Raising Awareness and Reducing Risks of Psychedelics through Education, Psychotherapy, and Community


Why Us?

Photo by Steve Duncan

Photo by Steve Duncan

The Psychedelic Education and Continuing Care Program is designed to assist people who have had psychedelic experiences and are seeking support in connection with those experiences, as well as people who would like to learn more about psychedelics. Our overarching intention for the program is to increase awareness and reduce risks of psychedelic use. We see this as a natural extension of the harm reduction approach that the Center for Optimal Living is known for.

Individuals who have had difficult experiences can benefit from a better understanding of the often-challenging feelings stirred up by psychedelics. Those who have had positive experiences can use supportive therapy to bolster and integrate these insights into their daily lives.





While the use of psychedelic substances remains tightly controlled in the United States, the reality is that many individuals continue to make use of these substances in a variety of settings and contexts; many of them less than optimal. Despite the potential benefits psychedelics have to offer, there are real risks associated with their unsupervised use. For some users, the effect of psychedelics can make even ordinary, familiar experiences overwhelming, particularly when experienced alone or in less controlled settings like music festivals. Other users remain confused or anxious long after their experience is over or have difficulty processing the conflicting thoughts and feelings that such experiences often bring to the surface.

Previously, individuals seeking support for psychedelic experiences, or simply looking to better understand and make use of the insights they had gained had few options for professional support. The Psychedelic Education and Continuing Care Program is tailored to meet people with full engagement and open curiosity, and to aid those who seek support in navigating their relationship with these substances.



*DISCLAIMER: The Psychedelic Education and Continuing Care Program does not provide psychoactive or illicit substances. We do not conduct or promote psychedelic psychotherapy outside of approved clinical trials and we do not provide referrals to “underground” (illegal) psychedelic services.


Individual Psychotherapy

Are you looking for a psychotherapist who has a professional understanding of psychedelics and their use? We provide individual treatment tailored to your needs. This can include support in integrating psychedelic experiences, but may also extend to other areas of a person’s life. We will also help individuals explore and clarify their desire and motivation to continue to use psychedelics, or reduce their use.


Group Psychotherapy

Group psychotherapy sessions utilize interpersonal connections with other group members who have a relationship to psychedelics. Some group members have had their own experiences, while others are learning about whether psychedelics will play a role in their lives. Group discussions focus on integrating insights, lessons, and even challenging experiences with psychedelics into one's broader life. 


Evaluation and Consultation

Have you wondered whether they may be risks associated with using psychedelics? We can conduct comprehensive evaluations, to assess for potential risk factors and assessment of individuals who are having difficult experiences related to psychedelic use.



Please contact for information on our 2019 trainings.



May 18-19, 2019 10am-5pm daily
The Ace Hotel, New York, NY

This 2-day training offered by psychologists Ingmar Gorman and Elizabeth Nielson is designed for clinicians and healthcare providers who want to learn more about current psychedelic research and clinical practice, including how to work with patients who have a history of psychedelic use or have expressed an interest in using psychedelics.

Psychedelics 101: Your patients are curious and so are you: What is all this about psychedelics being used for treatment of addiction and trauma? This session gives an overview of psychedelic drugs, their history, and current research with MDMA and Psilocybin-assisted therapy. This program includes overview of recent and current clinical trials, outcomes, legal status, and what it all means for the future of addiction and trauma treatment.

Learning Objectives:

  • State the historical justifications for psychedelic clinical research

  • Describe key theoretical approaches to psychedelic-assisted therapy

  • Discuss the state of psychedelic clinical research, rescheduling efforts, and how psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy works with clients.

  • Define and differentiate psychedelic integration psychotherapy from integration in peer and shamanic settings

Psychedelics 102: What are psychedelic harm reduction and integration and how can they occur in a clinical setting? This session focuses on translating research findings into clinical practice including working with patients who are considering using psychedelics, actually using psychedelics, or have used them. This program includes discussion of assessment and integration techniques, resources, and legal and ethical issues.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify key “red flags” that indicate someone should seek specialized psychiatric care after a psychedelic experience

  • Perform basic/initial assessment of clients who report psychedelic use

  • Identify contraindications and discuss high risk cases of individuals who are contemplating psychedelic use

  • Define and differentiate the role of the therapist in an individual's psychotherapeutic process


Full program cost: $450

Limited number of early registration tickets available for $400

$50 for APA CE credits available for purchase (Add-on at checkout)

$10 CE Credits for Social Workers (Add-on at checkout)

Optimal Living Psychological Services, PC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0534. This training has been approved to provide 12 number of hours of continuing education.

CE credits for psychologists are provided by the Spiritual Competency Resource Center (SCRC) which is co-sponsoring this program. The Spiritual Competency Resource Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Spiritual Competency Resource Center maintains responsibility for this program and its content. SCRC is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN Provider CEP16887) for licensed nurses in California. The California Board of Behavioral Sciences accepts CE credits for LCSW, LPCC, LEP, and LMFT license renewal for programs offered by approved sponsors of CE by the American Psychological Association. For questions about receiving your Certificate of Attendance, contact The Center for Optimal Living at For questions about CE, visit or contact David Lukoff, PhD at


Introduction to Therapeutic Ketamine
March 8, 6-8:30pm
with Dr. Raquel Bennett
APA CE credits  and CE credits for NYS social workers available

Ketamine is medicine that is primarily used as a surgical anesthetic, but which also has rapid-acting antidepressant effects and visionary properties. Dr. Bennett will describe different ways of working with ketamine for depression, including low-dose infusions, ketamine-facilitated psychotherapy, and psychedelic ketamine journeys. She will also talk about which psychiatric patients are appropriate for ketamine treatment and which patients would not be a good fit for this approach, according to the most current medical literature. This program will include live Q&A and discussion. This content is geared toward medical and mental health professionals, but it is open to everyone.

Learning Objectives:

- Describe medical and psychiatric uses for ketamine that are supported by the most recent academic literature

- Define and differientate three models for ketamine use: medical/surgical model, a psychological/relational model, and a shamanic/psychedelic model

- Identify patients who would be appropriate for ketamine treatment

About the presenter:

Raquel Bennett, Psy.D. is a psychologist and a ketamine specialist from Berkeley, California. She primarily works with people who are living with severe depression, bipolar disorder, and/or suicidal ideation. She is fascinated by the antidepressant properties of ketamine, and has been studying this for over seventeen years. She also has a long-standing interest in the psychedelic and mystical properties of ketamine, and the potential for this medicine to be used for spiritual exploration. Dr. Bennett is the founder of KRIYA Institute and the organizer of KRIYA Conference, which is an annual event devoted to understanding the uses of ketamine in psychiatry and psychotherapy. You can learn more about her work at

NYC-Based psychiatrists and ketamine-assisted therapy practitioners Gita Vaid, MD, and Jeffrey Guss, MD, will join the Q&A for this event.

Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction Conference

April 4-6, 2019 | Providence, RI

Psychedelics and Positive Change in Substance Use Problems: Perspectives from Diverse Settings | Thursday, April 4th, 2:30-3:45 pm

This symposium with Elizabeth M. Nielson, PhD, Ingmar Gorman, PhD, Alan K Davis, PhD, and Caroline Dorsen, PhD, FNP-BC presents findings of the relationship between psychedelic use in naturalistic or ceremonial settings and its relationship to misuse of other substances, participation in MDMA-assisted treatment of PTSD and alcohol use, and design and interim findings from a double-blind trial of psilocybin-assisted treatment of alcohol use disorder. Possible psychological mechanisms of action are also explored. Together these findings illustrate a nuanced relationship between the use of psychedelics in various settings and misuse of other substances.