Rick Doblin, Ph.D, Endorses Healthcare Practitioner Access to Psilocybin for Professional Training

“The training value of self-experience follows in a long tradition going back over a century to Dr. Sigmund Freud’s development of psychoanalysis where every psychoanalyst in training needed to go through their own psychoanalysis. ..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…I fully support Sean’s effort to obtain an exemption to administer psilocybin to therapists as part of their training.” 

– Rick Doblin, Ph.D

Background

 

On August 4th, Minister Patty Hajdu granted access to psilocybin for 4 Canadians with end-of-life distress whose applications for exemptions were supported by TheraPsil. Since that day at least 9 more applications have been approved and TheraPsil has been inundated with an influx of patient requests for support.

However, there is an urgent problem: there is an insufficient number of qualified healthcare professionals who are trained in psilocybin therapy and can provide high-quality patient care in this unique modality.

To solve this, starting on June 18th, 2020, doctors, therapists, clinical counselors, nurses, social workers, and other healthcare professionals on the TheraPsil team began submitting their own section 56 exemptions to access psilocybin for professional training.  

TheraPsil has been diligently working on a training program to train healthcare professionals in psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. Psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy is a unique modality which requires a highly specific skill set.  

Part of TheraPsil’s training program, in conjunction with lectures, case studies, readings, and discussions,  involves ‘experiential learning’, whereby trainees take psilocybin mushrooms themselves.

It is our belief that by experiencing this ‘non-ordinary state of consciousness’ first hand, therapists who will administer and facilitate psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for their own patients are better able hold space, know when to intervene (and more importantly when not to intervene), and help their patients integrate the psilocybin experience learnings for lasting healing during post-integration sessions. 

Unfortunately, to date, we have not heard a response back from Minister Hajdu regarding these applications. In the meantime, patients who are dying and could otherwise benefit from psilocybin therapy to treat their end-of-life distress, are left to suffer without access to a trained therapist.

 

Letter of Support from Rick Doblin to Minister Patty Hajdu

Recently, Rick Doblin wrote a letter to Health Minister Patty Hajdu expressing that in his expert opinion “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 has given TheraPsil his blessing that his letter to Minister Hajdu can be made public:

 

I’m writing in support of Sean’s  request for an exemption to administer psilocybin to therapists as part of their training.

 

I’m the founder and Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit research and educational organization sponsoring Phase 3 drug development research in Canada, US and Israel into the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for people with PTSD, an FDA-designated Breakthrough Therapy. The FDA has also approved 50 treatment-resistant PTSD patients for Expanded Access to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, and the Israeli Ministry of Health has also approved 50 Open-Access patients. We are also in the early stages of initiating Phase 3 MDMA/PTSD research in Europe for EMA approval.

 

Attached are the results of a brief survey we conducted of 79 participants in our therapist training program who volunteered to experience MDMA in a therapeutic context within our FDA/DEA/IRB-approved protocol (MT1).  In response to one of the questions, “How beneficial was your MT1 MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session for your training to provide MDMA-assisted psychotherapy?”,  on a scale of 0 “Not at All” to 6 “Greatly”, the average score was 5.6.

 

While MDMA is different than psilocybin, our experience with the training of therapists to administer MDMA  is relevant to the training of therapists to administer psilocybin.  Training therapists to increase efficacy and safety is a fundamental part of our work since the treatment is not the MDMA, it’s the psychotherapy which the MDMA enhances. One of the most effective methods  for training therapists to administer MDMA is for them to experience MDMA in a therapeutic setting.  The training value of self-experience follows in a long tradition going back over a century to Dr. Sigmund Freud’s development of psychoanalysis where every psychoanalyst in training needed to go through their own psychoanalysis. However, the  MDMA experience should always be voluntary and not required. Therapists who have never taken MDMA or psilocybin can still be effective administering MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, or psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. However, 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.

 

If you would like any additional information, I would be glad to provide it. I fully support Sean’s effort to obtain an exemption to administer psilocybin to therapists as part of their training.

 

To psychedelic psychotherapy,

 

Rick

 

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