“I would attest that for 60 years it has been standard in the world of psychedelic medicine, that therapists intending to administer psychedelics, should have psychedelic experience themselves…I would therefore support Therapsil‘s application for its therapists to receive permission to use psilocybin as part of their training.”
– Stanislav Grof, M.D., PhD.
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 Stan Grof to Minister Patty Hajdu
Recently, Stan Grof wrote a letter to Health Minister Patty Hajdu expressing that in his expert opinion, “ …for 60 years it has been standard in the world of psychedelic medicine, that therapists intending to administer psychedelics, should have psychedelic experience themselves.”
Stan Grof has given TheraPsil his blessing that this expert opinion and letter to Minister Hajdu may be made public:
I have been asked by Dr. Sean O’Sullivan, to submit a letter to you, in support of Therapsil’s Application for an exemption for their therapists, to receive psilocybin, so that they may train their therapists in the use of psychedelic medicine.
I have been researching psychedelics, for almost 60 years. In that time, I have worked in many research and therapeutic programs, beginning at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and subsequently at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in Baltimore, a division of Johns Hopkins Psychiatric Research Center. Over these decades, I have treated thousands of patients with psychedelics and conducted numerous scientific studies, including one of the largest studies ever done on dying patients, also conducted at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center at Spring Grove, and the Oncological Department at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD.
I understand that the question at issue today is whether or not therapists who are intending to use psychedelics, should themselves have experience with psychedelics. I would attest that for 60 years it has been standard in the world of psychedelic medicine, that therapists intending to administer psychedelics, should have psychedelic experience themselves.
The realms of the unconscious, as documented in my published work, teaches that the spaces that are entered with psychedelic substances, are so unusual, and can be so extreme, that deep comfort and familiarity with them is an essential skill for a guide to possess.
It is perhaps worthy of note, that I myself began my psychiatric career, by being trained in Psychoanalysis. No one would be permitted to conduct a single psychoanalytic session, without being analyzed themselves.
I would therefore support Therapsil‘s application for its therapists to receive permission to use psilocybin as part of their training. I would also attest, that many of the team Therapsil has assembled have been through my training program and, have been certified in Holotropic Breathwork.
I do hope this information is valuable, and I will be very glad to add further information, should you request it.
Very sincerely yours,
Stanislav Grof, M.D., PhD.