BCSP Welcomes Second Cohort of the Psychedelic Facilitation Certificate Program

The UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP) is delighted to welcome the second cohort of students to the Psychedelic Facilitation Certificate Program. Veterans, traditional lineage holders and first-generation immigrants from Belarus, Japan and Mexico are among the 27 students joining the nine month course. The training program, which aims to center equity in the future of psychedelic facilitation, welcomes its most diverse cohort yet. 

Psychedelic Facilitation: Guiding Transformation

Psychedelic facilitation involves the supervised and guided use of psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine, in a therapeutic context to address mental health issues, facilitate personal growth, and promote spiritual well-being.

The field has gained significant attention due to clinical research that suggests psychedelics may be instrumental in the treatment of a wide range of mental health disorders. As a result, there is growing demand for professionally trained facilitators who can offer safe, legal, culturally sensitive and effective psychedelic care. 

Meet Six Members of the New Cohort

Among the program’s participants is Joshua Potocko, a U.S. Navy veteran with nearly 30 years of service. He served in the Persian Gulf as a flight officer and a Marine helicopter squadron embedded physician. After retiring in 2022 and relocating to New Orleans, Potocko has focused on exploring the healing potential of psychedelics for individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a common diagnosis among returning veterans. PTSD has led to more soldier suicides in the U.S. since 9/11 than combat-related deaths.

Another dedicated participant is Kevin Vance, a 16-year veteran of special operations who recently retired as a fire captain in one of the nation’s largest fire organizations. Both Potocko and Vance see the BCSP certificate program as a means to support fellow veterans dealing with treatment-resistant PTSD, anxiety, and depression, as well as their families, who often struggle to find adequate care.

Honoring Ancestral Knowledge

While the modern psychedelic movement is gaining momentum, it builds upon centuries of ancestral knowledge of plant medicines and their potential for healing. This reality has raised concerns among Indigenous leaders who fear that mainstreaming psychedelics in Western research, education, and media may overlook or culturally appropriate Indigenous practices.

Traditional lineage holders Andrés González and Carmela Cortez have joined BCSP’s new cohort to integrate and center their ancestral practices within the interdisciplinary training. González, a two-spirit Mestizo with Yaqui, Mexican, and European ancestries, combines his training as a psychotherapist with teachings from his ancestral curanderismo lineages. He found the program’s first module to be a careful balance between sacred, earth-based entheogenic traditions and clinically relevant scientific perspectives.

Carmela, born in Michoacán, Mexico, who identifies as a mestiza of Purépecha (Tarasca) lineage, learned about the healing properties of plants through song and story from her mother and grandmothers. Today, she practices as a curandera, herbalist, and permaculturist in the Bay Area.

A Diverse Tapestry of Expertise

The cohort’s diversity of lived experiences and expertise reflects the interdisciplinary nature of psychedelic facilitation training. Roman Palitsky, an immigrant from Belarus and a faculty member at the Emory Center for Psychedelics and Spirituality, focuses on religion, spirituality, and how people find meaning in suffering.  His work led him to the BCSP, where he emphasizes he is learning as much from his fellow students as from the course instruction.

Catherine Bae, a former educator and immigrant rights advocate who immigrated from Japan, describes the program’s multidisciplinary approach, the diverse cohort, and the personal and self-reflective teaching style of the faculty as deeply humbling and impressive. Bae works as a therapist with a focus on relational, trauma-informed care through an anti-oppression lens. She explores how culture, intergenerational legacies, and intersectional experiences of power can shape her clients’ lives and self-perception.

Interdisciplinary Introduction to Psychedelics  

The first module of the program, held in September 2023, featured four full days of in-person learning, exploring the worldviews that inform the field of psychedelic care. The instruction included insights from neuroscientist and UC Berkeley Professor David Presti, clinical researchers Drs. Sylver Quevedo and Joseph Zamaria, spiritual care provider Moana Meadow, social worker Mary Sanders, and therapist Dr. Susana Bustos.

Apply to the Psychedelic Facilitation Certificate Program 

Applications for the 2024-2025 Psychedelic Facilitation Certificate Program will open in December. See our website for details or attend one of our upcoming online Open House events!

Open House – BSCP Psychedelic Facilitation Certificate Program

Join us for the 2024-2025 Certificate Program Q&A and an opportunity to meet our instructors. For advanced health care professionals: chaplains, clergy, therapists, social workers, physicians, nurses, midwives, and traditional lineage holders.

November 17, 1PM PT, Virtual

JEDI Open House – BCSP Psychedelic Facilitation Certificate Program

Join us for the 2024-2025 Certificate Program Q&A and an opportunity to meet our instructors. We are committed to building a diverse, inclusive pipeline of BIPOC and LGBTQIA psychedelic facilitators.

This program is for advanced health care professionals: chaplains, clergy, therapists, social workers, physicians, nurses, midwives, veterans, and traditional lineage holders. This Open House is for those who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, first-generation immigrants, and people with disabilities.

December 7, 05:00 PM PT, Virtual