Ethical Standards & Psychedelics

Autumnal greetings, 


We have been deep in a reflective process this past month concerning allegations made against individuals with close ties to the Center for Consciousness Medicine.. When we say “close ties,” more precisely, we mean members of the CCM lineage. We have attempted to refrain from reactionary responses and have instead chosen to really look at ourselves, at our organization and at the future of psychedelic-assisted therapy, asking ourselves how best we might show up to this moment. 


With that said, it is with great humility and conviction that we are choosing the path of neither renouncing the existence of these lineage holders nor shirking accountability within the organization to ensure our practices are consistent with the ethical standards that were established when CCM was created. To learn more about the specific roles of said lineage holders, actions that were taken, and recent, ongoing statements, read HERE. 


We view CCM as the offspring and next evolutionary iteration of the lineage. How we choose to carry forward this body of work will not always align with historical practices of its teachers past or present, even while we recognize and acknowledge the vast contributions made by members of this lineage. Lineages of practice necessarily evolve over time and are reflective of the shadows of the individuals who carry them, as well as the larger cultural shadows of the time and place. No contemporary lineage is free from the traumas of the modern world, including our own. Our lineage has been shaped by the forces and isolation of psychedelic prohibition, and its indigenous roots by the impacts of colonization and carried forth into its current form. 


We recognize that our ethical stance is reflective of our individual and organizational worldview, and that the topic of ethics in any given circumstance is shaped by the forces of cultural traumas, personal positionality, and power dynamics. Ethics are not merely a code of conduct, but reflective of an internal stance and orientation around being in relationship. We acknowledge that the ethical principles and proceedings of CCM are a central route by which our core values are made real. 


In short, we are recommitting to the original mission of CCM, to be a leader in providing exemplary standards of training, treatment and research in the emerging field of psychedelic-assisted therapy. We remain committed to owning our own shadow and to confronting systems of oppression/repression that serve to push that shadow further into unconscious places.  We view this moment as an opportunity to engage our own organization and hopefully the broader psychedelic community in dialogue around what systems and stances are needed to actually provide safety in working with people in expanded states. 


In closing we want to clearly state our stance on several things: We acknowledge victims of abuse and the reality that abuses have and do happen in the psychedelic field just as they do anywhere there are imbalances of power. It is especially important that protections are in place and practitioners are well trained when working with the particular vulnerability that exists with people in expanded states. To that end we have retained an independent ethicist to review our current policies and procedures to ensure we are living up to the highest ethical stance across our field, and, where necessary, recommend additional steps we can take to ensure everyone — teacher, student, patient — are protected. 


To lift up  the dialogue around safety and ethics in the psychedelic field we are offering a series of blog posts written by CCM staff from their own personal perspectives devoted to the shadow, to the blind spots that exist in this work, to the lessons we are learning as we grow and evolve. Our first blog is written by CCM core faculty Sergio Rodriguez-Castillo on “The Pitfalls of Guiding.” You can find it HERE. These are not the statements or opinions of CCM. Rather this is a way of introducing you to the values and perspectives of the people who are a part of this organization and to hopefully ignite further conversation on these very important topics. 


Thank you for being here with us. 


In gratitude, 

The CCM staff and faculty

See also: Harm Reduction & Psychedelic Experiences

For updated content, additional blog posts and general information on where we are at in terms of programs please visit our new site Gather Well Psychedelics.