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How to Become a Psychedelic Guide

“How to Become a Psychedelic Guide” celebrates the Psychedelic Passage podcast one-year milestone with a captivating discussion on how to become a psychedelic guide/facilitator. Delve into the nuanced world of psychedelic service provision, exploring various tracks and pathways for aspiring guides. 

Nicholas and Jimmy unravel the complexities of state and federal legality, risk tolerance, and the personal commitment required to serve in this transformative field. 

Gain valuable insights into the ever-changing demands of running a successful psychedelic practice and learn how to differentiate yourself in a rapidly growing industry and find your unique path to making a meaningful impact in the world of psychedelics. 

Our hosts cover the importance of personal experience and professional expertise in guiding others through a healing journey and teach you about the rigorous vetting process employed by their referral network to ensure high integrity and safe practices. 

Whether you’re a curious listener or aspiring facilitator, this episode offers valuable insights and thought-provoking discussions that will leave you inspired and empowered to make a meaningful impact in the psychedelic realm.

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For harm-reduction purposes, we provide links to online psilocybin vendors, local stores, delivery services, and spore vendors for growing your own medicine at home.

Episode 54 – How to Become a Psychedelic Guide

Jimmy: Welcome to the Psychedelic Passage podcast. My name is Jimmy Nguyen. I’m joined here by my– I always want to say my soon to be, no longer partner in crime. Meaning, these things are getting more legal and legal every day. [Nick laughs] 

But I’m here with Nick Levich. We’re the co-founders of Psychedelic Passage, and the cohost of this podcast. We’re really grateful that you’ve tuned in to another episode. It’s funny as we’ve been looking into the data on our listeners and things like that. 

We have a lot of folks who go through every episode. And so, what I found is that this has now become your and I’s almost like anthology series [laughs] on our psychedelic rants. 

I was chatting with a friend about– They just had some questions on integration and stuff and I was like, “Oh, well, we have these episodes, and maybe start there and listen.” 

And so, it’s been an immense value to us to be able to speak to our audience in this way, and I hope that all the listeners and community within the Psychedelic Passage podcast also feel that in return. So, thank you– [crosstalk] 

Nick: I also just want to acknowledge that this is, I believe, Episode 54 that we’re recording, which means we just hit a year. That was 52 weekly episodes, which is just over a year. So, that’s– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: Oh, wow. 

Nick: We didn’t miss a week. 

Jimmy: We are so bad at celebrating milestones. We should have celebrated [laughs] our 50th, but we’re like, “What’s the next topic that we need- 

Nick: Yeah, pretty much. 

Jimmy: -[crosstalk] about folks?” So, the next topic that we’ll be chatting about today is a question that we get all the time from people in our community, people who email us, people that we chatted with at the conference. 

It’s about how to become a psychedelic guide/facilitator or really just a psychedelic service provider in any capacity. And this is a little bit of a nuanced question.

I just want to start by saying that psychedelic guideship and facilitation work is one of the few pathways right now for a person to get involved with psychedelic-related service, but it’s not the only pathway that will exist in the future. 

We’ll talk about this a little bit later on, but it’s why we’re framing this specifically to psychedelic guideship and facilitation, because I feel like there’s this assumption, somebody’s like, 

“I want to become a psychedelic professional,” so that must mean that I have to become a psychedelic guide and facilitator. And so, there’s this one-two punch here. 

We’re going to talk about that today, and then also just debunk some of these assumptions here, and then also just talk a little bit more tangibly about what’s going on in the regulatory environment, what’s going on within our own organization at Psychedelic Passage. 

But I think it’s really starting about the internal process of an individual who is seeking to become a psychedelic guide or facilitator. 

The Many Faces of The Psychedelic Facilitator 

[00:03:05] Jimmy: So, Nick, somebody comes to you and they’re like, “I want to be a psychedelic facilitator. How do I do that?” What are the main things that you’re talking to them about? 

Nick: The second you ask that question, the first thing that I want to know is, how do you want to serve? In other words, do you want to be a therapist? Do you want to be a facilitator? Do you want to be a retreat leader? 

Do you want to be an integration coach? Do you want to be a microdosing coach? What is it that you actually want to do? Because there’s so many different flavors of that, and I think about it as far as tracks. 

And so, if you want to be part of the MAPS MDMA clinical trials, you’re going to need a very different set of experience and education than if you want to go lead retreats down in Jamaica. 

To me, it’s not about better, worse, or otherwise. It’s just acknowledging that what you actually want to do, how you want to show up is going to require a different track, a different set of steps to get there. 

Jimmy: Yeah. What I’m hearing you say is that within those different tracks, there’s likely a different set of requirements, there’s a different set of timeline, there’s probably risk tolerances that are all over the place. [crosstalk] 

Nick: That’s where I go number two, always, is risk tolerance. 

Jimmy: Yeah, talk about that.

Nick: The question is, okay, you want to get involved, but what is your own personal risk tolerance given that these things are still federally illegal and schedule one substances? 

And so, do you want to be fully shielded from a legal perspective, both criminal and civil? You have very few options for that. You want to just remove the criminal component? Okay, now you’ve got more options. 

But civil liability is always going to be a thing, because we live in one of the most litigious countries in the world where you can be sued for anything at any time. And then let’s say you’re a medical health professional who’s got licensure and you want to do the work–

But you’re working in a state where you could have your licensure removed by touching psychedelic substances. So, you see how convoluted this gets very quickly when we look at something as simple as risk. 

Jimmy: Or, you may say that, “Hey, I’m ready to do all of this, but because of my risk tolerance, I need to wait for a state-regulated program to come online in my area.” And so, we’ll also speak about that a little bit later in the episode. 

But that risk tolerance is important, because there is a difference between state legality, and by association decriminalization versus federal legality. And to your point, decriminalization may not be enough to meet your risk tolerance. 

You might say, “Hey, I need to be in a state that has a fully regulated system.” Or, you might say, “Hey, I need to wait for a federally regulated system,” which, who knows when’s that coming. [laughs] Who knows? Maybe in this decade. Who knows? 

Those are two really good questions, how you want to serve and your own risk tolerance. I even back it up even further where I just try to get people to figure out their why. Like, why is it that you want to do this? 

There’s probably a “gradient” of right or wrong answers. I think [laughs] people will have different range of answers, but it’s got to be really specific to your why around this. If it’s the new, hot, exciting thing, and you’re just trying to make a career shift–

And you think that this is just an emerging industry and market, I would probably ask you to think twice, if that’s your sole reason, before you start to work with folks directly in, what is potentially one of some of the most meaningful, vulnerable, impactful– [crosstalk] 

Nick: Energetically intensive.

Jimmy: Yeah, of a person’s life. And then once you clarify your why, and that feels true for you, then it’s about, “Okay, how does this line up with how I show up in the world with this level of service?” Some other questions like, are you doing this full time or part time? 

Before the pandemic, and probably even now, but the pandemic really created a lot of need and demand for licensed mental health services–

I, for sure, knew that there were some therapists who were also having that second job at a retail store or grocery store to get some money in the door. 

And so, when I think about somebody, if I’m choosing a therapist, I’d probably like that therapist to be doing that full time. But that really depends on you. 

This is a practice, by the way. I don’t think that this is something that can just be done on the weekends. I also don’t refute people who want to try to go for that. 

But it requires a lot, I think, to step into psychedelic guideship or facilitator work given that the landscape is ever changing, given that regulations change all the time, given that standards are not established yet, and that will likely change. 

I don’t think somebody who’s really going at this 10 hours a week is able to move and shift to all of those changes. 

Nick: Well, there’s an opportunity cost. You’ve got your focus in two different areas, your hand in two different jars, so to speak. I think one of the things that I feel called to highlight around this specific question is like, do you want to actually make this your career? 

I just don’t think people really understand how taxing this work is, because it’s one thing to sit with a friend or family member and be like, “Wow, what a beautiful experience. That was awesome. I wish I could do more of that.” 

Sitting with strangers who have actual trauma mental health diagnoses addictions, truly struggling in their life, that is a wildly different experience. 

We’ve talked about this on some other episodes, but a lot of the facilitators in our network, they max out at anywhere between one journey to three journeys a week.

Jimmy: Which is already a lot. 

Nick: It’s already a lot. 

Jimmy: That’s already a lot. I mean, one a month can be a lot for some folks. A lot of people, look, thank you. I’m getting fired up here, because a lot of people–[laughter] 

Jimmy: Surprise, surprise, Jimmy’s getting fired up on the podcast. But there’s a lot of people who look at psychedelic guideship and facilitator work as exciting. I use the term sexy. Meaning, appealing. Like, “Oh, it’s this new thing where I can come–” [crosstalk] 

Nick: Trendy. 

Jimmy: Yeah, it’s trendy. I can help society. Potentially, yes. But tell me how you feel when you sit with a client who regresses to a nonverbal childlike state for six hours.

Nick: And then relives sexual abuse in front of you.

Jimmy: And then maybe actually views you through transference as the perpetrator of that sexual abuse. Like, see how trendy it feels [Nick laughs] when you actually have to sit there and hold that space for that person. 

I’m talking about somewhat of a complex situation and case, but it’s just important for me to just highlight the realism of this type of work. And so, when I chat with folks, I’m like, “Hey, I got to be clear. I’m not a licensed mental health professional.” 

I definitely more sit in the coaching realm. I’ve worked with clients with these past histories. I’ve worked with clients in these past things.” And then it’s up to that psychedelic curious person to have their choice to be like–

“Ah, actually, I need a certain set of licensure certification or something or a background in this or a background in that.” And I’m like, “Cool. Likely there will be a person that will show up for you for that.”

Nick: That’s perfectly, because that addresses our previous episode that we just recorded last week is like, “Hey, choose the level of care that you want. 

If you as a journeyer need a certain level of certification or expertise or whatever to feel comfortable, name it, ask for it, go for that.” 

Jimmy: Mm-hmm. And also, it leads into or is related to your question on how you want to serve, because how you want to serve will require different skills, require different certifications, require different programs to meet your specific modality or way of service. 

I think there’s a lot of folks who are questioning how to become a psychedelic guide or facilitator where they’re like, “Okay, do I need a coaching certification? Do I actually need to go through a therapy track? Maybe I’m getting a counselor license. What is “enough here”?” 

It really does remain to be seen. We’ll segue a little bit into state regulations. But something that Colorado does is they say, “You don’t need a preexisting licensure of any kind in order to apply for a facilitator license.” 

I appreciate that, because it does create a little bit more inclusivity around what I would call more culturally driven psychedelic practice–

Which includes traditional, indigenous, different cultures around the world, and how to approach. Likely, they’re not going to have a mental health license or something like that. 

Nick: Or, a master’s degree or whatever. 

Jimmy: Or, a master’s degree. It opens the door, which I appreciate. But all of this comes into play if you’re deciding whether to become a psychedelic guide or facilitator. 

Questions of Practicality: Operating as a Facilitator in Our Current Society

[00:13:18] Jimmy: And then, there’s this whole other lens of we are in a world where services are provided through businesses, and maybe non-governmental organizations, and maybe governmental organizations. 

But primarily, you’re running a business, which then you can say, if it’s a nonprofit or for profit or whatnot, that’s not the point of my conversation. 

My point is, do you have the acumen and experience to run a team to have your finances and accounting in track, to have your client reporting dialed in, to be able to use technology in a certain way? I would say that most people don’t. 

Nick: I actually want to speak to this for a second, because there’s a lot of people– What we’re talking about here is space holding, alternative healing, healing arts, whatever you want to call it. 

But a lot of the people that are super gifted at holding space for others in this way, they’re not that good when it comes to business or customer service or marketing or making a website. 

What I want to highlight is that if you’re going to go out and try and do this on your own and make this your career, your livelihood, you have to figure out how to stay relevant–

And how to differentiate yourself among all these other people and still run a sustainable private practice. So, it actually requires a lot more than just how to hold space for others or how to be a good facilitator. You got to look at the whole thing. 

Jimmy: Yeah, I explained to a lot of folks who I chat with, who are interested in joining our network that the sacred space holding though it is the core of this work is actually a prerequisite of which all the other things that you’re talking about are built on top of. 

You could be one of the most high integrity psychedelic space holders in the field. If you don’t know how to attract and gain clients in a market like Colorado where advertising is not allowed, then what are you doing? 

You’re still running into that issue or that thing. And so, a lot of what we’re talking about here is like, how does this work in our society and culture today? 

Nick: Part of what you’re highlighting is that what worked 10 years ago when all this was underground and referral word of mouth is not going to work as this whole industry or movement actually comes online and alive and there’s transparent above ground ways to get service. 

Jimmy: Yeah, there’s a limited runway of underground services. I do think that underground services will continue to exist in a lot of different formats. 

I also hope that there’s a world where recreational use exists with the right community care, and harm reduction models, and things like that, which I’m obviously very passionate about. 

I’ll give a great example, if you were doing this work a few years ago, even last year or this year, but you’re in the underground space, privacy is really important. Usually, you’re getting your clients from direct word of mouth referrals. 

Meaning, that that person knows somebody that you directly know. In that regard, a lot of my peers and colleagues in the underground world actually think that less paperwork is the most protective. 

They actually think that a lot of this happens in undocumented verbal conversations around screening, and service agreements, and documenting notes, and things like that. 

That’s not going to fly in a state regulated model, and that’s also not going to fly when you start to meet people who maybe found your website and sent you an email inquiry, maybe somebody who wasn’t a word-of-mouth referral. 

And so, you can start to see very quickly that the paradigm of what’s required to do this psychedelic guideship and facilitation work in a public way, in as legal of a way as possible, those requirements will be changing very drastically and very swiftly. 

Nick: Yeah. 

Jimmy: So, let’s transition a little bit. I think we’ve alluded to some things. We’ve talked a little bit about, okay, some state licensure things will start to show up and what does that look like? 

I’ll clarify that Nick and I have our opinions on this, and we can refer to what’s happening in the state of Oregon, refer to what’s happening in the state of Colorado, the first two states that are attempting to create regulated models around psychedelic use. 

There’s also a personal use section within Colorado as well. It’s just important to say that even though Nick and I will be providing our opinions here that a lot of this is yet to be determined. 

The same way that I said that, just because psychedelic facilitation is one of the only direct pathways now, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be alternate pathways that will emerge in the future. 

So, if you are a super psychedelic friendly event organizer, maybe you would be a great person to be on a team of a retreat service or something like that. 

If you are a really awesome tax person or an accountant or financial services, likely every psychedelic service or company will need that in the future. 

Maybe you’re really great at storytelling and branding and marketing. And then you’re like, “Okay, I want to link up with a psychedelic oriented organization to try to help here.” 

I just want to make that super clear that you have to check with yourself, whether you have the basic raw core components of even becoming a guide or facilitator before then you’re like, “Okay, how does this work? What’s my practice? How do I show up? What’s in the regulated model?” 

Comparing Oregon & Colorado: The Country’s First Regulated Psychedelic Models  

[00:19:27] Jimmy: So, my question for you, Nick, is, what the– This is going to be very different, Oregon versus Colorado, [laughs] by the way. But what do you think will be required to be a successful facilitator in Oregon in, let’s say, two to three years? 

Let’s say three to five years, actually, because right now, we acknowledge and we’ve done episodes on this that it’s a little messy, Oregon. 

And so, I’m curious, when you look at that state like, what are the things that may come up there that an interested guide or facilitator should think about.

Nick: Yeah. So, the background for those that haven’t listened to the episode we did on what’s going on with Measure 109 in Oregon, the basic gist of it is that they set the bar to become a facilitator really low, objectively too low. 

And they had good intentions for doing that, which is everything you spoke to earlier, Jimmy, about accessibility and not essentially boxing people out who maybe– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: Inclusivity. 

Nick: Exactly. But what that did is it basically created an environment where if you pay the money, you have 200 hours of classroom learning, and you’ve been a resident of Oregon for the last two years, you can get a license. 

Jimmy: Again, you go through one of those approved training programs, which is where you’re going to get your hours from.

Nick: Which is the 200 hours piece. But it doesn’t require that you’ve ever journeyed before. It doesn’t require a psychological eval. There’s no human screening component. 

There’s nothing that, from my perspective, is common sense of what you’d want in a facilitator that’s required. And so, what that basically means is that Oregon is going to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 licensed facilitators by the end of the year, which is, A, a lot–

And B, presents this exact same quandary that we presented in the last episode, which is, how do you know who is who? 

How do you, as a journeyer discern, which one of those facilitators has been doing this for 10 years and has hundreds of reps? And which one has never journeyed before has maybe only ever microdosed, and has no direct professional experience facilitating for others? 

They have the same licensure. They have the same qualifications and the same work opportunities. 

To me, if I were getting a license in Oregon and that’s the route that I wanted to go, my number one focus would be on how do I help portray, demonstrate, or illustrate to anyone that’s seeking services why I’m different. 

And can I link up with a service center that shares my value system? Because you can’t operate out of your home. You have to operate out of a service center. 

And so, the question is, which one of those is going to be the right fit for you, so that you can align yourself with the right people? 

Jimmy: Thank you for saying that. That was an important distinction that I wanted to make.. We’re just talking about the facilitator license, there’s also a separate service center license to be able to cultivate, distribute psilocybin and psilocybin products. 

Nick: Any service has to go through a service center. 

Jimmy: Mm-hmm. And then you got to think, “Okay, if I’m a facilitator and I have to link up with the service center, do I create that service center you were talking about, well, do I align with that service center? Is there an application process with that service center?” 

Because there’s not that many service centers out there. So, imagine that these 500 facilitators then have to go through an application process, and maybe–

I don’t know, 100 of them get selected to work with the service center. And you got 400 other facilitators out there who have a license, who can’t do anything with it.

Nick: Nowhere to practice, no clients. 

Jimmy: Then you got to think about the service center like, what are the security camera and surveillance requirements for your cultivation facility? Do you have to adhere to paperwork and documentation requirements? 

Do you have to have a medical professional within your team and on site? So, you start to look at these– How do I invest in real estate that lines up with the right zoning and municipality? [crosstalk] 

Nick: Am I even going to be able to get insurance as a facilitator, like, liability insurance? Because if a client sues you, then what? 

Jimmy: Right. I got a calling from spirit and the medicine to become a facilitator. So, this is what I’m doing. You can see how it quickly becomes much more than that if you’re trying to do this publicly, and legally, and for a very long time in this country. 

Nick: Yeah, exactly. 

Jimmy: So, now with Colorado, thank you for that. I’m not as well versed in Oregon. But in Colorado, I think they run into some of the same things. Now say that Colorado has yet to define the requirements on the application, and approval, and licensure process. 

Important to note a couple of things. There likely will be different tiers of facilitator licenses. So, let’s assume it’s tier 1 through tier 4, where tier 1 is maybe the basic requirement. Tier 2 might be more specialized care.

Tier 3 might require a different track where you actually might need a mental health or medical background. Maybe there’s a certain tier for end-of-life services. 

And so, there’s an attempt there, but at this juncture, midway through 2023, the state has about a year-ish before they start to open up that license application process for facilitators in December of 2024. 

Similarly, they have not really defined what a healing center will look like. That’s the same term as a service center in Oregon. They’re calling them healing centers in Colorado. And even then, there will be a whole set of requirements. 

Not just real estate and zoning, but also making sure that you have all of the right parameters, security, personnel documentation, paperwork, SOPs, procedures, emergency medical protocols, all of that stuff to be a healing center in Colorado. 

So, you see this can be a little nuanced, because if I’m trying to start a retreat center in the mountains of Colorado, and there’s a requirement that I need to be within a certain distance, the nearest hospital or whatever, then it’s going to be really hard to find that piece of land.

Alternatively, somebody who is trying to open a healing center smack dab in the middle of Denver may have different things like, security issues and cultivation limitations depending on square footage and things like that. And so, it gets really tricky.

Colorado is yet to define these things. I also applaud Colorado, because they’re trying to establish some ethical review boards. They are trying to establish some processes for advocacy, reviewing licenses, responding to claims of facilitator abuse–

For people to potentially lose their license if an investigation turned up something, which I actually don’t see a lot in Oregon. I don’t think that there’s much of that. [crosstalk] [laughs] 

Nick: Dude, I looked into it and couldn’t find anything. It doesn’t mean that they’re not working on it, but it has not been a publicly communicated initiative–

Which is somewhat concerning to me, because if somebody lodges a complaint against a facilitator like, what’s the state going to do? Do they have the resources to investigate it? 

Does it put you on probation? Do they remove your license altogether? Does nothing happen? And so, I’ve actually talked to several therapists here locally in Oregon that I respect–

Who basically came up to me after a talk that I gave and said, “Thank you for blowing the whistle on what’s happening here in Oregon, and also this is why I’m not going for licensure right away,-

Jimmy: Wow.

Nick: -because it’s kind of a shit show and I’m going to wait for the dust to settle, and then to figure all this out before I throw my hat in the ring.” 

Jimmy: Which speaks to the whole risk tolerance thing that we started this with. Like that person probably has qualifications to be in the [crosstalk] but they’re like, “Ah, this is a little too risky. I’m going to wait. I’m going to wait a year or two.”

Nick: Because they don’t want to be associated with every other 500 person that’s throwing their hat in the ring. And so, I think this speaks to this question of, is the state program even right for you as someone who wants to be a facilitator? It’s not going to be right for everyone. 

Psychedelic Passage’s Data-Driven Model 

[00:28:48] Jimmy: Yeah, and it also– I think that there’s this really trendy belief that’s floating around which speaks to the psychedelic halo effect or the psychedelic cheerleader effect that I’ve mentioned in the past couple of episodes where they’re like, “Psychedelics are super safe. 

They’re just safe. They’re the safest thing.” I think that creates this assumption that psychedelics are safe in every format and every potential way of psychedelic use. That’s just false. 

The reason why psychedelics can be safe as compared to other substances, meaning, a low measure of physical and mental addiction, meaning, a low level of persisting adverse side effects–

But the same reason why a car is safe, because it’s got headlights, and a horn, and bumpers, and a seatbelt, and emergency lights,- 

Nick: Airbags. 

Jimmy: -airbags, is the same way that psychedelics can be safe. Psychedelics will be very safe with the right features. We talk about all the time, screening, preparation and integration, actual client care during the dosing session or the ceremonial program. 

All of these things have to be included in order for psychedelics to be done in about the safest way possible. 

Nick and I started Psychedelic Passage really because we saw that there were a lot of people where a lot of potential harm can be caused, and we just did something about it. That created this model that inadvertently put us ahead of the state programs. 

I’m just going to say that. And so, we run into a lot of our own internal standards and processes and systems having held space for hundreds and hundreds of clients through our program that state run programs just don’t have. 

They just don’t have that data. They don’t have the ability to be like, “Oh, that should be a facilitator requirement.” [crosstalk] 

Nick: To be fair, we didn’t know they were problems or going to be problems either until we started. What you’re highlighting is that it’s actually the amount of experience and reps that then highlight some of these challenges like, how do you adequately vet facilitators? 

What do you do if a complaint is received? The states don’t even have a live program yet, so how could they possibly be addressing this? 

Jimmy: Yeah, what type of support and ongoing care does an individual have if they had a psychologically distressing experience? And so, these are just things that just are not built into any regulated model that I’ve seen so far. 

We have gone through quite an evolution in our organization, and I think specifically we don’t talk about our organization as much on this podcast. 

I think it’s important too, because there’s a dual fold. One is like, how do we create a model for psychedelic interested people to get the information, and the prep materials, and the integration materials–

And to ask the questions that they need, and to answer questions, just that. Like, how do we create more knowledge for a more educated, I’ll call it, userbase? That’s one side.

Then the other side is how do we continue to raise the standards within our own referral network, so that if that psychedelic curious person is interested in being introduced to a couple of options that those folks meet that standard as well? 

And so, we have come up with our own internal standards, our own vetting process, our own ongoing due diligence process in making sure– [crosstalk] 

Nick: Which we’re super transparent about. 

Jimmy: Yeah.

Nick: You can look on our website, if you click the Our Network tab, it’ll show you exactly what we require of facilitators in order to be considered to join our network. 

Jimmy: Yeah. So, I think that you have some of these parameters that are really close to your heart that are worth chatting about. 

It’s actually all the things that you were griping about in Oregon actually become the base [laughs] that are the standards within our network. 

So, I wonder if you want to start somewhere around, “Hey, what are the basic requirements?” And then maybe I can talk a little bit about the vetting process from there. 

Nick: Yeah. So, I think what’s really cool about what we’ve created and obviously, I’m a little biased here is that there’s no predefined track that someone has to go through to meet our requirements. 

And so, some of the folks in our network have backgrounds in psychology. Some don’t. Some came from the more retreat leader aspect, some are actual mental health professionals. 

It’s a very diverse background, but they all satisfy this common set of vetting standards that we believe to be important for anyone that we feel comfortable referring out to. 

It starts with personal experience journeying themselves. I can’t even believe I have to say this, [Jimmy laughs] but that’s not a requirement in a lot of these state programs. It’s just not a requirement. 

And so, I personally don’t want to be guided down the river by someone who’s never floated it before. That’s just not something that I’m interested in, nor would I feel comfortable sending someone to that. So, that’s step one or– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: There’s actually a twofold to this. One is, your own personal relationship with psychedelics and psychedelic substances. The other is, your firsthand experience in actually supporting folks in a professional manner through experiences. So, there’s two parts to that.

Nick: Right. And so, that brings me to the second piece, which is, to be considered for our network, you’ve got to have at least two years of professional experience or a minimum of 40 professional ceremonies facilitated. 

Like, reps under the belt is so important, because 5-10 of these is not enough to get a feel for what’s actually going on. The other thing is, we take our time in this interviewing screening process. Why? Because this is an extremely human thing. 

You can’t get everything you need from someone from a piece of paper. You have to actually communicate with them, and understand, what does their energy feel like? Can they be present with you? Are they being clear and concise in their communication? 

The fact that the state has no method to screen out potential psychological issues of facilitators and then they’re going to say that it’s psychedelic-assisted therapy is shocking and appalling to me.

And so we’ve done our best to build in this human interview touch point, which makes sense. Think about college applications. You don’t get into a college without an interview, and yet the state’s not requiring that. 

Other requirements that we hold firm are that all the facilitators must be actively engaged in their own healing process. So, this is their own therapy, their own coaching, their own mentorship, whatever it is, because that allows them to show up as a clean slate for others. 

We require letters of recommendation from professional colleagues. We require independent verification and reviews of past clients. 

Jimmy: Yeah. So, I’ll speak on this a little bit. So, what we’ve done over the past, well, this year is really standardized and codified our facilitator vetting process. 

And to your point, on average, because I’m in charge of this, [chuckles] I typically am talking to somebody for three to six months before I decide to bring them on. 

And so, that is a combination of an application process, and then a verification process, and then this multi-step interview process. 

So, within that application process, we’re checking on letters of references, we’re checking on client references, we are looking at past work history via resumes, getting you to upload your education, certifications, backgrounds, things like that. 

Then we actually get into some questions about your practice like, do you use a client screening intake form? What is your preparation process look like? What does your ceremonial or dosing program process look like? How do you handle integration? 

Do you have documentations on all of these standard operating procedures? Do you have support documents? What documents do you send to your client for the priming preparation or knowledge and information around psychedelic use? 

Do you have emergency medical protocols? So, we’re talking about all of these things that no underground facilitator needs to figure out. They just decide, “Oh, I’m here to support the medicine.” They just go out and do it. 

So, we’re also then talking about other things like power dynamics. What types of clients do you work with? Do you have boundaries and clients that you don’t work with? We’re asking you about your own personal challenging psychedelic experiences. 

Even then in this application process, which is really lengthy, by the way, really, really lengthy and it usually takes people a couple of weeks to fill out, even then, I’m then going into a multi-series interview process with you–

Where we’re clarifying and I’m challenging things and I’m asking things and I’m getting more detail on just like how you show up in this work. 

And then you go through a background check, and then we check your social media handles, and we do all of that stuff before we even offer you an invitation to join our referral network. 

That’s a really involved and lengthy process. It’s a human process, and I just don’t think that there are any state models out there that actually match that. 

And I’ll say that this process, our vetting process, will continually be improved, will continually be evolved over time as we learn as an organization, and as we grow into wherever the psychedelic facilitation landscape is going to. 

Nick: [00:39:54] Right. I think that that’s what, at least for me personally, gives me the level of comfort that I need to feel like, we’re truly championing the facilitators who are doing things the right way. 

Like, I want the facilitators who are integrity and meet these requirements to have thriving private practices, and to be successful, and to rise to the top because that’s the level of care that’s commensurate with the outcomes that people want–

And doing less harm than is ideally no harm. Those are the things that allow me to feel comfortable, not only referring clients out, but also helping those folks really continue to have a thriving career and private practice as a facilitator. 

Jimmy: [00:40:49] Yeah. And I’ll also just add to throw a wrench into this whole thing that you can have all those things that I just listed off, super dialed in, and you may be terrible at client communications. 

You may be terrible at following up with clients or setting an appointment or sending an email. If you can’t do that, then it’s not going to work either. So, all of these things are interrelated as far as the multi– 

There’s just a lot of dimensions on what is required to join our network, and to be healthy and stay in our network. And so, as we wrap up our episode here, I wonder if there’s anything else that you want to add, Nick. 

I have a couple of things to share about more tangible routes on how to go and seek these things and figure these things out, but just curious, if there’s any last thoughts that you have around this conversation?

Where Do I Go From Here?

[00:41:45] Nick: Well, I have a hunch that a lot of people were listening and hoping to walk away with here with a tangible next step, which I acknowledge– [crosstalk] 

Jimmy: Oh, like, “If I do these six things, I’m in.” Yeah. [laughs] 

Nick: Yeah. Which I totally appreciate and acknowledge. But as you can see, it’s pretty hard for us to do that, because if you want to actually do psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy–

That’s just a wildly different next step than to be a state licensed facilitator, than to be a retreat leader. So, it’s really hard for us to give you any next steps. 

But what I will say is we have written a very comprehensive article that discusses a lot of this in detail with a bit more nuance on questions to consider, educational requirements, that kind of thing, which we’ll link in the show description. 

And so, for anyone that wants to take this to the next step, I recommend that you check out that article. 

Then if you’re still feeling unsure on what to do, you can always send us an email, and we’ll do our best to help you navigate. But this is deeply personal, and you’re going to have to decide what’s right for you based on a lot of the things that we discussed here today. 

Jimmy: Yeah, thanks for that, Nick. I think the biggest elephant in the room is this gap on, okay, how do I get firsthand experience in this current environment where things are still fairly illegal?

I point people, sure, there can be some certifications and things, but likely they’re using breath work or other formats. Apprenticeship and shadowing is becoming much, much more available through different organizations and through different practitioners. 

Maybe you’re doing some work in an international retreat format. Maybe you decide to join a church or religious organization that has psychedelics as a sacrament. 

There were some programs. I just speak some caution around programs like, Synthesis Retreat had a track where folks were going through an 18-month program. They now no longer exist. 

And so, just proceed with a little bit of caution here around some of that programming. But the good news is that, more and more and more will become available over time. 

So, thank you to all of those who have listened. I hope that there was a good balance of key takeaways and tangibility to this amidst our impassioned ramps. 

I hope that for those who are really earnest about stepping into the psychedelic facilitation world in a high integrity way– 

I hope this episode does two things. I hope this episode deters people who listen to what we’re saying and have a really emotional or visceral response or resistance to what we’re saying. 

And I hope that the people who are listening to what we’re saying and see this as a really powerful challenge, who want to step up into the psychedelic facilitation world with high integrity that this also inspires and empowers you. [crosstalk] 

Nick: One last thing before we jump is, if you feel like you meet the requirements for our network and that’s something that you’re interested in potentially exploring and potentially joining–

qWe do have an application process that’s live on the site, and that would be the next step. And so, that’s available to folks who feel like they meet those requirements. 

Jimmy: Yeah, you just gotta get through me first before. 

[laughter] 

Jimmy: Thank you for that, Nick, and thank you to all of our listeners. That brings us to the end of our episode. You can download episodes of the Psychedelic Passage podcast anywhere that you get your podcasts, Apple Podcast, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio.

If you like the show, please leave us a rating and a review. You can always get in touch with us via our website, psychedelicpassage.com, and we look forward to connecting with you next week.

Explore How it Feels to be Connected

From journeyers to those looking to join the psychedelic workforce, Psychedelic Passage is here as a dedicated, reliable resource for all your burning questions and therapeutic journeying needs. 

If something within you is drawn to us, we empower you to book a consultation with one of our concierges who will answer any questions and get you in touch with our network of experienced facilitators. 

Our resources page is our personally curated library of informational articles and podcasts for those of us who want to learn more about psychedelic healing and all the things that come with it. As always, stay safe, be mindful, and radiate love!

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