“We are going to need 100,000 psychedelic therapists in the next few years,” says Rick Doblin, the founder of MAPS and one of the key people in the current ‘Psychedelic Renaissance’. BMed Global was born of the desire to train many of these professionals in psychedelic therapy, as explained in this interview by its founder, transpersonal psychologist Karina Bertolotto.
Here you can watch and listen to the full interview:
What is BMed Global?
BMed Global is an online platform for both online and in person training in psychedelic therapy. At this moment, it is already offering different online courses with their corresponding residential retreats. In the future, BMed Global will offer a mix of online courses, in person retreats, and a combination of both. The idea is to offer a wide variety of short courses, of about six meetings each, alongside longer training programs, such as the Grof Legacy training, which lasts three years.
Our proposal is to offer an extensive variety of courses for people to choose from and to provide the tools they need to become psychedelic therapists.
Why do you think it is important to train psychedelic therapists?
We are in a very particular moment which is the psychedelic renaissance. It corresponds to the renaissance of research and of
psychedelic medicine which, due to rather political reasons, were interrupted in the 60s and 70s, when there had already been an important advance. This new wave of research puts psychedelics, or entheogens, forward to treat mental health.
What applications do psychedelic substances have in the field of mental health?
Different organizations and universities are studying their use. We ourselves have ongoing research on the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca in grief and it is giving excellent results; psilocybin for depression and also to help cancer patients in palliative care; ibogaine for the treatment of addictions; while MDMA is already in phase 4 in the United States for post-traumatic stress disorder, among many other ongoing investigations.
It was Rick Doblin, one of the visible heads of the psychedelic renaissance, who said that 100,000 psychedelic therapists will be needed in the next few years.
That’s right. As these substances become regularized there will be an increasing demand for trained professionals trained to work with different pathologies and our idea is to train these therapists from a humanistic point of view. This implies that each participant can have his or her own transformation process (that is why our slogan is “for an inner and social transformation”) and this in turn has repercussions on a social transformation, because basically we all know that we are in a moment of very important world crisis, ecological crisis, economic crisis and that psychedelics are a hope to revert this crisis.
In the last conversations I had with Claudio Naranjo, he expressed that education could change the world and, in his last times, he said that psychedelics were the hope to have a better world, a return from depression, loneliness and certain pathologies due to the individualistic way we live.
In what way?
Psychedelics take the person to a place beyond the conscious, going directly into the trauma and from there healing, recovery and reintegration are much faster. They also have other qualities, such as reconnecting with nature in this global climate crisis, which is something that is really very positive.
What do you think is the most appropriate profile right now to face this psychedelic Renaissance at a therapeutic level, psychologists, shamans, psychonauts…?
It is a very interesting question but difficult to answer, who can say who is the most qualified person to give substances, to accompany these processes? I speak of processes, because for me it is important not only the moment of the intake, but the whole process that has to do with preparation and integration. I would not venture to give you an answer, although I think it is important that he/she has several capacities and a background in the fields you have asked me about: traditional medicine, some form of shamanism, a certain background in mental health, psychology, perhaps transpersonal psychology, and the technologies of the sacred -as Stan Grof calls them- to access altered states of consciousness in different ways.
Do you think that in the future it will be possible to teach psychedelic therapy in Spanish universities?
Of course, it is a very big ambition, but I think that this is what is going to happen in the future, for example in the United States, they are already incorporating it at the University of Berkeley in
California, with a curriculum created by Michael Pollan, whose book ‘How to change your mind’ is opening so many minds… In addition, there are different universities that are working with psychedelics and I think that it is also beginning to be a reality in Europe. For me, the formula is to integrate the current knowledge of psychology and psychiatry with the ancestral knowledge of these medicines, to open the advances of psychology to the “technologies of the sacred”, as Grof called them.
What is at this time the legal status of psychedelics or what is the expected timetable for their decriminalization and normalization in Spain?
We are going at the same pace of what other countries are, in the sense that the more research is done, the more positive results we are finding that suggests that psychedelics present mental health benefits for different conditions that right now are epidemic, such as depression, meaninglessness or loneliness.
More than in Spain, decriminalization is something that is a process that will be happening very soon worldwide, as is already the case with MDMA in the United States, thanks to the research of Rick Doblin’s MAPS. In Spain we are going to depend on what happens worldwide. In Europe there is Amanda Feilding, patron of the Beckley Med Foundation, a central figure in psychedelic research for 30 years. We have the support of all the research that has been done to determine that psychedelics offer healing for certain mental pathologies. Legalization, therefore, is driven by research and the development of clinical application protocols.
At a critical time for global mental health.
This is a very great need at the global level because we are immersed in a great ecological, social and economic crisis. We have the need but also the opportunity to make a big change, and I think these substances and master plants can show us the way to that change.
Joel Olivé heads BMed Global’s course offerings for the new year 2023. What does his training consist of?
It is a course aimed at people who want to deepen their knowledge in psychedelic music therapy with great figures, such as Joel himself, who has spent many years working with Peter Hess, who is a psychiatrist with extensive experience in the use of music in holotropic states of consciousness. Our first course is offered by two icons in the world of transpersonal psychology of music therapy. We are very happy to have them as our first guests. Yes, it is an honor to have Peter and Heike Hess in this first online and residential training in which music will be a fundamental pillar.
As will somatics and meditation in the following courses.
Galia Tanay will teach a course on Mindfulness and psychedelics. Galia has spent years studying meditation in relation to psychedelics and she will give us some very important notions of how to generate presence and about the fundamental accompaniment of the other person through meditative presence.
And finally, somatics, what exactly does it refer to?
Psychology and psychoanalysis basically forgot the body and focused on the mind. As we go through the history of psychology, the body begins to take a primordial place. At this time, and in relation to psychedelics, a lot of the experience revolves around the body. In the course on Somatics, we are going to have a very special guest, Barbara Karlsen, who comes from California and is going to offer an online course and a residential course where she will teach some very important notions of how to integrate the body in the work with psychedelics.
Finally, let’s remember that the Grof Legacy long training course, which started last year in 2022, is underway and will have a new cohort next year.
Indeed, the Grof Legacy training will start again in mid-2024, although we do not have a fixed date yet. Soon it will also be available the BMed Global training, a two year program aiming to be our contribution to individual transformation for social transformation, with a whole path of different techniques of preparation, integration, and taking into account the psyche, taking into account the collective psyche, the collective trauma… very soon we will have more details.
For more information about BMed Global courses, visit their website and our social networks.
Think Tank founded in Great Britain in 1998 by Amanda Feilding, a pioneer in psychedelic research in the field of mental health and on Drug Policy reform.
The world’s leading psychedelic research organisation. Rick Doblin’s MAPS is a global leader in training programmes for psychedelic therapists.
The figure of Stan Grof in the history of psychedelics has reached legendary status. His legacy takes the form of a comprehensive psychedelic psychotherapy training programme.