Clinical Perspectives in Preparing and Managing High Dose Psilocybin Sessions: Insights from Johns Hopkins

Brian D. Richards, PsyD and Mary P. Cosimano, MSW



Abstract: This presentation will focus on difficulties occasionally encountered during conduct of the Johns Hopkins psilocybin studies in healthy volunteers and in psychologically distressed cancer patients. Procedures will be discussed which ensure adequate volunteer screening, preparation, management, and aftercare for high dose psilocybin sessions. We will also discuss our experience as primary guides in the psilocybin studies including techniques we have found helpful in supporting volunteers during challenging states of consciousness occasioned by high dose psilocybin. Case descriptions of some of these difficult sessions and follow-up will be presented.

Brian D Richards, PsyD is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director and Education Center Coordinator for MedOptions, the largest regional provider of behavioral health services in southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Dr. Richards is also Faculty/Affiliated Investigator at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he works on States of Consciousness Research at the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Bayview Medical Campus. He specializes in acute outpatient care, diagnostic psychological testing, long-term care/rehabilitation, drug and alcohol abuse, death and dying, spirituality in end of life care, mindfulness and brain-science-based approaches to personal growth and healing, and therapeutic lifestyle changes.

Mary Cosimano, MSW, is currently with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and has served as study guide and research coordinator for the psilocybin studies for over a decade. During that time she has served as a session guide for the psilocybin studies and has conducted over 200 sessions. She has worked as a clinician teaching individual and group meditation to breast cancer patients in research at Johns Hopkins, as a behavior modification counselor for weight loss, and has 15 years of experience with direct patient care as a hospice volunteer. Ms. Cosimano has been extensively involved in all five psilocybin studies, as well as Salvia divinorum and dextromethorphan studies conducted at Johns Hopkins. She will provide her perspective as primary guide and study coordinator in the Johns Hopkins Psilocybin Studies.


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