PALLIATIVE CARE PROGRAMS

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy intentionally designed to assist patients facing end of life prognosis from cancer or other terminal illnesses.

End of life anxiety, often rooted in existential fear of the process of dying, can be debilitating and often fuels the narrative that life is over... long before it is necessarily so.

Learning to embrace each moment we have on this earth, regardless of how many days those are, is a gift to be embraced, and the work of the medicine can bring about a beautiful new lease on life as we see the positive futures we all have, regardless of how long that may be.

Currently, the only way to access legal psychedelic-assisted therapy is by obtaining a Section 56 Exemption from Health Canada.  For more information on how the Health Canada exemptions and programs work, please refer to our Health Canada information page here

Our Palliative Care Program is a loving, supportive therapy-client based approach where the client builds a trusting relationship with the therapist who guides them through the process. 

Building on this sacred foundation of trust, the client is able to enter into the medicine to discover truths about their illness, self, and relationships with others. The counselling sessions with the therapist often bring healing before the medicine work even starts, and together the whole protocol can provide a sense of calm reprieve in these difficult days.

The feeling that no one understands, or there’s nothing that can be done, is a very common experience for those who have received a terminal diagnosis. 

However, our work with palliative patients has brought to light how transformative and healing this work can be.  The growing body of research continues to show how helpful this therapy can be to easing the complex and challenging mental and emotional challenges that arise from the palliative process. 

Through partnering with psychologists, therapists and psychiatrists in Canada, the psilocybin therapy becomes part of a larger exploration into the core reasons for the mental health challenges faced in the terminal prognosis.  This helps bring peace, healing and acceptance so that the patient can focus on quality of life and relationships.

Our individualized intake process is planned and customized to each client’s specific situation.  Through the intake sessions with our therapists, a client will be led through a discovery process that helps ground them in the work, and helps provide the comfort and confidence of what will be experienced and obtained from the work.  When entering into the psychedelic experience, there is a clear intention and guided journey of discovery that will be best set up for the client to find healing.

Our discovery process includes a medical screening process to ensure that the medicine work is done in a way that will enhance and not endanger the client. Working with licensed medical staff, a client’s health is carefully protected and ensured to be held in a safe respective manner.

Following the intake and discovery processes, a timeline would be set out to determine the number of pre-journey therapy sessions and medicine sessions. Each psychedelic medicine session would be accompanied by your therapist and someone familiar with the medicine.

Psychedelic-assisted palliative care therapy is most effective when there are opportunities for the client to fully embrace a new outlook on each day that they have remaining to live. This may come with lifestyle changes, diet changes, or choosing to adopt new positive habits and letting other negative thought patterns go.

The therapist role in this work is designed to continue a relationship with the patient throughout the program so that there is ongoing support to help find the long-term healing that is desired.

What Happens During The Psychedelic Medicine Journey?
The medicine journey itself is conducted with two facilitators — a medical professional and a medicine guide. Together they will set the stage, create a space and environment for the client to fully embrace the psychedelic experience. Depending on the therapist and the client’s discussions prior to the journey, the journey may involve active participation by the therapist in discussion and helping move the client into a space of clarity and peace.

As a client, you will feel supported throughout the “journey” as your intentions are explored in the non-ordinary state of consciousness. This process of discovery is as individual as each client who will experience the medicine, and the guides will be there throughout the process to make sure you are safe, and free to discover.

Palliative Services are currently being offered in our Calgary Journey Center.  

We are currently conducting psychedelic-assisted therapy for palliative patients who have received a Section 56 Exemption from Health Canada. For more information on how to apply for the Section 56 Exemption, please visit our Health Canada Application Page here.

We were honoured to have been the first private service provider in Canada to conduct legal psychedelic-assisted therapy using psilocybin for a palliative patient recently.

To read about Tony White’s story and the impact it had on him in the late stages of his life, please see the article below, courtesy of AirdrieToday.com.

Widow of Airdrie cancer patient lauds benefits of psychedelic therapy

Tony white, a Stage 4 bladder cancer patient, was the first Albertan to receive psychedelic mushroom therapy before he passed away on Jan. 20. Photo Submitted/For Airdrie City View

Airdrie resident Tony White was Alberta’s first official cancer patient to receive the go-ahead to undergo psilocybin (psychedelic mushroom) therapy.

After three peaceful weeks following his first treatment session, White passed from his cancer on Jan. 20.

White’s widow, Rebecca Crewe, is now telling the story of her husband’s final weeks and how important the therapy was to him. She said his legacy should advocate for the benefits of psychedelic therapy and the positive impact it can have on others going through similar diagnoses.

“When I went to go pick him up [after his therapy session], I was completely gobsmacked at what I saw,” she said. “He could move his body like I hadn’t seen him do in months. It was shocking. I was expecting the spiritual and psychological impact, but I was not expecting the physical impact.”

White was diagnosed with terminal Stage 4 bladder cancer right around the time COVID-19 arrived in Alberta last spring. Crewe said White had been diagnosed with Stage 0 cancer around two years earlier.

David Harder, founder of ATMA Journey Centers Inc. and Executive Director of SYNTAC Institute, helped convince Health Canada of psilocybin therapy’s benefits. He said the therapy isn’t meant to cure cancer, but help with physical pain management and mental healing.

“The biggest thing for Tony, was that it gave him his peace back,” Harder said. “For those last two weeks, although the cancer was very advanced, it allowed him to really live.”

According to Harder, a psychiatrist was on hand to aid White during the four-hour journey, where he lay down on a couch to navigate through his psychedelic experience.

“We had the most beautiful ceremony,” he said. “It was a huge honour to be able to provide this for him and his family.”

White did his only treatment session on Jan. 1. Crewe said the final weeks with him were powerful and passionate.

“He was coming to grips with his mortality,” she said. “He was so sick before the therapy. Afterwards, he was back. I believe in my heart and soul that this medicine gave him two quality weeks with me, where he was himself again.”

Crewe said White’s sense of humour returned and he was more present during his final weeks.

“We had some really beautiful conversations,” she said. “We enjoyed every moment that we had,” she said. “He had this peace about him that I have never seen before.  He was just calm. He wasn’t tormented anymore, that is the best way I can describe it.”

White passed away on Jan. 20 at home in what Crewe described as a beautiful and peaceful setting surrounded by family.

“It is heartbreaking,” she said. “I have had a lot of time to reflect – grief is not an overnight process – but I am no longer afraid of death. That energy and that love has to go somewhere.”

Crewe said before White’s passing, they had a number of conversations about the therapy he underwent.

“Honestly, his experience made us passionate and made us feel like we were put on this earth to advocate for this,” she said. “I had a dear friend of mine who passed away last year from pancreatic cancer and we discussed how much peace and relief this could have provided her and others.”

White, according to Crewe, was a very private man and a self-proclaimed introvert. Despite this, he was so moved by the therapy he found himself doing media interviews near the end of his life to get the word out about what he experienced.

“It’s astounding,” she said. “That has become our passion, and that is how I want to honour Tony.”

Jordan Stricker, AirdrieToday.com

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