Naropa University Offers Degree For Psychedlic-assisted Therapy

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naropa university offers course in psychedelic therapy

Venturing into the world of medical cannabis can be daunting for first-timers. Without proper information and support one can end up with adverse side-effects or worse, addiction. For those struggling with mental health issues in particular, psychedelic-assisted therapy could be a viable method of treatment. Getting in touch with an experienced therapist however can be challenging as it is an emerging field and only been gaining wider acceptance in the past few years. 

Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado plans to improve the situation by offering a new course in psychedelic studies through its Bachelor of Arts degree program. According to the university’s website, the new minor aims to ‘prepare students for employment in the emerging field of psychedelic studies by providing a humanities focused introduction to psychedelic practices, educating about the history, development and cultural appropriation of psychedelic practices.’

A robust and comprehensive study of psychedelic-assisted therapy

Joe Harrison, Executive Director of the Naropa Center for Psychedelic Studies said the proposed classes will include an introductory course, decolonial psychology, working with emotions, herbal medicine, religion and psychedelics, exploring psychedelic science, the poetry of psychedelics and transpersonal psychology. 

The course is still being fine-tuned but the university is aiming to make it available to undergraduate students by the fall semester of 2024. According to Harrison the idea for the course came about from Naropa staff and students who noticed a lack of formal education and training for the field. 

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy has been gaining attention over recent years as a potential treatment for depression and PTSD. 5% of the world’s population is struggling with depression while 3.9% globally are dealing with PTSD, the latter being more prevalent in higher-income countries. 

While study into this area is still in its early stages, there are ongoing and planned trials to treat patients with bipolar depression, suicidal ideation, Alzheimer’s, anorexia nervosa and mood disorders in early-stage cancer patients with psilocybin. 

Psychedelic-assisted therapy consists of three phases: preparation, administration and integration. But before that the therapist is required to discuss with the patient about their medical history, goals and intentions, and safety protocols. 

“If you want to be a facilitator, the most important thing you have to have, in my opinion, is the ability to sit and be present. Because a lot of times, you’re not doing all that much,” Harrison said. “That’s really what we teach at Naropa.”

The university which was founded by Buddist monk Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1974 had recently opened the Naropa Center for Psychedelic Studies in 2022 which offers a post-graduate, psychedelic-assisted therapies certificate program to train prospective facilitators, who help monitor and support individuals while they’re under the influence.

“We really created this pathway for students, for people who want to become psychedelic practitioners to get education, training and real-world experience,” Harrison said.

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