These therapists want to help you get high on psilocybin and ecstasy “magic mushrooms”
Lying on a bed at Bellevue Hospital with a blindfold on, Bronya saw the dragon.
As her body metabolized psilocybin, a magic mushroom extract, the 55-year-old home health aide was then somehow inside the beast, resting in her womb like a baby in the womb while she was flying over the mountains.
They arrived at what Bronya can only remember as a vast “meaty thing, it was like pinkish bits of fabric”. She imposed herself. He enveloped her and she found herself in a dark cave. There she saw a batch of shiny eggs. She was locked in a womb for the second time during the trip. It was a reverse birth. One of the eggs sent her a message: the egg was her, from another time and another dimension, and she wanted to be born.
The vision contrasted with a notion she had carried for decades. “I often thought it would be better if I was never born,” Bronya (a pseudonym) said. She grew up in Eastern Europe with cold and distant parents. She emigrated to New York for work as a translator. The job is done. The city was a lonely place. His depression caused brain fog, undermined his desire or ambition, and stoked self-loathing. She consumed alcohol to get by, sipping half a bottle of wine throughout the day.
Bronya was lucky enough to find a research study, the only legal way to access psilocybin therapy programs in the United States. new scientific research – there is another option: a growing network of “psychedelic support” therapists working in a legal gray area.
They won’t help you get illegal drugs. Or most won’t. What they can do is talk about research-based reasons for trying various substances. Psilocybin can ease symptoms of depression while MDMA has shown results for post-traumatic stress disorder. They will help you prepare your experience and decode it afterwards. They generally do not take out insurance.
They are credentialed, credentialed clinical social workers. Some have also cut their teeth working in music festival “travel tents” or experimenting on their own. Some have taken psychedelic therapy courses at organizations like the California Institute of Integral Studies or Naropa University—two small, four-year colleges with a background in Eastern philosophy—or with the mother of all psyche research organizations. mind expansion, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
“I would link your hope and your desire to know how this can be a facilitator of change, growth, healing and consciousness expansion…”
As psychedelics become mainstream, they are filling a role once occupied by underground trip-sitters and shamans in the service of ayahuasca. Researchers increasingly believe that psychedelics (an expanded category in this context to include empathogens, such as MDMA) cause a rewiring of neural circuitry, allowing a person to overcome a state of immobility to their condition.
Bronya felt emotionally lighter after her first trip three years ago. “I was stuck in such a stupid place,” she said. “I just blamed myself for being a failure. I just have more compassion for myself [now].”
But she also felt out of balance. “I couldn’t make decisions,” she said. “I just had all these thoughts about politics and music and art that I couldn’t sort through.”
She started having panic attacks. “It was like someone gave me a software update and I didn’t know how to use the software.”
She had a few follow-up sessions with the New York University therapists who were running the trial, but that wasn’t enough. So she found two sources of help: a psilocybin supplier for microdosing and a therapist familiar with psychedelics, who charges $300 out of pocket for Zoom sessions.
The legion of psychedelic support therapists is growing. An online directory, the Psychedelic Support Network, reached 1,200 listed health care providers this month, according to the site’s founder. A year ago, it had 492.
In its five-year history, the California Institute of Integral Studies has graduated 549 therapists from its Psychedelic Therapy Training Certificate Program. Naropa University launched a similar program last year with 108 participants. A MAPS spokesperson said 1,800 therapists have completed their training program.
Chris Hancock, a psychedelic support therapist in a suburb of Nashville, did his share of mind-altering substances as a second-wave Deadhead in the 1980s. Armed with a degree in psychology, he now consults on anti-psychotropic drugs. trip for therapy. Most clients see it through teletherapy. He has a white stubble beard and intense green eyes. Picasso’s portrait of an old man bent over a guitar is in the background.
“I would link your hope and desire for how this can be a facilitator of change, growth, healing, and consciousness expansion to the particular substance you might feel drawn to,” he explained.
Agenda items include “setting intentions, talking about the paradox of having an intention plus intending to surrender, and remembering to surrender during the process.”
People often see it for PTSD or depression. Drugs of choice include psilocybin and ketamine, the latter of which is legal; a prescription nasal spray is FDA-approved for “treatment-resistant” depression.
As for where customers got the drugs, “I’m not as interested in that,” Hancock said. “Everyone can make their own sovereign choice on how they go about it.” Some of his clients grow mushrooms at home.
s sessions are $160 per hour, the same as any paid session.
“I can’t find jobs in corporate America. It pitted me against the system.”
Part of the role of a psychedelic support therapist is simply to advise on practical considerations for people who are not traveling for recreational purposes.
Brian Pilecki of Portland has a checklist: Prepare a safe. Ask a trusted friend or friends to stay with you. Consider the next day’s schedule. Maybe stop working. “A lot of these kinds of details that newcomers don’t think about,” Pilecki said. “They don’t think about how to plan meals. All of these things can influence the experience.
Established psychedelic support therapists could find themselves in a fortuitous position if and when the therapy gains full government support.
Given the persuasiveness of the past 15 years of clinical research, many medical professionals, including some within the Biden administration, believe the Food and Drug Administration will authorize MDMA for PTSD and psilocybin for depression within two years. Oregon lifted bans on medicinal psilocybin, effective in 2023. Some biotech companies are already courting investors with patents for drugs derived from psychedelics.
Currently, psychedelic support therapists, with the exception of some who work with ketamine clinics, face the dilemma of not being able to provide the full package. The client must label their own medications.
For fear of losing their license, many honest therapists make it clear to patients that they will do nothing to help them find medication. This is Pilecki’s policy. “I don’t like doing anything illegal,” he said. “Basically, I provide therapeutic services to clients who themselves use psychedelics.”
If you ask almost any psychedelic support therapist, they’ll admit to knowing — even respecting — some people who work “underground” (although they fear the lack of accountability).
“A clandestine guy is someone who charges a fee to facilitate a psychedelic experience,” Pilecki said, “and some of them are therapists or have some therapist training. Some of them are more religious, or they, you know, identify as a shaman or something. But they’re basically providing these experiences to people. It’s illegal.”
In Portland, however, psychedelics are so decriminalized that illegal guides handed him business cards. Pilecki will not pass them on to a client. But some of his colleagues will.
“Some therapists will consult underground guides or refer their clients to underground guides, and work with them in some way,” he said. “So there’s kind of a range and obviously there’s more risk.”
Chris LaManna, a slender, fiery-bearded yoga instructor and psychedelic guide living near Detroit, is trip therapy’s underground counterpart. He runs an individual alternative health business called AHA Wellness.
LaManna graduated from Central Michigan University in 2013 with a BA in business administration, as well as two felony convictions for selling psilocybin. “It allowed me to take an alternative path in life,” he said. “I can’t find a job in American companies. It pitted me against the system. This led me to travel, to teach yoga. It was a blessing in disguise.
He spent time in Peru learning to work with ayahuasca, then training in Ecuador with huachuma, a hallucinogen from the San Pedro cactus, at retreat centers run by indigenous people. When he and his wife moved back to Michigan, Ann Arbor and Detroit decriminalized psychedelic plants.
LaManna talks like a therapist. “[I’m] putting programs like these in place for people, so they can make lasting change, that psychedelics can allow a reset to give you some space to make changes,” he said . He incorporates coaching, yoga and exercise into regiments for clients. He tries to work with people for six months. He charges $3,000 for this kind of psychedelic overhaul.
Where LaManna differs from a licensed clinical social worker in the psychedelic space is that if you ask him for a hookup to a drug supplier, he’ll happily give you one.
“Yeah, I can point them in the right direction,” he said. “I know people who grow mushrooms, for example, who live in Detroit and Ann Arbor. So yes, it’s not too difficult to get your hands on at least the medicinal plants. He doesn’t worry about legal issues. “I think the police have bigger fish to fry.”
LaManna is less keen on legitimizing the estate, not just because it might put him out of work, he says. For him, psychedelics are spiritual. He does not want to see them “transformed into another commodity”.
“I’m so surprised at psychiatrists and psychologists where it’s just a job for them,” LaMann said, “and they don’t keep doing their own job.” By that, he means getting tripped up.
“You know, you can’t take anyone further than you’ve gone.”