Psychedelic Therapy Credentialing
The Center for Medicinal Mindfulness has been actively training therapists and other healing professionals in the art of psychedelic facilitation since 2012. When cannabis became legal in 2014, our psychedelic harm reduction training became Psychedelic Sitters School. In 2019, we began developing a community credentialing process for the modality we teach and practice, called Mindfulness-Based Psychedelic Therapy. We have now fully implemented the new training structure through our new online platform and intensive training protocols.
Over the past several years it has become more and more apparent that Psychedelic Sitters School is an unusual job education program. So many of our students are transitioning from other professions, finding themselves shifting gears, or even outright unemployed because of the pandemic. The world is changing fast. Clinical and medical professionals we work with are often seeking significant shifts in their professional identities as well. Some of our students are single parents looking for a meaningful and flexible profession. Others want to work with underserved populations. Our students are not just seeking a credential, but a credential that is congruent with their psychedelic identity. Because of this we began exploring what it really meant to confidentially vouch for our students as professionals, but in a way that honored and supported the complex identities of psychedelic medicine people.
Psychedelic Therapy is such an emergent field that there are no regulatory agencies devoted to psychedelic practitioners, and underground practices often have no oversight at all. We foresee a future that includes a class of professions surrounding the field of regulated Psychedelic Therapy that would be similar to the licenses of professional counselors, medical practitioners, ministers, and other helping professionals. Medicinal Mindfulness takes the stance that Psychedelic Therapy overlaps with, but is functionally different from psychotherapy and medical practices, and therefore warrants its own code of conduct, oversight, and other professional requirements. We started our non-profit to actively engaged in this conversation.
Being a psychedelic therapist isn’t just a profession, but often a sacred calling. It would be naive to think that one can be a guide for others without being deeply transformed, and sometimes greatly challenged by these experiences. We enter into a pact to support a profound transformation for out clients, and it is impossible to do this and not be transformed ourselves. It is a very common for guides to experience profound transitions in their own lives as they support others. These experiences then become opportunities for both the journeyer and the guide to heal and self-actualize.
Our community orientation and credentialing process acknowledges this collaborative, transformational phenomenon, and works to create the necessary support structure required for this process to happen naturally, safely, and sustainably for our students and team members.
Lastly, and most importantly, as an holistic, ecological, systems-oriented organization, we choose not to ignore that this training program is being offered during a period of ongoing, global in scope, ecological and societal crisis. To be truly sustainable, any standards we create must take into account this larger “set and setting.” We’re not only exploring what it takes to be a sustainable, ethical, and thriving psychedelic therapist, we’re engaging what is required to be a sustainable, ethical, and thriving psychedelic therapist within the context of ongoing, global emergencies. PSS supports the development of resiliency and skillful action during this critical time.
Students can gain three levels in protected professional, credentialed titles that are registered trademarks of the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness and Psychedelic Sitters School.
These identities include:
- Mindfulness-Based Psychedelic Therapist® (MBPT)
- Cannabis-Assisted Psychedelic Therapist® (CAPT)
- Cannabis-Assisted Psychotherapist®
- Cannabis-Assisted Somatic Psychotherapist®
The three levels are: Psychedelic Sitter, Psychedelic Guide, and Psychedelic Therapist, corresponding to PSS levels 1-3. A Psychedelic Specialist, representing a fourth level, is an experienced psychedelic therapist with specialized services. Additional information on all of these concepts can be found throughout this website.
To be credentialed as a professional psychedelic facilitator through our program, we believe a guide requires the following:
- Appropriate and adequate training, theoretical education, and experience in the services provided, with competency testing (PSS1, PSS2, & PSS3)
- Practice sessions with supervision/mentorship during an apprenticeship/internship period
- Adherence to a professional Code of Conduct with community oversight and adherence to codes of overlapping professional credentials
- Volunteer/Service Practicum in Psychedelics, Ecology, or Social Justice
- Community Membership and Ongoing Peer Support
- Continuing Education in Core Competencies
- Responsible Medicine Use Practices
Psychedelic cannabis is the safest and most accessible psychedelic medicine available to us, already being legal in most of the United States, all of Canada, and becoming legal in many other countries. The Center for Medicinal Mindfulness has developed protocols with psychedelic cannabis that can be used effectively in therapeutic psychedelic sessions and can often be as potent as MDMA/psilocybin-assisted psychedelic therapy sessions, and even N,N-DMT, ayahuasca, mescaline and 5-MeO-DMT level experiences. The primary difference between psychedelic cannabis and other psychedelic medicines is an inherent sense of agency and a unique somatic awareness.
Because of the diverse nature of the psychedelic cannabis experience, the therapeutic skill sets taught in Psychedelic Sitters School are the skills taught in traditional and clinical psychedelic therapy practices that are currently used in MDMA, psilocybin, ketamine, DMT and other psychedelic medicine sessions.
In addition to the psychedelic therapy skills, we also teach specific mindfulness practices for the guide to use in session to deepen their own healing and transformational process, further facilitate their client’s experiences, and to stay safe throughout the intense energetic discharges common in psychedelic therapy sessions. We work from a Transpersonal Theory paradigm.
These practices are taught within a community context that supports safe transformational healing and promotes the personal responsibility required to be an ethical and competent guide.
To learn more about our eligibility requirements and application process, please visit the Eligibility & Application page.
Clinical & Non-Clinical Psychedelic Training
Psychedelics are actively used in both clinical and non-clinical settings, with both clinical and non-clinical intentions. Non-clinical settings include religious, creative and personal growth practices among generally healthy individuals. Most psychedelic medicine facilitators practicing today are not clinically trained, yet the majority of those practice as effective and ethical psychedelic guides. Psychedelic Sitters School acknowledges this by offering our program to non-therapists interested in becoming psychedelic facilitators.
While the majority of our students are helping professionals, Psychedelic Sitters School does not have a mental health or medical professional licensing requirement for our new students. In our 2019 training season alone, 61% of our students were health and wellness professionals. About 20% were professionals from other fields, such as entrepreneurs, engineers, and computer programmers, just to name a few. The remaining 19% were in education, the arts, or retired. This is a professional training program that attracts mature, competent professionals.
While we fully support younger students who are in college that want to train in the field of psychedelic therapy as a newer practitioner, the average age of our students in 2019 was 43.
About 41% of our students intend to work professionally as a psychedelic therapist and guide, 52% want to be an ally to friends and family, with 7% enter the training solely for personal development.
To balance the clinical and non-clinical aspects of psychedelic medicine work, the first two levels, PSS1 and PSS2, are designed as a cohesive training for the non-clinical facilitation of psychedelic medicines. PSS3 includes training in advanced practices of psychedelic therapy to address populations with clinical concerns, specifically PTSD and other related mental health disorders. Because of this, PSS3 requires an additional application process to ensure that our non-licensed practitioners have enough maturity, experience, and clinical skill to work with clients who are really struggling.
Because PSS1 and PSS2, collectively the Psychedelic Guide Training, teach foundational psychedelic guide skills and relevant mindfulness practices, it isn’t really a replacement for typical psychotherapy training, and therefore cannot be exempted by mental health professionals.
We believe clinical and non-clinical practitioners benefit greatly by sharing training cohorts with each other and learn a lot from each other through their experience. Special cohorts for research teams, clinical teams, and other communities can be created by PSS to be reflective of the skill level and experience of the teams being trained.
The wages you can expect to earn in a private practice setting as a credentialed, competent practitioner is based on your overall training, competence and experience. It has been our experience that graduates of PSS who are already licensed, skillful, helping professionals, such as massage therapists, hypnotherapists, or licensed mental health counselors, could offer psychedelic practices as a specialized service, and increase their rate by around 20%. While this is a raise, psychedelic therapy also requires additional resources, self care, and time to prepare for these experiences so this increase in wage is recommended to adequately support the guide.
As a general rule, four “practitioner levels” have organically emerged from our training program and our clinic based on the various skill levels and past professional experiences of our team members and students. The following hourly rates within a private practice are attainable, and in alignment with other equivalent healing professions. This means that a newer practitioner can begin earning a living, or at least supplementing their income very quickly as they continue to gain experience and training in the program. Listed below are the four credentialing levels and include income estimates for hourly wages to private practitioner rates, and services a professional should be skilled in providing:
- Psychedelic Sitter (Level 1) – $25-$50/hour – 3-hour individual psychedelic cannabis sessions (non-clinical), and assist in psychedelic therapy sessions and groups
- Psychedelic Guide (Level 2) – $50-$100/hour – 5-hour psychedelic cannabis sessions, facilitate small groups, be small group leaders of the PSS program
- Psychedelic Therapist (Level 3) – $100-$200/hour – psychedelic cannabis sessions for clinical concerns, facilitate small groups for clinical concerns, and larger groups, facilitate cannabis and breathwork sessions, become trainers and small group leaders of the PSS program
- Psychedelic Specialist – $200+/hour – Specialized services for experienced practitioners, Medical practitioners, experienced facilitators of the PSS program
These rates would be adjusted to cost of living standards of different locations, and require cultivating a private practice over time to achieve. Information on how to become a successful private practitioner is included in the training program.
MBPT Credentialing Process and Cost
The full cost of the credentialing process is $1,500. Scholarships apply. To make credentialing as accessible as possible, it is split into 3 levels at $500 each to correspond to the three PSS levels. The whole program takes about a year to a year and a half to complete.
The credentialing process includes:
- Students are expected to conduct 10 practice sessions, of a particular duration and protocol, and 5 personal solo sessions for each level.
- Students are required to provide self reports and client feedback forms for each session.
- Students attend five group supervision/mentorship sessions per level. Each group supervision/mentorship session is 1.5 hours long and meets 1-2x a month online. These are open groups or cohort specific groups depending on the instructor.
- At the completion of five group supervision/mentorship sessions, the student attends an hour long individual session with their supervisor/mentor. Additional individual sessions are available but not required for credentialing purposes. These three individual sessions are a capstone where the student and mentor discuss next steps as a guide, strengths, and areas of further exploration.
Practice Sessions for each level require:
- Level one requires ten 3-hour psychedelic cannabis sessions with half hour pre and post sessions, for a total of 40 hours of session work. Students are strongly recommend to work with 3-5 individuals if possible.
- Level two requires ten 5-hour sessions in sets of two, with an hour minimum pre and post sessions per pair, for a total of 60 hours of session work. The two session series is the primary protocol for this modality, and students are recommend to work with 3-5 individuals if possible.
- Level three requires at a minimum the 60 hour protocol as level two, with additional support sessions if necessary, in a more professional environment, with clients who have clinical concerns, and with cannabis-assisted breathwork when deemed clinically appropriate.
The total number of hours required for full credentialing, including practice sessions, and group and individual supervision/mentorship sessions is about 195 hours.
We recognize this is a lot of hours, but believe that this level of experience and support is the minimum required to evaluate your capacities as a psychedelic guide. As a frame of reference, Master’s Degree level counseling students at Naropa University are expected to complete 700 hour unpaid clinical internships for graduation, and new counselors in Colorado are expected to complete 2000 supervised hours for licensure.
We strongly encourage our students to start by offering services for free until they are confident in the logistics. After that point, they can request suggested donations and charge for their services when appropriate during the credentialing process. The only additional requirement is the feedback form your client fills out for you to receive feedback on your facilitation. Students can begin requesting payment for services after level 1 credentialing.
Each credentialing and training level generally takes about 3-6 months, meeting with your group 1-2x a month depending on how fast you want to facilitate these experiences. For example, about a client session a week and solo session every two weeks is required for 3 months, and completing a session every few weeks takes 6 months.
Credentialing Committee and Warrior’s Exam
Credentialing levels one and two, and a student’s scope of practice are managed by the student’s primary supervisor/mentor and a student’s progress is monitored by the MM Center non-profit Credentialing Committee. Once a supervisor/mentor believes a PSS student is ready to become a full, credentialed facilitator (after level 2 for non-clinical practitioners and level 3 for clinical practitioners), the student is invited to a final confirmation gathering of the credentialing committee. This meeting is to verify a student’s readiness to be a competent, ethical psychedelic facilitator and guide, as well as their scope of practice. This test is conducted through a Naropa University inspired “Warrior’s Exam” where the student is invited into a discussion with the committee and to provide oral answers to questions posed by the committee.
This is an opportunity for the student to introduce themselves as a professional within a council made of peers. It is a rite of passage, and initiates the student into the psychedelic field. Each year at our annual gathering we host a ceremony honoring the achievements of our new facilitators.
Community Membership Requirement
Your first year of membership is covered in your training cost and is free. This give you access to the online community forum, training materials, any added materials, and the membership services described here. Annual member dues after the first year are managed by the training program to organize community endeavors, oversight and volunteer services, and are therefore required to retain credentialing.
Annual membership dues are:
- General & Sitter Membership – $100/year
- Guide & Therapist Membership – $200/year
Psychedelic therapy happens in community, no longer just in isolation. Working within a community system brings healing and transformation into a collaborative, collective paradigm, and it is this container that supports members when they are struggling, as well as inspires members to grow in their capacities and gifts. Collective endeavors are also what we need to respond to the global crises we’re living through. Working within community requires different skill sets in communication, listening, and right action, and these are required to be a leader in the independent communities that our facilitators create around this work.
Volunteer Requirement – 100 hours (50 hrs lvl 2, 50 hrs lvl 3)
Education through service, and volunteering in collaborative enterprises for social and ecological healing is a core value of this program. Volunteering also cultivates humility, an important trait to have as a guide. The volunteer requirement can be completed through the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness non-profit, our Affordable Psychedelic Therapy Program, or any other volunteer program related to psychedelics, ecology, or social justice.
Disclosure & Accountability Requirements
The Medicinal Mindfulness Safe Community Policy, Psychedelic Experience Agreement, and additional codes of professional conduct cited in our policies and informed consent agreements are our current working models for a professional code of conduct. Credentialing requires adhering to these codes, and providing the email address firstname.lastname@example.org as a resource for clients in a practitioner’s disclosure statements. This email is sent directly to one of our board members and our ethics committee.
Ongoing Peer Supervision after Certification
Practitioners are required to regularly attend a peer supervision group after the completion of their credentialing for at least a year. We’re developing an online community portal to support connections between community members. It is strongly encouraged that practitioners seek supervision when confronted by difficult or complex situations with their clients or their own process.
Ongoing Journeywork Recommendation and Responsible Medicine Use
Sustainable personal journeywork with cannabis is encouraged to help practitioners continue to grow in their personal journeywork practice. The Safe Community Policy has guidelines on responsible medicine use that includes the limitations on frequency of use psychedelic medicines, limitations on alcohol consumption, and a prohibition of addictive drugs and processes. This is for your safety and protection, as well as the sustainability of our community.
Continuing Education in Core Competencies
The PSS1-3 training includes substantive conversations in psychedelic theory and other practices, but there is a lot to learn to become an expert in this field. After PSS1-3 are taken, students are encouraged to explore the following program areas as continuing education to become a Psychedelic Specialist. CE credits are currently being developed.
- Transpersonal Theory and Practice
- Psychedelic Ethics & Multicultural Competency
- Psychedelic First Aid®, CPR Certification & Crisis Intervention
- EcoPsychedelics & Council
- Psychedelics & Cannabis Education
In addition, the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness online training platform is designed host a number of classes and experiences by our other providers and graduates of our program. Other ways to receive continuing education would be enrolling in other training programs or attending psychedelic conferences and presentations.
Requesting an Exemption
Practicing psychotherapy professionally does not necessarily prepare our students to skip a training level or credentialing level given the experiential nature of the program. Experienced practitioners can request an exemption from one of the credentialing levels when appropriate, and this will be determined on a case-by-case basis. PSS can also create customized trainings for researchers and teams representing underserved populations. Students and team members who have been practicing with PSS for a while can also request being grandfathered into the higher level supervision/mentorship cohorts or be certified as a MBPT practitioner.