“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapies & Research at CIIS


California Institute of Integral Studies is launching a new certificate program in Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapies and Research.

Certificate in Psychedelic Therapies and Research – Information and Application.

The Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Certificate serves a growing need for the training of skilled therapist researchers who will ideally seek advanced training for future FDA approved psychedelic-assisted and entactogen-assisted psychotherapy research. Enrollees will be licensable/licensed professionals in specific mental health and medical professions or eligible ordained/commissioned clergy and chaplains. The roots of this Certificate are in the work of scholars and researchers on psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies, transpersonal psychology, consciousness studies, psychoanalysis, mysticism, and anthropology. While this Certificate will emphasize the therapeutic models of psychedelic research, we will address the philosophy and theory from these other scholarly traditions as well. CIIS has an outstanding reputation of 50 years in graduate education that integrates consciousness studies, spirituality and psychology, including psychedelic studies.

Preview of Spring 2016 Certificate Presenters:
Dr. Susana Bustos (CIIS)
Dr. Nick Cozzi (University of Wisconsin)
Dr. Rick Doblin (Tentative – MAPS Founder)
Dr. George Greer (Heffter Co-founder)
Dr. Stanislav Grof
Dr. Jeffrey Guss (New York University)
Diane Haug (Grof Transpersonal Training)
Bob Jesse (Council on Spiritual Practices)
Dr. Michael Mithoefer (MAPS, 4-day June training retreat)
Annie Mithoefer (MAPS, 4-day June training retreat)
Dr. David Nichols (Heffter Co-founder)
Dr. Janis Phelps (CIIS)
Dr. David Presti (UC Berkeley)
Dr. Bill Richards (Johns Hopkins University)






15 responses to “Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapies & Research at CIIS”

  1. Yannick Baele Avatar

    Don’t mistake what I’m about to say with a contradiction of Matty 7:1, but how ironic is it not for a bunch of rich boy scouts to be part of an academically sanctioned “psychedelic camp” while, in a state that hasn’t yet legalized recreational marijuana, a poor (more often than not black) kid still incurs prison time for possession…

    That said, a certificate for “eligible ordained/commissioned clergy and chaplains” ? WTF, mane ? Shouldn’t they be the first ones to be checked for sanity ? I’m pretty sure they should :aren’t they after all most of the time initiating their “experience by dancing with impressions of sensation” without ever even proceeding “to conjecture a partner” ?

    If the system represents sanity, then psychedelics open the doors to “insanity”, and must therefore remain out of the hands of systemic/normative corporations. Psychedelics are antinomic to all forms of hierarchy (and business). Gurus, preachers and shrinks alike can only distort “the experience”, either to their own advantage, or to the advantage of a particular ideology.

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      Our time is full of such contradictions. I suspect the laws will be changing sooner than you think. I think psychedelics will be very good for psychology.

      1. jedmlevine Avatar

        But you must acknowledge, at least, that it could be a slippery slope. Much of humanity is already disconnected; psychedelics may expand consciousness, but they are sure to contribute to people going inward even further. I think we need much more spiritual connection, not disconnection.

      2. Matthew David Segall Avatar

        Jed, I’m having trouble understanding why you think people becoming more contemplative and reflective about themselves and reality is somehow a bad thing. Yes, connection is needed. But “going inward” need not be opposed to establishing such connection.

      3. Yannick Baele Avatar

        Amen, but that’s a Jesuit’s answer : it fails to address the core issue, examplified in another context here : https://theintercept.com/2015/12/09/floridas-ex-felons-struggle-to-regain-their-voting-rights/

        It’s got nothing to do with contradictions, everything with (class) favoritism and repression, and as long as you don’t acknowledge that, your words, however inspiring, will remain desperately hollow…

        In another post, you opposed panpsychism to idealism. But a bridge between the world of ideas (i.e. panpsychism) and the real world is what I miss in your interventions, whether oral or written, a sign you care about what happens outside your privileged academic cocoon, and concrete ways to make society evolve according to the principles you’re defending, which seem to encompass the whole of humanity, despite being accessible only to a happy few.

        If you don’t mind my saying so, your abstractions seem hermetic, which is the antithesis of what you’re adovocating, while your political stances are close to childish, in that they choose to ignore evil in man rather than confront it, thereby remaining at the surface of human sociology.

        Though academia can be a very violent environment too, I haven’t got the feeling, I’d view CIIS as the exception to the rule, at least as far as teacher/student relations are concerned, and it’s utterly comfortable to speak only in front of a sympathetic, well-intentioned audience…

        As an autodidact, I cherish knowledge as much as I despise both scholars who view their discipline as a fortress (and their numbers have grown exponentially during the past two decades) and those who popularize it so much they use it as a jar of flies. I want to think there’s some middle way…

        As for psychedelics and psychology, I don’t disagree with your statement; I’m just saying the psychological corporation can be very bad for psychedelics : let small businesses sell the stuff, but keep big business out of it,and psychology is a big business indeed…

      4. Matthew David Segall Avatar

        I acknowledge that only a certain class of folks will be able to attend this certificate program. I hope and expect that those who benefit from the training will be of service to those who cannot afford to become licensed therapists.

        For better or worse, I make my living as a philosopher. Though there are huge issues that need to be addressed, I value academic life and the ideal of the university a great deal. I do not feel the need to apologize for loving knowledge. That said, I of course agree that universities should be of service to society. Part of returning to that service role is making higher education accessible to all. I hope the American people will elect the right representatives to the White House and congress to make that possible.

        We live in dark and ignorant times. Most people laugh at philosophy. Americans are for the most part happily anti-intellectual. So of course my philosophy appears hermetic in comparison. Again, the solution for this is not for those of us privileged enough to be educated to stop thinking, but for education to be made accessible enough for everyone to be able to participate in high level reflection upon what ails society. As for my political stances being “childish,” I accept that as a badge of honor considering how the “adults” in charge are behaving. And as for ignoring evil, I’m not sure how much of my blog you’ve read, but can assure you I see evil as very real.

  2. Yannick Baele Avatar

    When did I say you didn’t ?…

    And why all these out-of-the-blue comparisons ? Are you assuming I’m a fervent consumer of “happily anti-intellectual” (US) productions ? When the hell did I say “the solution” would be to stop thinking ?

    You’re juggling with so many philosophical concepts and authors with the preconception all your readers/viewers have the necessary prerequisites to understand what you’re saying that among those who don’t all of the time, only fools like me are doing the research. I’m not saying having a philosophical conversation doesn’t require intellectual effort (In fact, I’ve been saying quite the contrary on my ow blog…). I’m saying there needs to be some common ground so as to allow “the profane” to follow and participate, if such is one’s ambition. And this require teaching skills : convictions are not enough. Otherwise, one might come over as slightly arrogant…

    As laudable as your (vague and delegated) aspiration to make higher education accessible to all is, you can’t expect everyone to master all disciplines, can you ? Furthermore, not everyone is interested in higher education, and not everyone has to be. Aren’t you glad your plumber, for instance, chose his line of work ? Or wouldn’t you mind learning all the aspects of plumbing ? This however does not imply excluding your plumber from every intellectual exchange, does it ?

    On another level, why would you belittle yourself by comparing yourself with “the adults” you’re referring to ? I knew you’d jump on the word ‘childish’, but what i meant was a tad different from your interpretation. Actually, your reply perfectly iillustrated my point :

    Q? How can we make knowledge more accessible to all and use it as a force to change society ?
    A! Let’s make higher education accessible to all.

    Doesn’t that sound a tiny bit simplistic to you ? And isn’t it a very comfortable way to dismiss the problem ? Isn’t “let’s elect competent representatives” as well ? How about, for instance, deconstructing and questioning the representative model, as it has evolved in the US, but also elsewhere ?

    Your abstractions entail a formidable change in perception, whereas your political points of view seem perfectly satisfied with the system/structure as it is. See what I’m geting at now ?…

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      I apologize for jumping to conclusions about where you are coming from. I am rushing to reply to your comments while at work when I should be waiting until I have the time to reflect more.

      I would argue that every citizen in a functioning democracy (speaking hypothetically, of course) needs to have an understanding of and appreciation for history and art, and a basic grasp of at least political if not also natural philosophy and science. Otherwise they cannot be informed and contributing members of a self-governing society. Plumbers are important–but they should still be able to have informed opinions about the direction their society is taking.

      But there are not many functioning democracies at the moment… The fact of the matter is I have very little hope in the short term political situation in the US at this point. Trump having such high poll numbers makes me want to move to Canada. The liberals are just as shallow and self-interested as the conservatives. The only thing they have going for them is that they are not overtly racist and sexist.

      I believe it is going to get worse before it gets better. There is no way to reform the current system, and revolution will probably only make things worse given where large portions of the American public are at at this point. There are more guns in this country than there are people.

  3. Yannick Baele Avatar

    thx 4 yr answer.

    Now for something completely different : let’s say you’ve got to give a lecture to a group of prison inmates about Whitehead and panpsychism. How would you proceed ?

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      I would describe panpsychism as an erotic ontology wherein life on earth is a cat and mouse game driven by sexual desire and the fear of death.* These are the dueling forces that make and that destroy the world. I think they’d understand this. The hard part would be trying to get them to see sex and death from a non-human perspective (well depending on their capacity for moral reasoning, maybe I’d have to start with getting them to see sex and death not from an egocentric but from another human being’s perspective). I mean to get them to feel not only animal desire and fear, which is probably easy enough since we are almost entirely animal.I mean trying to find ways to get them to try to feel what its like to be a replicating bacterial cell, or a sapling first bursting through its seed, or an atom of hydrogen bonding with two oxygens.

      If I were in prison, I can imagine being hungry for a vision of my soul that wasn’t so confining and that didn’t make me feel locked up inside my skin. Thinking through panpsychism together might be a great form of existential therapy for inmates now that I think about it…

      *Note that I think there is a light and a shadow to both of these, so what seems like a dark and dreary view might also be dazzlingly sublime from another perspective

  4. jedmlevine Avatar

    I guess it depends on how and why drugs are used. The illusion of separateness is perhaps the primary cause of all human suffering. In its extreme form (and I know this from personal experience because I am in recovery), the addict experiences this disconnect to such a degree that the substance is used, and eventually needed, as a means of desperately trying to connect. Connect to what? To others, to nature, to the universe, to G/god, if you will. The connection is temporily experience once the substance is ingested/smoked/snorte, but it is a false connection, chemically induced. If and when the person makes it to a 12-step program, as I have, she then discovers that the solution is SPIRITUAL, devoid of all substances, and a connection is made with a higher power of ones own understanding. A genuine connection. Now I know there are “recreational” users of everything, but there are surely many who go way beyond that. Especially in our very distressed world. The tendency towards escapism seems very strong. I wonder, how will psychiatrists and psychologists, who are oftentimes treating the alcoholic/addict (or potential one), ensure that their use of psychedelics to “assist” in treatment is not actually contributing to a patient’s addiction or addictive tendencies? That’s what I partially meant by “slippery slope.”

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      The illusion of separateness does cause suffering, but so does an over-bearing emphasis on oneness, since it can squash our need for individual expression. In my own experience, and as reflected by every scientific study I’ve seen, the potential for addiction to psychedelics is very low, lower than caffeine, nicotine, and sugar by a long shot. The psychedelic experience is not inherently enjoyable or pleasurable. It is often extremely difficult, as it drudges up parts of our psyche that we normally prefer not to look at. The material that comes up during a session often takes many weeks to integrate before one is the slightest bit interested in diving back into the altered state again. So “escapism,” while it certainly applies to the use of alcohol, heroin, and yes sometimes cannabis, would not be a major risk with psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, DMT, ayahuasca, etc.

      I think saying the experiences catalyzed by psychedelics are “false” simply because they are chemically induced is misguided. There are no human experiences that are not related in some way to the chemical activity of our nervous system. I’m certainly not a reductionist about this relation (I’m a panpsychist remember; I argue that consciousness is ecological in extent, not trapped inside the skull), but I’m also unable to understand what consciousness might be independent of the chemical activity at work inside and outside our bodies. There simply are no experiences unmediated by chemistry. All consciousness is chemically induced. The trick is finding ways to be in relationship with these chemical catalysts (whether we are talking about H20, THC, or LSD) in a way that enhances rather than diminishes our ability to fully alive and connected to those around us.

  5. Yannick Baele Avatar

    First, I want to say I agree almost 100% with your latest answer on psychedelics, notwithstanding what I said before (and you left unaddressed), particularly with your first sentence, and I’d appreciate it if in upcoming posts you’d care to elaborate on the relation between selfness and oneness, and where exactly the middle point (if there is any such thing) lies according to you, as I’ve tried in vain, in some of my previous comments, to engage with you on that very subject, albeit perhaps confusingly.

    I also respect the moral courage of addicts going through a detox program, and I understand their need to hold on to a very Manichean conception of drug use on the one hand, and spirituality on the other hand, so as to avoid any relapse. In the US, such a pattern is often similar to a born-again-Christian conception of the world. Luckily, those who are able to use substances in an adequate environment and with enough knowledge of self are less restrained. Hence the imperative to keep kids “drugs”-free, which calls for a revision of the prohibition policies (for all).

    However, when you oppose easily available (and even legal) drugs to the McKenna panacea, are you taking into account the latter at this point appears rather “confidential” and elitist ? And aren’t you erasing the incommensurable excesses of the not so distant Haight/Ashbury era ? “Escapism” is a very ambitious word which suggests there is but one reality. It’s also an ambiguous word, applied by those who use it to define the alleged attitude of those who seek to discover and comprehend a reality that’s whole and multi-facetted at the same time, but also to those who, like Leary, let themselves get sucked up into a black hole…

    Regarding panpsychism, I did take note of your asterisk but I’d go even further : in how far hasn’t “sex” (as an almost mechanical compulsion, and not as an interpersonal desire) been conquered by death itself (not fear of death, but pleasure in giving death, albeit metaphorically most of the time)? Someone like Bernard Stiegler, to whom Freud is a major influence, claims one urge simply replaced the other. He explains it by the omnipresence of marketing, which, he says, literally destroys all traditional bonds (teacher-students, children-parents,…) and represents a pernicious interference in all the ways of transmitting knowledge mankind had gotten used to, thereby not only depriving us of meaningful encounters, but also of our own history. But what if it were more of a “black sun” ? What if we were witnessing despair and destructive nihilism swallow “sex”? (For an apocalyptic representation of that, I’d refer you to a gory movie like “The Divide”…).

    I think the sketch of your exposé might indeed capture your audience’s attention. But is this a Freudian or a slightly demagogic (entertainment-related) way of bringing it ? Isn’t panpsychism much broader than ‘eros’ and ‘thanatos’ ? And isn’t it both risky (even aside from the previous paragraph) and very biased to consider ‘eros’ as the right and sole vector of ‘filia’ AND ‘agapē’, both of which would then be merely consequential ?

    The reason I challenged you to tell me how you’d address an audience you’re less familiar with is simple : I wanted to know whether you think it’s possible to remain “pure” (= “evil”-free, not isolated) when addressing an ultra-violent world/society. How much violence/evil does one need to incorporate to simply be heard ?

    I’ll leave you with this quote :

    “Love you will find only where you may show yourself weak without provoking strength.” (Th. Adorno)

    Feel free to reply (or not)…

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      A lot to think about here. I’ll just say briefly for now that I do not think it is possible to remain or become “pure.” To be human is to be (not to “have”) the freedom to choose good and evil. If we are not capable of evil, we are not capable of good.

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