Wellness

10 Centers for Psychedelic Healing, Therapy, and Exploration

Art courtesy of Mariano Peccinetti

10 Centers for Psychedelic Healing, Therapy, and Exploration

Whether you’re a prospective psychedelic first-timer or an experienced psychonaut, the idea of set and setting probably isn’t new to you. But if it is, a quick summary: The conditions in which you use psychedelics seriously influence the kind of experience you have. (For more depth here, check out this conversation we had with Charles Grob, MD, about his research on psychedelic therapies.) It’s not that every element must be perfectly arranged, but there are a number of factors you don’t want to leave up to chance. Because while psychedelics and the ceremonies surrounding their use are a powerful tool for healing, they also leave you vulnerable and have the potential for serious (and in rare cases, fatal) harm. If you’re going to partake, you’ll want to be in good hands.

What’s important about trying psychedelics as part of a retreat structure (or seeing a specialist for psychedelic-assisted therapy) is that you’re working under controlled conditions: Someone has taken the time to arrange a peaceful and safe setting, put together a plan to get you in the right mind-set for a positive psychedelic experience, and made sure that whatever you’ll be taking is exactly what you think it is. A good program involves a medical screening and an application process to check you out for contraindications—meaning they make sure it’s medically safe for you to take the medicine they’re providing—as well as a strong setup for emotional and psychological integration work.

The following is a list of centers and specialists recommended by the researchers, doctors, and thinkers who know this field best.

A note of caution: As with any alternative healing experience, you should consult your own medical team and understand the risks before proceeding. Psychedelics are illegal in many countries and unregulated in others. We’ve confirmed that at the time of publishing, the treatments described below are legal at the centers listed, but you should independently verify the legal status of any center (whether you’ve found it here or elsewhere) before undergoing treatment.

Ayahuasca

  • Soltara Healing Center <br><em>Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica</em>

    Soltara Healing Center
    Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica

    Rooted in emotional, energetic, and spiritual healing, Soltara’s retreats offer ceremonies with the sacred plant medicine ayahuasca. Over the course of a session—which lasts between five days and three weeks—guests prepare for medicine work with one-on-one consultations with Shipibo master healers (there’s a translator present), receive individual support from healers and facilitators during each sitting, and integrate their experiences with yoga, breathwork, journaling, creative expression, floral baths, nature immersion, and community events. The center hosts no more than twenty guests at a time. Trauma expert Gabor Mate and psychedelic research pioneer Dennis McKenna sit on the board. Plus, the Soltara grounds are something else: twenty-one acres of Costa Rican rain forest, in spitting distance of ocean waves.

  • Niwe Rao Xobo <br><em>Pucallpa, Peru</em>

    Niwe Rao Xobo
    Pucallpa, Peru

    Forty-five minutes outside the Amazonian city of Pucallpa, the small retreat center Niwe Rao Xobo hosts ayahuasca ceremonies and traditional plant dietas led by Shipibo master healer Maestra Ynes. It’s a small, family-run outfit that stays close to tradition, so don’t expect major perks or broad strokes of luxury. But the experience you get at Niwe Rao Xobo is something you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Maestra Ynes works with you to choose among seven master plants—each has a different spirit and wisdom—that support healing over the course of the retreat and help guide the ayahuasca experience.

Ibogaine

  • Pangea Biomedics <br><em>north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico</em>

    Pangea Biomedics
    north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    Pangea Biomedics is an ibogaine-assisted drug detox and mental health clinical-care facility forty-five minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. What Pangea Biomedics does differently from other ibogaine-assisted healing centers is administer the drug incrementally, using the plant in three different forms with three different levels of intensity: Initially, they deliver ibogaine using iboga root bark powder at lower doses over a longer period of time, allowing patients to acclimate comfortably. Then they increase the dose with total-spectrum alkaloid extract. Finally, gradually, they introduce purified ibogaine hydrochloride, the most purified form of the drug—it’s a powerful anti-addictive and can interrupt opioid withdrawal symptoms. The center supplements its ibogaine program with somatic therapy, meditation, personal nutritional protocols, and self-inquiry programming.

  • Clear Sky Recovery <br><em>Cancún, Mexico</em>

    Clear Sky Recovery
    Cancún, Mexico

    Founded by Dr. Alberto Sola, one of only a few clinicians trained by ibogaine research pioneer Deborah Mash, Clear Sky Recovery is a residential facility in Cancún specializing in ibogaine-assisted drug detox. The programs involve multiple ibogaine experiences—most patients receive at least three—spread across the length of a stay (typically seven days). Each treatment is tailored to the patient and their specific condition and monitored by medical doctors, clinical psychologists, and registered nurses. An example: After a pretreatment protocol including blood work, a cardiology check, psychotherapy, yoga, and massage, Clear Sky administers a flood dose—an ingestible dose of ibogaine hydrochloride that interrupts opioid withdrawal symptoms and results in dreamlike visions. After the flood dose, the patient enters processing and integration work, which includes ibogaine boosters that help solidify the effects of the experience. For all patients, post-treatment includes individual psychotherapy, nutraceuticals, yoga, and considered aftercare planning. The center itself is luxurious and peaceful—between treatments, you can post up by a beachside pool, sit down to meals from the on-site chef, and have a massage (or two, or three).

Psilocybin

  • Synthesis <br><em>Amsterdam, Netherlands</em>

    Synthesis
    Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Thirty minutes outside of Amsterdam in the coastal community of Zandvoort, there’s a private magic truffles ceremony going down in a hundred-year-old renovated church called the Lighthouse. It’s guided by a team of facilitators and therapists. The participant reclines in a plushy seat and lets the active component of the truffles, psilocybin, do most of the work. This is the core experience of Synthesis, a three- to five-day residential retreat for psychedelic therapy and personal growth. Guests stay in shared or private apartments, with complete and all-inclusive access to the Lighthouse grounds and gardens, airy living spaces, saunas, indoor and outdoor yoga spaces, and plant-based meals from a pair of in-house chefs. Private coaching, breathwork, and integration workshops round out the experience—which guests walk away from with clear new insights to tie into their daily lives.

Ketamine

  • Will Siu <br><em>Los Angeles, California</em>

    Will Siu
    Los Angeles, California

    Psychiatrist Will Siu, MD, approaches his work with the goal of lasting, patient-centered healing—using his skills and experience to help his clients find healing within themselves. As part of that process, Siu manages psychiatric medication—including medication discontinuation for those who are ready—and provides integrative psychotherapy. For interested patients, this involves meditative and spiritual work and, in some cases, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy by oral lozenge or intramuscular injection. Siu also offers integration services for those who have experienced ayahuasca, LSD, psilocybin, or MDMA.

  • Ember Health <br><em>New York, New York</em>

    Ember Health
    New York, New York

    Ember Health has a clear-cut focus: ketamine-assisted therapy for depression treatment. When a patient arrives at the center after a referral from their health care provider, their program looks like this: a foundational treatment of four hour-long ketamine infusions over two weeks, with booster infusions every two to six weeks if depression persists. (This plan adheres to the guidelines for ketamine dosage and treatment duration set forth by the American Psychiatric Association.) An emergency medicine physician monitors the infusions, and at every step, Ember Health communicates with patients and their providers to ensure ketamine is just one pillar of a larger, comprehensive health plan.

  • Wholeness Center <br><em>Fort Collins, Colorado</em>

    Wholeness Center
    Fort Collins, Colorado

    In addition to its functional medicine and integrative psychiatry practice, Fort Collins’s Wholeness Center offers ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for certain patients. What’s special about Wholeness Center is that after a patient’s initial psychiatric and naturopathic assessments, the center’s entire care team meets to develop a collaborative plan for the patient’s treatment going forward. If that does involve ketamine therapy, it may involve one of three different routes of administration: oral lozenge, intramuscular injection, or IV. Depending on the route of administration, the session may be guided by a nurse, a therapist, or a psychiatrist.

  • Craig Salerno Counseling <br><em>Boulder, Colorado</em>

    Craig Salerno Counseling
    Boulder, Colorado

    Specializing in addiction, depression, anxiety, trauma, and spiritual concerns, licensed professional counselor Craig Salerno is focused on transformation: breaking his clients out of the stuckness that’s causing them suffering. Salerno draws on cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy, as well as mindfulness and meditation, and he’s trained in ketamine-assisted therapy. He requires that patients who participate in ketamine work do a few preparatory psychotherapy sessions and a medical screening with their physician. Then he works with oral lozenges in two- to three-hour sessions, supporting patients through the ketamine experience. Salerno also offers integration services for those who have experienced other psychedelics.

  • Marcela Ot’alora G. <br><em>Boulder, Colorado</em>

    Marcela Ot’alora G.
    Boulder, Colorado

    In her practice, Marcela Ot’alora G. focuses on helping clients process trauma and overcome depression, working in six monthly ketamine sessions with integration sessions in between. She trains other therapists on best-practice protocols for psychedelic-assisted therapy, and she heads a phase 3 MDMA-assisted psychotherapy research site for MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies)—a stamp of approval that speaks for itself.

MDMA and LSD

Right now, MDMA and LSD are illegal in most countries and have no accepted medical uses. However, there is ongoing research on MDMA’s value in psychotherapy for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder as well as exploratory research on other potential uses. LSD is currently being investigated for its effects on anxiety as part of LSD-assisted psychotherapy. To see what studies and clinical trials are currently recruiting participants, check the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies’ website.


    This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.

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