In Oregon, the first cohort of students has graduated a class in how to administer psilocybin therapy. Now, they can apply for a license to be a psilocybin “facilitator” as the state moves toward opening the first psilocybin clinics in the United States later this year. People will be able to visit the clinics to use psilocybin while under trained supervision for several hours—although this is not legally classified as a medical or psychological service, and no medical diagnosis is required.
According to numbers shared with Filter by InnerTrek LLC, a total of 107 students have now graduated from their first six-month training course. InnerTrek is one of 21 providers approved by the state to conduct this training. Not all students have completed their requirements and received their certificate. But once they do, they’ll be eligible for a psilocybin facilitator license from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
“The graduation of the first cohort of students is a significant milestone for Oregon.”
Following rules developed under Measure 109, approved by voters in 2020, Oregon will issue business licenses to psilocybin manufacturers, testing labs, service centers and facilitators. The last two work directly together—clients visit the service centers to purchase psilocybin, and the facilitators sit with them to make sure they are safe. They may try to create a comfortable setting for clients, by playing music, providing an eye mask or pillows, speaking with the client when needed and acting as a first responder in case of discomfort or unwanted effects.
“The graduation of the first cohort of students from approved psilocybin facilitator training programs is a significant milestone for Oregon,” Angie Allbee, Oregon Psilocybin Services section manager for OHA, told Filter. “Oregon Psilocybin Services is expecting that students will soon submit applications for licenses, which will move us closer to service center doors opening in 2023.”
The InnerTrek course included a minimum of 120 hours of “core training,” where students learned about various topics related to psilocybin, and a minimum 40 hours of supervised practicum, where they gained hands-on experience.
The full program tuition is $8,500. One persistent criticism of Oregon’s program, acknowledged by OHA, is how licensing and training costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers, making psilocybin unaffordable for many.
Because psilocybin is still illegal to administer until the service centers actually open, InnerTrek gave students options for how to study its effects.
The “menu” included students being able to work with a person under the influence of ketamine, or to use a holotropic breathing technique to simulate psychedelic effects.
“Now we have to do a practicum for psilocybin facilitation, and there won’t be any psilocybin available to administer until we have licensed facilitators,” Nathan Howard, operations director for InnerTrek, told Filter. “But we need to have practicum for licensed facilitators … The way we solved that nut … was by creating a menu of options where people could work with non-altered states of consciousness.”
This “menu” included students being able to work with a person under the influence of ketamine, or to use a special holotropic breathing technique to simulate psychedelic effects. A smaller group also chose to travel abroad to a country where psilocybin is legal to use, such as Jamaica.
When psilocybin service centers actually open in Oregon, they could serve an additional purpose besides serving clients: giving student facilitators real-world experience with psilocybin. InnerTrek’s next program will run from July through December, and by then, Howard said, “it’s our hope there are many service centers running, potentially one we will create, where we can do the practicum in-state and with psilocybin.”
Under current law, all facilitators must be aged at least 21, an Oregon resident for at least two years, and pass a background check. Allbee said that OHA has so far received 15 completed applications for facilitator licenses that are under review, with another 122 incomplete applications pending.
Meanwhile, the state has so far received eight completed applications for service center licenses, with another 15 pending. Some businesses, like InnerTrek, are aiming to own licenses in multiple categories: training facilitators, running a service center, and employing the facilitators themselves.
The successful graduation of these first students is a promising sign for Oregon’s psilocybin program after the very public recent collapse of another business in the state, the Synthesis Institute. The company went bankrupt and terminated its employees, leaving the futures of its own cohort of psilocybin facilitation students up in the air.
Photograph courtesy of InnerTrek