PC02 – Psychedelic Medicine 101: What Psychiatrists Need to Know

PC02 – Psychedelic Medicine 101: What Psychiatrists Need to Know

Wednesday, Oct. 26
14:00 – 17:00 (3 hrs)
Meeting Room: Linden (Mezzanine)
Emma Hapke*, MD; Daniel Rosenbaum, MD; Susan Abbey, MD, FRCPC

CanMEDS Roles:

  1. Medical Expert
  2. Scholar
  3. Professional

At the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1) Understand the current evidence on the safety and efficacy of psychedelic medicine; 2) Describe the principles of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, including preparation, dosing, and integration; and 3) Explore the controversies in the field, including challenges with research design, equitable access, and ethics.

The field of psychedelic medicine is evolving and gaining attention in the scientific community and lay press. Patients with treatment-resistant conditions are asking about these treatments, leaving psychiatrists asking questions such as, “Are psychedelic medicines effective and safe?” The course will begin with a brief review of the history of psychedelics in modern psychiatry and what led to the cessation of the first wave of research in the 1970s. The course will then summarize the evidence on the efficacy and safety of psychedelic medicines today, with a focus on psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for treatment-resistant depression and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder. Topics will include the mechanism of action, safety, and contraindications. An examination of the principles of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy will be included and will focus on the preparation, set, setting, dosing session, and integration. Case-based learning will help illustrate the complexities and therapeutic potential of this modality. We will examine the challenges and risks in this field, including research design, equitable access, the hype-disappointment cycle, commercialization, and ethics. The course will end with a discussion of the current regulatory framework in Canada, including the recently amended Special Access Program and the Section 56 process and will explore pathways to regulation. Opportunities for further training in the area will be discussed. This interactive course will include polls to characterize the audience, break-out groups to explore participant biases and reactions to the subject matter, facilitated discussion and debate in small groups, and time for questions.


  1. Carhart-Harris R, Giribaldi B, Watts R, et al. Trial of psilocybin versus escitalopram for depression. N Engl J Med 2021;384:1402-11.
  2. Mitchell JM, Bogenschutz M, Lilienstein A, et al. MDMA-assisted therapy for severe PTSD: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study. Nat Med 2021;27:1025-33.