Key Program Dates
Program Philosophy & Competencies
The Certificate begins with a five-day opening retreat at Naropa University in Boulder, CO, March 14–18, 2022. This retreat focuses on community building and includes Right Use of Power™ training, which we believe is essential to training ethical psychedelic-assisted practitioners. The Opening Retreat will also include lectures from contemplative leaders and experts in the field, and the opportunity to engage with integration groups, which will continue for the duration of the training.
Intensive Seven-Day Retreat
A seven-day residential clinical skills intensive, led by MAPS senior trainers in collaboration with Naropa faculty, will be held at Shambhala Mountain Center (SMC) in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, July 31–August 7, 2022. Trainees will deepen their therapeutic skills through role-plays, didactic training, contemplative practice, group discussions, and observing video sessions from MDMA clinical trials. Trainees will have the opportunity to join in a series of Non-Ordinary States experientials following the required retreat.
Synchronous Online Content Delivery Dates & Times
Trainees will move through the 10-month program with a series of monthly modules, in addition to the two in-person retreats. Attendance is required. Please see the program’s attendance policy below for instances of needing to miss sessions. As we confirm presenters, we will update lecture dates.
Live Lectures: Second or Third Saturday of each month on zoom, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. U.S. Mountain Time: April 9, May 14, June 18, July 9, September and beyond TBD.
Integration Groups: Fourth Wednesday evening of each month.
Curriculum Learning Modules
The Certificate’s online course components include 50 hours of asynchronous learning accompanied by five hours of live sessions each month. Trainees also spend two hours per month in facilitated small groups with a cohort integration leader. This combination of asynchronous learning, live instruction and small group integration allows trainees to fully engage with the themes and objectives of each course module.
Non-Ordinary States Immersive Experience Requirement
The Certificate curriculum requires trainees to complete a minimum of 10 hours of approved Non-Ordinary States Immersive Experience. Because Naropa values individual commitments as well as diversity in practice and experience, trainees are permitted to select their preferred Non-Ordinary States Immersive Experience from a range of options. Trainees will select one Non-Ordinary States Immersive Experience; more than one is optional. Please note that the cost of these options is not included in the Certificate program tuition, and that some immersions may require an additional time commitment beyond the required 10 hour minimum.
Naropa recognizes that trainees may have prior experience with psychedelic substances and/or non-ordinary states and associated modalities. Trainees are required to complete one of the following Non-Ordinary States Immersive Experience concurrent with the Certificate program in order to expressly facilitate intentional engagement within the context of the full program training arc and dynamic cohort-based learning process.
Full details will be provided as 2022 opportunities are confirmed. Non-Ordinary States Immersions in development include:
- Online or In-Person Transformational Breathwork Workshop
- Maitri Space Awareness Retreat
- Wilderness Fasting Solo Retreat
- Ketamine Training Retreat in collaboration with PRATI
- Psilocybin Training Retreat in collaboration with The Synthesis Institute (Netherlands)
- Other opportunities to be announced
Transformational Breathwork is a powerful therapeutic technique that uses a combination of breathing practices and immersive music. One modern form was created by psychedelic researchers Stanislav and Christina Grof after LSD research was shut down, and was specifically designed as a non-pharmacological method of achieving non-ordinary states of consciousness. Studies indicate that some forms of breathwork have the following benefits: reduced death anxiety, increased self-esteem, and higher levels of self-awareness. Participants in the Certificate who choose this modality will work with trained breathwork practitioners in a workshop setting.
What is Maitri practice? “Maitrī” is a Sanskrit word meaning loving-kindness, friendliness and good will. Maitri Space Awareness is a contemplative practice based on the Buddhist mandala principle, and uses five differently colored rooms to intensify different emotional and psychological states in both their “wisdom” and their "constricted" aspects. This unique embodied practice enables meditators to experientially recognize their own patterns and become friendly toward themselves in different states of mind. Maitri Space Awareness bears some similarity to color therapy, and can help practitioners cultivate relaxed spaciousness and fearlessness in working with others.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic and a neurophysiologically diverse medicine with psychedelic properties when used at low doses. All trainees will go through substantive curricular modules in Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy, which is a legal practice for patients or trainees with a doctor’s prescription. For those seeking additional training that includes an experiential component, we are currently developing an Immersive Experience retreat add-on, which will be announced shortly.
Psilocybin is a naturally-occurring psychoactive tryptamine found in more than 200 species of fungi, commonly known as “magic mushrooms.” Despite recent FDA breakthrough therapy status and decriminalization in a number of cities, psilocybin generally remains illegal under all U.S. state and federal laws beyond the narrow context of FDA-approved clinical trials. Naropa is exploring a safe, legal, medically supervised Immersive Experience option for experiential psilocybin training. Psilocybin in an intentionally guided context can catalyze creative breakthroughs, exploration of consciousness, and transpersonal experience.
Consistent with its obligations under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-Free Schools and Community Act Amendments of 1985, the Naropa University Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies does not require the use of psychedelic substances by certificate program participants in order to successfully complete the training. As described above, there are several options for Non-Ordinary States Immersive Experiences available to program participants. Trainees will be educated in the competencies required for Federally-approved medical treatment and psychedelic research. Participation in Immersive Experience opportunities involving ketamine or psilocybin shall be entirely voluntary, and all reference to such options will be to clinics or facilitators located in jurisdictions where the use of these substances for therapeutic or educational purposes is legal under both foreign and domestic laws.
Naropa Center for Psychedelic Studies Faculty
Jamie Beachy, PhD, MDiv
Jamie Beachy PhD, MDiv, Assistant Core Faculty, Naropa University. Jamie brings two decades of experience in professional chaplaincy, spiritual care education (ACPE) and ethics consultation to her teaching, and she currently serves as a therapist with the MAPS MDMA-assisted therapy phase III study in Boulder. Jamie holds a deep interest in earth-based approaches to end of life care and advocates for the role of chaplaincy in psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Sara Lewis, PhD, LSW
Dr. Sara Lewis is Associate Professor and Chair of Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology at Naropa University. She earned her PhD from Columbia University and MA from the University of Chicago, specializing in psychological anthropology and clinical social work. She is author of Spacious Minds: Trauma and Resilience in Tibetan Buddhism, (Cornell University Press, 2019) and a former Fulbright fellow. Sara is a therapist with MAPS MDMA-assisted therapy study site in Boulder, CO and has conducted research on how psychedelics can be a catalyst for change in psychotherapy.
Travis Cox, PhD
Travis Cox, PhD, is Associate Professor and Chair of the Masters in Ecopsychology at Naropa University. He has been studying consciousness throughout his career in academia, both as a student and as faculty. His interests in psychedelics are at the intersection of activism, philosophy, sustainability, and ecopsychology. He presented on psychedelics and sustainability at the 2019 AASHE conference, helped organize the "Can Exceptional Experience Save the World?" conference at the Claremont Graduate School of Theology in 2019, and was a part of the "Philosophy and Psychedelics" conference at the University of Exeter in April of 2021.
2022 Certificate Instructors
Amanda Aguilera, PhD
Driven by core values of curiosity, courage, and connection, Dr. Amanda’s personal mission is to be courageous in the service of reducing and repairing harm in relationship and promoting the cultural shift toward power conscious conflict positivity and conflict competency. Amanda is the Founder of Restorative Integration and Senior Director of Mission, Culture & Inclusive Community at Naropa University where she currently supports students, faculty, and staff in critical consciousness raising, understanding power dynamics and expanding capacity for difficult conversations.
Rachel Aidan, PhD
Prosocial entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience working on projects across the U.S., East Africa, and Europe. Rachel is the CEO at Synthesis Institute, a legal, medically-supervised, psilocybin retreat center based in Amsterdam. Rachel holds a B.A. in Transformative Education & Leadership, M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Mindful Trauma-Informed Leadership, and Ph.D. in Integral/Transpersonal Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies, research focused on psilocybin-assisted treatment for Complex Trauma.
Brian Anderson, MD, MSc
Brian Anderson, MD, MSc, is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UCSF Weill Institute for the Neurosciences, and he is an attending in the Psychiatric Emergency Services at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. His research has included both ethnographic studies of religious practitioners who use psychedelics in community settings, and clinical trials of psychedelic therapies. In 2018, he conducted a pilot study of psilocybin-assisted group therapy for demoralization in older, long-term AIDS survivor men. And he is a co-founding member of the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics.
German F. Ascani, MD, MS
German F. Ascani, MD, MS, is a psychiatrist in clinical practice in Colorado and California. He has collaborated in published research regarding Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP). He is passionate about the potential for psychological, emotional and spiritual healing that new and emerging psychedelic medicines bring to the mental health field. He supports the use of these powerful transformative tools.He is a graduate of the University of California Davis School of Medicine. Completed his psychiatric training at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California. He has a Masters of Science in Physiology from Georgetown University and a BA in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. He presently serves as co-faculty for PRATI in their KAP training retreats and is a therapist for the MAPS phase 3 research trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD in Fort Collins.
Natalie Avalos, PhD
Natalie Avalos is an assistant professor in the Ethnic Studies department at University of Colorado Boulder. She is an ethnographer of religion who received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a special focus on Native American and Indigenous Religious Traditions and Tibetan Buddhism. She is currently working on her manuscript titled The Metaphysics of Decoloniality: Transnational Indigeneities and Religious Refusal, which explores urban Indian and Tibetan refugee religious life as decolonial praxis. She is a Chicana of Apache descent, born and raised in the Bay Area.
Paulo Cesar Ribeiro Barbosa, PhD
Paulo obtained his Ph.D. in Medical Sciences at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in 2008. He also holds a degree in Social Sciences (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, 1992) and Psychology (Faculdade de Ilhéus, 2019). Paulo was appointed Professor of Science Methods in 2002 at the Departamento de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas at Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz (Brazil) and was a Visiting Scholar at the University of New Mexico (USA) between 2011 and 2013. Paulo’s main research interests and activities concern the relationship between psychiatric and psychological methods in evaluating the effects of ayahuasca in Brazilian urban settings.
Yvan Beaussant, MD, MSc
Yvan Beaussant, MD, MSc is an instructor in the department of psychosocial oncology and palliative care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School in Boston. He trained as a hematologist and palliative care physician, holds a Masters in medical ethics, and graduated from the Certificate program in Psychedelic Therapies and Research at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), where he serves as a mentor. His research investigates the potential role and modalities of psychedelic-assisted therapies to address psycho-existential distress in patients with cancer and at the end of life.
Pierre Bouchard, LPC
Pierre Bouchard is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Boulder and Denver CO, adjunct faculty at Soundmind Psychedelic Healing Center and professional vinyl DJ. He specializes in blending somatics, embodiment, attachment theory, and trauma therapy with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. He offers supervision around ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and training on music selection.
Carla Burns, MDiv
Carla Burns, MDiv, is an Instructor in Naropa’s Core College including BA Contemplative psychology courses, and meditation practicums. She serves as faculty for the MA Contemplative Psychotherapy residential retreat program, and for Naropa’s Compassion Initiative. She co-developed Naropa’s Embodied Mindfulness in Teaching retreat program and is the Program Manager for the Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education. Her specialties include the integration of corporeal, elemental, and spatial knowledge as a means to bring more dimension into our field of awareness; to cultivate the natural- receptive wisdom energy of the body that is inherently connected, wise, and spacious; and to close the distance between enlightenment and ordinary freedom.
Lauren Casalino, LPC
Lauren Casalino has trained hundreds of therapists in her role as core faculty in the Master’s Program in Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology at Naropa University from 1999-2021. She has also trained therapists at Samtse College in Bhutan and at Mahidol University in Thailand. She conducts a private psychotherapy practice with individuals, couples, and groups and she co-founded Windhorse Family and Elder Services. Lauren is dedicated to the cultivation of health in its myriad dimensions on individual, interpersonal, and societal levels, recognizing they are not separate. She is an explorer of worlds, inner and outer, one who is committed to the cultivation of awareness, aliveness, and action in service of the wellness of all beings.
Celina De Leon, MDiv
Celina De Leon, MDiv, is a leader on the training team at the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP). She has twenty years of experience in the field of psychedelics and contemplative practice with particular experience working with various indigenous and spiritual lineages. She received an M.Div from the Graduate Theological Union- Starr King School for the Ministry and she is the founder and director of Circle of Sacred Nature 501c.3 church. Her long-standing relationship with the Kamentsa indigenous community of the upper Putumayo of Colombia informs her perspective on valuing how indigenous knowledge contributes to our understanding of the spiritual and therapeutic uses of psychedelics. Celina is deeply committed to indigenous reciprocity and incorporating social justice principles in all aspects of her work.
Wael Garas, MD
Wael Garas, MD received his medical degree from Ohio State University and completed his residency at the University of Nevada. Dr. Garas also completed a fellowship in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona under the direction of Andrew Weil, M.D. Dr. Garas currently serves as the co-principal investigator and study physician for the Phase 3 research trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for severe PTSD in Boulder.
Dan Hirshberg, PhD
Dan Hirshberg, PhD is the founder and Executive Director of SŌTERIC Contemplative Training in Boulder, CO. He completed his MA in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism (Shedra Track) at Naropa University and his PhD in Tibetan Studies at Harvard University. He then held postdocs at UC Santa Barbara and LMU Munich, was an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Mary Washington, where he directed one of the first Contemplative Studies programs for undergrads and installed a Japanese-style garden, and served as a Visiting Contemplative Fellow at UVA’s Contemplative Sciences Center. His first book, Remembering the Lotus-Born: Padmasambhava in the History of Tibet’s Golden Age (Wisdom Publications, 2016), won Honorable Mention from the Association for Asian Studies. He also serves as a Karunika in Nalandabodhi International under the direction of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.
Beatriz Caiuby Labate, PhD
Dr. Beatriz Caiuby Labate (Bia Labate) is a queer Brazilian anthropologist based in San Francisco. She has a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of plant medicines, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, religion, and social justice. She is Executive Director of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines (https://chacruna.net, https://chacruna-iri.org, https://chacruna-la.org). She serves as Public Education and Culture Specialist at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), and Adjunct Faculty at the East-West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). She is also Diversity, Culture, and Ethics Advisor at the Synthesis Institute. Additionally, she is a co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP) in Brazil and editor of its site. She is author, co-author, and co-editor of twenty-four books, two special-edition journals, and several peer-reviewed articles (https://bialabate.net).
Caroline Leach, MA, LPC, NCC
Caroline is co-founder and clinical supervisor of The Mind Embodied, a group psychotherapy practice specializing in trauma, sexuality, and relationships. She received her MA from Naropa University in Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology and currently serves as adjunct faculty in this program, primarily for the residential meditation retreats. She has designed curricula in Contemplative Psychology for the Royal University of Bhutan and Tergar Institute of Engaged Buddhism. Devoted to the healing of trauma on individual and collective levels, Caroline infuses somatic approaches of rewiring the attachment and nervous systems with the wisdom teachings on nature of mind as inherently clear, compassionate, and indestructible.
Ray Lewey, MA, LPC
Ray Lewey, MA, LPC is adjunct faculty in the Graduate School of Psychology and the BA Psychology program at Naropa University. He teaches on the intersections between Western psychology, Buddhist philosophy, and contemplative practice, while also providing meditation instruction in both retreat and classroom settings. Ray earned his MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy from Naropa and works in private practice. He specializes in explorations of gender and is curious about how synchronizing mind and body leads to deeper and more authentic confidence to meet experience directly. Ray also practices traditional kung fu as a path for personally exploring these topics.
Ismail Lourido Ali, JD
Ismail Lourido Ali, JD (he/him or they/them) has been personally utilizing psychedelics in celebratory and spiritual contexts for over fifteen years, and has been actively participating in the drug policy reform movement since 2013. As the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), Ismail advocates to eliminate barriers to psychedelic therapy and research, develops and implements legal and policy strategy, and supports MAPS’ strategy, organizational development, and ethics work. Ismail is a founding Board member of the Psychedelic Bar Association and also presently serves on the Board of Directors for Sage Institute in the California bay area. Ismail advises, is formally affiliated with, or has served in leadership roles for numerous organizations in the drug policy reform ecosystem, including Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Chacruna Institute, and the Ayahuasca Defense Fund. In addition, Ismail works with clients on matters related to the religious use of psychedelics as sacrament.
Sean McAllister, JD
Sean McAllister is a lawyer focused on the psychedelic space. His work includes advising religious organizations on their rights to use psychedelics as sacraments, seeking DEA licensure for a public company manufacturing psilocybin for clinical trials, helping psychedelic-assisted therapists understand the risks of these activities, advising on what is legal in decriminalized cities, and understanding new state regulatory laws like Oregon’s Measure 109. Sean is a member of the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel, which is working on implementing psilocybin decriminalization in that city. He is on the Board of Directors of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines.
Scott Shannon, MD
Scott has been a student of consciousness since his honor’s thesis on that topic at the University of Arizona in the 1970s. Following medical school, MDMA assisted psychotherapy became part of his practice before this medicine was scheduled in 1985. Scott has published four books on holistic and integrative mental health. Scott is a past President of two national medical organizations and currently teaches ketamine-assisted psychotherapy widely. He serves as a site Principle Investigator and therapist for the Phase III trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD sponsored by MAPS at the Wholeness site on Fort Collins.
Regina Smith, MA
Rooted in embodied contemplative philosophies, Regina Smith is known for her magical creativity, intellectual clarity, and mission-centered collaborative leadership. As an equity-informed coach, she is passionate about supporting leaders in navigating complex power dynamics with heart, and as a consultant and trainer, she brings radical honesty and expertise in mindfulness to helping organizations create inclusive cultures for the greater good. She currently serves Naropa University as Vice President for Mission, Culture, and Inclusive Community, is the Queen Dreamer at the Center for Radical Connection, and is pursuing her doctorate in Women's Spirituality at the California Institute for Integral Studies. In addition, she is currently studying unconditional love and humility as a student of her beautiful and brilliant six-year-old son Zen
Joe Tafur, MD
Joe Tafur, M.D., is a Colombian-American family physician originally from Phoenix, Arizona. After completing his residency at UCLA, Dr. Tafur spent two years in academic research at the UCSD Department of Psychiatry. After his research fellowship, he lived and worked in the Peruvian Amazon at the traditional healing center Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual where he trained in ayahuasca shamanism with master Shipibo shaman Ricardo Amaringo. In his book, “The Fellowship of the River: A Medical Doctor's Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine," Dr. Tafur shares his unique experience and integrative medical theories. He leads the nonprofit organization www.modernspirit.org.
Hanifa Nayo Washington, BA
Hanifa Nayo Washington, she/her/hers, is a social entrepreneur, cultural producer, creative, and healing justice practitioner with 20 years in nonprofit leadership. As the co-founder and the Chief Strategy Officer for Fireside Project, Hanifa supports the design, facilitation, and communication of Fireside Project’s mission, vision, strategic initiatives and future goals. Hanifa, a facilitator, reiki master practitioner, and creative, works at the intersection of mindfulness, place making, and social justice to create organizations, gatherings, spaces, and experiences rooted in the values of beloved community.
Joshua White, JD
Joshua White (he/him) is Founder and Executive Director of Fireside Project, which operates the first-ever national peer support line for psychedelics. Before Fireside Project, Joshua spent several years as a volunteer crisis counselor on Safe & Sound's TALK Line and peer-support volunteer at the Zendo Project. Joshua has spent 17 years as a lawyer, including 11 years at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, where he focused on suing businesses exploiting vulnerable communities. In that capacity, he co-taught a nationally renowned clinic at Yale Law School, where he helped students generate and litigate public interest impact litigation lawsuits.
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Instructors
Marcela Ot’alora G., MA, LPC
Marcela Ot’alora G. was born and raised in Colombia where her mother, aunt, and grandmother were instrumental in cultivating compassion and kindness as the highest values for engaging with others and the world. Their teaching led her to view success from this lens. Currently she lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband, dogs, and daughters nearby. She has an MA in Transpersonal Psychology from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and an MFA in Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For over 20 years Marcela has been in private practice working primarily with PTSD. In addition to private practice, she has dedicated her professional life to training and research. Beginning in 1999, she has worked on various studies sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) as a Principal Investigator and therapist using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD. Additionally, she is a lead trainer and supervisor for MAPS’ training program.
Bruce D. Poulter, MPH
Bruce has worked extensively with people in chronic pain as an educator and Rolfer and has served as a Sub-Investigator and Clinical Supervisor on the MAPS-sponsored Phase 2 and 3 MDMA-assisted therapy trials. What Bruce appreciates about MDMA-assisted therapy is its’ deeply intimate nature; driven by a profound love for self, community and other; participant centered; respectful of participants processes; it leverages a person’s native inherent wisdom; and invites/demands authenticity of all parts and parties involved in the at times mysterious, service of healing.
Additional Program Instructors
to be announced as confirmed
The Synthesis Institute is a global leader of the modern psychedelic movement, advancing scientific research, training and education to create access to safe, legal psychedelic experiences for integrative healing and expansion.