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Psychedelic Education is Adapting to Meet the Needs of the Modern Psychedelic Industry

We are a long way from psychedelic-assisted therapy being taught in American colleges and Universities. However, that doesn’t mean there are no psychedelic…

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We are a long way from psychedelic-assisted therapy being taught in American colleges and Universities. However, that doesn’t mean there are no psychedelic education resources for therapists seeking the skillsets needed to work these medicines.

Psychedelic education resources are growing rapidly to meet the increase in demand for psychedelic therapy. Programs cover a vast spectrum of practices within the psychedelic space to meet the needs of the modern-day psychedelic practitioner. 

There has recently been an influx of psychedelic education resources that range from online publications to in-person training. In the past, psychedelic education was found almost exclusively in the native communities that have traditional practices with psychedelics.

Those who wished to learn about working with psychedelics often traveled halfway around the world to seek out their education. Since psychedelics have been illegal for the past fifty years, it has been a challenge to find experienced practitioners willing to train others, especially for therapists who risk their licenses by working with these compounds.

Over the years, many people have sought out training in Native communities across Central and South America that have been working with psychedelics for generations. This can be beneficial but does have several limitations.

First off, not everyone can take off work to fly to another country to study psychedelics. People who train under indigenous healers often do so for years before becoming eligible to serve medicine on their own. This is a huge undertaking, and an impossible endeavor for most people.

There is also the issue of integrating these practices into the Western medical system. While entirely valid, these traditions simply don’t fit into a system that requires medicines and medical practices to go through a very specific kind of scientific process. 

The spectrum of different practices within the psychedelic space leaves way for a wide variety of different educational programs. In the upcoming relaunch of Neuly’s psychedelic course directory, EDU, there are over 450 courses to choose from.

The courses vary greatly in the principles that they are based on. Some are focused on making indigenous practices more accessible to practitioners across the globe. Other programs are designed to help integrate psychedelics into the already existing Western medical model. 

Fluence, for example, offers programs designed by experts who have worked with psychedelics in the Western model. Fluence marketing VP and psychedelic coach Andrew Rose told Psychedelic Invest:  “We want to train people to do this in the scope of their practice.”

The company offers an important service to the emerging psychedelic industry. While many people have sought psychedelic treatment through traditional channels, increased access to psychedelics in the US, Canada, and Europe requires therapists to be trained through this Western medical lens. 

In the first half of 2024, MDMA will likely be approved by the FDA to treat PTSD. And, psilocybin is likely to join the ranks of FDA-approved treatments in the next few years. The approval, however, is only one step towards getting psychedelics into the hands of the millions of people suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders. 

Providing these medicines requires a different skill set than any other medication on the market. Already, health professionals are struggling to provide resources for people using psychedelics. 

Adult psychedelic use is increasing rapidly. However,  healthcare providers, such as doctors and therapists, aren’t prepared to help their patients assess risk and navigate the experience. Companies like Fluence are working to bridge that gap. 

Fluence offers educational programs and certifications to help mental health professionals gain the knowledge and skills that they need to support patients who want to work with psychedelics. They highlight harm reduction and integration principles that any doctor can apply to their practice.

The increase in available courses is a great step in helping people gain safe access to these medicines, but they do have some limitations. We spoke with several therapists who work with psychedelics, and they all faced the same issue with the psychedelic courses that they’ve taken. 

While informative, they said that the courses were limited in what they could teach. They all understood that the illegality of psychedelics makes it difficult for companies to offer exhaustive resources to students. Nevertheless, they felt that the courses didn’t fully prepare them to help their patients navigate psychedelic experiences. 

One doctor, who offers preparation and integration services for people undergoing ketamine treatment, said about the course she had taken: “To be honest, my learning in this program hasn’t been that impressive to me.  The benefits have been the network, being able to watch recorded co-therapy sessions, and the experiential ketamine weekend. I have found that my training in my doctoral program (medical psychology, trauma work, harm reduction) along with personally reading articles/books about psychedelics and consulting with colleagues are sufficient in my competency to providing psychedelically-informed therapy.”

It is important to keep in mind the complex landscape that education companies are forced to maneuver through. Companies like Fluence, which are dedicated to providing education based on double-blind placebo studies and clinical evidence, are limited in what they can offer. While there is a rapidly increasing amount of research on psychedelic-assisted therapy, there is still a lot to be learned.

Other frameworks, such as indigenous practices, offer much more complex systems of practice. Some educational programs are utilizing those. However, they are also limited when it comes to implementing them into the Western medical model. Companies like Fluence are seeking to overcome this hurdle by designing courses that work within the existing model.

The psychedelic industry is complex and rapidly evolving, and education companies will have to do so, too. Andrew told us that Fluence is constantly reevaluating and updating their programs to meet the changing needs of the industry. In fact, they are about to launch a revamped core program with changes based on feedback from their past students.

With so many different approaches to psychedelic therapy, it can be difficult to decide which is best. Andrew said about choosing which ideas and frameworks to teach, “There is a desire to cover everything, but it can also set you up to fail.” This is important for both educators and students to understand. There is a wide spectrum of ideas in the psychedelic industry. While many of them are valid, utilizing too wide of a lens can make it impossible to create a model that is easily implemented into practice. 

Psychedelic education will continue to evolve and expand. Many programs teach a combination of different practices, such as mindfulness, psychotherapy, indigenous ideas, and more. 

There is room in the space for different ideas designed to fit different needs, but it can be difficult for therapists to navigate the space. Resources, such as Nuely’s directory, offer those in search of education the ability to compare different courses and find which one will work best for them and their patients. 

Psychedelic education is constantly evolving and adapting to fit the needs of the emerging industry. Although the integration of psychedelic-assisted therapy into mainstream colleges and universities remains a distant goal, resources are becoming available to help therapists navigate working with psychedelics. 

There is a surge in psychedelic education programs catering to the modern-day psychedelic practitioner. Recent advancements in the field are breaking down geographical barriers and making education more accessible than ever before. 

Despite limitations and complexities within this evolving landscape, ongoing adaptations and updates to educational programs are aimed at meeting the changing needs of the psychedelic industry. As the industry evolves, the availability of diverse educational resources will play a critical role in preparing therapists to navigate the complex and promising field of psychedelic-assisted therapy. 

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