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 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 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, Janis 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.

Hybrid Residential and Online Curriculum:

The 180-hour 2018 certificate program includes 6 meetings: 4 long weekends in the San Francisco Bay Area at CIIS; a 7-day residential Bay Area retreat in June; a 3-day Bay Area residential retreat in September; 30 hours of mentoring and volunteer work; and 25 online hours of review of instructional videos of the didactic modules. Thus, this well-organized hybrid academic program entails 125 hours of residential study in the San Francisco Bay Area and 55 hours of study and practice at home. Such a hybrid program enables trainees from outside of California to more readily participate in the training program. See the 2018 exact schedule of 6 meetings in the section farther below.

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. Classes begin at the end of March 2018. We meet until the end of June, then have the summer off for volunteer work and online study, and meet again from September through November 2018. The first retreat in June, 2018 at the Marconi Conference Center in Marshall, CA. is one of the modules of the MAPS training program for therapist guides. 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 be focused on sessions of Holotropic Breathwork with lead teacher 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.

Full Information Packet about the Certificate: Download the 2018 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); 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 2017 Schedule, Presenters, and Course Descriptions

The 2018 Confirmed Schedule for the Certificate

March 23rd, 24th, and 25th Welcome Weekend at CIIS
May 4th, 5th, and 6th Weekend at CIIS
June 24th - 30th June Training Retreat:
with the Mithoefers of MAPS at retreat center near San Francisco
Summer Break
September 14th, 15th, and 16th September Training Retreat:                           
at retreat center near San Francsico
October 26th, 27th, and 28th Weekend at CIIS
November 30, December 1 and 2   Weekend at CIIS and Graduation

The Daily Schedule for the Four Weekends at CIIS:

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

The Daily Schedules for the Two Residential Retreats:

The June 7-day Retreat at a residential center near San Francisco:
Begins Sunday, June 24th, at 1 pm. and ends on Saturday, June 30th at 2 pm.  

The September 3-day Retreat at a residential center near San Francisco:
Begins Friday, September 14th at 1 pm. and ends on Sunday, September 16th at 4 pm.

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


Planned 2018 Teachers include:

  • Dr. Brian Anderson (UC San Francisco)
  • Dr. Anthony Bossis (New York University)
  • Karen Cooper, RN (MAPS Ft. Collins Site)
  • 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, Heffter Co-founder)
  • Dr. Stanislav Grof
  • Dr. Jeffrey Guss (New York University)
  • Diane Haug, LPC (Grof Transpersonal Training)
  • Bob Jesse (Council on Spiritual Practices and Usona Institute)
  • Dr. Maria Mangini (Holy Names University)
  • Dr. Gabor Mate
  • Dr. Natalie Metz (CIIS)
  • Dr. Ralph Metzner (Green Earth Foundation)
  • Dr. Michael Mithoefer (MAPS, 7-day June training retreat)
  • Annie Mithoefer, RN (MAPS, 7-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. Emily Williams (UCSF and MAPS)
  • 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 an RN, MA, JD, PhD/PsyD or MD degree 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.

  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC)
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers
  • Licensed 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
  • Licensed Attorneys (JD in counseling specialties only)
  • Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LAADC with MA)

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. Due to our generous donors, there are many 2018 special discounts and scholarships available for 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 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 treatment-resistant depression. 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 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 48 hours of continuing education credits for this Certificate.

Click to Download the 2018 Information Packet


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

Dr. Janis Phelps
CPTR Director
Email: jphelps@ciis.edu
Phone: (415) 575-6243

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