Toward a safer psychedelic healing culture

We take client care very seriously. Thus, we have been searching to engage expert guidance from mental health and organizational ethicists that will serve to strengthen our program offerings and overall organization. After a challenging search to find someone who has both the professional expertise and caliber required for such an undertaking while also being comfortable to consult on this new and emergent field of expanded states of consciousness and psychedelics, we are grateful to have found them and are pleased to be introducing them below. 

The recent conversations in this budding field about the ethics of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy has been growth inducing and meaningful for us. The decision to bring in outside ethicists allows CCM to create a more safe, ethical and accountable psychedelic healing culture within our organization. We hope the results of this body of work will be beneficial to the field overall. We believe no one is exempt from the human propensity to project one’s shadows out into the world. We believe this also applies to how one might project shadow into the work they do in the world. We hope to bring further awareness to our own shadows as individuals, as an organization and to understand in which ways our efforts might carry with it collective shadow.  We feel it is essential for us to pursue this process in striving to train the best, and most client-centered,  psychedelic guides we can. 

As a new entity, we wish for CCM to be independently reviewed in order to gain crucial input and implement expert recommendations regarding our approaches, assumptions, policies and procedures and begin the process of creating a working ethics committee within the organization. Because there are no regulatory committees, supervising or governing boards yet that ensure safe practices within the field of psychedelic-assisted therapy, we feel hiring this team of ethicists will help us move forward confidently in a meaningful and integrous way. 

The ethicists will perform a high level review of the organization’s activity since its incorporation in 2020 and focus on any challenges the organization and its graduates have faced. The ethicists will also review for projected challenges students or graduates might face and if there are any concerns about the quality of care clients might get as it relates specifically to the quality of training of their guide.  These assessments will include a consideration of the nature of the work itself, CCM’s particular philosophies and approaches, the techniques CCM is teaching, and the vulnerabilities of clients and the power of the guide within the approach. The ethicists will have access to training materials, policies, protocols, institutional accountability structures, communications issued, student and staff feedback and conduct relevant interviews with stakeholders and leadership. Additionally, these ethicists will help CCM to develop the early stages and ongoing structures for implementing an ethics committee for the organization. This committee would be able to develop and maintain standardized and confidential procedures for reporting client grievances, and for conducting future ethical review of the organization’s programs, policies and procedures.  

The ethicists will produce a report of their findings, indicating recommendations for necessary changes to the approach, programs or policies from the lens of ethics. We intend to make this shareable with the wider community, other teaching institutions, and the public. Also, the ethicists will provide a reflection of overall findings on ethics within psychedelic training programs and within psychedelic assisted therapy approaches. We are grateful to have found these two individuals and would like to offer some introductions. They will begin their work with the Center for Consciousness Medicine in June. 

Brian D. Earp, PhD, will lead this work with CCM. He is a Senior Research Fellow in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, Associate Director of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health Policy at Yale University and The Hastings Center, and Associate Editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics. Brian is co-author of the book Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of Relationships (Stanford University Press, 2020), which is the first book-length philosophical treatment of the social and clinical ethics of psychedelic-assisted couples therapy. The book was favorably reviewed in The Atlantic, New Scientist, The Guardian and other leading venues. Brian has also published widely on the ethics of bodily integrity, sexual autonomy, and consent, having previously served on the Sexual Harassment Grievance Board of Yale University.

Brian will be working closely with CCM and will also be consulting with Lori Bruce on specific action points throughout the process particularly around standing up an ethics committee within CCM.

Lori Bruce, MA, MBE, HEC-C is Co-Director of the Adult Ethics Committee at Yale-New Haven Hospital; Associate Director, Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics (ICB), Yale University, and Director of the Summer Institute in Bioethics at Yale’s ICB. She is the Founder & Chair of the Community Bioethics Forum cosponsored by the ICB and Yale School of Medicine, and is also on faculty in the Bioethics Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  Lori leads the Yale Community Bioethics Forum, and has deep experience in clinical and community ethics, trauma-informed care, systems administration, and issues around sex/gender/power, and setting up/leading ethics committees. 

One of the earliest pioneers of the “community ethics” paradigm, Lori has amplified the voices and values of community members within scores of institutional and public health policies across the US on a wide range of subjects, including end-of-life, infant abandonment, consent for intimate exams, and so forth.   She is also one of the earliest voices to bring trauma-informed care to ethics consultations and ethical policy design.

Lori has over 20 years of experience on ethics committees at Harvard and Yale and has helped to design and establish ethics committees at prominent locations across the US, promoting inclusion, transparency, and racial equity. She sits on several international ethics boards and lectures globally on policy and ethics topics. Her work appears in prominent academic journals and popular media from the Hastings Center Report to The Huffington Post.

CCM is pleased to have engaged two strong independent ethicists for this body of work and look forward to the process ahead. Stay tuned as things continue to unfold! 



The Center for Consciousness Medicine