The Center for Consciousness Medicine is a not for profit 501c3 organization focused on education and advancing the safe, ethical, and legal practices of psychedelic-assisted therapy.
While our field of practice has risen in popularity over recent years, a number of questions about our work and our organization remain. Below are answers to common questions, misconceptions, and confusion about our programs — which are often different from other forms of practice or trends within the psychedelic therapy community.
Why was the Center for Consciousness Medicine created?
- The School of Consciousness Medicine (SCM), a for profit entity, was conceived of in 2018 and incorporated in 2019. Naama Grossbard alone started this company and was the sole shareholder in this for profit entity.
- The Center for Consciousness Medicine (CCM) was founded in 2020.
- CCM was incorporated in October 2020 in the state of Delaware and granted not-for- profit status by the IRS in May 2021. At its founding, Naama Grossbard donated all shares and intellectual property of SCM into CCM, and CCM continued the existing SCM programs and added new ones.
- CCM was created with the intent of acquiring not for profit status. Being a non-profit 501c3 was the legal entity that made the most sense for growth and scaling of the programs that SCM ran and allowed for the organization to be impact and values driven. This prevented investment power from swaying the identity and direction of the organization as it was being developed.
- To date CCM does not have clients or provide therapies to students. We are an educational organization focused on teaching.
Who are the founders of CCM? What were the roles and responsibilities of leadership?
- CCM was co-founded by Naama Grossbard with the help of her parents Francoise Bourzat and Aharon Grossbard.
- Naama Grossbard’s role at CCM since its founding has been as Executive Director. Aharon and Francoise held board roles for 3 months as the organization was incorporated in October 2020.
- Upon learning about recent allegations, Aharon and Francoise were immediately removed from the CCM website and any roles having to do with the organization. (See below for more detail.)
- Francoise Bourzat and Aharon Grossbard are no longer involved with CCM. As early co-founders, their role was to serve as advisors to Naama Grossbard. They had limited guest teaching roles. At no point did either of them participate in curriculum building, staff meetings or decision making processes within the organization.
- CCM currently has 22 staff across programs, legal, administration, communications and marketing, and finance.
Does CCM condone the use of psychedelic drugs in their programs?
- CCM offers 2 programs.
- The one that was adopted from SCM and began in 2019 is its Fundamentals Program, a somatically oriented, talk-based counseling approach that also includes introductory exposure to techniques such as sound healing, movement, ritual-based exercises, and guided visualizations. This program does not involve nor condone the use of substances amongst its students. This is explicitly stated on our website in relation to this program and repeatedly throughout the program itself.
- In July 2021, CCM began to offer a Psychedelic Guide Training Program, with all in-person activity occurring in Jamaica where the use of such substances is permitted under local laws. CCM does not provide substances as part of this psychedelic guide training program, but does train the student on how to use these substances in a therapeutic manner.
Is the activity that CCM does legal?
- All programs of both SCM and CCM were and are in full compliance with all laws in the jurisdiction in which they operate, including those governing the use of psychedelic drugs.
- CCM and specialized lawyers it has retained have gone to great lengths and spent significant time and financial resources to assure this.
What professional experience do students have when they enroll in CCM?
To be considered for the Psychedelic Guide Training Program, applicants must have some psychologically informed training, either at CCM or another learning institution. To be considered for the 4OO hr Fundamentals Program, no prior experience is required.
How might our Psychedelic program differ from others in the psychedelic space?
- Our methodology is rooted in Indigenous practices and Earth-based traditions.
- We use a Holistic Model. We take into account every aspect of a person‘s life: body, mind, spirit, community, environment, when seeking to offer them support.
- We place great importance on what we call the “taking the guide seat.” Students at CCM are required to “do their own work,” to participate in ongoing therapeutic practice, and encouraged to have mentors and supervision, even after leaving the program.
- We have specific, in-depth teachings focused on ethics. We introduce the program teaching ethics, we close the program on ethics, and topics surrounding ethics, especially as it relates to “the guide seat” are ingrained into the curriculum.
- At CCM we teach extensively about transference, counter transference and erotic transference.
- CCM students are taught the critically important roles of preparation and integration. We require our guides to be proficiently trained in psychotherapeutic techniques to help support the client in their healing and growth, both in session and out of session in their daily lives.
- Our programs are rigorous. At CCM we take guide work very seriously.
- Our programs are didactic, experiential and relational. There are in person teaching components and experiential learning components. For the psychedelic guide training program students are expected to have legal experience with psychedelics within the CCM approach in order to graduate.
- CCM employs a six member diversity council to inform the internal, personal work we are doing and also doing the tandem work of dismantling systems of oppression while centering diversity and inclusion in our program development.
- Accessibility of our programs is of critical importance. Admission is based on interest, readiness, emotional capacity and a passion for healing. The program costs are based on income, structured so that no one is turned away for lack of resources.
What is CCM’s point of view on physical touch between teachers and students?
- The approach we teach lies at the intersection of psychotherapy and an indigenous approach to working with psilocybin mushrooms. Within this indigenous lineage, physical touch is a fundamentally important aspect of healing. From the fields of somatic psychotherapy and touch work, it is known that consensual, non-sexual touch can have a beneficial effect on the healing process and can support the healing of the deep wounds of attachment, trauma, and disconnection.
- Our approach at CCM, which uses these indigenous non-sexual touch methods, falls outside the standard psychotherapeutic practices. We also recognize that touch is an arena that must be navigated carefully and thoughtfully, to avoid harm.
- Sexual touch and specifically touching of genitals is not taught in any CCM programs and our students are never advised or permitted to do so with their clients.
- We believe that when appropriately engaged working with touch must include (but not limited to); informed consent, clear boundaries, appropriate training, and a trauma-informed approach. In consideration of the additional complexities of touch in psychedelic therapy, we teach our students about:
- Informed consent about the risks and benefits of psychedelic therapy, and those particular to touch. Consent must be determined prior to a session and not be diverged from once the session has begun or for a period of time following the session. A client may retract consent to any touch at any time. It is the responsibility of the guide or therapist to uphold the agreed upon boundaries, at all times.
- Training and awareness on the complexities of power dynamics inherent in the healing relationship.
- Training specific to working with trauma generally, and within expanded states.
- Requirement of sobriety on the part of the guide during all sessions.
- Certified Consciousness Medicine Guides acknowledge the fundamental interdependence of our personage as a node within the greater web, and as such, are responsible for their actions and motivations and the impact they have on others.
Is CCM aware of recent allegations regarding sexual assault or sexual touch during the practice of psychedelic-assisted therapies?
- CCM is aware of recent allegations of this nature against our former co-founders, and we take any reports of this behavior occurring within our programs incredibly seriously.
- CCM stands in full support of victims of abuse.
- CCM does not and will not tolerate sexual harassment or abuse of any kind in its programming, and we condemn this behavior in outside practice, in the strongest possible terms.
- We are committed, first and foremost, to the safety of our therapeutic practices and welcome all efforts to ensure students are working in an environment that prioritizes their wellbeing.
- CCM is in the process of finding an outside ethicist to review our programs for safety and effectiveness, and we will be providing our community with regular updates of this work as it emerges.
When were Aharon and Francoise removed from their roles and titles?
- CCM learned of details concerning an inappropriate exchange between Aharon and a CCM student following recent media articles. As represented in our Oct 4th statement, he was immediately and permanently removed from his position with CCM as a result of violating ethical conduct governing our teacher – student interactions. An investigation by an independent party is being conducted.
- Francoise has been suspended from CCM as the result of allegations made against her in her activity in her private practice.
- CCM strongly condemns any form of sexual abuse or harassment, which run counter to our values.
Where is CCM headed?
- CCM is prepared to act in accordance with our values. We believe that the impact of our work in helping people heal is of great benefit.
- CCM feels a responsibility to inform the public on how our therapies work, and to ensure we are developing programs that are safe and ethical.
- CCM will continue to take action without hesitation to protect those who have been harmed, to prevent harm from occurring, and to be in good ethical standing as an organization in order to best serve those that come to us. .
- CCM is currently seeking an ethicist to perform a thorough audit of our organization and programs and support the development of best practices that we hope will be of benefit to the field in establishing the safe and ethical teaching of these therapies.
- CCM is also seeking guidance from therapists, legal professionals and restorative justice specialists to ensure accountability across the board.
- CCM is always improving. We have reconfigured some of our program offerings to better meet the needs of our students.
We know questions will arise in the course of our work. We welcome input from our community or members of the public who are interested in learning more about us.
Further writing and up-to-date information about our programs is now available at our new website, Gather Well Psychedelics: gatherwell.org