some of these varied offerings.
Each year there are several workshops which have included focused teaching on issues of accessibility, diversity and inclusion in the field; psychedelic session music; integration techniques; and strategies of creating regional psychedelic sciences groups. Topics covered in 2020 include Bill Richards’s book club on his text Sacred Knowledge and Chris Bache on his book LSD and the Mind of the Universe. Special groups included topics of depression and treatment failings; the art of psychedelic therapy integration; love, presence, compassion in this work; and addiction, psychedelics, and recovery. We also host social online film nights, including recent films and documentaries such as Fantastic Fungi and From Shock to Awe, with our students and mentors. These are incredible opportunities to study with experts in the field in smaller sized groups of trainees.
During half of the online classes, both cohorts meet together for concurrent instruction via video conference with their teachers. The other half of the online classes are solo morning instructional sessions for the Boston cohort and solo afternoon sessions for the San Francisco cohort. All in-person classes and the retreats are created for and attended by each cohort separately.
The 5-day training retreats for the Boston and San Francisco cohorts will take place at conference or retreat centers near Boston and San Francisco. The in-person weekends have hours somewhat longer than the online training weekends. See below for specific dates for each cohort.
BOSTON: WEEKEND AND RETREAT DAYS AND TIMES
|April 9 th, 10 th, 11 th||Welcome Weekend Online|
|May 14 th, 15 th, 16 th||Weekend Online|
|June 4 th, 5 th, 6 th||Weekend Online|
|June 18 th, 19 th, 20 th||Weekend Online|
|September 30 th to October 4 th||In-Person Retreat (MAPS modules) near Boston|
|November 12 th, 13 th, 14 th||In-Person Weekend, including Holotropic Breathwork|
|December 3 rd, 4 th, 5 th||Closing Weekend Online|
The Boston Schedule for the Online Weekends:
Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET
Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET
Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET
The Boston Schedule for the 2021 Residential Retreat and In-Person Weekend with Holotropic Breathwork:
5-Day In-Person Retreat (MAPS modules) near Boston:
Begins 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 30th and ends 12 p.m. ET on Monday, October 4th With expert MAPS trainers - Marcela Ot’alora and Bruce Poulter.
The in-person Boston weekend training includes Holotropic Breathwork and will meet during these times:
Friday, November 12th from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Saturday, November 13th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, November 14th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET
SAN FRANCISCO: WEEKEND AND RETREAT DAYS AND TIMES
|April 9 th, 10 th, 11 th||Welcome Weekend Online|
|May 14 th, 15 th, 16 th||Weekend Online|
|June 4 th, 5 th, 6 th||Weekend Online|
|June 18 th, 19 th, 20 th||Weekend Online|
|September 17 th, 18 th, 19 th||In-Person Weekend, including Holotropic Breathwork|
|October 21 st to 25 th||In-Person Retreat (MAPS modules) near San Francisco|
|December 3 rd, 4 th, 5 th||Closing Weekend Online|
The Daily San Francisco Schedule for the Online Weekends:
Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. PT
Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT
Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT
The San Francisco Schedule for the 2021 Residential Retreat and In-Person Weekend with Holotropic Breathwork:
5-Day In-Person Retreat (MAPS modules) near San Francisco:
Begins 2 p.m. PT on Thursday, October 21st and ends 12 p.m. PT on Monday, October 25th
With expert MAPS trainers - Michael and Annie Mithoefer.
In San Francisco the in-person weekend training includes Holotropic Breathwork and will meet during these times:
Friday, September 17th from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. PT
Saturday, September 18th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. PT
Sunday, September 19th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT
Find all the details on the in-depth topics covered in the Certificate.
See the Apply page for further details on applicable credentials.
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. Licensed professionals in these specializations must have an MA/MS, MSW, RN or higher degree in behavioral health, medicine, or mental health fields. Clergy and chaplains must be trained in a recognized program with multiple teachers within one or more of the major world religions, hold an MDiv, have completed 4 units of CPE, and be ordained or commissioned prior to application. Under specific circumstances, some medical and mental health professionals, who are not yet licensed, may apply if they have completed their coursework and 1,000 supervised training hours of counseling and psychotherapy.
Only professionals who hold the following specific advanced degrees and licensure, commissions, or ordinations may apply to the certificate program:
These are strict criteria and only people with the above degrees and credentials are eligible to apply. For these professionals, preference will be given to applicants with a substantial background in psychological treatment and/or spiritual direction in: behavioral medicine, chronic trauma and PTSD, palliative care, hospice, psychiatry, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, oncology, mediation and resolution, and/or pain management.
The Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research especially encourages applications from eligible individuals within the above list who: identify as people of color; identify as LGBTQ+; are military veterans; are clinical CIIS and ACTCM faculty, students, alumni, supervisors, adjuncts, and staff; and/or serve marginalized and under-represented populations.
For medical professionals, clergy, chaplains, and counseling attorneys, those applicants with substantial experience in providing psychotherapy, counseling, pastoral care, mediation, and/or spiritual direction will be considered strong candidates for the certificate program.
What Can I Do with this Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research?
Three primary opportunities await you as a Certificate graduate:
1) Certificate graduates will have strong skills and knowledge at a high standard for foundational training. For some graduates, this has been built upon by further mentoring via specific training with Heffter, MAPS and Usona researchers, who have already chosen these graduates as study therapists in ongoing psychedelic research projects. This is dependent on the unfolding regulatory processes, the attainment of protocol-specific training, and the available number of therapist researcher positions. Optional training in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy will facilitate graduates in the exploration of the possibilities of expanding their practice into this area of clinical treatment.
2) Another opportunity is for graduates to work in expanded access clinical research programs. 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. MAPS received approval from the FDA of their expanded access MDMA protocol in late 2019. The psilocybin researchers in the U.S. are a year or two away from being in a position with sufficient data to speak to the FDA about expanded access.
During expanded access, 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. Carefully trained therapist researchers will need to be present throughout the therapeutic process and conduct themselves within FDA treatment protocols. Expanded access treatment is designed for people whose medical conditions meet FDA criteria for severe chronic PTSD (for MDMA-assisted therapy) and will likely be approved for major depression, treatment-resistant depression and/or end-of-life distress (for psilocybin-assisted therapy). At CIIS we continue to work with Heffter, MAPS, and Usona for our graduates to receive any of their required training in order to be key prospects for these potential opportunities.
3) 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). The general public has insufficient knowledge and support for the challenging experiences that sometimes occur and less than ideal support for the full 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 for clients and congregation members as the 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 opportunities. Join us!
By enrolling in this Certificate Program, you will
Click to Download the 2021 Information Packet
CIIS Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Dr. Cathy Coleman
CPTR Admissions Manager | Certificate Manager
Phone: (415) 575-6261
Leslie Carson, MS, LPCC
Admission Project Assistant, and Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Graduate 2017
Phone: (415) 575-6243