psychedeleic therapist

How to become a psychedelic therapist

Recently, during Breaking Convention, many of you came to us with the same question: how to become a Psychedelic Therapist? With the increasing recognition of psychedelic-assisted therapy, the same question has been raised: How does one pursue a career as a psychedelic therapist? What are the necessary steps, and what does it involve to enter the field of psychedelic therapy? We have answered your question 🙂

What is Psychedelic Therapy?

Psychedelic therapy, also known as psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAP), is a psychiatric technique that includes the administration of a psychedelic drug as part of a therapeutic process. This approach generally pairs the use of psychedelic substances with psychological support or different types of psychotherapy.

Since psychedelic therapy is still new, there’s a lot we don’t know yet. People often wonder how they can become a psychedelic therapist, especially now that psychedelics are becoming more accepted in medical settings.

Psilocybin Therapy

Psilocybin, the psychoactive compound found in psilocybin mushrooms, acts on both serotonergic and glutamatergic systems. This dual action makes it a promising option for therapeutic strategies targeting neurological disorders. Clinical studies suggest that psilocybin has numerous potential medical uses. It shows the most promise in treating conditions such as addiction, depression, and mood disorders associated with end-of-life care, where evidence of its benefits is strongest.

LSD Therapy

Research into LSD as a potential treatment for alcoholism started in the 1950s but was quickly halted due to federal bans. LSD, along with other psychedelics, is recognized for its ability to reduce the activity of the brain’s default mode network (DMN), diminishing the sense of individual ego-self—a phenomenon frequently characterized as spiritual or mystical, which can foster a sense of interconnectedness and wellbeing. Studies conducted by MAPS have demonstrated notable decreases in anxiety related to end-of-life issues through LSD-assisted therapy, and a current study in Switzerland is exploring the impact of LSD on major depression.

MDMA Therapy

Although MDMA is not a traditional psychedelic, it is becoming increasingly prominent in the realm of psychedelic therapy, especially for treating trauma. In MAPS’ ongoing multi-phase study of MDMA for PTSD, researchers are investigating its effects beyond merely enhancing the brain’s levels of feel-good neurotransmitters like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. MDMA also appears to soothe the amygdala—the brain’s center for fear—and enhances communication between the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, aiding in the processing and resolution of traumatic memories. Additionally, MDMA is recognized as an empathogen, which can, in appropriate settings, enhance feelings of openness and sociability that persist well beyond the therapy session.

Ketamine Therapy

Same with Ketamine, what you might know as a recreational substance became popular and liked in the psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy universe. Why? Thanks to its rapid antidepressant effects even with low doses. A recent study indicates that ketamine could be a viable alternative to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for certain patients. ECT is known as one of the fastest and most effective treatments for severe, treatment-resistant depression. This study represents the most comprehensive direct comparison between the two treatments to date.

What is a Psychedelic Therapist?

Psychedelic Therapist

A psychedelic therapist is a qualified mental health expert (licensed psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker) trained to integrate psychotherapy with guided psychedelic sessions to tap into a person’s natural healing abilities. Non-medically certified persons could be psychedelic coaches, guides or facilitators, depending on the country/state the person is working in. Feeling lost? Let’s have a look at the different appellations.

Psychedelic Coach

Offers personal coaching before and after psychedelic experiences. They focus on helping participants identify intentions, integrate insights discovered during the journey, and embody changes to daily life afterwards. They do not administer psychedelics but provide support around experiences facilitated elsewhere. A psychedelic coach may also help clients prepare mentally and emotionally for a psychedelic experience.

Psychedelic Guide

Is someone who accompanies individuals during their psychedelic experiences, ensuring safety and support throughout the process. Guides typically work in settings where psychedelics are legally administered, such as clinics, certain retreats or research studies. Their role is to provide a supportive presence, helping individuals navigate the emotional and psychological aspects of their journey.

Psychedelic Facilitator

A person who organizes and supervises psychedelic sessions, often in non-clinical settings. They ensure the setting is safe and conducive to positive experiences. While facilitators may not provide psychological therapy, they are trained to handle emotional reactions and can help guide participants through their experiences. In the US, “Facilitator” is a role that is only legally recognized within the clinical framework.

The context will differ in EU vs US. For example, a Facilitator (a protected legal term in Colorado and Oregon) must in the US be working at a clinic, whereas a Guide is a more generic role for someone holding space for participants during a medicine journey. A Therapist, is a licensed designation, and only therapists can provide PAP (Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy). But PAP is not recognized by any US governing body due to licensing restrictions.
Erin Witter, Client-centered Psycho-spiritual coach offering guidance for preparation, integration and transformational experiences.Erin Witter – Client-centered Psycho-spiritual coach and founder of the Psychedelic Society Colorado

Psychedelic Therapist Qualifications

psychedelic therapy

The FDA is the authority responsible for the approval of new medical treatments and medications in the United States. Currently, the FDA has not established guidelines for determining who qualifies to provide psychedelic therapy, should these drugs be approved, complicating the situation. This is the reason why there isn’t only one way to become a psychedelic therapist and it also can feel overwhelming to know where to start and which program to choose!

Several states, such as Oregon and Colorado, are currently moving toward the legalization of certain types of facilitated psychedelic experiences before they receive FDA approval. However, these developing programs still require specialized training.


The responsibilities of a psychedelic therapist can differ by region, but they typically need to be a licensed mental health care provider. This group encompasses clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners who have undergone specific training in psychedelic therapy.

Licensed or not, the professional working in the psychedelic therapy field has responsibilities:

  • Utilizing evidence-based psychedelic therapy techniques within a safe and controlled setting.
  • Assessing when conventional treatments fail and identifying potential suitability for psychedelic interventions.
  • Educating patients on the usage and impact of psychedelics to adequately prepare them for therapy.
  • Obtaining informed consent from patients by informing them about the risks and benefits associated with psychedelic therapy.
  • Securing government authorization and special access for the use of psychedelic substances.
  • Administering controlled doses of psychedelics to maintain patient comfort during therapy.
  • Facilitating the therapeutic process to help patients confront and process their traumatic experiences and emotions.
  • Incorporating traditional therapeutic methods such as talk therapy during sessions.
  • Monitoring the patient’s physical and emotional responses, and addressing any emerging challenges.
  • Creating an environment where patients feel safe to share their thoughts and emotions.
  • Ensuring psychedelics are used responsibly and solely within therapeutic contexts.
  • Conducting follow-up sessions to help patients integrate their experiences into personal growth.
  • Participating in research and development to keep updated with and contribute to new findings in the field.
  • Thoroughly reviewing patient histories to assess any potential side effects or risks.
  • Keeping comprehensive records of the therapy sessions and monitoring patient outcomes.
  • Working in collaboration with physicians and other healthcare professionals to provide holistic care.

Legal Status

As psychedelics are still illegal in certain countries, psychedelic therapists might only be involved before (preparation) and/or after (integration) the psychedelic experience. This is the case for our professionals.

Psychedelic Therapist Salary

The salary of a psychedelic therapist varies depending on many factors such as your degrees, and years of experience, but also how many hours you work, how many clients you have and so on.

Glassdoor says: The average annual salary for a Psychedelic Guide/Integration Coach in the United States is $121,643. The average additional compensation for a Psychedelic Guide/Integration Coach in the United States is $26,279, ranging from $19,709 to $36,791. Salary estimates are based on 19 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor by employees working as Psychedelic Guide/Integration Coaches in the United States.

Job Opportunities

As interest in psychedelics continues to rise, both recreationally and therapeutically, the need for more professionals grows. We are always looking forward to welcoming experienced psychedelic coaches or therapists to join our team. Check out our page for professionals to know how to apply and how we select our coaches and therapists.

How to become a Psychedelic Therapist

The initial step towards becoming a psychedelic therapist involves acquiring a relevant degree or certification. As it is still a grey area, there isn’t only one way to become a psychedelic therapist. It will for sure be a long and meticulous journey. But pretty rewarding if supporting others in their healing journey is your calling. Obtaining an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field serves as an excellent foundation, as it covers human behaviour, cognitive functions, and therapeutic techniques.

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Enroll in a Bachelor of Science program in psychology or a related field to deepen your understanding of the mind, its functions, and available treatments. This foundational knowledge in psychology, neural function, human behavior, and cognitive development is crucial for your career. Choose a program that aligns with your long-term career aspirations, and consider taking electives or focusing on courses relevant to mental health treatments during your undergraduate studies.

Becoming a Psychedelic Therapist through University studies isn’t the only way to be able to work with clients with psychedelics. But a therapeutical or related background is a must especially regarding developing your own ethics/position in how to work with clients.
Julia Bamberg, Psychedelic Preparation & Integration SpecialistJulia Bamberg – Psychedelic Preparation & Integration Specialist

2. Become a Licensed Mental Health Provider

As psychedelic therapy is an emerging medical field, there are no established regulations specifying which specialists can offer psychedelic therapies. Earning a master’s degree qualifies you to counsel individuals facing relationship issues, though such patients typically do not require psychedelic therapy. A PhD in psychiatry, however, prepares you to handle more complex conditions and to specialize in aiding patients with severe mental health challenges like clinical depression and PTSD. Health professionals may seek access to these treatments for patients with serious or life-threatening conditions when other treatments fail. Therefore this training is essential for determining when psychedelic therapy might be necessary and how to apply it effectively.

3. Attend Reputable Training Programs

Research facilities and educational institutions are now offering training programs tailored to the application of psychedelic drugs in mental health treatments. Completing such programs enhances your understanding of effective treatments for various mental health issues and how to integrate them into psychotherapy sessions effectively.

Even though the western perspective on psychedelic therapy is very important especially in order to make it a recognized field of therapy, people who enter this field should not leave out to look at ancient indigenous traditions, their way of working with plants and mystery in general, just to broaden their view on this field and the human being itself.
Julia Bamberg, Psychedelic Preparation & Integration SpecialistJulia Bamberg – Psychedelic Preparation & Integration Specialist

Here is a list of training programs to become a psychedelic therapist or get knowledge about the subject:

  • MAPS training program for therapists interested in providing MDMA-assisted therapy
  • CIIS Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research certificate, which includes coursework to become more knowledgeable in the psychedelic therapeutic framework
  • RECĂŤPROCO 6 weeks integration training for profesionnals
  • Synthesis Institute, practitioner training program with optional psilocybin retreat
  • Fluence psychedelic integration therapy certification
  • Psychedelic Today: Navigating Psychedelics: For Clinicians and Wellness Practitioners LIVE
  • Michener Institute under the University Health Network in Toronto provides a Foundations of Psychedelic Psychotherapy course for medical professionals practising psychotherapy
  • Alberta’s ATMA Journey Centre, the first government-approved independent center in the country, offers more intensive training such as the Advanced Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Certification Program
  • Usona also offers certifications for clinicians involved in their psychedelic studies
When looking for a program, make sure there is enough practice included, not only online material.
Julia Bamberg, Psychedelic Preparation & Integration SpecialistJulia Bamberg – Psychedelic Preparation & Integration Specialist

Tipps to Become a Psychedelic Therapist

  • Educate yourself by reading books (get 20% off with Synergetic Press by subscribing to our Newsletter!) and articles
  • Take part in courses, some are even free
  • Get involved in harm reduction programs at festivals, to get to know the importance of set and setting, support peers and start getting experience with challenging trips (for example with Zendo in the US or Eclipse in Germany)
  • Have experience with the substance: you wouldn’t trust a yoga teacher who isn’t practising yoga. It is the same with substances. It is important to know the substance(s) your clients are consuming and understand how they work
  • Seek out mentorship, to learn from someone with more knowledge
  • Research: Advance your knowledge and establish your credibility in the psychedelic therapy field by engaging in relevant research. This is an opportunity to learn more about the historical applications and chemical properties of psychedelic medications. Participating in new clinical trials as they emerge at academic institutions and mental health facilities can also be highly beneficial.

This article has been verified by some of our professionals. Huge thanks to Erin Witter, InĂŞs Carmo and Julia Bamberg for your time and expertise.

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