What is Mindfulness-Based Psychedelic Therapy?By Daniel McQueen, Author of Psychedelic Cannabis: Breaking the Gate
The psychedelic space is quickly evolving and terms are not consistently used across the field. It is important to have clear understanding of the therapeutic modalities we offer in our training program so you can make an informed decision about your care with us or what you are training in.
When we started working with cannabis as a psychedelic in 2014, the term “Cannabis-Assisted Psychotherapy,” and even “Psychedelic Cannabis” wasn’t really a named thing. As we further explored using cannabis in psychedelic therapy, a brand new professional specialty within the field of psychedelic therapy began to open up before us. This is a very brief description of some important concepts and how they relate to the Medicinal Mindfulness orientation.
We have very specific uses of these terms, and we wish to define them here to provide the necessary context for the services and trainings we offer. The modality we call Mindfulness-Based Psychedelic Therapy® builds on these technical terms. Let’s explore them now. If you have any questions about our modality or the services we offer, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Psychedelic Psychotherapist
Psychedelic Psychotherapy is the skillful use of psychedelics in conjunction with psychotherapy by a licensed or registered psychotherapist, psychologist or other mental health professional. These sessions might be psycholytic in nature, meaning they are psychologically enhancing, but not always fully psychedelic, and often have a clinical purpose, for example, for the treatment of trauma/PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc. This is the most common term being used in the field, and specifically denotes that the therapist has a base credentialing and is working within a clinical/medical framework, along with additional training in working with psychedelics.
Medicinal Mindfulness works with Psychedelic Cannabis and Psychedelic Ketamine, the few psychedelics that are legal to use in the United States in Psychedelic Psychotherapy outside of a research setting. Our DMTx program has relationships with multiple psilocybin mushroom retreat centers in other countries, and will begin initiating expeditions with psilocybin and N,N-DMT beginning in 2021. Some of these retreats will have a psychedelic psychotherapy intention for treating clinical concerns.
Psychedelic Therapy and Psychedelic Therapist
The Center for Medicinal Mindfulness takes the professional and political stance that “Psychedelic Therapy” is a separate but overlapping field and professional identity from psychotherapy and is also not limited to clinical and medical models of practice, or solely limited to clinical and medical practitioners. These are spiritual practices as well, and psychedelics have a very long history of use in spiritual traditions. Psychedelic experiences go far beyond our psychology and neurology. Many people from a variety of professions practice as Psychedelic Therapists, particularly in group practices that incorporate multiple approaches. In our practice, Psychedelic Therapy can be used for the treatment of clinical disorders, but it is also a full body/soul holistic practice that is significantly different from conventional psychotherapy modalities currently in practice, and is more appropriately described as a mindfulness practice with applications to healing, just as yoga, meditation and nutrition also have healing applications but are also not associated with psychotherapy.
In our context, Psychedelic Therapy is a specific multi-paradigm approach defined by the Medicinal Mindfulness training program and includes working with psychedelics, and cannabis as a psychedelic, with not just psychotherapeutic techniques, somatic approaches, and assessments with trained psychotherapists, but also mindfulness practices, ceremony & ritual, and spiritual exploration within an energetic/transpersonal paradigm with trained spiritual care providers and guides. This approach conforms to how many of the skilled, experienced, and ethical underground psychedelic practitioners generally work, however, we also comply with legal and safety requirements that go far beyond what underground practitioners do. Many psychedelic professionals currently practicing do not solely identify as professional psychotherapists, but are none-the-less engaged in significant healing experiences with their clients.
Psychedelic Therapy sessions include music and extended periods of the client turning inward and the Psychedelic Therapist holding space by meditating or engaging in their own internal process while ensuring the safety of their client. Psychedelic Therapy sessions generally include Psychedelic Cannabis, Ketamine, MDMA or Psilocybin, but may also include higher doses and stronger psychedelics (N,N-DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, ayahuasca analogs, etc) in psychospiritual settings. Currently, Medicinal Mindfulness works only with Psychedelic Cannabis and Ketamine in these sessions. These types of experiences are appropriate for individuals, couples and small groups.
Because psychedelics are involved, with psychedelics being classified as a type of highly-regulated medicine, use of the term Therapy, in the term Psychedelic Therapy, refers to the medical regulation of the psychedelic medicine, and is not a shorthand for psychotherapy. Because Psychedelic Therapy requires the use of a psychedelic medicine, a highly regulated medicine, the practice of Psychedelic Therapy cannot fall under the legal categorization of psychotherapy. Psychedelic Therapists then, are explicitly required to work in partnership with a medical provider with prescribing and recommending authority. In Colorado, it is our understanding that cannabis can only be recommended by a medical doctor for therapy, psychedelic therapy, and psychotherapy. Ketamine requires a highly regulated prescription for lozenges or direct administration by a medical provider of an intramuscular injection or IV infusion. The guides and psychedelic therapists at Medicinal Mindfulness, although present for the administration, are not part of this medical process. Psychedelic Therapy cannot be practiced by a psychotherapist without the direct supervision and recommendation of a registered medical provider. The Center for Medicinal Mindfulness fully conforms to these safety and legal requirements in our practice.
The Center for Medicinal Mindfulness in Boulder, Colorado, is unique in that we support both licensed professional counselors and spiritual care providers to provide psychedelic therapy and guiding services to clients interested in either spiritual exploration or psychotherapy or both. Our practice is collaborative in nature, and clients regularly receive services from multiple providers in our program. Due to the controversial nature of psychedelic therapy, our facilitators always receive a medical recommendation, not just for ketamine but also cannabis, which is already legal for adult use for spiritual practices in the state of Colorado.
As laws and regulations continue to evolve in the field of Psychedelic Therapy, the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness is committed to engaging in practices that are continuously legally reviewed and have the highest standards of care possible. As an advocate for the field of psychedelic therapy, we are firmly committed to accountability and professional oversight through this process, and believe it is an important requirement for ethical conduct.
Psychedelic Cannabis (TM) ,Conscious Cannabis Experience
The fact that cannabis is a potent psychedelic is not fully recognized, but is becoming mainstream as more and more people learn how to use it in this way. In the Medicinal Mindfulness program, we developed cannabis as both a psychedelic substance, and also a full, multi-faceted, and very potent facilitated psychedelic experience. We would like to invite you to explore Psychedelic Cannabis here, and research on cannabis as a therapeutic here. You can also learn about it by reading the book Psychedelic Cannabis: Breaking the Gate by Daniel McQueen.
Briefly defined as a substance, Psychedelic Cannabis is a product that combines certain terpenes and cannabinoids in varying strains of Cannabis sativa to elicit classical psychedelic experiences when consumed. As a process, Psychedelic Cannabis, Psychedelic Cannabis Experiences and Conscious Cannabis Experiences are a synergistic fusion of this full-spectrum Cannabis sativa blend with set, setting and skill (music, somatic awareness & breath), within a multi-paradigm facilitated process.
Mind states regularly reached in potency and similarity to a fusion of MDMA and psilocybin and can often elicit Ayahuasca and DMT level states, particularly when combined with simple breathwork practices. The Psychedelic Cannabis Experience does not require high doses, but is exponentially stronger than an experience that is typically associated with cannabis alone, yet it is experienced with far more personal agency than other strong psychedelic medicines. Cannabis is legal in most of the United States and is the safest psychedelic medicine available. It can be regularly and safely used for ongoing Psychedelic Therapy and Psychedelic Exploration purposes.
Mindfulness-Based Psychedelic Therapy (TM) (MBPT)
Mindfulness-Based Psychedelic Therapy, developed by Daniel McQueen, is a psychedelic therapy modality that integrates mindfulness practices, Transpersonal psychotherapy and traditional guiding practices with somatic informed psychotherapies and the therapeutic and intentional use psychedelic medicines.
MBPT is the therapeutic modality that the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness teaches through Psychedelic Sitters School and is the modality our practitioners use during sessions with clients. The modality teaches that the presence of the therapist is central to the process, and that “Awareness with Acceptance is the Healing Process,” sometimes easier said than done. The modality combines somatic psychotherapies and mindfulness practices with an holistic approach that includes clinical and spiritual practices, intentional medicine use practices, mental health nutrition, research validated therapies, as well as a deep sense of creative expression and appreciation for aesthetics.
While MBPT was developed in part by using Psychedelic Cannabis, it is a modality that stems from techniques used with other medicines and can therefore be incorporated into facilitating with these other psychedelics. Since cannabis experiences can “shapeshift” into and dance between states that are regularly described as similar to MDMA, psilocybin, ayahuasca, DMT and others, working with cannabis skillfully requires incorporating strategies and techniques that are specific to these other medicine experiences. MBPT is therefore a solid foundational system of theory and practice for working with all psychedelic medicines. Each medicine therefore represents a specialty within the MBPT modality.
Cannabis-Assisted Psychedelic Therapy (TM) (CAPT)
Cannabis-Assisted Psychedelic Therapy, developed by Daniel McQueen, is a central speciality of MBPT that combines the modality with the medicinal effects of Psychedelic Cannabis. We call cannabis the “Somatic PsychedelicTM” because it effects both the 5-HT2A receptor of the brain (which other psychedelics activate) as well as the endocannabinoid system in the body. These sessions provide a full body and soul holistic experience that is deeply healing, both physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Cannabis allows clients to have increased awareness of difficult somatic sensations, memories, mental programs, judgements, and anxieties, and this exploration leads to a resolution and healing of unhealthy processes and clinical concerns. CAPT elicits a deeper awareness of emotional processes and activates physical and emotional discharges leading to release and healing. These are deep experiences that are typically experienced in a three to five hour session. Sessions may include music and periods of the client turning inward and the therapist holding space. The trauma resolution protocol within CAPT is called the Captain ProtocolTM.
As noted earlier, the Center for Medicinal Mindfulness is taking the professional and political stance that Psychedelic Therapy is an emerging field that overlaps with but is different from psychotherapy. The Cannabis-Assisted Psychedelic Therapy credential is designed to provide all of the necessary theory, practice and oversight for non-therapy or medical professionals to ethically and competently enter the field of psychedelic therapy.
Medicinal Mindfulness is committed to exploring highest ethical standards as we advocate for greater acceptance of these modalities in our culture.
Cannabis-Assisted Somatic Psychotherapy (TM) (CASP)
Cannabis-Assisted PsychotherapyTM, developed by Daniel and Alison McQueen in early 2014, is a subset of Cannabis-Assisted Psychedelic Therapy and has evolved into a style called Cannabis-Assisted Somatic Psychotherapy (CASP). CASP is a modality that combines the support of psychotherapy with the medicinal effects of cannabis, in both psychedelic and psycholytic sessions.The use of cannabis as a tool for psycholytic and psychedelic psychotherapy purposes has multiple advantages over traditionally used psychedelics, including legality, additional client agency over the experience, and shorter durations, yet can be as deep an experience as other classic psychedelics. Typical duration is two to three hours, depending on dosage and other factors.
Cannabis-Assisted Somatic Psychotherapy is an alternative to, or co-credential with CAPT for those who are licensed psychotherapists. CASP explores the intersection of awareness of body processes (somatic awarenesses) with emotional processes, aspects of self in parts work, and the resolution of both physical and emotional trauma that is held within the nervous system, psychic structure, and physical tissues of our bodies.
Additional Definition of Medicinal Mindfulness Services
Ketamine-Assisted Psychedelic Therapy (KAPT)
Ketamine-Assisted Psychedelic Therapy is a modality that combines our style of psychedelic therapy, MBPT, with the medicinal and clinical effects of ketamine. These sessions provide a full body and soul holistic psychedelic experience with the clinical and medical oversight required to work with this medicine safely. Sessions combine evidence-based therapy practices with mindfulness, ceremony, and somatic therapies, within a spiritual orientation and energetic/transpersonal paradigm (if requested). These sessions are conducted in beautiful and intentional settings. The typical duration of a session is about three hours, and can be accompanied by a medical professional to provide ketamine intramuscular injections or lozenges. Sessions include music and periods of the client turning inward and the therapist holding space.
Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP)
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a modality that combines the support of psychotherapy with lower dose medicinal effects of ketamine, as compared to KAPT. Ketamine serves as a catalyst to bring forward therapeutic content and non-ordinary states of consciousness, while the psychotherapist is present to support clients with deepening and integrating these experiences. Typical duration of a session is about three hours.
Our clinical team was trained by Phil Wolfson of the Ketamine Training Center in Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy.
Ketamine-Assisted Therapy (KAT)
The Center for Medicinal Mindfulness does not offer Ketamine-Assisted Therapy, but we’re describing it here to provide a context for the more specialized ketamine services that we do provide. Ketamine-assisted therapy is the therapeutic use of ketamine that is typically practiced in clinics that ascribe to a solely medical model. No psychotherapy, preparation or integration is provided, and the session is usually facilitated by a nurse or EMT, with the oversight of a nurse practitioner or possibly a doctor. The general emphasis is on the pharmacological effects of the medicine itself, generally to reduce pain or symptoms of depression, not the subjective nature of the inner experience. Typically these sessions are conducted in medical settings, with music in the background or a TV on, and the Ketamine is delivered in an intravenous infusion. Sessions are typically 2 hours in length.
Integration Coaching, Integration Psychotherapy & Psychedelic Consultations
Transformational healing experiences are rarely easy, and even profoundly positive shifts in life may be difficult to navigate or fully engage without support. Medicinal Mindfulness is a cannabis-friendly and psychedelic-informed psychotherapy and life coaching center that provides our clients with evidenced-based clinical support, somatic trauma resolution therapy, art therapy and integration support.
Trained Medicinal Mindfulness therapists and ordained interfaith ministers are available to answer questions about safe and skillful-use practices regarding psychedelics, cannabis, and microdosing. We can also support families who have a family member that is currently experiencing a psychedelic-induced crisis.
Opportunities, difficulties, questions and general life situations on the medicine path can be quite complicated, and sometimes require an holistic approach to adequately address any concerns. Humans are complex, multidimensional creatures. We deserve to be treated as such.
Sessions available by phone, video, or office visits.