Dr. Bruce Tobin, a clinical psychologist, based in Victoria, BC, has worked as a psychotherapist in private practice for 35 years. His practice has focused on treating patients with anxiety, depression, and trauma. In addition to this, he taught clinicians at the University of Victoria for 25 years as an Adjunct Professor and worked with Health Canada for 20 years providing psychological services to First Nations communities around Southern Vancouver Island.
Bruce is also the founder of TheraPsil.
In 2016, Dr. Tobin was working with a client who had received a terminal cancer diagnosis. This client was struggling with debilitating anxiety surrounding the inevitability of his death, and had tried many treatments – including anxiety medication, talk therapy, and an expensive residential program – all to no avail. He came to Dr. Tobin, asking him to supervise a clinical psychedelic therapy session. Dr. Tobin was aware of the research coming out of Johns Hopkins University and elsewhere that was suggesting that one single “trip” with psilocybin could drastically alleviate the existential distress associated with a terminal illness. However, it was not legal in Canada for therapists to supervise their clients during psychedelic experiences.
Torn between the illegality of supervising a psychedelic therapy session, the knowledge of the potential benefits of psychedelic therapy in reducing existential distress, and a sense of duty to his patients, Dr. Tobin decided to challenge the law to provide legal access to a compassionate therapy option.
In 2017, he applied for a status exemption for psilocybin under section 56(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in Canada, on account of it being a useful approach to palliative care. Communication between Health Canada and Dr. Tobin has occurred over the past three years; however, recently Dr. Tobin has found a newfound optimism.
This optimism is connected to shifts in the legal landscape within Canada, as cannabis was initially legalized for specific medical use in 2001, then access expanded to wider medical uses in 2014 to become fully legalized in 2018. With the legalization of cannabis, Dr. Tobin and a legal team agree that a precedent has been set in Canadian law.
In 2019, Dr. Tobin founded TheraPsil, a coalition of healthcare professionals, advocates and stakeholders dedicated to helping Canadians receive therapeutic access to psilocybin. Due to the legal precedent, patient needs, and evidence available about the utility and benefits of psilocybin for palliative populations, Dr. Tobin and the TheraPsil Team believe that change is on the horizon.
Support the vision of TheraPsil to support legal access to psilocybin for palliative patients. For more information, patient inquiries, to join the coalition, donate to the coalition or connect with us, visit: https://therapsil.ca/contact-us/