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“CIIS, with its history integrating psychology and spirituality, is uniquely and enormously qualified to meet this historic challenge.” – Anthony Bossis, NYU School of Medicine

As psychedelic research continues to expand across many disciplines and psychedelic therapy is gaining acclaim as a highly effective treatment tool for many conditions, a new brand of higher education for psychedelic studies has also recently appeared in the academic world. The California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), a forward-thinking university located in San Francisco known for its holistic and personalized approach to education, has begun a first-of-its-kind program called the Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies & Research Certificate Program. Catered to nurses, doctors, therapists, and counselors who are interested in broadening their understanding of how psychedelics can be used as tools for healing, this program is a big step forward for psychedelic studies and an important step in the maturation of psychedelics as legitimate medicines rather than countercultural fluff.

Why Programs Like This Are Needed

Our cultural understanding of psychedelics is in the midst of a sea change, and where not too long ago tales of psychedelic-induced healing and life-transforming awakenings were brushed off by the scientific and medical communities, now those claims are being taken very seriously. Research into psychedelics has grown immensely, and today we not only have anecdotal evidence from underground experimenters and traditional practitioners, but also data from clinical trials and research studies that are backing up these claims with hard numbers. We have already seen cannabis begin its wave of legalization and legitimization, and classic psychedelics are likely not too far behind, whether it is ibogaine that could be available in Vermont soon for treating opioid abuse, or MDMA which will hopefully be available as a prescription therapy for PTSD within a few short years.

As clinical trials, scientific research, and legalization efforts all come together in this new wave of psychedelic understanding and use, there will be a high demand for therapists and doctors who are familiar with the emerging applications of psychedelic therapy. CIIS’ new program will help to train current and future generations of care providers in both the traditional history and the latest findings of this quickly evolving field so that they can better understand how psychedelics function, and safely and appropriately apply psychedelic-assisted therapy for people who could benefit from it the most.

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A Holistic Curriculum with Leading Instructors

True to its name, CIIS is providing an integrated approach to its new Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Program. Aside from focusing on the nuts and bolts of psychedelic research findings and best practices for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, the program will also cover topics such as comparative mysticism, anthropology, consciousness studies, yoga, breathwork, and global wisdom traditions. These related subjects are critical to cultivating a broad understanding of psychedelics and their proper applications, as psychedelics themselves are often very multifaceted in how they affect people, and nearly all who undergo a psychedelic experience consider it to be a highly mystical or spiritual experience. Proper discernment between true personal or spiritual insight and unhelpful wanderings of the mind is a key ability for psychedelic therapists to develop and pass on to their patients so that they can get the most out of their therapy sessions.

The new certificate program is led by Janice Phelps, the former dean of the School of Consciousness and Transformation at CIIS, and boasts an impressive array of instructors and lecturers including Stanislav Grof, Ralph Metzner, Rick Doblin, William Richards, Charles Grob, and many others  essentially a “dream team” of leaders in the psychedelic community. The scope and intention of this groundbreaking new venture is summarized by William Richards, a professor of psychology at John Hopkins University:

“Accompanying the rebirth of psychedelic research and its many promising clinical, educational, and religious applications, CIIS has stepped forward to design a program that not only offers techniques and information, but also nurtures the psychological and spiritual maturation of future investigators and practitioners.”

CIIS’ new certificate program sits at the leading edge of the new psychedelic movement, and it’s clear that the future of psychedelic therapy and education is in capable hands.