Journey Clinical Clinical Advisor
Can you tell us more about your background & what inspired you to become the trailblazing Psychedelic-Assisted Therapist that you are?
I took a circuitous path in my career, but I think I was primed for this work from birth. I was always a girl in a big conversation and depth is my default. I’ve also been motivated by my own healing journey, and the transmutation of my personal suffering through yoga, therapy and medicine. Like many women, I struggled with anorexia and learning to love my body involved yoga and life-saving therapy that inspired me to pursue the path of becoming a therapist myself.
As a kid from the D.A.R.E. and Just Say No era, I stayed clean and clear from “drugs” – consequently, I started working with psychedelics much later in life. When I did finally have my first psychoactive experience, it set me on a path to becoming and loving myself, which had a profound impact on my trajectory. When I became present to the ways in which I could weave the work that I do as both a body-based clinician and a psychotherapist with the realms of psychoactive medicines, I knew that would be the rest of my life’s work.
Can you share about what drew you to work with ketamine as your primary psychedelic therapeutic modality?
My first Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy training was the MAPS training. Upon completion of that training, I was advised to follow up with ketamine training. At first, I was uncomfortable with the modality: I had seen ketamine engaged with in recreational settings but had no context to understand how this particular medicine could be useful in a therapeutic context. My mentor Phil Wolfson helped me to understand, through research and through experience, how potent of a tool this is to partner with for healing.
In my ketamine training, each participant had the opportunity to personally journey with this medicine. I learned there how powerful this medicine is, not just by my own experiences, but by witnessing so many others – of love, of mystical experiences, of access to repressed memory, of joy, of releasing pent up anger, fear, sadness, and of returning to more child-like states of innocence and purity. I was excited about this because ketamine is a legal psychedelic medicine, so, through a partnership with a medical prescriber, I could implement this tool in a safe, legal way and support people in the acceleration of their healing journeys and ‘homecomings’ to their own hearts.
Many people have judgment about the healing possibilities of MDMA or ketamine because they are ‘synthetic’ compounds. However, that’s not how I view ketamine at all. Yes, it is a dissociative anesthetic commonly used in pediatrics. Yes, it’s used in veterinary medicine and in battlefields. Ketamine has a wide set of applications: it’s considered one of the top 10 global medicines in the world, and when partnered with for the sake of healing mental health conditions, it is presenting a tremendous amount of promise for healing some of the stickiest pathological issues that people have: treatment-resistant depression, treatment-resistant anxiety, and so much more. By the way, when we use the language “treatment-resistant,” it’s important to realize that clients aren’t simply resisting treatment; rather, it is the treatments that aren’t working. We are so far behind in medicine when it comes to mental health, and when we do have better solutions, we have the responsibility to work with them.
What is one breakthrough that you’ve witnessed with Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) that is particularly memorable?
My mother passed away 7 years ago. Through Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy, I have been able to have a lot of reconnection with her, particularly in my ability to widen my compassion and forgiveness for her journey and to deepen my love for her. I’ve also accessed a lot of animal totems, particularly the lion, which have been very supportive to me. I’ve anchored myself in these powerful energies to confront interpersonal challenges and conflicts when my historical pattern had been silence. Working with this medicine has really helped me learn to use my voice and has reminded me of my own innate powers. As a result, I’ve been able to more directly speak to difficulties in key relationships and through that, create more intimacy and connection in my life.
What are you most excited about as a thought leader and as a practitioner of this work?
As a clinician, what really revs my engine is family work, systems-based work. We all come from the intimate architecture of ‘mom and dad’ and we all live as Russian dolls of our ancestry. I’m excited about widening care and involving the key players in the healing work that allows for active transmutation within the larger systems that hold us all. On that note, I think group psychedelic therapy work is immensely important and exciting. My own deepest healing has been relational and has happened in the work that I’ve done outside of the 1:1 therapeutic container. Group work allows people the opportunity to witness and be witnessed, to be vulnerable, and to care for one another. And in caring for one another, people become alive. It feels really good to do that and to see our shared humanity, because we’re all really part of one shared experience.
I have also very much become an activist over the years. We have caused a tremendous amount of harm in our medical system and in our drug policies to communities of color, and for that reason, these communities are often underrepresented and may not have as much safety in their exploration of these interventions that, quite frankly, these same communities are responsible for pioneering. So, creating education and some degree of reparations around the harm that’s been caused is always top of mind for me. I can’t speak to it enough.
What advice would you give to practitioners that really want to become KAP practitioners but don’t know where to start?
I believe that good therapy is psychedelic, period. Good therapy is going to support an individual in widening the proverbial aperture of how they’re seeing themselves, their relationships, and life itself. So, if a clinical provider is interested in doing this work I would say: first, you’re already doing it, keep doing it. Go deeper yourself, because you’re only ever as good as you are. Be the best you that you can: there’s nobody else like you. My dad says he’s proud of me for going ‘in the direction of my own direction’.
This is your life, this is your vision, this is your work. You’re here to support other human beings. If you’re here I imagine that you might want to be doing this. And you can, and you have been trained and you can continue to develop your own skills, through education and through experience, both your own experiences and the experiences you have with your clients.
If you are a mental health professional wanting to do this work, there’s no better way than to partner with Journey Clinical – they provide all of the education, all of the support, resources and community you need to get started and be doing this work today in your own practice. And remember to have patience, compassion, and flexibility with yourself as you take your baby steps into a new, transformative realm.
Why did you choose to become Journey Clinical’s clinical advisor, and what excites you most about Journey Clinical and about the platform and model?
I believe that the way in which Journey Clinical is working to empower other mental health professionals is responsible, caring and collaborative. I am committed to using my time and energy to impact more people to access psychedelic therapies, and Journey is doing that in a safe and responsible way. We are in a mental health crisis, and there is a significant need for healing through both psychedelic medicines and human relationships.
It is my belief that being in relationship with a trained therapist is key, and Journey is aligned and anchored in that philosophy and practice. Here, you don’t have to do the work alone, and you can do it well.
I look forward to working with Journey to empower more mental health professionals to do this important work, and to make it more accessible for clients who need it the most.
We are thrilled to welcome the inspiring, mission-aligned psychedelic therapist and thought leader Lauren Taus, LCSW to the Journey Clinical team as our new Clinical Advisor. Lauren specializes in Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy, bringing over a decade of experience as a clinician, trainer, and speaker. Lauren’s work has been featured in Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Health Magazine, USA Today, The Guardian, Self Magazine and more.