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Starting the Journey to Becoming Certified in Psychedelic Assisted Therapy vs MDMA Practitioner

I recently completed the "Fundamentals of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy" training offered by Numinus, and I'd like to share my experience with you. This eight-week course was a comprehensive exploration of the world of psychedelic therapy, offering new insights into an alternative approach to mental wellness.

The training included various activities, such as online coursework, reflection papers, Zoom meetings with participants from around the world, and small group sessions with specific assignments tied to the week's learning objectives. The course was divided into eight modules, each with its unique set of goals and objectives.

A woman speaking and gesturing towards her laptop while in a virtual meeting with nine other training participants


1: Introduction to the Course

In this introductory module, we explored the foundations of psychedelic-assisted therapy and how it differs from conventional mental health treatment approaches. We delved into the seven guiding principles of psychedelic-assisted therapy, including mindfulness, trauma-informed care, and justice, equity, dignity, and inclusion (JEDI). We also gained an understanding of Numinus's mission, vision, and values, and discussed the unique ethical considerations of this therapy.

2: The Therapeutic Relationship

This module emphasized the importance of building a strong therapeutic relationship when conducting psychedelic-assisted therapy. Topics covered included Kolb's experiential learning cycle, the role of health professionals in creating a safe space, and the challenges of maintaining appropriate boundaries. We also explored how to identify a client's attachment style and attend to their non-verbal cues.

3: Core Facilitation Skills

In this module, we learned about the role of psychedelic-assisted therapy within the broader healing journey. We explored the ARC of psychedelic therapy, the concept of inner healing intelligence, and how to support a patient's inner experience. We also discussed psychological flexibility, embodied inquiry, and the importance of health professionals having experience with altered states of consciousness.

4: Core Competencies: Trauma Psychobiology and Trauma-Specific Skills

This module focused on understanding trauma from a psychobiological perspective and differentiating between various types of trauma. We discussed trauma-specific skills and how to support the healing of trauma without retraumatizing clients. We also explored polyvagal theory and self-regulation as they relate to trauma therapy.

5: Preparation Sessions

Preparation sessions are a crucial part of the psychedelic-assisted therapy process. We learned how to set therapeutic goals and intentions, design therapeutic rituals, and differentiate between psycholytic and psychedelic dose effects. We also discussed setting appropriate boundaries and the role of music during medicine sessions.

6: Medicine Sessions

This module covered the practical aspects of conducting medicine sessions. We explored team-based care, appropriate responses to clients' behaviors and circumstances, and the overall arc of a medicine session. We also learned how to work skillfully with music during these sessions.

7: Integration Sessions

Integration sessions are essential for helping clients incorporate their psychedelic experiences into their lives for lasting change. We discussed the integration framework and how to assist clients with trauma-specific and regulation skills when needed.

8: Therapist Self-Care

The final module emphasized the importance of therapist self-care to avoid burnout and trauma. We also explored opportunities for personal development and strategies for managing countertransference while prioritizing patient care and self-care.

An Unexpected Lesson

One thing that surprised me was the prevalence of the underground psychedelic community worldwide. While Numinus does not endorse or encourage the use of illegal substances, they recognize the importance of supporting patients who seek treatment after underground experiences, helping them integrate their journeys into a healthy and meaningful way of seeing themselves, others, and the world around them.

Next Steps and Conclusion

As I completed the Fundamentals Course, I began "Applied Psychedelic Assisted Treatment" which is the next step in the Numinus pathway to certification. It is the third course where the training path forks into different medicines: ketamine, MDMA, and psilocybin. While ketamine is the only current widespread legal option, recent scientific research results suggest that the FDA may soon be in a position to approve the therapeutic use of MDMA and psilocybin. These medicine-specific modules may even involve travel to Canada or select states in the US aligned with Numinus to gain firsthand experience and ensure competency.

While I already have real world experience with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, this training has radically changed how I practice: Numinus emphasizes the idea that every patient possesses an “Inner Healing Intelligence” and the therapist's role is that of a midwife, not to obstruct this process. They encourage the acronym WAIT or Why Am I Talking, highlighting the importance of moving towards what's challenging and uncomfortable rather than avoiding or reframing it. The psychedelic experience appears to alleviate the automatic fight-flight-freeze response, enabling clients to observe and witness their trauma without dissociation or unhealthy coping mechanisms.

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