In this episode, Joe interviews Alyssa Gursky, LPC: artist, research associate and study therapist at the Social Neuroscience and Psychotherapy (SNaP) lab, and founder of Psychedelic Art Therapy LLC, which pioneers ketamine-assisted art therapy.
She talks about her first mushroom experience and how her art and creative process instantly felt different – how the judgment and concern about where the art was going disappeared and was replaced by a freedom; a return to a more childlike way of being, where all that mattered was the fun of the creative process, and expressing her inner world in art. They realized how much the creative process related to true embodiment and the ability to be fully present, and how healing it can be to simply be with other people and create art.
She talks about:
The power of being seen in a group, and how the bravery of one person can completely shift the group dynamic
The need for mentorship in the psychedelic space
The comfort and freedom found in affinity groups
The inspiring lives of Genesis P-Orridge and avant-garde filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky
Rick Rubin’s ability to treat creativity as a spiritual act
and how attending a live wrestling event aligns with non-ordinary states.
Gursky is launching a virtual education and support group this March for anyone who wants to integrate art into client work or their own process. Visit her instagram for details.
“I used pastels pretty much the entirety of that whole first experience, and I was just so stunned at how much more freedom [I felt]. Like, there were concepts that I was learning, that your creative process is a reflection of your mind. And I felt like there was an observer really present, to where I remember drawing and there wasn’t this judgment of: ‘Well, what is this going to become?’ and ‘What am I doing with this?’ and ‘Should I have used that color?’ – this deep, neurotic, judgemental inner voice. But instead, it was just sensation.”
“When we’re not taking the time to process through what is in our bodies, we start to lose the ability to be present.”
“Psychedelics really help with this: helping people break through the veil of: just trust your impulses – that that artistic sublimation, the process of taking whatever is happening inside and allowing art to be a vehicle to have it on the outside: that is nervous system regulation. That is psychic healing, just to be like, ‘I kind of want to do that,’ and just trusting that. It seems like such a small act, but it’s such a big deal.”
“Art is helping us create the map of our psyche, and psychedelics are giving us wider access to that landscape. It feels like a match made in Heaven for me.”
In this episode, Joe interviews Matthew ‘Whiz’ Buckley: former decorated US Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighter pilot and now, founder and CEO of No Fallen Heroes Foundation, a non-profit focused on healing veterans and first responders with psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Buckley met Joe in D.C. while they were both campaigning for psychedelic therapy to any lawmaker they could speak with. He talks about how the government is spending a fortune on the military, but not paying the total cost, since so much of that is externalized onto the soldiers themselves. He points out how many of them care more about making money than saving lives, and how we need “We the people” moments to wake them up or remove them from office.
His time in the Navy and his transition back to civilian life, coming to terms with trauma and realizing how much was physical (including tinnitus)
His life-changing experiences under ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT with the Mission Within
How we should be teaching veterans about various mental health options (including psychedelic-assisted therapy) as part of their transition process
The signing of the National Defense Authorization Act and the disappointing amount of money reserved for psychedelic research: Was it all just lip service?
The complications that arise when trying to get benefits from the VA while also trying to move on: When honesty about mental health isn’t incentivized, when do you tell the truth?
His experience operating legally in Colorado and how he plans to stay on top of Governor Desantis to bring psychedelics to Florida
“The military does an incredibly good job of turning us into human beings that are capable of doing some pretty horrific things to another fellow human being. And then when they’re done with us, they do a pretty shitty job of transitioning us back to being a human. They pay lip service to it, but there’s no return in it: ‘Hey man, you’re getting out. You’re not our problem anymore. We’ve got to focus on the next generation of killers.’”
“If we can get our first responders healed along with our military, I think this world would be a better place. …These medicines have the potential to turn warriors into peacemakers. And maybe that’s also why they’re illegal; they need little uniform killing machines that don’t do critical thinking.”
“Veterans: it’s interesting because it’s a tough community. We don’t listen to advertising or bullshit or anything; it needs to come from another vet for anything to have credibility. So you know, a Marcus Luttrell or a me or a JT looking a bro or a sister in the eye and going: ‘Hey man, this is what happened to me.’ Even in the back of their mind, if they’re like, ‘What the? That’s insane,’ there’s still a lot more of: ‘I trust this person. They would not steer me wrong.’”
In this episode, Joe interviews Steve Rio: psychedelic guide, performance and transformation coach, musician, and co-founder of Enfold, a retreat center in BC, Canada.
While Enfold caters each experience to each client, they largely work with 5-MeO-DMT (which is unregulated in Canada); partly because of its power, and partly because Rio realized how much was missing in terms of safety and process when using the substance. They are trying to fill in the gaps, working with the University Health Network Centre for Mental Health to analyze measurements of mindfulness, DAS tests, the Brief Inventory of Thriving survey, and language used when describing experiences to collect as much qualitative data as possible. He discusses their screening process, why they work with synthetic 5-MeO-DMT, why they encourage everyone to go to a group session, and how 5-MeO seems to bypass psychological processes and largely be related to somatic release.
He talks about:
The power of 5-MeO and being humble and honest with yourself: Are you stable enough to handle the dysregulation?
5-MeO bad actors and ‘Drive-by 5’ people who show up, do the drug, and leave
The plight of Sonoran Dessert toads and the need for more data around their declining populations
How 5-MeO seems to connect people with a higher power, and the need for the experiencer to find their own context for it
The importance of creating a clean and open container for spirituality and meeting the client where they are
“I think inserting any type of dogma is not really helpful in taking people through a psychedelic experience. I think there are some core basic principles around love, around compassion, around forgiveness, that I think everyone can agree with, but I think beyond that, it’s important for everybody to be able to contextualize their experience in the framing that feels right to them. …We try and create the clearest and simplest container for spirituality that allows for the depth of spirituality, but doesn’t necessarily try and say spirituality is one thing or another, because frankly, that’s a very personal choice.”
“These toads have quickly become close to extinct. And the whole region is in turmoil because of people coming to harvest toads. There’s cartel activities. I think there’s human safety risks, I think there’s animal safety risks. And once you work with synthetic, you realize that there’s so little difference between Bufo Alvarius and synthetic that it makes no sense to be working on healing, transformation, and consciousness expansion at the expense of this beautiful animal.”
“The more people can open up in a group setting, I think that’s an incredibly healing practice – to be able to be vulnerable, to be able to be heard, to hear other people’s stories and realize you’re not alone. To hear yourself in others is really powerful. I think, ultimately, the deepest healing does happen in community.”
He gives his full origin story: growing up around substance use, how he got into therapy and healing people through journeys, how “A Table of Our Own” came about, and how it was influenced by mushrooms. Then he discusses a lot more, with a much-needed critical eye:
His experiences with some notorious bad actors in the facilitation space
Decriminalization and how we celebrate small wins while ignoring steps back
Drug exceptionalism, the Drug War, and the demonization of crack
Power dynamics and the dangerous concept of letting go
Why the Black community is so skeptical of psychedelics
And he talks about why it’s so important to meet people where they are – that what works for one person or one community won’t necessarily work for another, and the above-ground, corporatized, overly medicalized model will never work for everyone.
“I’m about to crawl back underground after this, I think. …This above ground shit is, by and large, for the birds. …There’s so many people now doing psychedelics and stuff, right? I would assume, given the promises, that there’d be more ethical people out there. There’d be more people with less ego. There’d be more women in charge, there’d be more queer people in charge, there’d be more people of color in charge. But it just seems like the same white corporate dudes. It’s like they’re talking about an app. …I want to just be of service to the people that need it and not deal with the rest of this bullshit.”
“The whole decrim thing in general: I feel like when decrim isn’t married with all substance use, then I don’t know what the hell we’re talking about.”
“When we talk about access, we’re talking about insurance. Dude, I barely have insurance. Insurance reimbursement? You want a revolution and you start with insurance reimbursement? What? How does that make any [sense]? Was Martin Luther King marching across that bridge in Selma, being like, ‘We are going to have insurance reimbursement for [everyone]?’ No. That is not where you meet people. That is the last fucking thing. That is the blip at the end. People are dying. People are killing themselves. …People who are seriously struggling don’t give a fuck about insurance.”
“You’re sitting here, taking all of this stuff and you’re putting it in the context of pathology: Something has to be wrong in order for you to take this, so that it can be corrected. Actually, maybe things are alright, and this is the way of joining.”
In this episode, Kyle interviews Emma Knighton: Somatic trauma therapist, Vital instructor, and psychedelic integration therapist focusing on consciousness exploration, complex PTSD from childhood abuse, and queer identity development.
This episode is a bit of a masterclass on consent and boundaries within the client/practitioner relationship. She discusses power dynamics: how conflicts arise due to the breaking of established boundaries; safety, and embracing the idea of creating a container that is ‘safe enough’ to go into places that feel unsafe; and the importance of maintaining agreed-upon boundaries no matter how much the client may want to break them. They discuss ways to fulfill the need for touch when touch was not agreed upon, and the concept of practicing touch interactions before the experience – that playing out possible scenarios will create a somatic map so bodies remember what it feels like to be near each other while one body is deep in an experience.
And she talks about much more: What she’s learned from the kink and sex work community and their similarities with the psychedelic world; ways to handle consent in group settings; the clash between giving people agency but needing to step in and protect them; restorative justice models and how they could be used in a much-needed psychedelic practitioner accountability system; the need for practitioners to continue doing their own work; and how part of true consent is being honest about one’s own limitations or conflicts as a practitioner.
“We live in a compliance culture, not in a consent culture. So most of us have not actually learned what it feels like to be really attuned to consent in our bodies.”
“I don’t say, ‘This space is safe,’ I say, ‘We’re going to make this space safe enough’ – safe enough to do the thing, whatever the thing is. Safe enough to consent to the risk that is present. I don’t actually think that ‘safe, period’ exists for anybody anywhere. So it’s more about: What does ‘safe enough’ mean for each person? And that’s facilitators and clients, because facilitators: We have our own boundaries. And if we’re not attending to our boundaries and if we step over one of our boundaries in service of somebody else, that container is now out of consent, because we’ve crossed a boundary that we have. So we have to think about: What is safe enough for me to be in this setting and then, what does safe enough look like for the person or people I’m working with? And how do we create that?”
“I think part of the consent process and part of being an ethical and accountable practitioner is being really honest around: What do I know, what do I not know, and what do I not know that I don’t know?”
In this episode, Joe interviews Christine Calvert: Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and certified Holotropic Breathwork® facilitator.
She talks about how addiction led her to breathwork, how breathwork has helped her over the years, how breathwork can be a compliment to other self-work, and how becoming comfortable with breathwork first could be a very important stepping stone towards better understanding the psychedelic experience. She talks about how years of breathwork helped her navigate complicated states of consciousness, and the incredible benefit of learning to trust our body’s capacity to heal itself.
She discusses using bodywork in sessions and the importance of having the experiencer be the one who requests it; how much a facilitator’s past relationship with touch affects how they use touch; the risk in meditation vs. the safety of breathwork; the concept of learning self-awareness; how profound it is to be witnessed in breathwork’s dyad model; and why researching and creating guidelines for this kind of work seems impossible.
“One of the things I love so much about breathwork vs. psychedelics is that it is endogenous medicine; this is coming from within me. And as somebody who had experienced the world in [a way that] felt like I really was surrounded in a culture and a society that was incredibly disempowering – to have a model that turns you back inside yourself over and over again is a true gift and an act of radical self-empowerment.”
“Obviously in counseling we get witnessed, but there is something really profound about the witnessing in the dyad setup model of holotropic breathwork where [we’re] being witnessed by somebody, and their job is only to do that: to literally sit [and] accompany me as I go internal. And then there’s just an immense amount of support. So for these parts that really didn’t have support and are holding a lot of the trauma of omission (the things we needed that we didn’t get); it’s incredibly powerful and poignant to have this kind of relational field surrounding us through that while that material is moving through us.”
“I feel like if we could do a stepping stone program, breathwork would be the first one, because I think if we can’t access and understand what and who we are with our own endogenous medicine; as explorers and facilitators or practitioners, I think we’re missing something.”
In this episode of Vital Psychedelic Conversations, David interviews Christine Caldwell: graduate of the first cohort of Vital and Founder of End of Life Psychedelic Care (EOLPC); and Mary Telliano: end-of-life coach, psychedelic facilitator, and Founder of The Anam Cara Academy, which trains people in the art of end-of-life coaching.
Whether we’re comfortable with it or not, we’re all going to die. And research shows that psychedelic experiences can help tremendously with the anxiety and depression that surround that inevitable transition between realms. Caldwell and Telliano discuss the role of a death doula; how they found their way into end-of-life care; why the West’s relationship with death changed during the Civil War; the role of families in the process; the legality of providing end-of-life psychedelics and the complications that arise when people are unable to leave their homes; and how different substances can be used based on each person’s abilities and comfort level.
They talk about why the mystical experience of psychedelics can be so helpful during this process (and how the placebo effect can be a very real factor); tell a few stories of amazing things they’ve witnessed while doing this work; and drive the point home of how important it is for us to reintegrate death as a natural part of life – to have rites of passage around death, to learn from death, and, much like we need to remember our inner healing capacity, realize that we all have the capacity to play the role of a death doula for someone else.
“We are on the forefront of people calling back in sacredness, calling back in those pieces that we’ve forgotten. I was about to say ‘missing’ and I’m really trying to reframe that linguistic and say ‘forgotten’ because it’s never gone away; we’re just really remembering this piece and this emphasis on how important it is to honor the transitions as a community, as a whole. And what it does for me on a personal level as a death doula, how it’s changed me by witnessing so many people dying, is that I’ve witnessed my death over and over and over and over again through these people. And I’ve gotten to kind of really sit and be comfortable in a space that I think a lot of people shy away from. And being in the room with somebody who is in transition is one of the biggest gifts you can get because you carry that with you now. And so, the work of a doula is also in service to ourselves.” -Mary
“It’s the mystical experience. I just firmly believe that, because we’re working with people who have an openness, a receptivity to looking at spirituality in terms of coming to terms with their death and dying, and looking into whether or not there is a greater consciousness, which of course we know there is. And psychedelics are the portal to that greater consciousness.” -Christine
“The technology of psychedelics helps us transcend beyond our body. And if we can make meaning outside of ourselves, things become a little bit more [navigable] because now, we have enough inside of us to remember that there’s something that happens outside of us, and these two worlds start to communicate and inform each other.” -Mary
In this episode, Kyle interviews Kayse Gehret, the Founder of Microdosing for Healing, an international virtual community and coaching program supporting microdosing practice.
She tells the story of embracing microdosing and her grand mal seizure disorder going away, and how the inability to touch people during the pandemic led to the creation of Microdosing for Healing. She breaks down the details of the program, challenges she’s seen, and the importance of using every effective modality possible to align with each person’s individual experience. The next 6-Week Immersion Group course begins January 26.
She talks about how accessing the body is usually the best entry point to healing; how effective journaling and other personal development practices are to recognize change (especially with how subtle microdosing can be); the efficacy of group process; how physicians are beginning to see the power in community and connection; concerns over the “jump in the deep end” attitude of many people leading to destabilizing experiences; how regular check-ins are important to keep people connected to their original intention; and the idea that people are striving for an unattainable state of perfection – that our goal should be a constant state of improvement and aligning ourselves to who we are meant to be – and microdosing until we don’t need to microdose anymore.
“I grew up with a grand mal seizure disorder, so I had always, growing up, shied away from anything that would destabilize my brain more than it already was doing on its own. So doing high dose or experimenting with drugs was never appealing to me and kind of a bit scary to me. But when I was introduced to the concept of microdosing, there was something that just was like ding! And the idea that I could do something that felt more like a natural supplementation, a spiritual vitamin if you will, over time, as kind of an expansiveness [tool] and a healing modality – not anticipating at all it would have the effect that it it did end up happening for me – but that sounded more appealing than high dose work at the time. So I started microdosing and among other things, my seizure disorder disappeared completely, immediately upon practicing.”
“Somatics and body work is fundamental, I think, to our healing, especially where we are in society right now. I think accessing the body is, for many people, the best first access point to their own healing.”
“I really feel like the majority of the public, especially now that it’s mainstream, most people (and again, this is just my opinion) are not resourced and resilient and in a place where going straight to a high dose experience is going to best serve them. And what we have witnessed loud and clear over the last three years is when people take the time to lay the foundation and really apprentice themselves to their practice – incorporate breathwork, body work, other healing modalities first – and they lay a foundation of trust with themselves and the medicine; then they move into higher dose work with a guide and facilitator, it is a completely different experience.”
In this episode, Joe interviews Mike Finoia: standup comedian, Producer for the hit show, “Impractical Jokers,” and co-host of the Comes a Time Podcast with Dead & Company bassist, Oteil Burbridge. His new Special, “Don’t Let Me Down,” is out now.
He talks about his early days of recreational drug use at jam band shows; a powerful psilocybin experience; passing out before his first ketamine experience and how his commitment has made subsequent experiences much smoother; and how his continued work has allowed him to focus on what’s truly important. He’s seen positive results from talking about his ketamine-assisted psychotherapy experiences on stage, and he’s working on new material that will be much more focused on not just psychedelics, but the therapy, self-work, and growth he’s gone through in his journey.
He also discusses the influence of other comedians; the bioavailability in different ketamine methods; how psychedelics are like a performance-enhancing drug; the importance of having a working, attainable idea of success and not getting caught up in other people’s lives; the benefit of asking people in the audience to raise their hands if they’ve done psychedelics; and the importance of recognizing that psychedelics are absolutely not for everyone – at least if they’re not ready.
“It’s interesting because I’m trying to work out the material and figure out what’s funny, but also, some of the stuff I’m saying that’s from my gut is getting laughter and applause, and also, people are coming up afterwards and they’re like, ‘That’s really awesome that you’re talking about this.’ …I have to pay attention to that.”
“A comic, just like anything else really – you know, a podcaster, an entrepreneur, a businessman, whatever – you’re 10 different things. You’re the Director of social media, you’re the Director of advertising and marketing and promotions. You have your art and you have the thing you like to do, but then there’s a hundred other gigs that come with it, and you have to kind of stay on top of all those things. And that can get extremely overwhelming. And if you already have that imposter voice or that critic that’s beating the hell out of you all the time, it’s more ammo or more fuel for their fire. So to me, psychedelics have been– It’s almost like a vacation. It’s like a way to shut that crap off and get to what really matters.”
“When you have the anxieties and the depressions and the imposter syndrome, things like that; sometimes the most psychedelic part of a psychedelic experience is the absence of the bullshit, where it’s just: you get down to being a living being and you’re out of your own way. And that, to me, is the most valuable part.”
In this episode, Joe and Kyle are honored to welcome back Stanislav and Brigitte Grof: Stan being the person who kickstarted their interest in non-ordinary states of consciousness, breathwork, and this podcast; and Brigitte: his other half, co-creator of Grof® Legacy Training, and support system (and often, voice) since his stroke a few years back.
They discuss the recently released Stanislav Grof, LSD Pioneer: From Pharmacology to Archetypes, which Brigitte assembled in honor of Stan’s 90th birthday. It celebrates his life’s work in pioneering research into non-ordinary states of consciousness and transpersonal psychology, and features an extended interview with Stan; testimonials from a number of legends in the psychedelic and psychological fields like Jack Kornfield, Rupert Sheldrake, Richard Tarnas, and Fritjof Capra; and a large photo album of rarely seen pictures, including Stan doing his first experiments with LSD.
And they talk about so much more: The evolution of LSD psychotherapy as Stan realized people’s experiences were coming from the psyche rather than any pharmacology; why he started practicing and teaching breathwork; Stan’s love of treasure hunts; how the perinatal matrices were born and how each corresponds to astrology and religious archetypes; why experience in breathwork can be so beneficial to better psychedelic experiences and facilitation; why integration is equally as important as the experience; and an argument to take archetypal astrology more seriously – that there is often a synchronicity that can’t be denied between these archetypes, events, and experiences.
“I was surprised that people were having very, very different experiences. And then when [they] had these substances repeatedly; then again, it was completely different. …So I realized that this had nothing to do with chemistry, this had nothing to do with pharmacology, and that it’s basically about the psyche.” -Stan
“I have to say I’m extremely grateful for the map that he found and he gave to all of us, especially in The Way of the Psychonaut, his life’s work, encyclopedia. All the knowledge is there. And when I go to these places myself and I get into the pits, I can, in the back of my head, remember, ‘Oh, this is what Stan was writing about, so it should be okay. I’m going to get out of this.’ So I think everybody who is doing these journeys should know about Stan’s findings. It’s just so mega helpful.” -Brigitte
“When you hear what people say later or you see the creativity and the power of energy that gets released, then the liberation, it’s so amazing, and so healing and very exciting. And the people sometimes say, ‘How do you live with all that screaming?’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s music in my ears, because so much of the suffering is silent. So when these things come out and they get expressed, they’re leaving the system and people get liberated. So once you understand that, then you’re good.’” -Brigitte
“When we do breathwork, then you add to it breathing, and actually, the intelligence; it brings its own thought. And then of course, bringing in LSD, psychedelics: it’s even further. But the idea is to always work with the psyche. You don’t need any specific tricks.” -Stan
In this episode of Vital Psychedelic Conversations, Johanna interviews Angie Leek, LMFT/LPC-S, SEP: Vital instructor, Founder of the Holos Foundation for Transpersonal Healing, and psychotherapist offering KAP through her private practice, Holos Counseling; and Justin LaPree: Vital graduate, decorated Marine, former firefighter, and Founder and President of Heroic Path to Light; a retreat center in Austin, Texas offering psychedelic-assisted therapy and community to veterans, first responders, and Gold/White Star families.
LaPree shares his personal journey of struggling to reintegrate into life after war and the daily traumas he lived as a firefighter leading to an eventual suicide attempt, and the healing he found when he rediscovered the community and purpose he had been longing for. And Leek tells her story of her spiritual emergency and the nonlinear path she found for coming to terms with her repressed trauma, further illustrating a common theme we see in this space of the wounded healer, and the challenge of taking care of yourself first in order to be able to heal others.
They discuss the importance of specialized communities for trauma healing; the need for a support system and the power of sharing experiences with others; how they both work with their clients, the idea of viewing preparation as “pre-integration”; why families and friends also need to be prepared; and how, if you feel like something needs to change or you’re in need of a community, maybe it all begins with you.
They also talk about how much they loved Vital and the impact it’s had on their life paths. The deadline for applications for the 2024 cohort of Vital is tomorrow, December 20, at midnight, so if you’re ready to take the leap, head to vitalpsychedelictraining.com to apply now!
“Coming together with small groups of people – …that’s really getting back to the roots. It’s getting back to the basics of civilizations. There’s just so much to be said there about coming together to support each other.” -Justin
“So many people that started doing psychedelics that I was working with either ended up divorced or having big breakups with friendships. It’s like when somebody in the system [changes], the system craves homeostasis. It’s like, ‘No, we don’t want to [change]. We liked how it was before; we don’t like this change.’ And so, either the relationship goes through this transformation that may be rocky, or it breaks. And so that’s a good thing to know going in. It’s actually sort of informed consent. It’s good to know your life might blow up after this in ways that you can’t even imagine.” -Angie
“I really want the entire community to be there for the shared experience of healing. I’s just as healing, if not more healing, for me to be able to facilitate these containers and be there with the individuals. That’s why [I], as the Founder and President, [am] at every retreat, because this is the medicine that I need without even taking the medicine. This is my medicine of community.” -Justin
Though psychedelics have been used for thousands of years, modern technology is beginning to teach us more – much more – about their effects on our minds and bodies. We caught up with Apollo Neuro co-founder and neuroscientist and board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. David Rabin, to learn more about how people are using wearables to gather new insights about their trips.
Alexa: For anyone who isn’t already aware, can you give us a high-level overview of what wearable tech is for, who might want to use it, and why?
David: I think of wearable technology as a powerful tool in our health toolkits to help combat the stresses of modern life, just like mindful practices like meditation, breathwork, and exercise. The wearable technology that we’ve developed at Apollo is safe for children and adults alike, so it’s really for anyone who feels they could use a tool to help them feel more safe, in control, and calm and experience better sleep, less stress, and a brighter mood. When we feel more secure, we’re able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, focus more effectively, socialize more freely, and sustain energy throughout your daily tasks
Alexa: Can you explain the synergy between technology and psychedelic treatments in achieving better mental health outcomes?
David: Psychedelic-assisted therapy can be scary or intense for people, especially during their first time. Wearables can serve as a somatic anchor for both the patient and the therapist so they can stay in tune with their bodies. It helps the therapist to remain impartial on any difficulties or challenges that the patient may be experiencing, and it helps the patient to have a smoother journey.
To date, we have never had access to modern tools to help us solve these challenges that exist within and around the psychedelic experience. Today, the Apollo wearable is the only patented technology to reduce uncomfortable experiences associated with medicine-assisted therapy. So far the results from Apollo plus psychedelic-assisted therapy in the real world have been tremendous, including reducing anxiety in advance of medicine administration for easier drop in, reduction in ‘bad’ or uncomfortable trips, and improved ease of integration afterward. Apollo represents the very first example of how wearable technology can empower us to make healing with psychedelic and non-psychedelic techniques easier and more accessible for all.
Alexa: Can you share some examples of scientific research or studies that support the effectiveness of wearable tech and its combination with psychedelic therapies?
David: Currently, the Apollo Neuroscience Clinical Research Team is running an IRB-approved clinical trial with the support of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit sponsoring the most advanced clinical trials of a psychedelic-assisted therapy. The purpose of this study is to understand how the Apollo wearable touch therapy impacts long-term outcomes and improves integration following MDMA-assisted therapy in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Two large clinical trials evaluating the Apollo wearable in PTSD patients are currently underway and recruiting participants. The first is taking place at the Rocky Mountain VA in Denver, CO and the second, a nationwide trial, is evaluating the Apollo wearable to sustain remission from PTSD following MDMA-assisted therapy, described above. Anyone who has participated in a MAPS trial of MDMA-assisted therapy is eligible to join the MDMA-Apollo study and receive an Apollo wearable for the study.
We’ve seen tremendous results with the Apollo wearable in thousands of traumatized individuals and those who have participated in psychedelic-assisted therapy thus far. Some of the most promising responses were in people receiving ketamine-assisted therapy, particularly those new to psychedelic medicines or who have a lot of anxiety in anticipation of new experiences. We care about the outcomes, and anything we can do to help people stay in remission or feel better for longer periods of time is a big win for our field. We are very much looking forward to seeing how the Apollo wearable will contribute to the integration period following MDMA-assisted therapy.
Alexa: Have there been any clinical trials or user feedback demonstrating the positive impact on mental health?
David: The Apollo Neuro technology has been studied in over 1,700 research subjects in seven complete and 14 ongoing real-world and university clinical trials demonstrating very promising improvements in everything from sleep, pain, and fatigue to mood, anxiety, and focus. Ongoing studies of the Apollo technology include studies of PTSD, ADHD, and TBI, metastatic breast cancer pain, and severe autoimmune disorders.
Alexa: There are tons of wearable devices out there these days, could you share an overview about Apollo and how it’s different?? What specific features or technologies does Apollo employ to support mental health?
David: The Apollo wearable is different from other wearables as most wearables are trackers. They tell you what is going on with your health but leave it up to you to make decisions to improve it. The Apollo, on the other hand, actively improves your health through soothing vibrations that shift you out of “fight or flight” and into “rest and digest,” or a parasympathetic state. You can actively choose how you want to feel on the Apollo Neuro app on your phone – Focus, Social, or Unwind, for example – and the wearable plays vibrations that help to shift you into that state, much like the way certain songs pump you up or chill you out.
Alexa: What mental health benefits can users expect from your wearable technology on its own, and how does your wearable tech complement or enhance the effects of psychedelic therapies?
David: On average, users experience 40% less stress and feelings of anxiety, an 11% increase in heart rate variability (HRV), up to 25% more focus and concentration, and up to 19% more time in deep sleep. In an ongoing real-world sleep study, users get up to 30 more minutes of sleep a night. Less stress and feelings of anxiety is especially helpful in a psychedelic-assisted therapy setting, as well as an increase in HRV, as that is the biggest indicator of how well your body responds to stress.
Alexa: What does the future of this type of therapy look like? Do you collaborate with mental health professionals, therapists, or healthcare providers to integrate your technology into treatment plans?
David: The future of Apollo being used in this type of therapy is that it will be used by clinicians and patients in the office or treatment facility where medicine is administered, beginning in the waiting room or before arrival, to improve short term experiences. It will then be used, as it is today, by patients/clients after their experiences at home to improve clients engagement in treatment and enhance their outcomes from integration practices, which are the most important piece of treatment and often ignored.
Alexa: If a healthcare provider is interested in incorporating wearable tech into their practices, what is the process for going about that?
David: We work with hundreds of healthcare practitioners ranging from holistic health clinicians, centers for ADHD and autism, psychedelic assisted therapy clinics, trauma therapy practitioners, Chiropractors and more. Our goal is always to work hand in hand with them to tailor a program that meets the needs for their clinic and their patients. To learn more about partnership options with Apollo, Practitioners and Clinicians can reach our partnership team directly by filling out this form on our website.
Alexa: How do you see the intersection of technology and mental health evolving in the coming years? Are there plans for further advancements or updates to your technology to enhance its mental health benefits?
David: The future of mental health involves the convergence of technology, psychedelic techniques, and our current practices. As Apollo learns from people over time, it will personalize vibes for each individual user based on their needs at any given time today. This is already happening with Smartvibes for sleep, which is the first wearable technology AI collaboration to give us 30-60 minutes more sleep each night that is concentrated in deep and REM sleep, just by understanding our sleep signature and acting on it predictively to prevent unwanted middle-of-the-night wakeups. This will only get better over time!
Interested in trying the Apollo Neuro, or gifting it to a friend or loved one? Purchase through this link and save $50.
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