After being granted approval from Health Canada earlier this month, ATMA Journey Centers, an Alberta-based psychedelic healing company, is set to launch a clinical trial to document the safety of synthetic psilocybin on trained healthcare professionals in mid-2022.
This trial is uniquely focused on administering to licensed healthcare providers. The organization — also the first private company in Canada to legally administer psilocybin to patients — will also work on the secondary exploratory approach of the trial which “will be to assess the psychological outcome, documented by self-administered assessments before and after the experiential psilocybin session.”
“The fact that the participants are health care providers that deal daily with patients with serious mental health issues will provide a unique first-hand perspective on the potential of psychedelic-assisted therapy,” said Dr. Ravinder Bains, psychiatrist and chief medical officer of ATMA in a press release.
“We’ve been looking for ways to train therapists on how to use psychedelics, and one of the big key components of training is experiential,” David Harder, Co-CEO of ATMA Journey Centers tells Truffle Report. “Personally, I believe that there’s no way in psychedelics if they themselves have not experienced it. We’ve been looking for a legal pathway to be able to train in the context of instruction and how it works and all the details about psychedelics.”
ATMA began a psychedelic-assisted training program for therapists last year, with the first cohort of 35 healthcare professionals trained in May 2021. However, without the Section 56 exemptions from Health Canada, the organization was unable to bring in the desired experiential training with the psychedelic drug.
So far, the organization has trained over 200 healthcare professionals under its psychedelic-assisted therapy program, albeit without actual psilocybin experiences.
With Health Canada’s latest no-objection letter, ATMA will proceed the first clinical trial with 20 program-graduate healthcare providers, providing an important legal milestone for the psychedelics sector.
“Health care providers who meet our inclusion criteria will enroll in the trial after careful screening and assessment,” said Dr. Bains in the release. “Further, after administration of psilocybin during the experiential session, we will be documenting heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and monitoring for irregular heartbeat via ECG.”
Following the first trial for efficacy, ATMA will expand to its secondary exploratory approach with more participants.
“I think this is going to form the backbone for psychedelic therapy,” says Harder. “If we can get therapists that are trained and understand experientially how to take the medicine, they can relate better to the client.”
He adds, “That is going to create a powerful force of people across the country who are able to do so, and help patients who are struggling with mental health.”