Considering a Career in Psychedelics? Here’s How to Get Started.

So, you’re thinking about starting a career in psychedelics. Maybe you’ve experienced your own breakthroughs. Maybe you’ve watched others transform. Or maybe you’ve noticed the massive groundswell of political, industry, and community support around psychedelics in recent years, and just want to be part of something colossal.

Luckily, there is no shortage of options for talented individuals looking to get involved, from roles in psychedelic media to biotech, education, coaching, and integration.

But where should you start?

While there are psychedelic-focused job boards to peruse, building your own professional network and acquiring experience through education could set you apart from the pack of applicants – especially as the demand for trained, career-ready individuals grows.

And the demand is growing – fast. As more states, including Oregon and (with any luck) Colorado, look to develop psychedelic facilitation programs, and with FDA approval looming over MDMA therapy, there could be a real need for over 100,000 psychedelic facilitators in the coming years.

And while the need is there and growing, some say the practitioner bottleneck may be one of the biggest supply chain barriers in delivering treatment to the multitude of people who want to receive it. Wait lists for conventional therapy alone are months long in some parts of the world today, and the growing demand for mental health services and support has resulted in a significant caregiver shortage.

“When you consider all that people have been through over the last few years with the pandemic, and the stigma around mental health thankfully eroding, it’s no wonder many are looking for support. The mental health crisis is real, and it isn’t going away on its own,” said Kyle Buller, Psychedelics Today’s Vice President of Education and Training. “We need compassionate people to answer the call to support their fellow human beings.”

At Psychedelics Today, we’re doing our part to educate people who are curious about taking part in this seismic shift. From regular free webinars, to our 12-month intensive practitioner training program, Vital, to over a dozen courses on various topics in our Psychedelic Education Center, we’ve designed options for all levels of learners to expand their personal and professional psychedelic acumen and build their professional networks.

If you’re taking the first steps in your journey, consider Navigating Psychedelics. This popular, nine-week program combines the history and foundations of psychedelics with essential knowledge required to work with clients, including legal and ethical considerations, harm reduction tips, job opportunities available today, and new avenues to explore.

Not just for clinicians or therapists, the program offers a springboard into a range of career options, including retreat facilitation, ketamine clinic administration, integration coaching, and more – two students even went on to work for Psychedelics Today after graduation!

To learn more about where Navigating Psychedelics has taken students, we recently surveyed past graduates. Here’s what they told us:

50% of students chose the course to increase their knowledge to establish a psychedelic career, while 25% used the lessons to enhance an existing practice.

75% went on to successful careers in psychedelic therapy.

25% of students surveyed indicated they simply took the course to increase their general psychedelic knowledge and did not pursue a career after.

100% would recommend Navigating Psychedelics to someone looking to expand their psychedelic knowledge.

One past student said, “​​I found this course extremely helpful in preparing for a career in psychedelics. The live (sessions) were extremely practical and thought about how to keep ourselves safe, reputationally, in the work. The experience of the course helped me to plot out a path for myself in the field of psychedelic work and the encouragement of the facilitators was brilliant!”

Eager to learn more? Check out our program page and join us for a free Q&A session to decide if Navigating Psychedelics is right for you. CE credits, financial assistance for students, and discounts for past Psychedelic Education Center students are available. The next live cohort begins Nov. 28, 2022, and space is limited, so don’t delay.

Wherever you are in your psychedelic career path, we are thrilled you are here. The question you may want to ask yourself is: where do you want to go next?

Inflammation Nation: How Psychedelics Could Combat Widespread Chronic Pain

Could a nation defined by inflammation find relief in psychedelics?

It’s a verifiable truth that the United States of America may be considered a global leader, especially when it comes to the prevalence of mental and physical health disorders. In fact, of the nearly 330 million people in the population, millions to hundreds of millions of Americans suffer from chronic conditions like: 

These sobering statistics beg the questions: How could a single nation of relatively modest size be home to such a vast selection of chronic diseases? And how could psychedelics be used to combat these conditions affecting so much of the population? 

Why is Inflammation so Prevalent?

The answer begins with key lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, tobacco use, or genetic predispositions, each of which contribute to the pathology of a given disease. For example, a 2010 study by the American Cancer Association found that 90% of Americans don’t meet their daily recommended requirement of vegetables, with 75% failing to eat even a single piece of fruit during an average day

The American diet overall is egregiously devoid of whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, with the US Department of Agriculture estimating they represent a mere 11% of the populous’ typical daily food intake. Despite this lack of prevalence, these unprocessed natural foods are otherwise rich in medicinal phytochemicals found to support the immune system and strengthen the body’s resistance to infections, as well as fight cancer and diabetes; diseases that are twice as prevalent in the US relative to the global average. Shockingly, the US also leads the world in obesity rates by nearly 400%, and is first in global consumption of sugar, outranking Germany by about 26% yearly.

Registration for our next cohort of Navigating Psychedelics is open, and this round is hosted by Joe! We are hosting 2 groups on Tuesdays and 2 groups on Wednesdays starting November 29th Enroll Today!

Although diet quality is proven to significantly impact the likelihood of disease development, what Americans eat is only one contributing factor among many. Poor diet alone doesn’t explain the exceptional amount of chronic health conditions seen in the population. In fact, it’s estimated that over 60% of Americans suffer from at least one chronic health condition, 42% of the population are diagnosed with at least two, and up to 12% of Americans live with five or more chronic diseases

To put those percentages in perspective, the 2020 election saw the highest voter turnout in 120 years, with the most votes for a single presidential candidate ever recorded in American history. Joe Biden reportedly received over 81 million popular votes, representing less than half of the 198 million Americans suffering from at least one chronic health condition, and only marginally more than half of the 139 million with at least two. 

Despite the fact that they’re by no means a minority in the population, chronic diseases are found to disproportionately affect socioeconomic minorities in the United States of America and beyond. A recent study published in the journal, “Archives of Public Health,” used 20 years (1995-2015) of empirical data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to investigate the impact of education on health across the populations of 26 countries, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and other founding nations that became members when OECD was created in 1960. This data, taken from millions of people in numerous countries across the globe over one fifth of a century, clearly demonstrated that higher educational attainment in adults positively correlates with longer lifespans, better health outcomes, increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, and reduced infant mortality rates.

Put simply, the OECD data suggests that highly educated adults with ample finances generally live up to 12% longer (8-10 years), enjoy healthier lives, make more money, and are less likely to die at birth or of cancer, when directly compared to individuals of lower socioeconomic status (SES). Unsurprisingly, adults with higher GDP per capita also spent more money on healthcare and education over their lifetime, with college and university education found to positively influence life expectancy, child vaccination, and enrollment of children in education, as well as negatively impact infant mortality. Taken as a whole, the OECD data demonstrates an essential principle: 

If appropriate education and adequate income significantly increase life expectancy, then access to quality schooling, sustainable employment, and equitable socioeconomic mobility are inherent to health care services. 

However, even if we factor in education and employment as essential contributors to health, the fact remains that as of 2021, over 85 million Americans older than 25 had attained a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, and US unemployment was a mere 3.7% in August 2022. Since neither education nor employment are able to fully reconcile the disproportionately large number of Americans currently suffering from chronic health conditions, there must be a deeper underlying cause contributing to the pathology of diseases reportedly observed in the country’s citizens and resident aliens. 

We’re ecstatic to announce CONVERGENCE, where conference meets festival. From March 30-April 2, 2023, immerse yourself in a 360-degree celebration of science, business, spirit, art, music, and community of psychedelia, all at L.A.’s iconic Wisdome. Tickets are available now!

What is Chronic Inflammation?

Compellingly, inflammation has been identified as a central contributor to all aforementioned chronic health conditions and beyond, and is implicated in over 60% of all human deaths around the globe. Some may already be familiar with acute inflammation in the form of localized pain, redness and swelling, usually in response to an injury or infection. Acute inflammation is typically a normal immune response during which the immune system is activated through the release of specific proteins, essentially called inflammatory markers. These markers then act as beacons to recruit immune cells, which subsequently migrate to the particular body part(s) in need of defense or repair. 

In contrast, chronic inflammation is less apparent and far less immediate, but has insidiously dire consequences when left unchecked. Instead of causing localized pain or swelling, chronic inflammation causes systemic issues with immune cell signaling through excess “noise” created by high levels of inflammatory markers. Rather than being recruited to areas of the body most in need of healing, immune cells are drowned in an overwhelming number of biochemical beacons and ultimately disoriented. By disrupting this essential communication between immune cells, chronic inflammation prevents the appropriate direction of immune cells to critical issues needing attention, and may instead direct disproportionate amounts of immune activity to arbitrary areas – thus crippling the body’s capacity to effectively heal itself or prevent systemic disease. 

The dysregulation of the immune system may ultimately induce the development of one or a combination of diseases, including autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s Disease, IBS, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and diabetes, as well as various cancers and neurological disorders. Furthermore, children of mothers with chronic inflammatory conditions are demonstratively more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and autism, especially when chronic prenatal exposure to maternal inflammatory markers is exacerbated by psychological or physiological stress.

In this self-guided class, we investigate the history, science, and best practices for safe and effective microdosing; with Adam Bramlage, founder of Flow State Micro, Dr. James Fadiman, the “father of modern microdosing,” and a dozen expert guest faculty. Enroll today!

Over the past  20 years, a growing body of research has further investigated the complex relationship between chronic inflammation, various mental and physical diseases, and socioeconomic status (SES). High levels of inflammation measured by markers in the blood of low SES patients were found to prospectively predict whether they would suffer from depression, heart disease, ischemic stroke, and/or mortality. 

Furthermore, factors such as poverty, lack of social or educational resources, obesity, and diets rich in refined sugar were all closely associated with increased inflammatory markers, chronic diseases, and mortality rates. Stress derived from socio-political, financial, environmental (chemical, biological, electromagnetic), or psychosocial (relationship experiences, trauma, social conditioning) aspects of a patient’s life also reportedly influenced inflammation, with chronic psychological and emotional stress inducing a significant increase in observed blood inflammatory markers; thus promoting immune dysfunction and ultimately increasing the likelihood of chronic diseases in individuals of low SES. 

Psychedelics as Anti-inflammatory Medicine

Despite these undeniable correlations and profound implications, the medical model of inflammation as the root of disease is not a new concept. Whether willow bark or aspirin, both traditional Ayurvedic and modern Western medicine employ preparations of anti-inflammatory drugs to treat a number of maladies, from headaches to heart disease. In fact, many over-the-counter (OTC) medications, commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals, and even psychedelic drugs owe some portion of their medicinal benefits to anti-inflammatory effects exerted in particular tissues of the human body. 

For example, recent research has revealed that two of the most commonly prescribed classes of antidepressants, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), may instead induce their expected medical effect via anti-inflammatory action within the brain itself, thus alleviating underlying neuroinflammation implicated as a central contributor to malaise, fatigue, brain fog, emotional reactivity, and other psychological symptoms. This revelation casts significant doubt on the broadly accepted model for the pathology of depression that classically purports serotonin deficiency as the primary cause. Today, a new breed of antidepressants specifically intended as anti-inflammatory drugs are undergoing feverish development by major drug corporations. 

But before we herald these pharmaceutical innovations as the ultimate solution to tame the treachery of chronic neuroinflammatory disease, we must address the unjust marginalization and criminal victimization of disaffected Americans self-medicating via naturopathic means. Notwithstanding their evolutionary, anthropological, and social significance, the potent anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, and other psychedelic derivatives are now well-supported by an ever-growing body of recent scientific research. Although prohibitionist laws previously precluded a thorough investigation of their potential, the US has slowly and begrudgingly allowed the pursuit of psychedelic pharmacological power. As the barriers of outdated, impermissible, and fallacious legislative paradigms fall, clinicians are finally gaining critical insights that have enabled the development of novel pharmaceutical psychedelic derivatives with extreme precision; such that specific medical characteristics like an anti-inflammatory effect or psychedelic effect may be intentionally targeted and enhanced or diminished

Free webinar on October 17: “Appreciation vs. Appropriation,” part one of a two-part webinar series in collaboration with the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund (IMC Fund), featuring Sutton King, MPH, Anahí Ochoa, Mona Polacca, and Miriam Volat, MS. Register here and contribute here.

However new this scientific perspective may seem, medicinal preparations of psychedelics have reportedly been used for centuries, and even pharmaceuticals investigated and approved for clinical use decades ago were arguably directly modeled after psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin. Most notable of these compounds, Methergine (methylergometrine), is an LSD derivative used to induce contractions during childbirth since 1582, and is currently included on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) List of Essential Medicines. A similarly indispensable class of pharmaceutical psychedelic derivatives, the triptans, were first developed and patented in 1991 to treat migraines and cluster headaches, conditions which are both implicated to be caused by neuroinflammation. Interestingly, early triptans display remarkable structural similarities to tryptamine psychedelics like DMT and psilocybin.   

Further progress spearheaded by brave and dutiful psychonauts in professional practice, underground social circles, and beyond has steadily illuminated the psychological and pharmacological nuances of many psychedelic drugs, revealing that they’re in fact highly safe and effective treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), suicidality, depression, anxiety, addiction, Fibromyalgia, various chronic inflammatory diseases, and more. Tireless efforts across decades of clinical trials using psychedelics such as cannabinoids, MDMA, ketamine, and psilocybin have paved the way to their current or imminent approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

It finally seems quite possible that psychedelic medicines previously incorrectly admonished as “psychomimetic drugs” that imitated psychosis, damaged DNA, and were toxic to the human body may soon be available as legitimate pharmaceutical compounds aiming to alleviate the suffering of millions. With the current medical and legal trajectories, it’s highly likely that sometime in the not-so-distant future, inflamed Americans in need of psychedelic therapies will be able to access them without the unnecessarily harmful (but now still-looming) threat of social, criminal, and civil persecution. As much as one author celebrates this opportunity for a modicum of much needed progress in the United States, a single question remains: 

Do a handful of state-level decriminalization initiatives for some select drugs, as well as the monetization and regulation of a limited number of pharmaceutical psychedelics at the federal level truly represent a sufficiently compassionate and broad solution to remedy the innumerable and egregious offenses against American life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness committed by the war on drugs? 

The Fifteenth Horizons is Right Around the Corner

Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics, the annual psychedelic conference in New York City, is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary year.

Horizons has been a landmark on the psychedelic conference circuit long before there was ever such a thing. Once a small, single-day gathering at Judson Memorial Church, the conference has grown into a five-day event. In the past, its stage has welcomed speakers such as Steven Benally, Rick Doblin, Amanda Feilding, Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D., Bia Labate, Ph.D., Nick Powers, Ph.D., Alexander Shulgin, Ph.D. and Ann Shlugin. 

From the beginning, the goal has been to create a forum with the credence and respectability that the topic of psychedelics deserves. The conference has, accordingly, sought out historic venues to host its programming: The New York Academy of Medicine, founded in 1847, and The Great Hall at Cooper Union, where; when it was new, Abraham Lincoln spoke. More recently, in September, Horizons debuted the Horizons Northwest conference at the Portland Art Museum, one of the oldest art museums in the country.

After all, why should this subject, which many traditional cultures have held sacred for thousands of years, not be discussed in esteemed cultural institutions?

A panel from last year’s Horizons NYC

What’s Special About This Year?

In previous years, the focus at Horizons has been on advocacy and awareness. But things are changing. Now that we are seeing the fruits of this work – with, for example, the Natural Medicine Health Act in Denver, Colorado, and most prominently with the Psilocybin Services Act in Oregon – the focus is moving quickly toward implementation.

What are the hard problems of making psychedelics accessible to a large group of people? How do we meet this historic opportunity safely, responsibly, and with wisdom? 

The Program and Speakers

Classes and workshops for care professionals will be offered on Wednesday and Thursday, October 12 and 13, at The New York Academy of Medicine. Attendees will have a chance to learn from experienced researchers and guides William A. Richards, Ph.D., Brian D. Richards, Psy.D, Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., Marcela Ot’alora G., LPC, and Bruce D. Poulter, RN, MPH on Wednesday. Those who have taken classes before can enroll in intermediate workshops on Thursday: “Guiding Psilocybin Therapy Sessions,” with Mary Cosimano, LMSW of Johns Hopkins, and “Intermediate Topics for MDMA Therapy Clinicians,” with Marcela Ot’alora G., LPC and Bruce D. Poulter, RN, MPH.

Registration for our next cohort of Navigating Psychedelics is open, and this round is hosted by Joe! We are hosting two groups on Tuesdays and two groups on Wednesdays starting November 29th. Enroll Today, and if you have questions, sign up for one of our weekly webinars!

After a challenging year in the industry, The Psychedelic Business Forum at The New York Academy of Medicine will begin with an overview of the state of the industry on Thursday, October 13. We will hear from companies operating in this space on impact- and values-driven models, as well as from those raising capital for psychedelic endeavors. Mike Mullete, who oversaw the commercialization of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and who is now COO of MAPS PBC, will give a briefing on how MAPS PBC is preparing to bring MDMA-assisted therapy to market.

On Friday, October 14, all programs will move to The Great Hall at Cooper Union, beginning with topics related to the clinical research of psychedelics: What are the new therapeutic psychedelic compounds? What can we understand from the mixed or weak results of certain recent studies? Michael Bogenschutz, MD, who published the first contemporary pilot study of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for alcohol use disorder, will present new results from his research. Corine de Boer, MD, Ph.D., and Hailey Gilmore, MPH will give an update on the MAPS PBC Phase 3 study for the use of MDMA-assisted therapy for the treatment of PTSD. The day will end with a video address by Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D.

Sutton King, MPH speaks at last year’s Horizons NYC

Saturday, October 15, is focused on the medical and legal implementation of psychedelic treatments. What are the current successful and ongoing efforts to develop regulated access to psychedelic experiences? What work has yet to be done? Assembly member Patrick B. Burke, who introduced a bill to regulate the medical use of psilocybin in New York State, will kick off the day. Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D. will appear along with retired Lieutenant General Martin R. Steele and Marcus and Amber Capone of VETS to speak about the remarkable confluence of veterans and psychedelic therapy. Brett Waters, Esq. will also give a briefing on federal-level policy reform.

Sunday, October 15, is all about the way people are actually using psychedelics in the world – not in medical or clinical environments, but “in the wild.” Saleena Subaiya, MD, MSc and Kate O’Malley, MA will present two of the larger surveys that have been done on the impact of ayahuasca use on behavioral health and mental illness among users and facilitators – the first time preliminary conclusions have been presented on this subject. Bia Labate, Ph.D. and Joseph Mays, MSc will speak about decolonizing psychedelics, and Sandor Iron Rope, president of the Native American Church of South Dakota, will tell his story and offer an Indigenous perspective on the rise of psychedelics in popular culture.

We’re ecstatic to announce CONVERGENCE, where conference meets festival. From March 30-April 2, 2023, immerse yourself in a 360-degree celebration of science, business, spirit, art, music, and community of psychedelia, all at L.A.’s iconic WisdomeTickets are available now!

Looking Forward to Community

The purpose of Horizons is to be in service to the public availability of quality knowledge on psychedelics, as well as to strengthen the networks and communities involved in this work. The decisive ingredient in both? People.

Horizons – as well as other in-person events like it – offers something that is not available by reading, by listening to podcasts, or by watching Netflix docuseries. Anyone who has attended a similar live event knows. There is an undeniable energy that comes with being physically present with others. If it hasn’t sunk in, it will once you spend the day alongside hundreds of others listening to, say, a three-star military general advocate for the therapeutic use of Schedule 1 compounds: This is real. People are working hard at this; people believe in this.

Indeed, because this subject has been prohibited and criminalized for decades, this can be a powerful experience. For many who are on the fence about committing to advocacy or entering this field in some way, this environment can tip the scales, empowering people to become community participants and leaders.

Registration for Horizons New York is still open. Visit Horizons PBC’s website for a detailed event agenda, speaker lineup, and to register.

And when registering, make sure to use code PSYCHEDELICSTODAY-NY-17 at checkout to receive 17% off!

Photos by Andres Bohorquez Marin

This post is part of a 2022 media sponsorship between Horizons PBC and Psychedelics Today.