A Non-Profit Center for Psychedelic Medicine

Offering Treatment in
the heart of New York City

Our Mission

Nautilus Sanctuary is dedicated to becoming one of the first clinical, research and training sites to promote psychedelic-assisted therapy in a non-profit practice setting. We are currently filing for non-profit status.  

We are committed to developing and modeling best practices, financial sustainability, increased access, pro-social applications, world-class training, and ethical scalability of psychedelic therapies.

Our top priority is to make psychedelic treatment accessible and affordable through the development of group therapy protocols and training programs. 

What We Value

Affordability

Training

Accessibility

Creativity

Aftercare

Affordability

Problem:

 

The psychedelic-assisted treatment model in this country is too expensive and financially unsustainable.  In the Expanded Access phase, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, with a ratio of clinician to patient of 2:1, will require 80 clinical hours and cost $12k-20k+ for a single four-month treatment.  Similar cost impediments exist for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy.  This is not a scalable model.

 

Solution:

 

Our team at Nautilus Sanctuary will pioneer work in group psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.  Group treatment offers many benefits over individual treatment.  Not only does the group format reduce costs for individuals, numerous studies suggest that it allows for more opportunities for interpersonal learning.  There is a longstanding precedent for psychedelic group treatment at UCSF, in Switzerland, and in many indigenous practices such as the Native American Church’s peyote rituals and ayahuasca circles, but there’s been little to no development of these models in private or not-for-profit practice settings in the U.S. We will develop and test a safe group model and disseminate best practices through white papers, conference presentations, and trainings.

Training

Problem:

 

There is a training bottleneck for competent psychedelic psychotherapists.  The California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) offers a certificate program, but some trainees don’t actually get experience with psychedelic sessions.  Additionally, MAPS is allowing therapists to apply to train at future expanded access sites, but the demand for training far outstrips supply.  Most psychotherapists are being turned away, as many sites are unwilling to take on trainees.

 

 

Solution:

 

As an independent site, Nautilus Sanctuary will serve as a world-renowned center to train people in providing psychedelic medicine in legal and responsible ways. Trainees will be supervised by our core team of psychologists and psychiatrists during training programs that parallel our work with clinical participants. Training new clinicians is another important way to cut costs.  We will seek affiliation with some of the many graduate school programs in clinical psychology and social work that exist in NYC and offer externships and internships for students interested in psychedelic treatment. This will serve as a win-win for both the growing field of psychedelic treatment professionals as well as the already burgeoning need from those seeking treatment.  We will be able to provide high quality training in exchange for a lower cost supervised treatment by students and clinicians interested in learning more about working with psychedelic medicines. 

Accessibility & Scale

Problem:

 

Psychedelic medicine has so far been mostly inaccessible.  As compared to independent sites, university research with psychedelic medicines is cumbersome and slow.  Also, there is a critical research gap as to whether psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy works equally well for systemically oppressed groups, including people of color, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ people. We believe there is a strong need to provide psychedelic-supported experiences for the betterment of these and other populations. 

 

Solution:

 

Nautilus Sanctuary will provide a platform to expand accessibility of psychedelic treatments.  Using group treatments, supervised trainees, and paraprofessionals, we anticipate being able to provide clinical services at scale.  We will also implement strategies to diversify recruitment of clients, drawing from New York City’s diverse population.  We will develop strategies such as multiple subgroup outcome analyses to determine if psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy works for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual identity or gender identity.

Paraprofessionals

Problem:

 

The two-therapist model drives cost up and challenges resources. An important structural development for the advancement of ethical practice of psychedelic medicine is the distinction between the traditional “therapist” role and the “sitter” role during treatments. Both roles are important and have significant overlap, but they carry important distinctions that can affect the safety of the experience for the participant, particularly when psychological vulnerabilities arise.

 

Solution:

By drawing this distinction, our intention is not to marginalize non-licensed persons, but rather elevate their status.  Because of their extensive training in psychological theory and models of the mind, licensed mental health professionals are equipped to help contain and manage intrapsychic and interpersonal conflicts that may arise during a psychedelic experience, particularly at a relational level.  Lacking this formal training, sitters are best equipped to hold space for an emotional experience and ensure physical safety.  Good sitters are gifted individuals whose ability to maintain calm in the presence of strong emotional energy enables them to be a comfortable presence for people undergoing a psychedelic experience.  Instead of excluding non-licensed people from participating in legal treatments that use psychedelics, we want to formalize their role.  Doing so allows us to promote a trusting non-competitive relationship of interdependency between sitters and licensed practitioners that recognizes the skills that each bring to the task.  This is similar to the supportive relationship existing between non-medically trained therapists and psychiatrists or nurses and doctors.  By providing sitters with training and supported opportunities for practice, Nautilus Sanctuary will be able to more widely disseminate safe treatment options for people and, not unimportantly, cut costs.

Creativity

Problem:

Current psychedelic practice targets mental illness while largely ignoring its promise to promote what Bob Jesse calls the “betterment of well people.”  Psychedelics promote creativity, divergent thinking, and problem-solving, but these applications are largely ignored in the existing research paradigm.  For example, psilocybin research at NYU by Dr. Belser (one of our founders) and colleagues at NYU suggests that patients report improved spiritual well-being, quality of life, feelings of peace, post-traumatic growth, improvements in relationships and interpersonal connectedness, and increases in altruism.  The problem with creativity research and problem-solving research is that it is notoriously difficult to assess outcome.  Do people who use psychedelics become better computer programmers, coders, painters, writers or leaders?  If so, how can we measure these improvements?
 


Solution:

 

Nautilus Sanctuary will propose studies to work with groups of “healthy normal people” who are interested in tackling old problems in creative new ways, and systematically follow their progress.  We will use translational research and mixed methods to identify specific instruments that would be most sensitive to the neurocognitive enhancement possibilities of psychedelic treatment.

Aftercare

Problem:

 

While psychedelic “integration” has been seen as an important component to care, most psychedelic treatment models involve either (1) clients dropping in for a one-time medicine session with minimal aftercare, or (2) clients getting a limited and fixed number of follow-up psychotherapy sessions.  This leaves an “aftercare gap.” Clinical experience suggests that a comprehensive aftercare model is critical to the trajectories of psychedelic healing.  Psychedelic integration must be integrated into our practice.

 

Solution:

 

Nautilus Sanctuary will develop psychedelic aftercare models of professional mental health support as well as community-based and peer-based integration support.  A comprehensive aftercare program bolsters a financially sustainable fee-based model of care, in that integration sessions provide necessary revenue to sustain the work of the Center.  Clinically this enhances the quality of service and will improve outcomes as clients struggle work to integrate lessons from their psychedelic medicine sessions and adopt better coping and self-care strategies that are aligned with their long-term goals.  These gains are best realized in a supportive and sustaining community model.

The Journey Towards Health Begins on the Path of Self Love. 

© 2020 by Nautilus Sanctuary.