Post-Conference Workshop: Ayahuasca Healing

MAPS 25th Anniversary Conference
Post-Conference Workshop


with Beatriz Caiuby Labate PhD, Charles Grob MD, Susana Bustos PhD, Roy Haber,
Philippe Lucas MA, Ralph Metzner PhD, Sidarta Ribeiro PhD,
Eduardo Ekman Schenberg PhD, & Stephen Trichter PhD

9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Location TBA, Oakland Marriott City Center

CE & Psychedelic Education Program credit available

Join us during Cartographie Psychedelica for two screenings of the new ayahuasca film The Jungle Prescription. The film will be shown on Saturday, December 10 from 6:30-7:30 PM (room 208), and following the workshop on Monday, December 12 from 5:30-7:00 PM (Junior Ballroom 1 & 2).

Workshop Program

Transnational Ayahuasca Drinking: An Overview of the Spread of a Plant Teacher
Kenneth W. Tupper, PhD

This presentation offers a general overview and typology of the modes of ayahuasca drinking around the globe: indigenous, mestizo, the Brazilian ayahuasca religions, psychotherapeutic circles and the progressive internationalization of such trends. It will outline basic concepts to each tradition, and present an update on the policy or legal status of ayahuasca drinking in several countries. In addition, some reflections on the concept of “plant teacher” and the educational potential of ayahuasca will be discussed.

Shamanic Entheogens and the Animistic Revitalization of Culture
Ralph Metzner, PhD

The current state of modern life is seen by many as a military-corporate-industrial world system in slow-motion catastrophic collapse, resulting in worldwide environmental destructiveness, economic bankruptcy, perpetual war, and the moral decay of the ruling elites. Against this backdrop, many people in North America, South America, and Western Europe have shown a burgeoning interest in ayahuasca and other shamanic “entheogens,” which are praised for their ability to produce multi-dimensional, spiritual-ecological perspectives. This interest is often seen as signaling an instinctive return to a healthier, non-exploitative and protective relationship of human culture to all other species of plants, animals, and ecosystems. This talk presents an emic look on this subculture in the making that has been growing around ayahuasca use for the past twenty years.

The Hoasca Project: A Twenty-Year Retrospective
Charles Grob, M.D.

This presentation will provide an overview of the Hoasca Project, conducted in Brazil in the early 1990s, studying the acute and long-term effects of ayahuasca in subjects recruited from the syncretic religion União do Vegetal (UDV), as well as a follow-up investigation from the early 2000s studying the effects of ayahuasca in adolescent subjects from UDV families. Implications for psychological and medical health will be examined, as will the potential of ayahuasca to be utilized as part of a novel therapeutic model, particularly for conditions that are not responsive to conventional treatments.

Seeing with the Eyes Shut: The Neural basis of Enhanced Visual Imagery following Ayahuasca Ingestion
Sidarta Ribeiro, PhD

The Amazonian brew ayahuasca, a rich source of serotonergic agonists and reuptake inhibitors, has been used for ages to induce visual revelation in shamanic rituals. During such “seeings,” users report potent visual imagery even with the eyes closed. This presentation will report the findings of our research administering ayahuasca to experienced ayahuasca users in a laboratory setting in Brazil; the results of this experiment will soon appear in the journal Human Brain Mapping. After administering the brew to the subjects, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a visual imagery task. We found that ayahuasca produces a robust increase in the activation of several cortical areas involved with episodic memory, attention, and vision. I will share and reflect on our results, which indicate that ayahuasca visions may be produced by boosting the vividness of recalled images to the same level as visual perception, granting the status of reality to inner experiences. Finally, I will discuss the possible philosophical, ethical, and political implications of these results as they relate to drug policy and the pathologization of alternative mental states.

Ayahuasca Visions and Brain Waves
Eduardo Ekman Schenberg, PhD

This presentation describes a new study of brain waves during the ayahuasca experience in a placebo-controlled experiment with healthy individuals, taking place in Brazil. The work is approved by the ethics committee of Universidade Federal de São Paulo and financial support is provided by FAPESP. Subjects will receive liophilizated ayahuasca or placebo in capsules, in an equivalent dose of the tea containing 0.85mg DMT/kg body weight. Subjects will answer psychological scales such as HRS and brain waves will be recorded during the whole time with an electroencephalogram (EEG). Spectral alterations in many different frequency bands will be measured, as well as coherence between different brain areas in the main frequencies of interest, as previously reported by pioneering studies already published. We will also quantify tea, liophilizate, and plasma levels of ayahuasca’s main constituents in order to determine whether there is a correspondence between metabolic, neurophysiologic, and subjective domains. The work will be conducted between October 2011 and September 2013.

Reflections on the Relationship between Scientific Research and the Legalization of Religious Drug Use
Roy Haber

This presentation will address the history of the legalization of a controlled substance when used for religious/spiritual purposes and the legal case the Santo Daime church in Oregon, including current religious freedom challenges, after the recent appeal of the US Government. It will analyze the scientific expert reports presented in the Santo Daime case and the dynamics through with some experts were credited or discredited by Judge Panner. It will reflect especially on the importance of language for scientists looking at “risks” associated with imbibing entheogens, and the impact that certain choices might have in court cases.

Out of the Jungle and Onto the Couch: A Psychoanalytic Model of Understanding the Therapeutic Effects of an Ayahuasca Experience
Stephen Trichter, PhD

Over the past couple of decades mental health researchers have investigated how participating in an ayahuasca ceremony may affect the mind, body, and spirit. At the same time, very little public attention has been devoted to discussing how the results of these investigations fit within current theoretical models of the mind. One result of this has been a lack of a collaborative effort amongst researchers and practitioners in the development of effective integrative tools for patients who have participated in ayahuasca rituals. This workshop will examine some of the most commonly discussed features of an ayahuasca experience from the perspective of several psychoanalytic theories. In addition, a model of therapeutic follow up care will be proposed based on the theories discussed.

Out of Mind: P
reliminary Results From a Study of Ayahuasca-Assisted Treatment for Stress and Addiction

Philippe Lucas, MA

This presentation is a comprehensive overview of an observational study of ayahuasca-assisted therapy for addiction and patterns of dependence currently underway in British Columbia, Canada. The study is currently tracking the progress of 20 participants in the “Working with Addiction and Stress” retreats organized by Dr. Gabor Maté (author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction), which combine 4-5 days of psycho-spiritual counseling with participation in two ayahuasca ceremonies in the Peruvian Shipibo tradition. The presentation will begin with an examination of an observational research design to evaluate the therapeutic potential of illicit substances, and then discuss researcher observations of the retreat itself. The retreat took place in the longhouse of a coastal First Nations band in cooperation with the Band Council and health office in June and September 2011. The session will close with the presentation of preliminary study results, and a discussion of the challenges and opportunities of using ayahuasca-assisted therapy to reduce stress and problematic substance use.

The Sounding Landscape of the Icaros
Susana Bustos, PhD

This portion will be an introduction to the icaros, the songs utilized by the shamans of the Peruvian Vegetalismo tradition. Combining images and soundtracks, I will depict the role of the icaros within this tradition, along with their musical features and distinctive characteristics among ayahuasqueros of different indigenous lineages. In order to deepen participants’ understanding of these traditions, we will study the lyrics and meaning of one icaro and learn how to sing it.

Workshop Participants

Susana Bustos, Ph.D., holds degrees in Clinical Psychology (1992) and Music Therapy (2002) from Chilean universities. She received her doctorate in East-West Psychology (2008) from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. Her work has focused on the therapeutic potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness and the supportive role of music and song in those states. Susana teaches Entheogenic Shamanism and Research Colloquium at CIIS, and works with clients seeking to integrate non-ordinary experiences into their daily lives in her private practice in Oakland, CA.

Charles S. Grob, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine and Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. In addition to his investigations of ayahuasca in Brazil, he also conducted in the early 1990s the first FDA approved research study on the effects of MDMA in normal volunteers, and in the 2000s an investigation of the use of a psilocybin treatment model in patients with advanced-cancer anxiety. He is the editor of Hallucinogens: A Reader (Tarcher/Putnam, 2002) and co-editor (with Roger Walsh) of Higher Wisdom: Eminent Elders Explore the Continuing Impact of Psychedelics (State University of New York Press, 2005).

Roy Haber is a civil rights and religious freedom enforcement lawyer. He was Deputy Chief of the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice under President Jimmy Carter. He was the lawyer for the Oregon Santo Daime “Church of the Holy Light of the Queen” in their case, which was won in 2009. Mr. Haber also represents midwives who seek to be protected from harassment from public officials, represented the leadership of the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee, and has helped closing many jails which were inhumane. Mr. Haber has prosecuted many large cases involving religious freedom for prisoners all across the United States, and his worked contributed to end the last official slave plantation in the United States, the Mississippi State Prison in 1972.

Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Ph.D., earned her doctorate in Social Anthropology from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), Campinas, Brazil. Her main areas of interest are the study of psychoactive substances, drug policy, shamanism, ritual, and religion. She is currently a Research Associate at the Institute of Medical Psychology, Heidelberg University. She is also a researcher at the Nucleus for Interdisciplinary Studies of Psychoactives (NEIP) and editor of its website ( She is author, co-author, and co-editor of seven books, two with English translations, and one journal special edition. Her book “A Reinvenção do Uso da Ayahuasca nos Centros Urbanos” (Mercado de Letras, 2004) received the prize for Best Master’s Thesis in Social Sciences from the National Association for Graduate Studies in Social Science (ANPOCS) in 2000. For more information, see

Philippe Lucas, M.A., is a Research Affiliate with the Center for Addictions Research of British Columbia (CARBC), a member of the CARBC Advisory Board, and the founder of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society ( His current research interests, projects, and publications include the use of cannabis, ibogaine, and ayahuasca in the treatment of addiction, and he is the Coordinator and Co-Investigator of a cutting-edge MAPS Canada-sponsored observational study of ayahuasca-assisted treatment for addiction and stress currently underway on Canada’s West Coast. A founding board member of MAPS Canada and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, in 2008 Philippe was elected as a Victoria City Councillor, where his focus has been on social justice issues such as harm reduction, homelessness, environmental sustainability, and food security.

Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor emeritus at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where he organized an international conference on ayahuasca in 2000. His writings include two edited collections on the science and the phenomenology of shamanic entheogens: Sacred Mushroom of Visions – Teonanácatl and Sacred Vine of Spirits – Ayahuasca. He is founder and president of the Green Earth Foundation (, an educational organization dedicated to harmonizing humanity with Earth and with Spirit. His two most recent books are MindSpace and TimeStream and The Life Cycle of the Human Soul.

Sidarta Ribeiro, Ph.D. holds a Bachelors degree in Biological Sciences from the Universidade de Brasília (1993), a Masters in Biophysics from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (1994), and a Doctorate in Neurosciences and Animal Behavior from Rockefeller University (2000) with a Post-Doctorate in Neurophysiology at Duke University (2005). Currently he is a Full Professor of Neurosciences at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), Director of the Brain Institute of UFRN, and Laboratory Director for the International Institute of Neurosciences of Natal Edmond e Lily Safra (IINN-ELS). He has experience in the areas of neuroethology, molecular neurobiology, and multi-electrode neurophysiology, and works principally in the following areas: sleep, dreaming and memory; immediate genes and neuronal plasticity; vocal communication in birds and primates; and symbolic understanding in non-human animals. He is greatly interested in the study of the neural bases of consciousness and its alteration. He has been involved in the public debate on the medicinal uses and the legalization of cannabis in Brazil.

Eduardo Ekman Schenberg, Ph.D. holds a Bachelors degree in Biomedicine and a Masters in Psychopharmacology from the Universidade Federal de São Paulo (2005), a Doctorate in Neurosciences and Behavior from Universidade de São Paulo (2010), and a Post-Doc in Psychobiology at Universidade Federal de São Paulo (2011). Currently, he is a post-doctoral fellow
in the Department of Psychiatry at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo and Director of Plantando Consciência, a Brazilian NGO dedicated to the study of consciousness and psychedelics with the objective of fostering the development of a new scientific paradigm. His main interests concern ayahuasca, sacred plants, psychedelic substances, brain waves, and consciousness.

Stephen Trichter, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice and a candidate at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California in San Francisco. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and obtained his doctorate from Argosy University in 2006. In addition to working with his patients and teaching future psychologists, he is currently interested in opening discussions about the theoretical models behind psychedelic psychotherapy and examining how meditative dream states can be effectively integrated into the psychoanalytic relationship.

Kenneth Tupper, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in Educational Studies from the University of British Columbia. Kenneth’s graduate studies have focused on the public policy implications of ayahuasca drinking outside the Amazon and the refinement of a theory of entheogenic education to understand “plant teachers.” His other academic interests include drug education (public, professional and school-based), drug policy reform, public health policy and monetary policy. Since 2003, Kenneth has been based in Victoria, British Columbia, where he works in the area of problematic substance use prevention for the BC Ministry of Health. More information about Kenneth and his work is available at

CEs for psychologists are provided by The Spiritual Competency Resource Center (SCRC) which is co-sponsoring this program and is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. SCRC maintains responsibility for the program and its content. SCRC is a California Board of Registered Nursing Provider (BRN) and a Board of Behavioral Sciences Provider (BBS). For questions about CE, visit the SCRC website or contact David Lukoff, PhD at or 707-763-3576.