2016 Presenters and Information

Thank you to all participants, presenters and volunteers that made the 2016 Driftless Psychedelic Therapy Symposium a sell-out success!

2016: The Presenters

The Driftless Psychedelic Symposium has assembled world class presenters in the field of psychedelic therapy.


Dennis McKenna, PhD

Dennis McKenna’s professional and personal interests are focused on the interdisciplinary study of ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens. He received his doctorate in 1984 from the University of British Columbia, where his doctoral research focused on ethnopharmacological investigations of the botany, chemistry, and pharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two orally-active tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon. Dr. McKenna received post-doctoral research fellowships in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health, and in the Department of Neurology, Stanford University School of Medicine.  He joined the faculty of the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota in 2001. He is a founding board member of the Heffter Research Institute and serves on the advisory board of non-profit organizations in the fields of ethnobotany and botanical medicines.

John Harrison, MA, PsyD(c)

John Harrison M.A., PsyD  has had life experiences ranging from high-altitude mountaineer to massage therapist (at Esalen Institute in Big Sur) , as a Federal fugitive ( from injustice ) followed by a stint as a guest of the US Federal government’s Bureau of Prisons, methadone counselor, Zen Buddhist practitioner, political activist (as an advocate for a fair and just drug policy), Psychologist( with a specialization in Addiction Treatment and Personal Transformation ). John also serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance ( GITA ), a Gestalt Practice workshop leader, and is a  writer and researcher

Dan Muller, MD, PhD

Dan is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.  He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Rheumatology, and Holistic Medicine.  He has published on the effects of meditation on the immune response and the role of integrative medicine in treating rheumatologic diseases and fibromyalgia.  He has a practice of meditation since the 1970’s and loves to unwind by biking on the wonderful milk-roads of rural Wisconsin.

Karen M Cooper, RN, BSN, MA

Karen is Lead Guide and Trainer for Usona Institute, a medical research organization dedicated to enhancing the understanding of the body-mind connection through the therapeutic use of entheogens as an adjunct to conventional medicine.  Her current work is with the University of Wisconsin’s Psilocybin Pharmacokinetic Study. After 25 years in diverse areas of nursing, she followed her intuition and moved from the Bay Area to Madison over 10 years ago in search of Love and better job opportunities, and found both.

Nicholas V. Cozzi, PhD

Nicholas is a scientist and educator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. He holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and a B.S. in Pharmacology and Toxicology, both from the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy. His background and training is in pharmacology, chemistry, and neuroscience. Nick’s research involves the design, chemical synthesis, and testing of substances with central nervous system activity, especially those with psychedelic, antidepressant, or psychostimulant effects. He is interested in how these agents act in the brain to enhance mood, improve cognition, and increase awareness, and in their clinical value for treating addiction, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic fear, and other mental health ailments. As an educator, Dr. Cozzi teaches pharmacology at the University of Wisconsin and he is a frequent guest lecturer at other academic institutions around the United States.

Alexandre Tannous

Alexandre Tannous is as an ethnomusicologist, sound therapist and sound researcher. He has been investigating the therapeutic and esoteric properties of sound from three different perspectives – Western scientific, Eastern philosophical, and shamanic societal beliefs – to gain a deeper understanding of how, and to what extent, sound has been used to affect human consciousness. This search has led him to the intersection where art, science and spirituality meet: the wonders of sound! www.soundmeditation.com

Robert J Barnhart

Robert has a BA in comparative religion from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. He has been a strong advocate for the study of psychoactive materials in spiritual and nontraditional healing practices for many years. He sits on the board of both The Heffter Research Institute and The Multi-Disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. He further sits on the board of COSM, supporting the visionary art work of Alex Grey; as well as a board member of The Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences in Oakland, California. Mr. Barnhart is active caring for the well being of our planet’s environmental ecosystem. He has now completed producing the documentary film “A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin” about the use of psilocybin medicine in modern healing practices. He currently lives in Austin, Texas where he enjoys being a father to his ten year old daughter.

Matt Vogel, MA

Matt works at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon.  In addition to coordinating wellness-based programs on campus, he is an instructor for the Psychology Department.  He has presented at several conferences and college campuses on topics such as substance use and college life, harm reduction, psychedelic research, masculinity/gender roles, and prescription drugs.  He enjoys spending time with his kids, good conversations, growing food, basketball, challenging his own views, and hiking.

Amber R. Balk, PhD

Amber lives and loves among the soft rolling hills, towering bluffs, and flowing rivers and streams of Northeast Iowa. A graduate of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now Sofia University) in Palo Alto, CA, she holds a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology and is passionate about innovative transpersonal research which incorporates and integrates both hylotropic and holotropic modes of consciousness. She is the developer of a transpersonal research methodology, “Integrative Holotropic Community Action Research,” in which the researcher integrates expanded states of consciousness into the research protocol. Her methodology is especially well-suited for applying transpersonal theory to settings that are conducive to social change and communal transformation.

Catherine Fay, MA

Catherine is a certified practitioner of Holotropic Breathwork, a powerful methodology to access non­-ordinary states of consciousness. She trained with Dr. Stanislav Grof, a leading pioneer in consciousness research and Transpersonal Psychology, and facilitates individual and group sessions. A transpersonal psychotherapist, she works with clients on issues of life transitions, personal growth and spirituality. She has a special passion for working with those who are seeking to connect with their authentic self and life purpose.

The Program 2016
(2017 to be Announced Soon!)

Three days of magic in The Driftless region of Wisconsin. The presentations cover psilocybin, ayahuasca, MDMA, ibogaine and Holotropic Breathwork. There will also be a special panel discussion of the legal, moral, ethical and spiritual decision to ingest plant medicines.

Friday, January 29th, 2016
The Ark, Viroqua, WI

Psilocybin for Transformation and Healing

Time: 6-11:00 PM


“A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin”

Robert J. Barnhart
Film Producer
link to film info


“Magic Mushroom Medicine”
Nick Cozzi, PhD UW-Madison
Pharmacologist for Psilocybin Study


“Trust the Medicine”
Dan Muller MD, PhD and Karen Cooper, RN, BSN, MA
Lead Guides for the UW-Madison Psilocybin Study


Panel Discussion
“Experiences, Learnings and Downloads from The Psilocybin Study”
UW Madison Psilocybin Study Participants
Diane Pasley and Geoff Gilpin


On the Edge of the Abyss”
“A Reading from The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss”
Dennis McKenna, PhD

Saturday, January 30th, 2016
The Ark, Viroqua, WI

Expanded States of Consciousness Through Holotropic Breathwork, Ibogaine, MDMA and Ayahuasca

Time: 9 AM -5 PM



The Healing Potential of Non-Ordinary States Using Holotropic Breathwork
Catherine Fay, MA
Grof Certified Holotropic Breathwork Facilitator


The Importance of Expanded States of Consciousness
Amber R. Balk, PhD
Transpersonal Theory & Research Specialist


Realizing Transformation: Intention and Integration–The Alchemical Gold of Plant Medicine Wisdom
John Harrison, MA, PsyD


An Exploration of MDMA-Assisted Therapy
Matt Vogel, MA
Southern Oregon University, Ashland, Oregon


Waking Up the Monkeys:
Plant Teachers and the Rediscovery of Nature
Dennis McKenna, PhD
Ethnopharmacologist and Author


Psychedelic and Transcendental States Through Sound
Alexandre Tannous


Coming out of the Entheogen Closet
-Who Partakes?
-Who Guides?

Moderated by: Dan Muller, MD, PhD
Panel: Dennis McKenna, John Harrison, Karen Cooper, Nick Cozzi, Matt Vogel

There will be a dinner Saturday night with the presenters at The Rooted Spoon (219 S Main St) in Viroqua. This will be a three course meal (Appetizers, Plated Dinner and Dessert) catered by Luke Zahm and the crew at Driftless Cafe. The Driftless Cafe specializes in fresh, organic farm to table menus. Cost is $45.00 seating is limited to 60.

Holotropic Breathwork Workshop
Facilitator: Catherine Fay, MA
Sunday, January 31st 2016 – 9AM – 7PM

Holotropic Breathwork™ is a powerful approach to self-exploration and healing that integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions of the world. The name Holotropic means literally “moving toward wholeness” (from the Greek “holos”=whole and “trepein”=moving in the direction of something).


The process itself uses very simple means: it combines accelerated breathing with evocative music in a special set and setting. With the eyes closed and lying on a mat, each person uses their own breath and the music in the room to enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness. This state activates the natural inner healing process of the individual’s psyche, bringing him or her a particular set of internal experiences. With the inner healing intelligence guiding the process, the quality and content brought forth is unique to each person and for that particular time and place. While recurring themes are common, no two sessions are ever alike.


Additional elements of the process include focused energy release work and mandala drawing. Holotropic Breathwork™ is usually done in groups, although individual sessions are also possible. Within the groups, people work in pairs and alternate in the roles of experiencer and “sitter”. The sitter’s role is simply to be available to assist the breather, not to interfere or interrupt the process. The same is true for trained facilitators, who are available as helpers if necessary.

Purchase Tickets (2016)
2017 – Coming Soon!


Refund Policy: Full refund up to one week prior (January 22nd)

to the symposium.

The Venue

The Driftless Psychedelic Therapy Symposium will be held at the Ark in Viroqua, WI. The Ark is a community arts space with a beautiful octagonal sanctuary that has been converted to a theatre. The perfect venue!


Seating is limited to 200. Please purchase tickets early!

The Ark

401 E Jefferson St, Viroqua, WI 54665


A block of rooms are being held at Vernon Inn under “The Symposium”.
Also recommended in Viroqua. Book early!


217 On Main
Hickory Hill Motel
Heritage Inn


Transportation: There will be the availability of transportation from the LaCrosse (LSE) airport to Viroqua. Please contact Steve at steve@omterra.org with your arrival/departure times. The cost for round trip transport is a $20.00 maximum. The amount will be less if we have a group of people.

Contact OmTerra