About OmTerra

OmTerra is a forming non-profit created to help foster the promotion, education and outreach for psychedelic therapy.

The Midwest Psychedelic Therapy Symposium
April 27, 28, 29 – Madison, WI

The Midwest Psychedelic Therapy Symposium is a three day conference that will focus on the insights gained, integration practices, and beneficial impact on people’s life through the use of psychedelics.

Guiding, Set and Setting
Experiences, Insights
Psychedelic Studies

2018 Midwest Psychedelic Therapy Symposium Presenters

The 2018 Midwest Psychedelic Therapy Symposium has assembled world class presenters in the field of psychedelic therapy.

Additional speakers to be announced soon!

Elizabeth Nielson, PhD

NYU Psilocybin / MDMA Therapist


Dr. Nielson is a psychologist and therapist on the trials of psilocybin-assisted treatment of alcohol use disorder and of MDMA-assisted treatment of PTSD at NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Nielson’s research includes qualitative studies of patient experiences in psychedelic-assisted therapy, interview studies of psychedelic therapists, and research on the historical use of LSD in psychotherapist training. Dr. Nielson is in private practice at the Psychedelic Education and Continuing Care program at the Center for Optimal Living where she provides harm reduction and integration psychotherapy for people who use or have used psychedelics. Dr. Nielson studied art, psychology, and evidence-based interventions for drug and alcohol use, including harm reduction, motivational interviewing, community reinforcement, and


Title:The Psychotherapy Group as a Set and Setting for Psychedelic Integration.

Presentation: People who use psychedelics in any setting may experience related changes in relationships, psychological distress, work and family life, spirituality, and other areas Group psychotherapy offers the unique opportunity for people to examine interpersonal dynamics, psychological distress, and the evolving situations of their lives in a supportive setting. The Psychedelic Harm Reduction and Exploration group at the Center for Optimal Living is a living experiment in combining group psychotherapy with the principles of psychedelic harm reduction and integration, such that participants mutually grow and benefit from psychedelic experiences, minimize potential harms, and explore new aspects of psychedelic use they may otherwise not have. The psychotherapy group is therefore a unique setting, and creating a unique mindset, in which psychedelic integration can unfold. This talk will cover the formation of the group including the challenges of early development, review key themes and potentially relevant theories, and present recommendations for beginning similar groups elsewhere.

Hugh Seller, MD

Psychiatrist / University of Illinois


Hugh Seller graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Indiana University and received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is currently a fourth year resident in general psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a fellow at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.


Title:Non-Clinical Research with Psychedelic Drugs: Mechanistic Theories of Therapeutic Efficacy and Implications for Contemporary Paradigms in Psychiatry

Presentation:A renaissance in clinical research with psychedelic drugs has begun to demonstrate consistent, positive results in the treatment of a variety of notoriously difficult to treat maladies such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, and addiction. Despite their apparent clinical benefit, a positivist understanding of how psychedelics may enact clinical change remains elusive. Until relatively recently, little more than a rudimentary understanding of neurochemical modulations and associated neuroendocrine responses were well understood. In the past several years, alongside placebo-controlled studies in clinical populations, research into the mechanisms of action of psychedelics has been advancing. This presentation examines how non-clinical research – such as the the MDMA studies currently bein planned at the University of Illinois at Chicago – is likely to not only lead to ever-more sophisticated mechanistic formulations of how psychedelics enact positive clinical change, but also lead to a better understanding of consciousness, psychological constructs, and challenge contemporary theories of mental illness and intervention in psychiatry.

Rachel Harris, PhD

Psychologist / Author


Rachel Harris, PhD is a psychologist and author of Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addiction, PTSD and Anxiety. She was in the 1968 Esalen Residential Program and then in private practice for thirty-five years working with people interested in psychospiritual development. During a decade working in research, Rachel received a National Institutes of Health New Investigator’s Award and published more than forty scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine and winters in the SF Bay area.


Title: Listening to Ayahuasca


Presentation: In “A Study of Ayahuasca Use in North America,” 81 people reported the same kind of psychological changes that are sought in psychotherapy: greater self-acceptance, improved mood, increased feelings of love and compassion in interpersonal relationships, reduced alcohol intake, and improved health behaviors. I also interviewed an additional 50 people and followed up some for seven years. Almost 75% of people reported an on-going relationship with the spirit of ayahuasca. The therapeutic meaning of this relationship will be explored including how it can be reparative, leading to an earned sense of secure attachment. Questions remain, however, about how these psychological changes can be integrated. This presentation will discuss how psychotherapy during the so-called golden hours and days immediately following an ayahuasca ceremony are optimum for therapeutic work. Spiritual experiences in ayahuasca ceremonies can lead to discontinuous transformation, as described by William James, and a cosmic shift in worldview. Therapeutic integration involves differentiation of psychological issues from numinous experiences, distinguishing between levels of existential meaning. The recalibration or reorganization of psychic architecture after ayahuasca needs to be stabilized and translated into daily life.

John Utrie, DO

Pelvic Surgery / Cluster Headache Sufferer


John Utrie is a practicing physician and cluster headache sufferer who had to explore the world of psychedelics to find pain relief.


Presentation: Psychedelics and Cluster Headaches: A History and Current State

Cluster headaches are often described in the literature as one of the most painful conditions known to humans, often referred to as Suicide Headaches. Conventional treatment options are limited and caregiver understanding of the condition often leads to sub-optimal care. As the internet evolved and special interest groups convened in forums a group of individuals with cluster headaches started having discussions. One member related relief of the headaches after using LSD recreationally. This prompted members to start a “Citizen Science” movement doing self experiments and sharing impressions of headache relief after using LSD or psilocybin. The positive results where brought to the attention of a Harvard researcher who subsequently polled a cluster headache population and published his findings. This led to interest in using psychedelics for treating cluster headaches. Today there is an enthusiastic community discussing, utilizing and reporting on the use of psychedelics to relieve cluster headache pain. This talk will discuss the evolution of psychedelic use and the current activity of many suffering from this painful condition.

Matthew Brown, DO

Psychiatrist / Healthcare Leadership


Dr. Matthew Brown is a double board certified Psychiatrist, holds an MBA in healthcare leadership, and prides giving back to the community via public education and his work with nonprofit organizations. He has an outpatient private practice in Evanston, IL. Dr. Brown is also an accomplished author published in peer reviewed journals and book chapters. He has presented at conferences worldwide on the topics of trauma, attachment, and the role of psychedelic substances as medicine. He is Co-Founder of the Meetup Group, “Psychedelics and the Future of Psychiatry” which has a current membership of over 700 members.


Title: Become a Beacon: The importance of communication and community to fuel the psychedelic movement

Presentation: Despite evidence of human use for thousands of years, ongoing spiritual use of such substances worldwide and compelling evidence of the benefits of psychedelic medicine by modern science, such substances remain ridiculed and are stigmatized by society. In this talk, we will discuss how any why that came to be and practical approaches to make a change for acceptance. We will review basic communication theory and review the basics of how ideas spread. We will discuss the importance of language and vocabulary when sharing ideas. In the end participants will leave with a practical list of steps so that each can become a beacon in their own right and help bring more allies into the movement towards freedom of consciousness.

Alan Davis, PhD

Clinical Psychologist / Johns Hopkins


Alan Davis is a clinical psychologist and research fellow at the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins University. He currently works on a clinical trial evaluating the effect of psilocybin on major depressive disorder, and epidemiological studies of people who have used 5-MeO-DMT, people who have had encounters with entities after consuming DMT, and the effect and measurement of psychological insight occasioned by psychedelics. Additionally, he is the founder of Source Research Foundation which provides small research grants to scientists-in-training who want to pursue research related to psychedelic substances.


Title: The healing potential of 5-MeO-DMT: Results from two survey studies


Presentation: Depression and anxiety are two of the most common and debilitating psychiatric conditions in the world. 5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT) is a psychoactive compound found in Bufo alvarius toads and made by synthetic preparation, is used for spiritual and recreational purposes, and may have psychotherapeutic effect on depression and anxiety symptoms. This presentation explores data from two recent surveys – one laboratory-based and the other of an underground group –  that found improvements in anxiety and depression following 5-MeO-DMT use. Comparative themes include: control for the type, source and dose of 5-MeO-DMT; the settings it is used in; and the range/quality of preparation; and practices of support/integration following a session.

There were no differences in the intensity of challenging experiences between groups. However, significant differences were found in the intensity of mystical experiences, such that those whose depression or anxiety symptoms improved reported more intense mystical experiences compared to those whose symptoms did not improve. Those who reported their symptoms improved had stronger persisting beliefs about the spiritual/personal significance of their 5-MeO-DMT experience, and rated their experience as contributing more to their well-being and life satisfaction, compared to those whose symptoms did not improve. These findings suggest that 5-MeO-DMT is related to improvements in depression and anxiety, which are associated with acute mystical and persisting cognitive effects.

Katinka Hooyer, PhD

Medical Anthropologist


Katinka Hooyer, PhD is a medical anthropologist in Family and Community Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Her research focuses on alternative and integrative therapies for posttraumatic stress and moral injury.  As a community-engaged scholar, she uses interactive art to translate research and share social science knowledge with the public.

Dan Kasza is a Staff Sergeant Ret. Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne with 5 tours Iraq, and is painter and community engaged researcher. He is currently pursuing a fine arts degree at he University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Title: Altered States of Combat: War, different states of consciousness and transitioning to the civilian world.

Background: The altered states resulting from sensory deprivation and over stimulation that military work creates leaves lasting emotional, spiritual and physiological impressions on veterans. These altered psychological states and embodied memories that war fighters rely on for survival in the military are not culturally sanctioned in civic society. It is crucial for veterans making extreme transitions out of the military into the civilian world to find new forms of “mental agility” and “individual zones of optimal function.” Some veterans are micro and macro-dosing psychoactive plants to re-experience and revisit these altered states of combat.

Objective: Our goal was to explore the altered states of consciousness military training and war work create and the potential of psychoactive plants to provide new ways of replacing and making sense of these experiences.

Method: Qualitative analysis of ethnographic research with two war veterans, one micro-dosing with psilocybin and one macro-dosing with ayahuasca generated findings that were translated into a performance ethnography. This method uses dramatic narrative to convey both the lived experiences of veterans and the insights of the researcher to disseminate findings to broad audiences.

Results: Preliminary results suggest that micro-dosing psilocybin and macro-dosing ayahuasca can provide a “kinder and gentler” approach to transcendence in post-military life, take the edge off of symptoms related to posttraumatic stress disorder, including stopping intrusive thoughts, intervening on self-injury, making sense of war trauma, and “softening” the guilt of moral injury.

Conclusion: Micro-dosing psilocybin and macro-dosing of ayahuasca may offer new, harm reducing ways of achieving altered states of consciousness for some veterans having difficulty transitioning to civilian life.

Rafael Lancelotta

Graduate Student / Psychedelic Advocate


Rafael Lancelotta is a graduate student at the University of Wyoming studying Mental Health Counseling. He is interested in the use of psychedelics towards greater levels of resiliency, mental health, and openness. He is also interested in the investigation of techniques used in the counseling relationship that may deepen and enhance the benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy integration. He is passionate about opening the doors to psychedelic research to all students that are interested as well as helping to raise awareness as to the responsible clinical applications of psychedelics/entheogens. He hopes to continue on to a PhD to help develop evidence-based practices for psychedelic-assisted therapy integration to empower individuals to make lasting positive change in their lives and in their communities. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Source Research Foundation and is also the administrator of 5meodmt.org, which is a forum dedicated to forming community discussions on harm reduction, integration, and safe practices around 5-MeO-DMT.


Title: Discussing Psychedelic Experiences in Psychotherapy: A Primer for Clinicians

Presentation: Psychedelic substances (e.g., psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, ibogaine; 5-MeO-DMT) produce cognitive effects ranging from psychologically challenging to spiritual, mystical, and insightful. Although several factors are related to the type of psychedelic experiences one might have (e.g., dose, purity, individual/environmental factors), many report that these experiences are psychologically helpful. For example, cross-sectional surveys and laboratory experiments suggest that psychedelics can have psychotherapeutic benefit, with published reports documenting positive outcomes in individuals with addiction, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Furthermore, evidence suggest that the acute psychedelic experience is associated with positive clinical outcomes and with persisting changes in attitude, mood, personality, beliefs, and behavior. Although the acute subjective experiences appear to be fundamental to achieving positive outcomes, the clinical integration process (i.e., therapeutic support of the client to integrate their experience into their daily life) is also an important indicator of sustained benefit. Despite these advances, very few professional therapists outside of research settings have had the opportunity to develop skills in supporting a psychedelic integration process through discussing psychedelic experiences with their clients. Additionally, the need for therapeutic integration interventions are likely to increase as multi-site Phase III clinical trials are conducted over the next several years, possibly leading to FDA approval of these treatments, and as more people from the United States seek out these experiences in non-research settings in countries where it is unregulated. Therefore, this presentation aims to briefly review a framework of the acute effects occasioned by psychedelic substances and assist therapists in developing a basic set of cognitive therapy skills which can be used to assist a client in their integration process. Skills will be contextualized within a multi-cultural framework, integrating principles from cognitive therapy, motivational interviewing, and spiritually-integrated psychotherapy.

Niki Sauer

Integration / Facilitator


Niki Sauer coordinates programming for Botanical Dimensions’ Ethnobotany Library and Educational Programs in Northern California. She facilitates peer-integration circles in her community and is on the Curriculum Development team for ERIE- Entheogenic Research Integration & Education. She is looking forward to sharing about integration in her home state of Wisconsin. Niki holds Bachelors degrees in Social Work and Latin American Studies from the University of Wisconsin. She has deep respect for visionary plants and the people who protect and share their knowledge.


Title: Community-led peer-integration circles


Presentation: Community is one of the most basic resources that may be lacking when people attempt to do integration. Communities are also full of incredible wisdom that may be tapped into to help people integrate. This presentation will demonstrate how to begin a peer-integration circle in one’s own community. This includes showing what the basic structure and agreements can look like. There will also be discussion of the strengths of a community-led model, as well as some of the challenges the community may need to meet. Participants will take away a clear example for ready use in their particular contexts.

Steve Elfrank

Founder / Executive Director OmTerra


Steve is the Founder and Executive Director of OmTerra. OmTerra was born after Steve’s experience in being a participant in the UW-Madison Pharmacokinetics Psilocybin Study. Steve is also a Sales Manager for a medical device company.


Title: Destigmatizing Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness for Healing and Transformation

As a society and culture we have greatly narrowed down the bandwidth of consciousness to fit a collective “normal”. Unfortunately this is equivalent to removing hues from the color spectrum of light. As a culture we are missing out on the healing properties of these non-ordinary states. This presentation will seek to demystify, normalize and open the conversation of non-ordinary states of consciousness. The presentation will rely heavily on personal experiences through therapeutic applications of psychedelic medicines along with non drug induced experiences. Also to be discussed is the sharing of “downloads” in these experiences and the concept of embodied awareness to new learnings during these expanded states.

Allan Ajaya, PhD

Psychotherapist / Entheogenic Researcher


Allan has the unique distinction of being both a psychologist and a Swami. He firs experienced LSD while completing his PhD at UC Berkeley. In 1967 while he was a post doctoral fellow in the psychiatry department at the University of Wisconsin he carried out a pilot study using psilocybin with hospital patients. Psychedelics led him to look for a spiritual teacher and in 1972 he was initiated as a Swami on the banks of The Ganges in Rishikesh India. He continues to work as a psychotherapist and spiritual guide and considers entheogens to be his greatest teacher. His website is www.beingawareness.org


Title: Entheogens and Self Discovery: Psychotherapy and Beyond

Presentation: How is it that psychedelics and entheogens are proving so effective in healing such a variety of conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol, opioid, and smoking addiction, end of life anxiety in cancer patients, depression, autism, and existential alienation? We will explore how these substances act as amplifiers, enabling us to become aware of, to consciously experience previously unknown aspects of our being, including the personal unconscious, the collective unconscious, and ourselves as non-dual consciousness. Each of us has been split off from most of ourselves. We live in a tiny fraction of ourselves. Every thing that is outside of our self-definition is experienced as other, whether it be inside or outside. We feel threatened by whatever is outside of our self-definition, and our various symptoms and problems of living are a result of this threat. These substances enable us to know that our dualistic way of experiencing with all of its insecurities has been a misunderstanding. Healing occurs as we welcome ALL that has been split off from our understanding of who we are. These substances greatly facilitate this process. Psychotherapy is one avenue for carrying out this work. This ongoing awakening can also take place in nature, alone or in community, with a body worker, or with a spiritual guide.

Geoff Gilpin

Author / Psychedelic Advocate


Geoff Gilpin is the author of The Maharishi Effect: A Personal Journey Through the Movement that Transformed American Spirituality, published by Tarcher/Penguin. He received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College and a BA in Education from Maharishi International University. In a previous life, he worked in the computer industry as a systems analyst, author, and businessman as owner of The Software Resource, a computer services firm in Madison, Wisconsin. His current research explores the scientific, clinical, and spiritual aspects of the psychedelic experience.


Title: Muggles at Hogwarts: Welcoming Our Friends and Neighbors to the Joys and Terrors of the Psychedelic Experience


Presentation:  For many of us, the psychedelic journey begins in a subculture. We discover entheogens in our search for novelty or self-discovery and we use them alone or with a group of like-minded friends. The War on Drugs has driven a wedge between psychedelic people and the surrounding culture. Legalization of psychedelic medicines will bring down the barriers when crowds of new psychonauts seek prescription psychedelics for conditions such as depression, PTSD, and addiction. Naturally, they will turn to those with experience for hope and guidance. The psychedelic subculture will transform into a welcoming committee. This new role will come with difficult decisions. What model of legalization do we support? How do we present the psychedelic experience to newcomers who may be suspicious? What can we learn from a much larger community that doesn’t share our history and values? These discussions can lead to new opportunities for outreach and understanding. With legalization fast approaching, it’s time to explore opportunities for common ground. What role can you play?

Dr. Tolga Yenilmez, PT, DPT

Physical Therapists / CIIS Graduate


Dr. Tolga Yenilmez, PT, DPT received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Boston University after graduating from Istanbul University’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in 1996. He was accepted to the CIIS certificate program for Psychedelic Assisted Therapies as the only physical therapist and is among the first graduates of the program. His path on psychedelic medicines and shamanism started in the late 90s, when he was an active musician in Istanbul, Turkey and he trained as an apprentice with Guler Akhun for 14 years. He is an author on a book that teaches meaning making and visual learning through the Tarot. He practices a holistic approach to healing with an emphasis on mind-body-spirit connections and currently splits his time between Chicago and the West Coast. Dr. Tolga is also a practitioner and facilitator of Tensegrity™, a modernized version of movements and meditations passed on through seers of ancient Mexico to promote awareness and well being and facilitates classes in Midwest and West Coast.


Title: Integration Through 5 Levels of Awareness: Self – Community – Nature – Ancestors – Therapist


Presentation: The unknown becomes known through meaning making and humans navigate by making meaning out of experiences. Psychedelic experiences can sometimes have complex or unclear messages that require additional work to clarify. By giving examples and case scenarios, this presentation teaches a framework of making meaning of non-ordinary experiences through 5 stages:

How the experience relates to

1- The Self

2- Community

3- Nature

4- Ancestors

5- Navigator-Therapist-Facilitator-Sitter connections

Leland Guthrie

Doctoral Student


Leland is a Doctoral Student in the Clinical Psychology program at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Prior to returning to academia he lived outside of Santa Fe New Mexico where he worked as a ranch hand and fiber artist while studying the intersection of indigenous life ways and Indo-European culture. Leland’s current focus is the reconstellation of a unifying cultural mythos combining elements of ecopsychology and indigenous wisdom.


Title: Paradoxical healing in challenging psychedelic experiences: Jung, Psychedelics and the Journey of Katabasis

Presentation: “In the cave you most fear to enter lies the treasure you seek” ~ Joseph Campbell

Katabasis is a Greek word meaning simply “a going down, descent.” In this presentation we will consider the paradoxical healing potential of psychedelic experiences of death, grief and suffering. Psychedelic experiences can teach us that death is not necessarily just a physical ending, but a psychic territory that can be explored by those interested in descending into the deep and mysterious layers of what Jung called the “cave of initiation and secret knowledge.” The psychic exploration of the territory of death and the underworld is a journey as old as humanity. The myths of the indigenous peoples of the world included stories of heroes journeying into psychic realms and confronting death and mortality in its many forms and returning from the other side with boons for their people. Just what is this secret initiatory knowledge that Jung refers to, which is only to be found by descending into the dark cave, or sounding the depths of the waters of the unconscious? In an attempt to answer this question we will explore several different examples, some from the mythic past and some from modern times.

Colten Parr

UW-Madison Student


Colten Parr is a graduating senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying English and Portuguese. Colten’s experience attending sacred plant medicine ceremonies in South America has awakened him to a Truth beyond words. He is passionate about the present unfolding of the psychedelic movement and the full integration of entheogenic medicine into society’s framework. Colten is a student and practitioner of yoga, and he likes to read, write, draw, sing and dance.


Title: Ancient Medicine in the Modern Age: The Entheogenic Sacrament in Brazilian Religious Traditions


Presentation: Because of its rich traditions with entheogenic sacraments, Brazil provides a model for the institutionalized use of psychedelics, now at the center of a renaissance in research. This presentation examines the various religious traditions of Brazil which ingest entheogenic substances as ritual sacraments. These traditions include the three main ayahuasqueira religions, Santo Daime, Barquinha, and União do Vegetal (UDV), and the Jurema tradition of Catimbó. Non-religiously affiliated institutions attended by the author are also examined, as representatives of a larger neoshamanic and entheogenic movement. This presentation will give attention to the history, cultural use, and theological assumptions of each religious tradition, and identify trends for the effective societal integration of entheogenic plant medicine in the United States.

Jonalyn Blaha, Psy.D.

Director of Purusha Psychotherapy


Jonalyn Blaha is a Doctor of Clinical Psychology from the California Institute of Integral studies, is currently a registered psychotherapist in Colorado, and is also the Director of Purusha Psychotherapy. She is committed to a life of mystery and magic and finds herself often traversing the depths of darkness. She knows that it’s in these depths that the understanding and search for self begins. Clinically, she has worked with children and families as well as adults and couples. In addition to that, Jonalyn has had the privilege of acting as an existential facilitator with the elderly and those who were in hospice care and at the end of their lives. Her practice of psychology is psychodynamic and relational in nature and is inspired by the rich layers of the unconscious. She’s an international speaker and has presented her research around the world. She engages in an intuitive movement practice designed to help her connect to the sacred within.


Title: Riding the Bliss Wave: A Thematic Analysis of Intuitive Entheogen Dance Experiences in Women


Presentation: This study used consensual qualitative methods to explore the lived, . This study interviewed 6 participants about their experiences with IEDE. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the transcribed interviews. The specific primary aim of the present study was to investigate the following research question: What is the lived experience of IEDE, and how can this experience be understood through a psychological perspective? Secondary aims explored the following questions: (a) How does one arrive at IEDE? and (b) What meaning and purpose comes about the experience of IEDE? This research is simultaneously transpersonal and embodied, which sets it apart from many other approaches to the mind-body problem. The results of this study clearly show the somatic nature of the entheogenic experience and provides a thorough example of how the spiritual experience is felt directly through the body. The findings amplify Jung’s understanding of the psychic dimension with the somatic dimension and how these two dimensions might be further integrated and bridged. The results suggest that the body has an inherent wisdom and the whole mental health of the person cannot be fully explored and healed without considering the body. It is important for psychotherapists to begin to understand that the body is learning about spirit and psyche through the body and that this learning remains in memory in the physical body. Further research would help support and explore the potential for the healing of trauma using movement and ASC, explore how the body is the shadow and how unconscious material first becomes lost in the body and then also how it is integrated into the self through movement and through altered states, and explore archetypes and complexes within an IEDE, diving deeper into personal, cultural, and primordial themes

Saj Razvi, L.P.C.

Executive Director of Trauma Dynamics 


Saj Razvi is the Director of Education and Research at Innate Path. He was a clinical sub-investigator for the recently completed MAPS Phase 2 trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His focus at Innate Path is the use of psychedelic medicines (ketamine and cannabis) with non-ordinary state psychotherapy (NOSP) for improved outcomes in mental health. Saj is part of the Innate Path pilot study for combat veterans using ketamine and cannabis assisted psychotherapy for treatment resistant PTSD. He is also a Trauma Dynamics instructor which he taught as faculty at the University of Denver. Saj is a national topic expert for PESI education seminars focusing on complex trauma.


Title: Psychedelic Education, New Modalities, and Coming Opportunities in Mental Health

Presentation: While we are in the middle of a psychedelic research renaissance and quickly approaching a revolution in treatment, the question of how these medicines will be embraced by mental health is wide open. The dominant modality in the US is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other forms of talk therapy which are designed to ease mental health symptoms through a top down thought driven management of emotions, behavior and symptoms. The emphasis of these approaches is on strengthening an ordinary state of consciousness. In contrast to this are the two most common features of psychedelic medicine: the expression of interior subconscious material that can be destabilizing and the deliberate creation of non-ordinary states of consciousness (NOSC). Saj Razvi argues that the mind does it’s best healing work in non-ordinary states of consciousness and that these states should be met with a non-ordinary state psychotherapy (NOSP) that is designed to operate within non-linear, non-rational, non-verbal, non-ordinary reality. Referencing his experience as a MAPS Phase 2 MDMA sub-investigator, Saj will discuss key therapeutic features that are recommended when conducting psychotherapy within a psychedelic state.

Sarah Scheld

Somatic Counselor / Holos Institute


Sarah Scheld is a somatic counselor whose work weaves together ecotherapy, psychedelic integration, and body-centered awareness practices. She specializes in supporting individuals facing challenges around embodiment and seeking freedom from internalized oppression, particularly adult survivors of relational trauma. As a graduate (MA) of the California Institute of Integral Studies, her research and practice focus on the intersection of Western psychotherapy and entheogenic shamanism, and on harnessing the transformative potential of psychedelic psychotherapeutic work for social and ecological justice. Sarah is a practitioner and ongoing student of the Hakomi method (a form of experiential, mindfulness-based somatic therapy), and will be beginning an MFT program in the fall of 2018. She also collaborates to develop ecopsychology programming at Holos Institute, and has been grateful to be immersed in permaculture and land-based healing at the Regenerative Design Institute, where her study of ecological systems and wild animal behavior continues to inform her belief in human resilience.


Title: In Solidarity with the Shaken: Trauma-Informed Psychedelic Practice and Culture



There is growing cultural awareness of the potential of psychedelics to help people heal trauma, largely through MAPS’ clinical trials treating PTSD with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, and yet the vast majority of people living with trauma will not be diagnosed with PTSD or qualify as participants in regulated research settings. This presentation aims to bring forward questions and suggested practices related to trauma healing, on individual as well as community levels, taking into consideration the complexity of intersectional and intergenerational trauma. First, this talk will address people who are engaging in underground psychedelic practice with the intention of treating their trauma, or those who might be exploring with psychedelics for other reasons but would like to be prepared to address trauma material as it might arise. As I recently heard Ralph Metzner note, “The funny thing about trauma is you don’t know you have it until you begin to heal it.” I will discuss safety guidelines for journeyers, potential dangers of re-traumatization, as well as suggested practices for skillful preparation and integration in ways that honor the body’s own pace of healing, informed by the view of body-centered therapeutic modalities such as Hakomi and Somatic Experiencing. While psychedelic-assisted trauma work helps individuals heal, many in the psychedelic movement are asking how these practices might address traumas related to systemic oppression, structural violence, and inequality. This presentation will also touch on the relevance of trauma awareness in the context of social and ecological change, and will continue to open a line of inquiry around how psychedelic communities can work together to address issues of power, privilege, difference, and accessibility, in ways that strive to acknowledge interdependence and promote resilience in individuals, communities, and environments.

*The (working) title of this presentation is inspired by an essay by the phenomenologist Elizabeth Behnke.

David Nickles

Moderator for The DMT-Nexus Community


David Nickles is an underground researcher and moderator for The DMT-Nexus community. He has worked on numerous harm reduction projects including KosmiCare, TLConscious, DanceWize, The Open Hyperspace Traveler and others. David has offered cultural critiques and commentary on psychedelics and radical politics as well as novel phytochemical data for psychedelic preparations at venues ranging from scientific conferences to music festivals around the world. David is also a glassblower and can be found in his glass studio during most of his waking hours.


Title:The Sociopolitical Implications of Mainstreaming Psychedelics: Questions, Considerations, and Concerns


Presentation: Psychedelics are becoming increasingly mainstream, as a host of other dire sociopolitical issues are reaching a global fever pitch. Much of the public discourse within the “Psychedelic Community” as well as the findings presented to the “Straight Community” offer glowing exaltations of the therapeutic/medical merits of these compounds. However, there is little discussion about the social implications of these compounds and the current state-sanctioned research on them. Despite a robust history of psychedelics as catalysts for political (and personal) understandings and change, the current discourse largely excludes cogent social critiques or calls to action. Instead, it seems that a growing number of psychedelic researchers and advocates are insistent that psychedelic compounds and therapies can quietly coexist with the coercive and destructive realities of dominant culture. The role of psychedelics within society appears to be up for grabs. Tech executives, entrepreneurs, and investors are exploring psychedelics as tools for increasing productivity and profits, while the military industrial complex appears poised to deploy psychedelic therapies as they see fit. Meanwhile, questionable and outright dangerous practitioners and retreat centers are increasingly commonplace. Considering the crises we’re facing from capitalism and industrial civilization, the catalyzing potential of psychedelic experiences seems too important for these compounds to become commodified and recuperated by dominant culture. As we consider the significance of psychedelics and their role within society, it’s important that we acknowledge the broader sociopolitical context surrounding these compounds and question some of the increasingly common assertions about the merits of “mainstreaming” psychedelics. What are the implications of mainstreaming psychedelics? Is it possible to engage in a more robust dialogue about the social potentials of psychedelics, within a prohibitionist paradigm? Is it realistic to create space for a diversity of psychedelic tactics? Are psychedelics destined to be little more than the next chic consumer trend? There is a pressing need to grapple with these questions, and others, even if there are no easy answers.

Scott Hurley

Associate Professor of Religion at Luther College


Scott Hurley is Associate Professor of Religion at Luther College (though currently visiting at Pomona College). He teaches courses on East and South Asian religions, mysticism, animal studies, and classical Chinese medicine. He is a Sinologist who specializes in religion and philosophy with research interests that include supernormal states of consciousness and the human potential movement, the influence of Buddhist and Daoist concepts on classical Chinese medicine, and the relationship between physical culture, religion, and martial arts in China and the United States from the late 19th century to the present.


Title: Academia as a Space for Understanding Supernormal Experiences and How to Integrate Them

Presentation: In this presentation, I talk about a course I teach entitled “American Mysticism: Meditation, Psychedelics, and the Religion of No Religion, ” which was held first in the Fall of 2015 at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and which is currently being held at Pomona College in Claremont, California. I address a number of issues that arose in the context of this course, explaining how we (students and myself) successfully and unsuccessfully navigated between, on the one hand, the critical analysis of religious experience, intercultural encounter, and Orientalist discourse and, on the other hand, the personal experiences of students. Many of my students had experienced life-changing supernormal states of consciousness through the ingestion of entheogens; others had experienced a “mystical” state or visions, either spontaneously or through meditation; and then, of course, a number of students had never had such experiences. How to lead discussions about mystical states in a group wherein some have encountered them and some have not continues to be a significant challenge. Though the course description found in the syllabus presents the class as in essence a history course that examines the American countercultural religious milieu of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s; in fact, we spent much of the time discussing not only how supernormal experiences can be spiritually transformative, but also how they can be effectively integrated into daily life. The issue of integration was of critical importance to many of my students—they brought it up almost every time the class met and I spent a number of hours outside of class talking with them about it. Students benefited the most not from their interactions with me, but from being in a place where they could talk about their experiences with others that have had similar ones. Therefore, I suggest here that there is a strong need to provide students community spaces (not just one-on-one contexts) wherein they can come together to talk about their experiences of entheogen use specifically and of mystical experiences more generally. Using my course as a case study, my hope is to open a broader conversation about how to create such spaces in academia. One or two of my students will join me for this presentation.

Erik Storlie, PhD

Psychedelics / Meditation


Erik F. Storlie, PhD, entered graduate school at Berkeley in 1962 intending to become a medievalist.  Experience with cannabis, peyote, mushrooms, and LSD prompted an interest in Zen and the synergies between meditation and psychedelic medicine.  He began a practice of sitting meditation in 1964 with Shunryu Suzuki in San Francisco, studied with Dainin Katagiri, helping to found the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, and currently teaches meditation and mindfulness at The University of Minnesota.  His doctoral work focused on awakening experiences in Zen and Puritanism.  Publications include Nothing on my Mind:  Berkeley, LSD, Two Zen Masters, and Go Deep and Take Plenty of Root.


Title: Psychedelics and Meditative Practice:  Synergies


Presentation: In 1964 when I began my Zen practice with Shunryu Suzuki in San Francisco, most in the meditation hall were young—and most were there because of prior psychedelic experience.  We were reading The Beats, as well as Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (now Ram Dass), Ralph Metzner, and others—an impressive array of older men highly respected in their fields.  All had had their lives radically changed by psychedelic experiences that seemed indistinguishable from classical mystical experience.  Psychedelic medicines began to be understood, not as psychotomimetics, but as catalysts of spiritual awakening.  And these awakenings—the sense of unity and oneness, of awe and wonder, of fear and trembling—have been found to correlate with healing transformations in research subjects.

Two questions arise:  How can psychedelic experience inform and further meditative experience?  How can meditative experience inform and further psychedelic experience?

Albert Hoffman, at age 101, wrote:  “It is my wish that a modern Eleusis will emerge, in which seeking humans can learn to have transcendent experiences with sacred substances in a safe setting.”  As such Eleusises, such safe settings, come into being, regular meditation is a way to ground psychedelic experience in day-to-day living—and such grounding becomes integral to what one brings to future psychedelic experiences.  Conversely, psychedelic experiences can remind us that ordinary day-to-day living and ordinary meditative practice go on embraced in an utterly extraordinary universe.

2018 Program

Three days of magic in beautiful world of Wisconsin. The presentations will cover guiding, set & setting, experiences with a focus on insights gained, integration and psychedelic studies. There will also be an open forum for questions and answers and sharing of experiences.

FRIDAY, April 27TH, 2018


Time: 9:00 AM -5:00 PM


Final Speaker Agenda Coming Soon!
Stay Tuned…


SATURDAY, April 28TH, 2018


Time: 9:00 AM -5:00 PM


Final Speaker Agenda Coming Soon!
Stay Tuned…

SUNDAY, April 29TH, 2018


Time: 9:00 AM -5:00 PM


Final Speaker Agenda Coming Soon!
Stay Tuned…

Purchase Tickets


Refund Policy: Full refund up to one week prior (April 20th)

to the symposium. If ticket form below is not working click here.

The Venue

The Midwest Psychedelic Therapy Symposium will be held at the North Star Conference Center in North Madison, WI.


Seating is limited. Please purchase tickets early!

The North Star Conference Center

North Star Conference Center located in Comfort Inn & Suites
5025 County Hwy V
DeForest WI 53532


A block of rooms are being held at:
Comfort Inn & Suites (North Star Conference Center) SOLD OUT
5025 County Hwy V
DeForest WI 53532


 Holiday Inn Express
7184 Morrisonville Rd
Deforest, WI
(608) 846-8686


 Super 8 Windsor/Madison North
4506 Lake Circle Windsor, Wisconsin 53598

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