Oregon's first class of psilocybin trip sitters has just graduated, paving the way for the state's first legal psilocybin-assisted therapy centers to open before the end of the year.
InnerTrek, a Portland company that has been running one the state's first psilocybin facilitator courses, just held a graduation ceremony for its first 105 students this weekend. The six month course, which cost $7,900, offered a combination of online and in-person training in the art of legal trip sitting. Students simulated the psilocybin experience themselves, sitting on mats with eye masks on, but remained completely sober.
Instructors advised students to set up comfortable areas for patients, including couches or mats, blankets, eye masks, and even stuffed animals. Facilitators were told to provide sketch pads and other art supplies for people who are inspired to creativity, and buckets for anyone that may feel nauseous. The average psilocybin therapy session lasts around 6 hours, and is often accompanied by music.
Although the students have now completed their coursework, they must still pass a final exam before they can receive full accreditation from InnerTrek. And to receive their state license, each student must also pass a second test administered by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
“It’s a special day,” said InnerTrek's program director Tom Eckert to FOX affiliate KATU. “These medicines have been suppressed or repressed in our culture for a long time. They can allow us to reexamine and reshape how we approach mental health and wellness more generally, and Oregon is taking the lead.”
Eckert personally helped secure that lead by co-authoring the ballot measure that legalized psilocybin-assisted therapy in his home state. The measure, which was approved by 56% of state voters in 2020, allows licensed therapy centers to legally administer psilocybin under the supervision of licensed trip facilitators.
"I’m a big advocate of therapy of all kinds,” said Eckert to KATU. “But we’re bringing something new to the table here that is based on an experience. This is about you as a human being, self-examining, feeling, and unlocking where we’re blocked."
Another class of prospective therapy facilitators just got blocked from receiving their licenses, though. Synthesis Institute, a Dutch company that had enrolled another 200 students in another licensed psilocybin facilitator course, unexpectedly declared bankruptcy last month. The students, who each paid nearly $13,000 in tuition fees, are now unable to complete the program and receive their licenses.
Industry insiders have worried that Synthesis Institute's sudden shutdown could delay the overall rollout of the state's entire psilocybin program, since therapy centers will not be allowed to open until trip facilitators receive their licenses. Fortunately, InnerTrek's new graduates took the OHA exam over the weekend, and the state will be granting licenses to everyone who passes the test.
Regulators report that they have already received 191 psilocybin license and worker permit applications. These licenses include businesses that will grow psilocybin mushrooms as well as service centers where the medicine can be administered. The first legal therapy centers are still on track to open for business by the end of this year.
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