PT328 – Courtney Watson, LMFT – Ancestral Veneration and Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy For (and By) QTBIPOC

In this episode, Joe interviews Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and certified sex therapist, Courtney Watson.

In just two years’ time, Watson grew from “Psychedelics are white people drugs” to opening a ketamine clinic to serve the marginalized communities she comes from. She shares the work she is doing through Access To Doorways; her Oakland-based non-profit whose mission is to bring psychedelic-assisted therapy to queer, trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, Black, Indigenous, people of color, and two spirit communities.

This discussion is all over the map, from the platform of African traditional religion through the prospect of trauma healing for white supremacists, across BIPOC erasure in psychedelic research studies, and down into the realms of connecting to the spirit of entheogens from our pasts. Watson waxes on Black resilience; Hoodoo; how ALL plants are entheogenic; how conceptualization and talk in the psychedelic space often falls short of real action; ancestral veneration and ways to connect with one’s ancestral past; and the concept of “spirit-devoid” synthesized compounds actually being the evolution of those plants’ spirits.

She breaks down thoughtful considerations for queer and trans people in the psychedelic space, pointing out that while our society places too much emphasis on gender and sex, the acknowledgement of gender diversity and tearing down of the myths of hetero- and cisnormativity is hugely important. She believes that true access to these medicines can lead to true healing, which leads to love, justice, and actual equality. You can support Access to Doorways by making a donation here.

Notable Quotes

“Our people will talk to us. They will guide us. They will direct us. Especially for folks that don’t have ancestral practices in their day to day and haven’t had for generations; ancestors are starving for attention. They’re like, ‘Thank God you see us!’ Give them some light, give them some love, give them some attention, and they will open roads for you in all sorts of ways that you never knew were possible.“

“I think we also place way too much emphasis on gender and sex in this culture in this way that ends up stigmatizing the fact that there is gender diversity. …Holding all of this knowledge that heteronormativity is a thing and cisnormativity is a thing, and that these are not the default when we’re working with trans folks and folks that do not identify as heterosexual – that is really important.”

“Healing could actually help shift what’s happening. It can help turn things in the ways that they need to be turned; in the ways towards love, towards justice, towards actual equality. It’s only when we are healed that we can actually do that; 1) because we have enough energy to be able to do that, but also because we have enough vision and foresight to be able to do that. The clarity of what it means to actually love only comes when we are healed.“

“There’s a lot of conversations, there’s a lot of talk, there’s a lot of conceptualizations, there’s a lot of dreams. But there’s not a lot of action. …So many people get stuck in the conceptualizing piece of it and the philosophizing piece of it that action gets missed. Access to Doorways is action. With $7000, we have given 4 subsidies. I know people that have raised ten times more than us and have not done that much. It is completely about doing what we say that we’re doing. It is completely about action towards healing.”

Links The Access Key Pledge

Psychedelics Today: PT278 – Ayize Jama-Everett, Courtney Watson, Leticia Brown, and Kufikiri Imara – A Table of Our Own

California Institute of Integral Studies: Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Certificate Program Hoodoo (spirituality) Anthropocentrism

Journal of Psychedelic Studies: “Diversity, Equity, and Access in Psychedelic Medicine,” by Monnica Williams & Bia Labate

Alma Institute

Fireside Project Papa Legba

About Courtney Watson, LMFT

Courtney Watson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and AASECT Certified Sex therapist. She is the owner of Doorway Therapeutic Services, a group therapy practice in Oakland, CA focused on addressing the mental health needs of Black, Indigenous & People of Color, Queer folks, Trans, Gender Non-conforming, Non binary and Two Spirit individuals. Courtney has followed the direction of her ancestors to incorporate psychedelic-assisted therapy into her offerings for folks with multiple marginalized identities and stresses the importance of BIPOC and Queer providers offering these services. Courtney has received training from the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research at CIIS, MAPS, and Polaris Insight Center to provide psychedelic-assisted therapy with a variety of medicines. She is deeply interested in the impact of psychedelic medicines on folks with marginalized identities as well as how they can assist with the decolonization process for folks of the global majority. She believes this field is not yet ready to address the unique needs of Communities of Color and is prepared and enthusiastic about bridging the gap. She is currently blazing the trail as one of the only clinics of predominantly QTBIPOC providers offering ketamine -assisted therapy in 2021. She has founded a non-profit, Access to Doorways, to raise funds to subsidize the cost of ketamine/psychedelic-assisted therapy for QTBIPOC clients (now accepting donations!!!). When not in the office seeing clients or in meetings for the businesses she leads, she’s watching Nickelodeon with her kids, kinda working on her dissertation and more than likely taking a nap!

Instagram: Access to Doorways / Doorway Therapeutics

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PT327 – Rick Doblin, Ph.D. – Confronting Abuse in Clinical Trials and the Future of Psychedelic Medicine

In this episode, David interviews one of the biggest names in psychedelics and someone we haven’t had on the show until now; Founder and Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Rick Doblin, Ph.D.

MAPS has recently been at the center of media scrutiny, notably through the New York magazine‘s “Cover Story” podcast series, which chronicled instances of alleged sexual abuse within the MAPS clinical MDMA trials. Since reporting on this issue has largely called into question the design of MAPS’ clinical trials, data reporting, quality control, and claims around the efficacy of MDMA in the treatment of PTSD, we wanted to provide an opportunity for Doblin to respond to these very real concerns – and he does just that.

He discusses how MAPS reacted, what could have been done better, what it has all meant for the non-profit, and how it feels to now be considered the enemy by many in a space MAPS helped build. He addresses the concerns of sessions ending too soon (highlighting how that may suggest a desire for additional therapy) and asks anyone who has participated in a MAPS trial to complete a long-term follow-up survey so the organization can improve their process and ensure their data is as accurate and robust as possible.

He also discusses what the post-approval psychedelic landscape could look like; their goals for facilitator training and how they align with requirements in Oregon; their desire for a patient registry or “global trauma index”; and the importance of collecting and analyzing real-world evidence. And he talks about MAPS and their globalization goals: how exploring psychedelic therapy specifically in countries with little to no tradition of psychotherapy can lead to new therapeutic models. Rather than exploring areas where there is guaranteed revenue, they are seeking areas that are high in trauma instead – to bring these medicines where they are most needed.

Notable Quotes

“I think you can have solutions that go too far. The podcast people put out a solution, saying that there should be no touch in therapy. …They’ve also said that [our] studies should be shut down and that we need experts to think about this for years. I think that kind of thinking is out of balance with the amount of suffering that seems to actually be alleviated.” 

“The more dangerous the drug, the more important it is that it be legal.”

“We’re really wanting to bring this to the police, [and] we’ve done a lot of work with veterans. The breakthrough that we’re still looking forward to one day would be to treat the first active duty soldier. So far, it’s only been veterans, but if we can treat active duty soldiers, I think that would be [great]. The closer you can treat people to the trauma, probably the better.” 

“Even though we’re focused on MDMA and there’s all these other things for MDMA, really, what we’re doing is opening the door to psychedelic medicine. So what we want, ideally, is therapists to be cross-trained with MDMA, ketamine, psilocybin, ibogaine, 5-MeO-DMT, ayahuasca, whatever. And then the psychedelic clinics of the future will not be: ‘Here’s a ketamine clinic, here’s [an] MDMA clinic, here’s a psilocybin clinic.’ It will be psychedelic clinics, and the therapists will be cross-trained and they’ll customize a treatment program for each individual patient with any number of different kinds of psychedelics at different times in a sequence.” 

Links You Won’t Feel High After Watching This Video

New York Magazine: Cover Story, Season One: Power Trip Statement: Public Announcement of Ethical Violation by Former MAPS-Sponsored Investigators

Psychedelics Today: Addressing Abuse in Psychedelic Spaces Global Summit on Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Medicine 

Psychedelics Today: Peter Hendricks Ph.D. – Is Psilocybin Helpful For People Who Abuse Cocaine?

Psychedelics Today: PT227 – Dr. Anne Wagner – Couples Therapy, MDMA, and MAPS June 17-25, 2023 in Denver

Psychedelics Today: PT236 – Dr. Carl Hart – Drugs: Honesty, Responsibility, and Logic How is Gross National Happiness measured in Bhutan?

Psychedelics Today: Dr. Ben Sessa – Preliminary Results from MDMA Assisted Therapy for Alcohol Use Disorder

About Rick Doblin, Ph.D.

Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his Master’s thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients. His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a 25-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment, which evaluated the potential of psychedelic drugs to catalyze religious experiences. He also conducted a 34-year follow-up study to Timothy Leary’s Concord Prison Experiment. Rick studied with Dr. Stanislav Grof and was among the first to be certified as a Holotropic Breathwork practitioner. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people, and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist. He founded MAPS in 1986, and currently resides in Boston with his wife, with three children who have all left the nest.

Socials: Twitter / Instagram 
MAPS socials: Twitter / Instagram

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PT326 – Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D – Addiction, Recovery, and Competency in Psychedelic Therapy

In this episode, David interviews Clinical Psychologist and Founder of the Psychedelic Society of Vermont, Dr. Rick Barnett, PsyD. 

Barnett discusses the importance of building community in psychedelic spaces; psychedelic experiences as preventative medicine, and the differences between (and value within) the sanitized medical model and more ritualistic experiences. He talks about his own personal journey with addiction and recovery and looks at the interrelation between trauma, addiction, trust, and how psychedelics operate as disruptors – with a sense of meaning and purpose.

He discusses many of the current clinical trials happening around psychedelics and addiction; Alcoholics Anonymous and LSD; Vermont’s developing decriminalization bill (Measure H.644); the psychiatric workforce shortage and the potential solution of more prescribing psychologists; and, considering Oregon’s budding psilocybin therapy model, points out that one doesn’t need to be a licensed clinical practitioner with specific schooling to be a good psychedelic facilitator. Could we instead build models that are based largely on competency?

The Psychedelic Society of Vermont is putting on the Psychedelic Science & Spirituality Summit on the summer solstice (June 20-21) in Stowe, VT, with the goal of holding space for both the scientific and spiritual side of psychedelia. The conference is specifically for healthcare professionals, but all others are welcome to virtually attend or come to the summer solstice celebration after the conference. For more info, head to

Notable Quotes

“I had several profound experiences with LSD when I was a kid, and when I crashed and burned on alcohol and wound up in a 12-step rehab (the Hazelden Foundation), I quickly recognized that my experiences with LSD made me extremely receptive to the message that was being put forth to me in a 12-step-oriented rehab program. Concepts like surrender and a connection to spirituality, a connection to open-mindedness, willingness, being honest with oneself, taking one’s inventory – these kinds of concepts that are so common in 12-step programs – they resonated so strongly with me because of my experiences with LSD.”

We have the ability to instill a sense of trust with our patients, and they can begin to trust themselves, and to trust the therapist, and to review some of these old hurts and really get into it over the course of therapy in a way that’s very healing. So it can happen with therapy, and I don’t think one is necessarily a substitute for the other. I think [psychedelics and therapy] work very well together. Psychedelics are yet another tool, just like therapy is a tool, just like AA is a tool, just like Suboxone and Methadone are tools. They’re all tools, and it’s really important to respect and honor that each one brings something positive, potentially, for an individual.” 

“An AA program, a harm reduction program, a therapy program, a psychedelic program, [a] meditation retreat: All these things provide a nudge, and potentially a very transformative nudge in the direction of like, ‘Okay, and then what?’ What are you doing in your daily life? …That ‘assisted’ part is not just assisted by a therapist. It’s not just assisted by a drug. It’s not just assisted by a shaman or an integration coach. It’s assisted by everything.”


Psychedelic Science & Spirituality Summit

Psychedelics Today: PT307 – Kathryn L. Tucker, JD – The Right to Try Act and the Battle for Psilocybin Access An act relating to decriminalization of a personal use supply of a regulated drug

Psychedelics Today: PT236 – Dr. Carl Hart – Drugs: Honesty, Responsibility, and Logic Hazelden Foundation Mydecine Receives Conditional IRB Approval for Phase 2b Smoking Cessation Study

Pubmed: Long-term follow-up of psilocybin-facilitated smoking cessation

University of Exeter: Ketamine and psychological therapy helped severe alcoholics abstain for longer in trial

Psychedelics Today: Dr. Ben Sessa – Preliminary Results from MDMA Assisted Therapy for Alcohol Use Disorder Bill Wilson, LSD and the Secret Psychedelic History of Alcoholics Anonymous

His Linkedin post about trust and being let down

About Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D

Dr. Rick Barnett, Psy.D., is the Co-Founder of the Psychedelic Society of Vermont, the Legislative Chair and Past-President of the Vermont Psychological Association, the founder of the non-profit organization, CARTER, Inc., and is a clinical psychologist and addiction specialist in private practice in Stowe, VT. Dr. Barnett has worked as a Clinical Psychologist in nursing homes, hospitals, and outpatient programs, and has trained hundreds of health professionals through workshops on addiction and mental health issues over the past 20 years. He is in long-term recovery of alcohol and substance abuse and is an active advocate for addiction treatment and recovery resources. Dr. Barnett holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, a Doctorate and Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychopharmacology. He is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and holds certificate in Problematic Sexual Behavior (PSB-S) and Gambling Disorder.

Socials: Twitter / Linkedin 

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