Psychedelic Facilitators vs. Psychedelic Therapists
Psychedelic therapists and psychedelic facilitators are not the same, though they both have important roles to play as part of your psychedelic-assisted therapy team.
Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Care Team
Psychedelic therapy requires an entire care team to supervise clients as they partake in their therapeutic psychedelic experiences. While the exact structure of the therapy team may vary with regulatory changes, it is likely that the care team will involve a minimum of three professionals, if not more, who will support clients from start to finish.
Psychiatrist or Medical Doctor
A psychiatrist or medical doctor will provide assessment, screening, and overall supervision of the process. They will also be responsible for prescribing the psychedelic. A medical doctor may also serve as the first point of contact within the medical system for those seeking psychedelic therapy, especially for those not already involved with a therapist. This makes it incredibly important for all physicians to have adequate knowledge about the science and safety behind psychedelic therapy, regardless of their interest in being part of the treatment team.
A fully licensed and appropriately trained therapist will provide preparation and integration psychotherapy sessions, and if they chose to also work as guides, will provide supervision and support during the medicine journey, either independently or as part of a facilitation team. A licensed therapist may be the first point of contact for those already in therapy, and will likely act as the overall case manager for the psychedelic participant.
A psychedelic guide (sometimes referred to as a psychedelic facilitator) will differ in training and experience from a psychedelic therapist. Guides will not require therapist licensure as they will not engage in psychotherapy with the client during the psychedelic session. They will likely have varying backgrounds ranging from breathwork practitioners to pastoral workers, personal interest psychonauts, or alternative healing professionals.
Similar to the distinction between a birth doula (guide) vs. a midwife (therapist), both roles will be supportive with the common goal of seeing clients through their experiences safely. Guides will support both the clinical staff (doctors and therapists) as well as the psychedelic therapy client.
Psychedelic Therapists Aren’t Usually Supervising Psychedelic Experiences
A psilocybin journey can last upwards of six hours, and given the physiological changes, client safety is a top priority for regulators and practitioners alike. While supervision and support in a safe setting is critical, given the length of time a psychedelic medicine journey can take, it is not economical for a psychologist, psychiatrist, or medical doctor to supervise the experience.
Some states have in their regulations that a therapist is not permitted to facilitate the psychedelic journey. It’s important to understand the regulations in your state to understand the required structure of your psychedelic care team.
Psychedelic Facilitator & Psychedelic-Assisted Therapist Training
ATMA’s psychedelic therapy training programs are designed to train both psychedelic facilitators (guides) and psychedelic therapists.
Since mental health therapists are already licensed and have substantial education and training, including supervised practice, the focus of ATMA’s training programs is on the applications and intricacies of using psychedelic medicines as a therapeutic tool. Rather than training therapists to be therapists, ATMA works with therapists and aspiring psychedelic guides alike to develop competencies specific to the use of psychedelic medicines in mental health treatment.
Psychedelic guides, who will not require specialized therapeutic training in order to offer a supportive role to clients, will also benefit from advanced knowledge of psychedelic medicines and will learn how to interact with clients who are on medicine journeys.
Interested in adding psychedelic therapy into your practice?
Download the Practitioner’s Guide to Psychedelics now for more information on how this may translate into practice.