PT288 – Annie & Michael Mithoefer – Vital Psychedelic Conversations

In this episode of the podcast, fresh off the heels of the announcement of (and opening of applications for) our new 12-month certificate program, Vital, Kyle sits down for episode 2 of Vital Psychedelic Conversations; this week with two figureheads lending their knowledge to the course: Annie & Michael Mithoefer.

While also supervising and training therapists for MAPS-sponsored trials, the Mithoefers are probably best known for groundbreaking trials they’ve been involved in, including two MAPS-sponsored Phase II trials studying MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, a study providing MDMA-assisted sessions to therapists completing the MAPS therapist training, and a pilot study treating couples with MDMA-assisted therapy combined with Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy. They are also both Grof-certified holotropic breathwork practitioners, and huge proponents of breathwork in general.

They talk about why they connected so much with breathwork and how it cured Annie’s panic attacks; how they’ve used breathwork in their practice in conjunction with therapy; what trusting or following the process means (for the patient and facilitator); the concept of the inner healer (or “inner healing capacity”); touch and bodywork in therapy; how the communal, group process aspect of breathwork is inspiring ideas for group MDMA sessions; how we can best scale therapy; updates on new trials for 2022; and their best advice and biggest takeaways they’ve learned from decades in the field. 

Notable Quotes

“It’s not that you never offer any direction or engage and help people if they’re stuck, it’s that that only happens in service of what’s already trying to arise spontaneously; that the point is to give plenty of time and encouragement for that process to just take its own path and unfold in its own way. …You may be offering quite a bit sometimes in terms of support and direction, but it’s only in service of what’s already happening.” -Michael

“Stan learned it by working directly with thousands of people with LSD in the beginning. And of course, other cultures (in some cases, for hundreds of thousands of years) have developed knowledge about wise use of these kinds of states. So it sounds a little new-agey or woo woo (‘Trust the process’ and the inner healing intelligence, you know), but it’s based on reality that people have observed for a very long time. And we see it. We just get it reaffirmed again and again.” -Michael

“People do get better with love and care. Sometimes it’s just that extra fifteen or twenty minutes at the end of a breathwork session when somebody is still kind of shaky, or sitting with them and having a meal after breathwork, or the extra times that you take with people. Supporting people: it really makes a difference.” -Annie

“There’s something great about breathwork, to know that you can have these experiences without taking anything – just having that experience of: ‘Wow. These places are not as far away as I thought they were.’” -Michael

Links

Maps.org: The safety and efficacy of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamineassisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder: the first randomized controlled pilot study

Beyond the Brain, by Stanislav Grof

Pubmed: Psilocybin-assisted group therapy for demoralized older long-term AIDS survivor men: An open-label safety and feasibility pilot study

Nature.com: MDMA-assisted therapy for severe PTSD: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study

Maps.org: Israel Embraces Research on MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD

Ncbi.gov: Relational and Growth Outcomes Following Couples Therapy With MDMA for PTSD

Psychedelics Today: PT227 – Dr. Anne Wagner – Couples Therapy, MDMA, and MAPS

Maps.org: Phase 2 Study at the Bronx, New York Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Pubmed: 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) impairs the extinction and reconsolidation of fear memory in rats

Pubmed: MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD: Are memory reconsolidation and fear extinction underlying mechanisms?

About Annie Mithoefer, B.S.N.

Annie Mithoefer, B.S.N., is a Registered Nurse living in Asheville, North Carolina, where she is now focused primarily on training and supervising therapists conducting MAPS-sponsored clinical trials, as well as continuing to conduct some MAPS research sessions in Charleston, South Carolina. Between 2004 and 2018, she and her husband, Michael Mithoefer, M.D., completed two of the six MAPS-sponsored Phase II clinical trials testing MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, as well a study providing MDMA-assisted sessions for therapists who have completed the MAPS Therapist Training, and a pilot study treating couples with MDMA-assisted therapy combined with Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy. Annie is a Grof-certified holotropic breathwork practitioner, is trained in Hakomi Therapy, and has 25 years experience working with trauma patients, with an emphasis on experiential approaches to therapy.

About Michael Mithoefer, M.D.

Michael Mithoefer, M.D., is a psychiatrist living in Asheville, NC, with a research office in Charleston, SC. He is now a Senior Medical Director at MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MPBC). He is a Grof-certified holotropic breathwork facilitator, is trained in EMDR and Internal Family Systems Therapy, and has nearly 30 years of experience treating trauma patients. Before going into psychiatry in 1991, he practiced emergency medicine for ten years. He has been board certified in Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, and Internal Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and Affiliate Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Medical University of South Carolina.

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Introducing Vital: Immersive, Inclusive, and Personal Psychedelic Training for Professionals

By the Psychedelics Today team

Education is not the filling of a pot, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats

The interest in psychedelics as a therapeutic tool is growing at a rapid pace, both by individuals looking for better solutions outside the current medical regime, and by practitioners looking for new and better ways to help their patients. 

Even though regulatory systems lag behind, a paradigm shift in healthcare is clearly under way. The demand for safe, ethical, and effective treatment and integration is growing exponentially. Now more than ever, it is vital that educated, informed practitioners are ready and equipped to provide care when called upon.  

After enrolling over 9,000 students in our eLearning platform and graduating over 500 in our eight-week, 47-hour program, Navigating Psychedelics, we’ve heard a lot about what people want and need from an in-depth training program – and also, what isn’t being offered out there. Our students have told us that training can be overly prescriptive, rigid, and clinical, with logistical hurdles and barriers to acceptance.

That’s where Vital comes in. Our new 12-month certificate program fills gaps in the current landscape of psychedelic training – both in course content and structure – and takes a holistic, experiential, and reflective approach to psychedelic practice and integration. 

Here’s how Vital is different: 

  • A truly inclusive training program. Vital welcomes students of all backgrounds – licensed or unlicensed clinicians, medically-trained healthcare professionals, legacy operators, and integrative wellness practitioners. All previous experience, informal learning, and formal training will be considered when reviewing applications.  
  • A drug agnostic approach that equips practitioners with the knowledge to work with clients who use or are interested in exploring a range of psychedelics. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to psychedelic therapy, and the potential benefits are not limited to a handful of substances.
  • A holistic curriculum balanced between clinical and scientific research and protocols, while also focusing on philosophical self-reflection, transpersonal psychology, Indigenous traditions, and somatic approaches to healing trauma.
  • An opportunity to learn from and interact with world-renowned researchers at an economical scale. 
  • A modular and malleable curriculum with finance and scheduling flexibility, designed to accommodate a global student population. 
  • An open forum on harm reduction that encourages honest discussion on personal experiences with substances in a safe space. 

Vital at-a-Glance:

Vital was created by Psychedelics Today Co-Founders Joe Moore and Kyle Buller, M.S., LAC, and a team of people dedicated to helping others master the elements of psychedelic practice and contribute to the healing of the world. The culmination of over 15 years of work in psychedelic practice, the first Vital cohort of 100 students kicks off on “Bicycle Day,” April 19th, 2022.

Course content is packaged into five core modules, covering: psychedelic history and research; clinical therapies; the art of holding space; medical frameworks; and integration theories and techniques. Each comprehensive module spans between seven to ten weeks of specialized lectures led by guest expert teachers as well as more intimate study groups facilitated by our instructors.

The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.

-Alexandra K. Trenfor

World-Class Teaching Team:

Over the years, Psychedelics Today has developed relationships with a humbling number of leading researchers, historians, clinicians, and bright minds working in research and application, advocacy, spiritual practice, and patient care. We’ve assembled some of the very best to work with Vital students, including:

View the full list of instructors here.

A Personalized Approach

We believe that no amount of learning from clinical studies, reading textbooks, or listening to an instructor can make up for first-hand experience with holotropic states. Furthermore, we believe openness and sharing of experience validates clinical evidence, helps inform research and the approach to patient care, and helps undo stigma and misguided perceptions caused by the war on drugs.  

Throughout the course, students will be challenged to deepen their personal understanding of psychedelics and reignite their transformation by attending one of six experiential retreats (in either the United States or abroad). Stay tuned for more details on dates, locations and pricing. 

While the deeply experiential nature of the course supports the growth of practitioners, the course is also designed to equip participants with the knowledge they need to establish a psychedelic-informed practice from the ground up. For coaches, facilitators, mental health and complementary health practitioners, Vital provides a thriving community of specialists to support their mission. 

Promoting Equal Access and Career Development:

Fair access to psychedelic medicine begins with fair access to essential education. In addition to flexible payment plans for all students, we’ve committed to provide scholarships for 20% of students from each cohort, sponsoring up to 100% of tuition to support their mission. 

Scholarships are awarded on a case-by-case basis, and are reserved for people who: 

  • Are in demonstrated financial need
  • Identify as BIPOC
  • Identify as LGBTQIA+
  • Are military service members/veterans
  • Serve marginalized or geographically underserved communities

At the end of the program, graduating students receive a certificate in Psychedelic Therapies and Integration. CE credits will be offered, but stay tuned for more details.

Full details on scholarships and credits are in the extended course brochure, available on the Vital website

Program registrations are open now, and close at midnight EST on March 27th. Acceptance will be offered based on eligibility and order of submission (with priority to students receiving scholarships). Once all seats in the initial cohort are filled, subsequent approved students will be placed on a waitlist and invited to join the course when a spot becomes available. Interested students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Apply here.

For more information on Vital and how to register, visit the program website or connect with our team at Vital@psychedelicstoday.com

Link to Press Release

PT287 – Josh Hardman – Psychedelic Stocks, Data Privacy, and Drug Development

In this episode of the podcast, Joe interviews Josh Hardman, the Founder and Editor of Psilocybin Alpha, a news website and weekly newsletter covering the psychedelic space with a focus on emerging companies and drug development.

Hardman discusses how the juxtaposition of the studies coming out of Imperial College London and the way hippie culture intersected with various political movements made him want to create Psilocybin Alpha. He talks about his early anonymous days and how the 2020 US election jumpstarted the site, especially due to the passing of Oregon’s Measure 109 and people suddenly showing a lot of interest in psychedelic stocks. 

And they talk about a lot more, as this podcast is very topic-to-topic conversational in the way you’d imagine a podcast between two people neck deep in psychedelic happenings may be: why the UK is so conservative when it comes to drug policy; Brexit; cryptocurrency, decentralized finance (DeFi), and decentralized health (“De-health”?); overuse of Sonoran desert toads and over-harvesting of iboga (why aren’t LSD and psilocybin good enough?); data collection and data privacy; patent thicketing; integration as a new recurring-revenue model; psychedelics and VR; investor obsession with derivatives and analogs; and 2022 seeing the likely consolidation of many for-profit companies in the psychedelic space.

Notable Quotes

“The point at which it went from just being kind of a side project to me to being ‘I should work on this full time’ was the November 2020 elections in the US. I remember I sat here up to like 5am in the UK, watching the results to see measure 109 in Oregon (obviously) and the DC ballot initiative to decriminalize. I think that was the point, to me, where I saw not just traffic to the website go up thousands of percent overnight, but also the types of people that were reading Psilocybin Alpha went from weed investors and crypto investors to therapists and people who were seeking therapy, emailing me. Hundreds of emails the next day saying, ‘I want to get involved in this. I’ve been working in psychiatry or psychotherapy for 30 years and I want to understand this new modality.’”

“Why are people depressed? I think a lot of people are depressed because something acute happened to them or because maybe they do need to go inside and work some stuff out internally, but, me being a student of sociology and political economy, I’m more inclined to think a lot of people are depressed because of their material situation: their job or their home life, economic realities in America, lack of health insurance. These things are all external. So I have some concern with how much we can really solve whilst in a system that makes people so upset and miserable.”

“The reason psychedelic companies are so disruptive to the healthcare system is because something like Prozac is chronically dosed. It’s like almost a recurring revenue model. It’s a subscription model. And obviously psychedelics can potentially not cure someone but put them into remission (at least clinically) in two or three sessions. So you could say that if a company is able to capture the integration part of the treatment arc as well, that’s where they start getting their recurring revenue.”

“I think people are concerned about investing in another psilocybin company. So if you can take a derivative, an analog, or a new chemical entity entirely (even if it’s very similar to psilocybin); to the investor or to the untrained eye, it’s new. It’s novel, and it’s going to get a patent, so therefore it must have some value. I think that might be a big story in 2022, when we start realizing that a lot of these supposedly new chemical entities either start failing in preclinical work or in Phase 1 work or they’re just not that remarkably different.”  

Links

Psilocybinalpha.com

Psilocybinalpha.com: Psychedelics 2021: A Year in Review

Thedailybeast.com: When the LSD King Timothy Leary Hid in Africa with the Black Panthers

Psychedelicspotlight.com: GH Research Is Taking Psychedelic 5-MeO-DMT ‘Toad Venom’ Public

Harvard.edu: Washington Psilocybin Bill Would Legalize Supported Adult Use

Psychedelics Today: PTSF72 – Breaking Down SB-519, with MAPS’ Ismail L. Ali

Psychedelics Today: Eyes on Oregon YouTube playlist

Smallpharma.com: Small Pharma granted fast-track designation from UK regulator for DMT-assisted therapy for Major Depressive Disorder

Facebook: The Purple Shop

Diasporapsychedelicsociety.org

Psychedelics Today: PT268 – Hamilton Morris – PCP, 5-MeO-DMT, and The Synthesis of New Psychedelics

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia: The Psychedelic Toad

Uproxx.com: Why DIY Magic Mushroom Growers Are Gathering In An Uncle Ben’s Rice Subreddit

What Technology Wants, by Kevin Kelly (Joe called it “What Technology Does”)

Benzinga.com: Is DeFi Dangerous? Elizabeth Warren Thinks So

Bbc.com: China declares all crypto-currency transactions illegal

Psychedelics Today: PT244 – Mark Haberstroh – Mushrooms, Retreat Centers, and Safety (the person who has been to more retreats than anyone Joe knows)

Psychedelics Today: PT277 – Ryan Zurrer – Venture Capital, Reciprocity, and the Regenerative Financing Vine

Finance.yahoo.com: Goldman Sachs asks in biotech research report: ‘Is curing patients a sustainable business model?’

Imdb.com: The Big Short

Sweatco.in (Sweatcoin)

Microdosevr.com

About Josh Hardman

Founder and Editor of Psilocybin Alpha, an online resource and weekly newsletter covering the psychedelics space with a focus on drug development efforts.

Instagram: @psilocybinalpha
Twitter: @Josh__Hardman
Twitter: @PsilocybinAlpha
Linkedin: Joshhardmanuk


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