Letters of Support from Experts re: Access to Psilocybin for Training Purposes

Below you will find letters of support from healthcare professionals, researchers and experts advocating for healthcare professionals to have legal access to psilocybin for training purposes, without delay.

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Letters of Support

I am saddened that 86 of my colleagues have just received a letter from Jennifer Saxe at Health Canada expressing an intent to refuse their Section 56 exemptions. Their requests were for access to psilocybin, so that they may possess psilocybin in the context of TheraPsil's training program. I strongly entreat you to grant these applications as patients are in immediate need of care, and my fellow healthcare professionals must complete their own experiential sessions to treat patients in a safe and effective manner. - Dr. Bruce Tobin

It is a necessity for qualified practitioners administering psychedelic medicines to their patients to have their own experience with these medicines. - Phil Wolfson, MD

I would like to express my support for the healthcare practitioners who have applied for section 56 exemptions to use psilocybin as part of their training curriculum. The practice of experiential training for therapists is by no means something novel. In fact, since the 1960s this was a standard part of the training curriculum in Europe and North America. - Dr. Houman Farzin

For the sake of those whose mental health has suffered and who can be helped through psychedelic-assisted therapy as well as for the moral correctness of having enough people professionally trained to do this work, please reinstate and continue to offer exemptions to appropriate people so that the medical profession can meet the needs it has created. - James Fadiman, PhD

Honorable Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.... One critical feature of this past research involved experiential knowledge. Indeed, the ethical protocols in place at that time insisted that researchers and clinical practitioners draw from their own personal experience with these psychoactive substances before engaging in therapeutic relationships...I respectfully encourage you to reconsider training exemptions for healthcare professionals. - Professor Erika Dyck

Honourable Minister, I implore you to intervene and help patients and healthcare professionals access therapeutic psilocybin on compassionate grounds by advocating on behalf of the health and well-being of all Canadians - patients and citizens alike. Please, Minister, I ask that Section 56 exemptions be granted without delay so we can take steps to optimally train and prepare ourselves to treat the many patients who are relying on us to respond to their needs in kind. - Dr. Joseph De Leo, Clinical & Rehabilitation Psychologist, Centre for Compassionate Care.

In the research department of the Spring Grove Hospital Center, and subsequently at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, all clinical employees (psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and psychiatric nurses) routinely received two LSD-assisted sessions as part of on-the-job training, all without controversy and appropriately reported to the FDA - Bill Richards

For a patient to benefit from therapeutic treatment involving psilocybin, this requires the patient to experience non-ordinary states of consciousness in order to evoke necessary changes in brain function. While in a state of non-ordinary consciousness, it is imperative that the patient is expertly supported and guided by someone who is familiar with these states to ensure safety and promote lasting healing... The best way for therapists gain sufficient familiarity with such altered states is through personal experience with the substance – at present, there is no other way of becoming intimately familiar with the non-ordinary states of consciousness occasioned by psilocybin than by experiencing them. - Rolland R. Griffiths, PhD

I respectfully encourage you to reconsider the training exemptions for healthcare professionals. This is a critical first step in building out the network of trained healthcare providers who will be doing this important work for years to come. We cannot effectively use these medicines and get the outcomes we desire in improving the lives of Canadians without the proper training and experience required. This requires access to psychedelic medicines for practitioners who intend to work with clients needing them. - Dr. Michael Verbora, MBA, MD, CCFP

It behooves the professional to understand on an experiential level the substance of the altered state so as to be able to provide the requisite support and intervention that the research has shown to be the most helpful and safe. - Dave Phillips

I have been involved with several research studies and observe that the training of therapists to provide effective, ethical and skillful practice is a vital component of a successful clinical trial. The therapist's own experience with these medicines is crucial in their skill development. In fact, it is hard to imagine a competent therapist that is not had their own deep psychedelic experiences. - Mark Haden

As clinical trials proceed and psilocybin becomes more readily available in the future, it will be imperative for health care providers to receive quality education and supervision in order to do this work safely. We are asking you to grant our exemptions so that we may be of service in this regard. - 13 Healthcare Professionals

We believe that allowing clinician exemptions is the critical next step to improve the efficacy and safety of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to better meet patients' needs. - Drug Science Advisory Committee

A key challenge is the lack of properly trained providers of psilocybin assisted psychotherapy. We are writing to encourage you to urgently create a mechanism, free from the burdens of a clinical trial, to allow healthy volunteer therapist trainees to experience psilocybin as part of their training to provide psilocybin-assisted therapy to those struggling with mental health conditions in Canada. - Numinus

While the patients experience non-ordinary states of consciousness, they must be expertly guided and supported by someone intimately familiar with such states. Over the past 60 years, it has been learned and concluded that the therapists gain sufficient familiarity with such states only through personal experience with the substance.” - Paul Groff, MD, FRCPC

The ability of therapists to understand and better manage their clients’ experiences under the influence of psychedelics will be enhanced by  their own subjective experiences, as the survey results demonstrate - Rick Doblin, PhD

“It is my opinion, based on my experience, that therapist wishing to support a patient to enter deep non-ordinary states of consciousness, should have extensive experience with the states themselves, ideally using the same medicine that their patients will be using in the therapeutic sessions…I would therefore support Therapsil‘s application for its therapists to receive permission to use psilocybin as part of their training.” – Michael C. Mithoefer, MD, FAPA

For the therapist to effectively guide their subject through this terrain, it is of great value for the facilitator to have had first-hand experience of the altered terrain itself. Having such knowledge and familiarity allows the psychotherapist to more effectively guide their patient and thus optimize safety and the likelihood of a therapeutic outcome. - Charles S Grob, MD

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