American Institute of Psychedelics

Oregon Psilocybin Facilitator Training Program


We believe that the mind is a landscape, and psychedelics are a tool that can be used to explore that landscape. Psilocybin facilitators are the first responders in the landscape of the psychedelic experience. Meeting the guest wherever they are in this landscape requires experience. Our goal is to place our students directly in the center of the many different types of scenarios that a psilocybin facilitator may face on the job. We want our students to experience the job and have the training foundation necessary to become leaders in the emerging psychedelic industry.


First responder training is the inspiration for our curriculum. First responders work hard to obtain their certifications. They are expected to retain complex information about anatomy, psychology, and the scenarios they may face before they arrive at class. During class, they are expected to put that information into practice. They are repeatedly put in the center of many different types of scenarios, so they are ready for the first day on the job. They have to be ready, because the job requires them to act faster than they can think and save lives rather than cause more harm.

Psilocybin facilitators are required to lead a guest through the psychedelic landscape by accessing a level of presence and awareness that is highly attuned to the guest experience. We think the best way to prepare them for this type of work is to have them repeatedly experience the many different scenarios that they may face on the job. We are building this school to create psilocybin facilitators who will become leaders in the emerging field of psychedelics.


This type of work is all about presence. It’s about getting out of your head and into your heart. When a psilocybin facilitator is absolutely present, they become a mirror to the person for whom they are holding space. They learn to match their guest’s energy. The compassionate healing response naturally emerges from the facilitator in the state of absolute presence.

The experience of learning improvisational theater is similar to the experience of learning to hold space. First-time improvisers enter the stage to afraid to say or do the wrong thing, so they typically say or do the wrong thing. They are in their heads. Over time, they learn to be still and pay attention to what the other people are saying and doing. They learn to match each other’s energy. They learn presence, which in improv is called “getting out of your head” or “the group mind”. This is the necessary ingredient for fantastic theater.

The person who taught almost every famous comedian to improvise was Del Close. His comedy style was about truth and awareness. He taught how to push the scene forward by agreeing with your co-creators and then adding something of your own: “yes and”. He taught his students how to let the group mind emerge through presence and awareness.

Del Close was a Merry Prankster. In the 1960s, the Merry Pranksters rode around the West Coast on a school bus with Ken Kesey throwing parties where they dosed their guests with LSD. As the trip would begin to come on, the Merry Pranksters would emerge from the bus dressed in costumes where they would interact with their guests. Essentially, they were some of the first psychedelic guides in Western society.

Our founder, Alex Banks, is an author, an educator, and volunteer psychedelic sitter for the Zendo Project. He also studied improv in Chicago at the theater founded by Del Close, iO.

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I believe that much of what Del Close taught us about improv was learned through his experiences with the Merry Pranksters. He learned about presence when interacting with people who were out of their heads on psychedelics. I learned how to wield presence and awareness on stage at his theater, iO. It is my goal to complete this circle of knowledge and bring Del Close’s core lessons about the group mind back to psychedelics where they may have originated.

- Alex Banks

Our Team

Alex Banks


Psychedelic advocate with experience in harm reduction, diversity and inclusion, plant medicine, and curriculum development.

David Naftalin


Among the first OHA-licensed psilocybin facilitators and Director of Operations at Drop Thesis, a psilocybin facilitation center in Bend, OR.

Kathleen Bruce

Program Director

Communication studies professor with experience creating and managing curriculum and programs in higher education.

Josh Gage

Lead Educator

Crisis Therapist with experience in training first responders. Navy Veteran with a Masters of Science in Social Work with Concentration in Mental Health.

Eve Porcello

Lead Instructor

Learning and development expert and volunteer psychedelic sitter who has experience authoring learning content and training classroom instructors.

Michael Angyus


Chemical and biological engineer with a Masters Degree in Neuroscience from Imperial College in London who is passionate about psychedelics.

Sydney Brazeau

Trauma Informed Care

Harm reduction advocate with experience in emergency management, trauma informed care, and treating PTSD with psychedelics.

Sarah Ronau

Director of Media

Psychedelic enthusiast with experience in content/curriculum development, media, production, and technology.