The Columbus Dispatch

Ore. closer to mushroom therapy, but has setback


SALEM, Ore. – Oregon was taking a major step Friday in its pioneering of legalized psilocybin therapy with the graduation of the first students trained in accompanyi­ng patients tripping on psychedeli­c mushrooms, although a company’s bankruptcy has left another group on the same path adrift.

The graduation ceremony for 35 students was held Friday evening by Innertrek, a Portland firm, at a woodsy retreat center. About 70 more graduated Saturday and Sunday in ceremonies in which they will pledge to do no harm.

“Facilitato­r training is at the heart of the nation’s first statewide psilocybin therapy and wellness program and is core to the success of the Oregon model we’re pioneering here,” said Tom Eckert, program director at Innertrek and architect of the 2020 ballot measure that legalized Oregon’s program.

The students must pass a final exam to receive Innertrek certificat­es. They then take a test administer­ed by the Oregon Health Authority to receive their facilitato­r licenses.

“The graduation of the first cohort of students from approved psilocybin facilitato­r training programs is a significan­t milestone for Oregon,” said Angie Allbee, manager of the state health authority’s psilocybin services section. “We congratula­te Oregon’s future facilitato­rs and the training programs they are graduating from on this incredible and historic moment in psilocybin history.”

The health authority reported Friday that so far it has received 191 license and worker permit applicatio­ns, including licenses for manufactur­ers of psilocybin and service centers where the psychedeli­c substance would be consumed and experience­d.

Allbee said she expects students will soon submit applicatio­ns for licenses, “which will move us closer to service center doors opening in 2023.”

Some classes in Innertrek’s sixmonth, $7,900 course were held online, but others were in-person, held in a building near Portland resembling a mountain lodge.

The students were told that a dosing session at a licensed center should include a couch or mats for clients to sit or lie on, an eye mask, comfort items like a blanket and stuffed animals, a sketch pad, pencils and a bucket for vomiting. A session typically lasts at least six hours, often with music. Trainers emphasized that the facilitato­rs’ clients should be given the freedom to explore whatever emotions emerge during their inner journeys.

“We’re not guiding,” trainer Gina Gratza told the students in a December training session. “Let your participan­ts’ experience­s unfold. Use words sparingly. Let participan­ts come to their own insights and conclusion­s.”

Researcher­s believe psilocybin changes the way the brain organizes itself, permitting users to adopt new attitudes more easily and help overcome depression, PTSD, alcoholism and other issues.

Eckert said the graduating students will be prepared to help clients see the benefits of psilocybin.

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 ?? ?? Psilocybin facilitato­r students sit with eye masks on during an experienti­al activity at a training session near Damascus, Ore.
Psilocybin facilitato­r students sit with eye masks on during an experienti­al activity at a training session near Damascus, Ore.

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