Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Series: Running Psilocybin and Ketamine Groups with Carrie Haynes | POP 991

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What are some of the overlapping benefits between group work and psychedelic medicine? In a group session of psychedelic-assisted therapy, what are the safeguards that you should always have in place? Why is a fully contained and secure space essential for the medicine of psilocybin to truly work?

In this podcast episode in the psychedelic-assisted therapy series, Joe Sanok speaks about running psilocybin and ketamine groups with Carrie Haynes.

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Meet Carrie Haynes

A photo of Carrie Haynes is captured. She is a licensed professional counselor and the creator of The Art of Groups podcast and Facebook community. Carrie is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.
Carrie Haynes is a licensed professional counselor and the creator of The Art of Groups podcast and Facebook community. She has spent her career specializing in group work and is passionate about supporting therapists and healers in facilitating transformative group work.
Carrie has supervised and trained nearly 200 therapists-in-training at all different levels of their professional development, in both group and individual therapy. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado, where she teaches courses in Group Therapy and facilitates experiential groups for therapists in training.
Visit The Art of Groups website and connect with them on Facebook.

In this Podcast

  • How Carrie got into group work
  • The overlap of benefits between group work and psychedelic therapy 
  • The safeguards in place 
  • Group work with psilocybin 
  • Carrie’s advice to private practitioners

How Carrie got into group work 

Back in Carrie’s graduate program, she was seeing a therapist who recommended that she take part in an interpersonal process group. 

I experienced a lot of intimacy and transformation in being part of that group that I really hadn’t seen take place [anywhere else before] … It was just a different modality from the individual therapy room, and there was something … Like a secret magic to the group process that gave me something, like, a level of connection and depth that felt different. (Carrie Haynes) 

Especially at that time in her life, working through herself via the lens of other people and her relationship with them allowed her to develop a deeper sense of self within the shared encouragement and network of a group setting. 

Fast forward, I ended up taking a course and facilitating my own groups, and I saw that same thing, that [the] clients that I was working with were getting something out of group work, and it was translating into the relationships and their lives, and I really felt like, ‘If I could teach people how to have good, healthy … relationships, I was giving them something that would really last throughout their lives.’ (Carrie Haynes) 

That’s when Carrie truly fell in love with group work, and she’s been working with it ever since.

The overlap of benefits between group work and psychedelic therapy 

In the beginning, psychedelic work wasn’t on Carrie’s radar. Near her practice, she heard of some MDMA trials that went very well in patient treatment, and her colleagues who were involved in these trials as therapists also reported great results. 

So it kind of piqued my interest. Ketamine assisted psychotherapy came on the scene, and again, people who I was talking with here, their clients were experiencing a lot of relief from treatment-resistant depression from ketamine assisted psychotherapy, and it felt like something that was really … A little controversial, but I was interested enough to go and do training. (Carrie Haynes)

So, Carrie did a training in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, and during the training, she got to experience the treatment so that she could learn what clients would experience, as well as help them develop their skills. 

That training is where Carrie found the overlap between the benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy and community. 

I found that the processing time that happened in the community, and even the time happening where we were all in the medicine together and then talking about our experiences, was as healing as the medicine. (Carrie Haynes) 

As Carrie explains, it has also to do with the type of medicine that you are using in these group experiences. She has found that ketamine and psilocybin work best for her uses in group work. 

Carrie goes on to explain all the different types of transformative benefits that her clients have experienced through ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.

Another person described the experience of seeing themselves from outside. You know, the way that other people see them … [And] their self-consciousness went away. They said that they saw themselves more positively, and less through a filter of self-criticism. (Carrie Haynes)

The safeguards in place 

  • For the groups that Carrie has run, she always does a thorough screening of all the participants before the treatment. 
  • Carrie finds that it is helpful to do at least one ketamine session with each participant before the group event 
  • Carrie assesses the needs of the client before the group setting session, like their level of trauma and if they have experienced any therapy before 
  • She also lays out a full groundwork of all the rules to each participant so that they know the boundaries, as well as what to expect 
  • The group sessions are also very small, like groups of three or four, and have one therapist for every two people
  • There are follow-up sessions with each group after the ketamine-assisted session so that each client can be reminded of their intentions in a loving, accountable setting 

Group work with psilocybin

Group work is magical and transformative when the space is held correctly, holistically, and lovingly. 

People may feel vulnerable in group work even without the influence of a substance, and so when ketamine or especially psilocybin is present, the group needs to be supported even more strongly so that people can relax into the medicine without worry. 

[Create] a container that feels like it can provide the connection, safety, and holding in order for people to really be able to be that vulnerable. Because I also think that vulnerability is the catalyst for the insight and the change, but if I don’t feel well-held … I won’t allow myself. (Carrie Haynes)

Therefore, keeping the group size small with plenty of facilitators for the clients is necessary so that each person in the group doesn’t have to worry about others and can just allow themselves to step into the medicine, on their own journey. 

Additionally, set the boundaries of the session before the medicine starts. 

Carrie’s advice to private practitioners 

Your healing is needed in the world. If you can take the next step, the little idea that has been tapping on your shoulder to expand your work or to offer something new, take the risk, because the world needs the healing that you can provide!

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Check out these additional resources:

Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Series: Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy Retreats and Training with Catherine Warnock | POP 990

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Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners who are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

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