- Psychedelic Support: Innovation through Use of Technology - September 27, 2018
- Do Psychedelics Have the Power to Change Minds? - July 7, 2018
- Psychedelic Support Network Seeking Volunteer Candidate - March 14, 2018
As controlled clinical trials validate claims of healing by careful use of psychedelics and the internet propagates self-reports of beneficial outcomes, more people are looking to these substances as an alternative treatment and as tools for personal and spiritual development. Growing interest is mirrored by the scientific community with a substantial increase in peer-reviewed journal publications over the past decade and conferences oriented specifically towards research findings of psychedelics. A new specialized field in psychiatric medicine is emerging, and with that so are the needs of both the providers and the clients they serve.
Over the past 3.5 years, through my work at MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, I was able to meet many of the therapists being trained to work on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy clinical trials. I was extremely impressed by the expertise and professionalism of these mental health providers, and felt lucky to have connected with them. I began thinking about how many people must be out there looking for non-judgmental therapists with knowledge and experience of altered states of consciousness. Moreover, what support is there for providers who are offering legitimate services that are bravely stepping into an area that has yet to be fully defined and accepted by their professional peers?
My fiancé, Shawn Grona, and I started doing research into what resources were currently available for practitioners and individuals looking for services related to harm reduction, psychedelic integration, and spiritual emergence. We began discussing how technology and the internet could be used as a source for connection to vetted providers and information that was currently lacking. After speaking with many in the psychedelic community about what could be useful, and looking at what has worked well for traditional mental health practices, we came up with a project.
In March 2018, we launched the website psychedelic.support. The primary feature is a curated listing of therapists, doctors, counselors, and other licensed professionals: the Psychedelic Support Network. The Network has experience supporting individuals in the process of integrating a psychedelic experience and offers services for mental health, psychological navigation, and spiritual growth. The providers are licensed in a mental health profession or have worked as a therapist/guide on a psychedelic clinical trial. To have a profile in the Network, they agree to follow a Code of Conduct, which states that they are working within the legal bounds of their license and place of residence. We welcome providers from all ethnic and racial backgrounds living across the globe.
In addition to biographies, the profiles clearly show specialties, services offered, experience, education, and licenses to help people find the right therapist to work with. The Network also includes clinic profiles (ketamine, psychedelic integration, and holistic) and programs (session series for integration, substance use, etc.) that link back to individual provider profiles. The listings can be filtered by type of professional, clinics, programs, location, and accepting new clients or not.
While the Network filters and key word search are great for people looking to connect with providers, there are still many individuals who can’t afford one-on-one services and insurance coverage is often limited for mental health services. We are exploring ways of using the Psychedelic Support Network to reduce costs of therapeutic services and to highlight providers who offer sliding scale or special rates. In the future, we would like to offer a free emergency helpline (video chat or phone) for individuals undergoing a psychological crisis.
We also publish articles (500-1200 words) on psychedelic.support as free resources for information and to empower individuals to tap into their own innate healing intelligence in pursuit of mind-body wellness. The articles are an avenue for providers to voice their philosophies and inform on new practices associated with altered states. Visitors to the website can discover more about a provider’s experiences, how they work with clients, and how they support someone seeking therapeutic care. Articles on psychedelic.support and other sites are linked to provider profiles where a full listing of articles authored by the provider can be viewed. We also post articles from other contributors on various topics including harm reduction, psychedelic research, self-discovery, mental health, integration practices, and more.
The other main website feature is a calendar of events. Community and online integration circles being held by groups in many locations are posted. By aggregating these events, we hope that more people can find them and that others may be inspired to host their own community events.
We recognized that many professionals are interested in learning more about psychedelic clinical trials, harm reduction, and how to integrate these substances into their practices once FDA approved. For this reason, we are listing professional trainings being offered by the Network and other trusted organizations. Psychedelic.Support is collaborating with other groups to assess the procedures and hurdles in setting up clinics and delivering services, with the goal being to assimilate information and legal resources to streamline the process. We also create networking opportunities to enable a global exchange of knowledge by supporting and co-sponsoring events, such as the CIIS Cultural and Political Perspectives on Psychedelic Science.
One of the greatest benefits of the internet to consumers of any service is access to reviews and opinions of people who have tried it. Given that there is a wide range of options when seeking mental health care, we plan to add a client rating (5-star system) to profiles to give better public visibility to quality of services and facilities, costs, and other factors. User-generated reviews akin to TripAdvisor would be similarly informative but we aren’t sure at this time if patient confidentiality would be an issue. We are considering adding a more general patient forum for people to communicate about their experiences.
By bringing together the Psychedelic Support Network and publishing articles we can enhance the search engine optimization and social media outreach to help more people find and connect with these resources. Professionals in the field can more easily network with each other through direct email contact or through a closed google group set up for specifically for them.
While we have a ton of ideas for how we can use this site and how we can improve the functionality, our plan is to make data-driven hypotheses about community and professional needs based on site usage. As the field of psychedelic medicine evolves, unique challenges are surfacing and equally innovative solutions are required. Creative use of technology can fundamentally lower costs of services and encourage collaboration, accessibility, and accountability. Psychedelic.Support is excited to play a part in this new frontier.
This paper was presented at Cultural and Political Perspectives in Psychedelic Science, a symposium promoted by Chacruna and the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), San Francisco, August 18-19, 2018.
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