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.