TheraPsil Launches Beta Version of Psilocybin Therapy Training Program

Update: A previous version of this press release indicated the beta-program was approved by Health Canada. Health Canada has asked us to remove this language and clarify that they have approved individual exemptions for healthcare practitioners under the condition “where psilocybin is used for the purpose of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy training in accordance with the TheraPsil Training Protocol and TheraPsil Curriculum”.

March 2, 2021, Victoria, British Columbia

TheraPsil, a non-profit patient-rights advocacy group, announces the launch of its phase 1 psilocybin therapy training program for healthcare professionals. In this pilot program, 15 healthcare professionals associated with TheraPsil will pursue a 10-week training program, which started yesterday evening, led by British Columbia-based clinical counsellor, Dave Phillips.

“Our beta-program training group is made up of highly skilled and experienced healthcare professionals. When you combine that level of expertise with the passion of using psilocybin to relieve people of their anxiety and depression, the result will be a game changer in the world of mental health for Canadians.” - Dave Phillips, Clinical Counsellor 

TheraPsil has developed a curriculum hyper-focused on training healthcare professionals in the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how to facilitate legal, psilocybin-assisted therapy for Canadians experiencing end-of-life and illness-related distress, such as cancer anxiety, depression, and demoralization. In this 10-week beta-program, trainees will receive hands-on training by experts on the overall process of facilitating psilocybin-therapy for palliative Canadians, including didactic coursework, and experiential learning where each participant undergoes their own guided psilocybin experience and are mentored in guiding patients through this process. In December 2020, Health Minister, Patty Hajdu, approved 19 healthcare professionals associated with TheraPsil ‘section 56 exemptions’ for this specific purpose. 

The overall learning objective for TheraPsil’s training program is that participants are prepared to safely and effectively guide a patient through all aspects of a therapeutic psilocybin experience. Successful graduates of TheraPsil’s training program will become ‘TheraPsil Clinical Associates’ and part of the pool of qualified healthcare professionals to whom TheraPsil may refer palliative Canadians who have approved section 56 exemptions.

Feedback from this initial pilot program will be used to optimize TheraPsil’s program, which will be scaled for delivery in partnership with other organizations and healthcare professionals across the country. 

“This Training Program is something we have been working on for months. Health Canada has approved the practitioners involved in the first cohort through section 56 exemptions so they may participate in the experiential learning aspect of the curriculum. We have decided to launch this beta version first as patient safety and treatment efficacy is fundamentally important, so we want to ensure we gather learnings and feedback from this first cohort and relay progress to the government. We will use our learnings from our pilot program to optimize future iterations of the program, determine next steps, be able to open this program to larger cohorts and invite the many doctors and therapists who have already expressed interest in our training program to participate in these future cohorts. Our goal is to create a comprehensive, accessible and scalable program that incorporates continual improvement that works in the best interest of the patients who desperately need access to qualified healthcare practitioners trained in psilocybin-therapy, across the country.” - Spencer Hawkswell, CEO, TheraPsil 

TheraPsil’s founder, Dr. Bruce Tobin adds “The launch of our psychedelic training program, in which participants can legally use psilocybin as part of their training, makes Canada a world leader in psychedelics.  I am extremely proud of our federal Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu for her courageous support, and thankful on behalf of all Canadians who stand to benefit from the availability of treatment with psilocybin.” 

To date, TheraPsil has supported 27 Canadians in accessing legal psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy and looks forward to helping many more by expanding its pool of trained psilocybin therapists across the country. 

TheraPsil thanks all healthcare practitioners who have previously indicated an interest in participating in our training program, and looks forward to providing updates on future training availability following our first cohort. Healthcare professionals interested in pursuing training in psilocybin therapy for palliative Canadians are encouraged to sign up for training updates on the TheraPsil website here. 

TheraPsil also looks forward to continuing to support patient applications and working with Minister Hajdu and Health Canada to facilitate an expanded mandate for safe and equitable access to psilocybin therapy for all Canadians in medical need. 

Individuals experiencing end-of-life or illness-related distress are invited to confidentially contact TheraPsil on the TheraPsil website

Media Contact:         

Holly Bennett, Director of Communications,

All other inquiries:   

Spencer Hawkswell, CEO

About TheraPsil

TheraPsil is a non-profit coalition that advocates for legal, compassionate access to psilocybin therapy for Canadians in medical need. TheraPsil, supports patients with their applications for ministerial approval of psilocybin for medical purposes and connects approved patients with qualified practitioners to receive psilocybin-assisted therapy treatment. TheraPsil has been advocating for compassionate access since 2019. 

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