March 14, 2022
OF THE PSYCHEDELIC LEADERSHIP PODCAST
About This Episode:
Whether you’re a medical or mental health clinician, psychotherapist, coach, or wellness practitioner, if you are interested in integrating psychedelics into your practice so you can serve the healing and evolution of your clients, this episode is for you.
As a co-founder of Psychedelics Today, Kyle has been at the forefront of psychedelic education for over a decade. Alongside his personal and professional experience with psychedelics, DreamShadow Transpersonal Breathwork, transpersonal psychology, and mental health through his work with co-founder Joe and a massive team of expert faculty, Psychedelics Today is bringing clinicians into the art and science of psychedelic practice through their 12-month program called VITAL.
Vital is a 12-month professional certificate training in the elements of psychedelic therapy and integration where you will master the elements of psychedelic practice and join a community of professionals on their mission to provide safe, ethical, and effective treatment and integration.
This certificate program is born out of their vast experience guiding, teaching, and leading the conversation on psychedelic therapy, as well as their mission to empower the future leaders of the psychedelic movement.
Explored in this episode:
Episode #46: Kyle Buller on the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast.
My name is Laura Dawn and you’re listening to Episode #46 of the psychedelic leadership podcast featuring my conversation with co-founder and director of training and education at Psychedelics Today and co-creator of VITAL a 12-month program offering a “certificate in Psychedelic Therapies & Integration.
If you are interested in psychedelic facilitation and you’re curious about what programs are available and what kind of training they offer, then this episode is for you.
Hi friends, This is a little bit of a different kind of episode today. I constantly have people asking me about psychedelic facilitation training, and there are quite a few programs starting to roll out, and some have been around for a couple of years now.
But this is such an emergent space and as Kyle mentions in our conversation it feels like we’re building the plane as we’re flying it, and I can definitely relate to that.
So I was going to release this as a bonus episode but I just decided to put it out as just a paired down regular episode, so I’m not going to feature a song at the end,
And it’s mostly focused on me asking Kyle questions specifically about their upcoming 12-month program offering a “certificate in Psychedelic Therapies & Integration.” Starting in April.
And at the end, I get more personal with Kyle so you can get to know him and his values a little better, which I think it’s important to vet the people and the programs you’re considering. Like, if you were going to apprentice with a shaman, you’d also want to know their values.
And just to be clear, I’m taking an unbiased approach in this conversation, and this is for you to gauge and tune into if it feels like the right fit for you.
I’ve looked at their faculty, they have a lot of great people, and it is their first cohort.
And keep in mind this is one of many paths you can take towards psychedelic facilitation but I do think getting educated is always a good place to start.
And as Kyle mentions, and I agree that there is going to be a huge shortage of qualified people holding psychedelic space for others, I mean in a way I think there already is.
And if you listened to my episode last week with Tom Ackert and Alissa Bazinet, psilocybin service providers are going to be legal in Oregon in by 2023 which is just around the corner, and to my understanding, I think a large majority of the hours that you would complete with the VITAL program will likely count towards adequate training to become licensed in Oregon, which is something to consider.
If you want to check out the training, click the VITAL link in the show notes.
I’d also love to hear from you. Do you like me featuring episodes like this? Is it helpful for you?
Let me know.
Already friends, this is my shortest intro yet. Without any further ado, here’s my conversation Kyle Buller.
Laura Dawn: All right, welcome Kyle. Nice to see you, how are you doing brother?
Kyle Buller: I’m doing well. Thanks for having me, Laura. Excited to be here.
Laura Dawn: Awesome. So, let’s just dive right in. Maybe for those of you who don’t know who you are, let’s just do a little brief intro, share a little bit about your background. How did you get to the point where you are now launching a pretty significant program for psychedelic facilitation training in the psychedelic space? So, let’s just start with a little brief intro.
Kyle Buller: Awesome, so my name is Kyle Buller, one of the co-founders at Psychedelics Today, I started this project with the other co-founder Joe Moore back in 2016, did my undergrad in Transpersonal Psychology, and then did my master’s in counseling and somatic psychology. Worked in the mental health field for a bit and always been really passionate about Psychedelic Education. So right now, I’m kind of managing the education side of psychedelic stay and then also I’m a part-time therapist. Also doing a little bit of academy and assisted psychotherapy with some clients as well.
Laura Dawn: Beautiful, thank you for sharing that. And so, tell us a little bit about why this program, what inspired you and Joe to really take it’s a pretty big leap, and a huge responsibility to create a program like this. So, what inspired you to do it?
Kyle Buller: It’s a huge undertaking. So, when I was doing my undergrad Transpersonal Psychology, I kind of really stumbled across that field after near-death experience that I had when I was 16 and then came across psychedelics when I was 19. That really helped me to heal from some of the psycho-spiritual trauma from that near-death experience. So, I was enrolled in this transpersonal psychology program, I came across two breathwork facilitators, Len and Elizabeth Gibson, who really became my teachers and mentors and I’m also a staff member over at their organization Dream Shadow. And during one of my first breathwork experiences, I just kind of had this experience of getting the message to teach around non-ordinary states, not necessarily needing to be around psychedelics, but just around the healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness, exceptional human experiences, holotropic states, whatever you want to call that. That actually ended up becoming my capstone project for my undergrad, I created a three-credit college course, I was able to pitch to the college, and that course was called Stan Grof Psychology of extraordinary experiences or something along those lines, I’m forgetting the official title there. It really went through the history of Stan’s work, the history of Holotropic states of consciousness, and then also incorporated an experiential component to it.
Students were able to go down, have their own breathwork experience, come back, talk about integration and the following year, me, and Lenny also did a history of psychedelics course, and so this is around 2012, 2013. I started to get really involved in the education around these types of experiences and have always been really passionate about it. We were trying to do something at the college, but the college ended up falling apart and then I ended up co-founding and developing psychedelics today with Joe and I feel like I kind of kept that little mission alive, something that we really wanted to do at the college there that just kind of started to dissolve. I wanted to keep that going to some degree and so when we started Psychedelics Today, it really started off as a podcast, but then we started to create courses, and the first course that we developed was, navigating psychedelics lessons on self-care and integration. And we really wanted to kind of develop these conversations around integration since it started to become a topic around that time in 2006 and 2017. So, I guess that gives a little bit of background around how I started to get involved in education and why we wanted to start to take this under our wings, so we launched another program navigating psychedelics for clinicians and therapists, and it’s always been my kind of vision to build out a more extensive program.
I had a more extensive program built out really kind of modeling the training that I received through the Gibsons, through breathwork and it was going to model kind of similar, really a lot of in-person retreats and stuff like that with experiential components with breathwork. But COVID happened and we did a little bit of a pivot and I think for accessibility, translating some of this stuff online, for online education makes it a little bit more accessible to some people. So, I switched it up and it’s something that’s been in the works for a while, and it just felt like a good time to do it.
Laura Dawn: Thank you for sharing that. And so, who is this program for?
Kyle Buller: So, we’re trying to be pretty inclusive of here, I know a lot of certificate programs like CIS and MAPS and et cetera, they really require people to be licensed. But something that we’re really considering is looking in the future, there’s going to be a lot of opportunities on the horizon. I believe, when we look at what’s already going on, so we’re looking at Oregon with their legalization with their civil service centers, as well as the various decriminalization efforts, that’s kind of happening throughout the United States, we’re going need other people on board that aren’t necessarily licensed, so when we look at Oregon, we don’t know what the rules are yet, but I do know that they are going to require somebody with a minimal requirement of a high school education. It sounds like they might be opening it up outside the scope of psychotherapy, and so what does the future look like in 5-10 years, if more states kind of follow suit and legalize these psychedelic service centers that just don’t focus specifically on the psychotherapy aspect.
So, really, we’re trying to be inclusive, I say this is for clinicians, therapists, doctors, really any sort of wellness professional, whether you’re doing massage, acupuncture, you’re some sort of coach, an integration coach, a life coach, really thinking if you’re working with clients to some degree, this program is for you. We’re thinking there’s going be lots of people getting involved in different capacities and what we really want to do is provide, a strong foundation for understanding these experiences. The one part is really to train and educate people around exceptional human experiences and how to hold space and to integrate that, people are doing it already. So again, if we’re looking at these cities and small towns that are decriminalizing plant medicines and psychedelics, what does the future look like? We need all on deck, psychotherapy the medical model is going to be one aspect of that in my opinion. So, we’re really trying to be more inclusive and get other people that are involved that really want to enter into this space. I’m getting in that professional kind of setting.
Laura Dawn: Right, and people who really just feel the call to work with psychedelics and to support other people working with psychedelics. I did recently have a conversation with Tom Eckert and Allison Basnett for the podcast and they were talking about it’s definitely its own licensure process and it’s not necessarily for people who don’t have to be mental health practitioners or clinicians or doctors or nurses to be going through that program. And they already have really their core buckets of safety and harm reduction and all of the core things that anyone really needs to be trained in. So, it sounds like you’re already in alignment with being able to fit into their sort of licensure model in Oregon.
Kyle Buller: Yeah, and so that’s another question that we get asked, like we’re not able to technically and legally license people to provide psychedelic services, right. If we look at Oregon, that’s going to be regulated by the board over there, but we can hopefully develop strategic partnerships with that so that our program will meet the requirements where people can easily get involved there.
Laura Dawn: Okay, great. Let’s talk about the program, what can people expect? How much is it, how long is it? What kind of time commitment are we talking about? Anything that we want to dive into like the nitty-gritty logistics?
Kyle Buller: So, this is a 12-month program, it’s a pretty extensive program and time commitment. The way that we’re doing this, our navigating psychedelics and therapist course, we’ve really been limiting the amount of people that can take the course. We limit it to around 20 students per group, so we run those two times every nine week or so, with some breaks in between, so really just around 40 students. We thought about, how do we scale this? So, we invite more people and get more people trained because this is going to be a bottleneck for the industry, right? Getting enough people trained, getting enough people in those positions that are able to provide support and offer these services. So, we’re going to have a two-hour webinar that happens on Tuesdays and the program kicks off on April 19th, which is bicycle day of 2022 this year and on Tuesdays from two to four Eastern time, that will be a live webinar where we’ll have a special guest come in and present followed by some Q and A, and so all the students will be there at once and then we wanted to think about, okay, how do we keep this intimate as well? So, we’re going to have study groups throughout the week, we’ll break off into about five or so study groups, where this will be kind of like the home homeroom classroom for students to be able to connect with your peers and really to dig into this. And this will be led by two of our core faculty members and a little bit of presentation probably, and just really a place for students to come together and chat and to dig deeper into the content. So, on a weekly basis, it’s going to be about three and a half hours of classroom time, followed up by any sort of extra reading materials and etcetera.
And so pretty consistently for the two modules that kick off from April 19th is the first class and that kicks off with Dr. Jerry Brown exploring why the past is important. He’ll be digging into psychedelic history and that goes pretty consistently all the way through July, towards the end of July, I think it may be July 26th or so. Then, we have some breaks and we’ll have some elective modules people can take, but the end of the summer is really going to focus on retreats and so we’re looking at in person retreats in Colorado and the east coast for the end of July, August, and then into Labor Day weekend. We’ll focus on primarily breath work as the modality and then the states that is recreationally legal for cannabis will also be offering some cannabis assisted work as well. Then we also are developing partnerships with retreat centers overseas, so looking at offering retreats in Jamaica and Amsterdam for legal work as well, because we believe, having your own experience is really important, but also thinking about the variety of experiences people want to have, so we’re not saying you need to go have a legal suicidal session.
Obviously, there are probably some travel restrictions for some people, but being able to do breathwork or have any sort of experience with a non-ordinary state, holotropic state, I think is really important for the training. Again, I’m looking back at the breathwork training, most of it was experiential having your own breathwork sessions, really digging into the work to understand that process. It’s a 12-month program, 2 class times each week, and then one in person retreat, we’re going to be planning six of them, but it’s required for one. Also, I really want people to engage in their own and work to some degree. There is an experiential elective built into this and this can be pretty individual, so if somebody wants to go out and do their own ketamine assisted psychotherapy, maybe it is engaging in some sort of sematic practice could be going to have a retreat for a week, could be doing a weekend breath work retreat additional. Again, really focusing on the experiential component and encouraging people to go out and have their own experiences.
Laura Dawn: Okay, so in the class time, that’s where most of the information is being communicated, that’s where the curriculum is or is there also like a backend software where you go through modules and you have videos and reading resources, but it sounds like it’s mostly all in class time?
Kyle Buller: Class time, but we will be building out our e-learning platform. We’ll be uploading the replays, having resources there. We’re also doing some prerecorded master classes for some of our modules. There’s going to be tons and tons of content and there’s also going to be monthly webinars that will be open to our students, but also open to the public. So, we’re really kind of just jamming this pack with so much information, it will probably be a lot, but I think it’s important. We really want to deliver high-quality education here. I think about my grad school, I did online grad school and I was thinking about how much money I spent on grad school there and doing it in the online environment and this was like pre-COVID, so it wasn’t maybe as advanced where zoom started to become the norm, it was really just hanging out in forums, like I got my syllabus, got the reading list, did all my work independently and then had to just report on forums and reply to like one or two students. I thought about man, that’s a lot of money and the way the value that was delivered there, I mean, obviously I chose that because I wanted an independent learning opportunity, but I think we can do things very unique ways that could be way more in depth. I was a little disappointed by that.
Laura Dawn: Can you name some of the core buckets that you’re going to be covering, you really just only named the history of psychedelics and the in-person experientials, like what are some of the big core buckets that you’ll be covering?
Kyle Buller: So, the first core module is the overview and history of psychedelics, so we’re looking at indigenous cultures, the research, and we’re also incorporating some philosophy into that since that is also kind of like our lineage with dream shadow. And so, looking at like ancient Greece and, looking at the mystery rights there and how that could have really impacted culture and for those that have been following like the work of Bri Moore, Rescue the Immortality Key, that is a pretty popular narrative, all of a sudden. Then the second core module is really looking at psychedelic therapies, understanding the legal boundaries of psychedelic therapies, and then looking at the research around Sabine and MDMA, Ketamine, Iowaska, DMT, and cannabis for treating various disorders. Then the third one is the space holding and navigating a psychedelic space, so that’s really focused on the retreat in person learning. And then core four is a medical overview of psychedelics and clinical evaluation, so really getting more in the practical aspects of doing screening and seeing who’s appropriate for this type of work, any risks, and contraindications, etcetera.
Then the core five is really looking at psychedelic integration and therapy, being able to do this deep dive into the psychedelics, having your experience, and then coming back and doing some of your work. So, really focusing on what does integration mean? How do we integrate these experiences? And again, really getting students engaged in their own integration process and we’ll have all that nice material to be really complementary to that. There’s also a final project that’s included, and this is something that we do at navigating psychedelics, but we’re going to expand on it a little bit more, but really again it’s about people getting engaged in their own work. So, that final project could be a personal integration experience that they’re working through, or it could just be more professional integration. So how do I incorporate what I’m learning into my practice right now into my life? So, kind of like two ways the students can go about them leaving a little open-ended because integration is a pretty individual process.
Laura Dawn: I might have missed it, but I didn’t hear you say safety and harm reduction or training in ethics or consent.
Kyle Buller: So, that’s going to be all built in. So, harm reduction is going to be within the clinical evaluation piece. We are going to have Kylie Taylor present her inner ethics within the course. In each of those core modules, we’re trying to actually weave all that stuff into all the classes and have one kind of core class, but we thought about this, this isn’t just one core class. We should be weaving these conversations into all the topics, so that’s the plan. We’ll have Kylie Taylor present her inner ethics within the course and then try to weave in diversity inclusion and ethics throughout the entire curriculum.
Laura Dawn: I also didn’t hear you mention anything about trauma-informed training.
Kyle Buller: Definitely are going to have trauma-informed approaches. So that’s going to be broken down in navigating the psychedelic experience, the in-person retreat, so we’ll go over trauma informed somatic approaches and then also talk about that during the integration phase.
Laura Dawn: Okay, great. How did you go about navigating the bridge between shamanic wisdom and honoring traditional lineages with science? Did you have any sort of heated discussions around, should we be on more on this side or on the side? How do we bridge that?
Kyle Buller: This is something that during my transpersonal psychology degree, I pretty much kind of like was seeped into that, right? How do we bridge these ancient wisdom traditions with modern science? That’s something that we’ve been really thinking about and trying to honor indigenous voices, trying to also get indigenous voices included into this program as well. Again, we’re going to be probably focusing on some of that with some of the live webinars and being able to invite those voices in to share their experiences and perspectives. I think it’s important to be more holistic and include all these perspectives.
Laura Dawn: How many people are you allowing into your first cohort?
Kyle Buller: We’re shooting for a hundred students total.
Laura Dawn: Okay, great. And how much does this program cost?
Kyle Buller: It is $12,000 for the whole 12 months.
Laura Dawn: Which in some ways that’s definitely reasonable if it’s going to be replacing the sort of like a master’s degree on a certain level. Do you have scholarships available for people to make it more accessible, how did you guys work around that?
Kyle Buller: We do, we’re dedicating around 20% of the students that are coming in. So around 20 students, if we’re shooting for the a hundred, that will get scholarships ranging anywhere between 10% up to a hundred percent. We’re in the process right now where we just closed off our scholarship applications today because we got a lot of that and now, we’re doing the tricky thing of sorting through all that and seeing who is really fitting into that. I think that’s probably the most challenging aspect of the whole process, is reading so many stories and trying to figure out a little bit of priority, but we ended up developing a diversity and scholarship fund, so trying to raise money to help with being more inclusive here on offering scholarships. So, I think we’re shooting for around $97,000 within that fund and so we can give that money back and invite those that necessarily maybe can’t afford it.
Laura Dawn: Okay, great. How many people are on your faculty?
Kyle Buller: So, we have, I would say anywhere between 8 and 10 within kind of our core faculty that will be helping out with some admin stuff and then the break-out groups. And I think we have around maybe 40 presenters throughout the whole thing, maybe more, maybe less.
Laura Dawn: Just in that ballpark, okay.
Kyle Buller: There’s a lot of folks involved in this program, which I’m super thrilled about.
Laura Dawn: Okay, great.
Kyle Buller: So, it’s not just us doing it. We’re really trying to get a lot of different voices and kind of co-create this thing together.
Laura Dawn: Beautiful, I’m sure you’ve had this question asked to you, I know I get this a lot when people ask me about my programs is like, what can I expect out on the other side? Like what can you tell people about what they will therefore be trained and ready for one once they complete this 12-month program? Are you saying that they’re sort of ‘qualified’ to hold space or serve medicine, which I know is a tricky thing to say, but what’s your take on that?
Kyle Buller: We know that people are going to use this information and do what they’re going to do, especially in those places where it’s decriminalized and maybe there’s a little bit more flexibility to offer those services. We don’t encourage or condone any sort of legal activity; we can’t necessarily say we are legally training facilitators or licensed to go and do this stuff. We know that people are going to do it. We really want to create psychedelic literate people. So, what can you do with this, so if you are a professional, you know, I’m a therapist right now, so for example, I’m able to take this information and really support my clients, having a deeper understanding of how psychedelics work, what they’re used for, and then also how to support clients if they are engaged in their own work, on the integration and harm reduction side. So, clients coming in saying, “Hey, I’m interested in this, I read all the research, how do I stay safe, how do I make the most out of it?” So really training people on that harm reduction and integration side so you can really serve your clients in a better way. If you are in the unique position, there are some of our past students in navigating psychedelics who have gone off to work at retreat centers. So, developing that education and getting into those legal areas, we had one student that actually became, I think the director of education at a pretty well-known psychedelic organization. So, I think it is important to get your education, getting ahead of the curve a little bit. You are able to really make these career moves when the field is really here.
On the legal note, psychedelics aren’t federally legal, there are still illegal if we’re looking at the FDA process, might be a few years until clinicians and therapists are really able to integrate that into their practice legally. We’re just not there yet, unless you are working with Ketamine, for example, that is one legal substance that clinicians and therapists can use in conjunction with their prescriber and a doctor. So, there might be additional training, like if we look at the maps training, it sounds like if you want to do MDMA-assisted psychotherapy specifically, you might have to also get training in maps. We’re trying to develop strategic partnerships with Oregon maps and other folks, so we’re able to hopefully bridge that gap a little bit more, but we are still in the early phases, as I like to say, everybody’s building the plane as we fly it. It feels like it’s here, but it’s also not here at the same time from the legal perspective, but trying to get ahead of it and just do what we can.
Laura Dawn: I also really like to remind people listening that there are so many ways to play in this space. Doing guide work or facilitation work is one of hundreds of ways that you can support this movement.
Kyle Buller: I didn’t think I would have a psychedelic media and education company. I went down the clinical route and thought I’m just going to do therapy and psychedelic therapy may be in the distant future, but I definitely went to all the educational workshops and conferences that I could go to. I did my undergrad and transpersonal psychology because I was like, it’s not here yet, but I want to get educated and kind of be ahead of the curve when it does get here. When I actually started my educational journey, everybody was like, what are you doing? Everybody is like there’s no career in that. And thinking like, I don’t even know if there’s going be, be a career, but I’m just really passionate and I want to learn about all this work and in this field. There’s a lot of good groundwork people can do at this time as the field is rapidly developing.
Laura Dawn: And since you’ve already looked at so many applications, any patterns that you’ve noticed are a lot of people more psychedelic naive, or are they already doing work with psychedelics? Like what have you noticed about the demographic applying?
Kyle Buller: So again, we’ve been trying to be more inclusive. So, we’re getting people that are coaches that want to be able to incorporate psychedelic integration into their practice and support clients. We’re getting therapists who are maybe already offering psychedelic assistant therapy through ketamine assistant therapy, they’ve been through the MAPS training, they really want to continue their educational journey, dive deeper into this work, and just be supported. We’re getting people that have no background in this, but they think like, ‘Hey, this is a good start and I want to get involved.’ So, we’re getting people that are just slowly entering into the professional field, graduate students, and just everybody that are doing their undergrad right now. Everybody from the layperson that’s just getting involved, all the way up to medical doctors that are just wanting to really expand their education.
Laura Dawn: One of the things that I think is really missing in Western models is the apprenticeship and mentorship models. And this is your first cohort, so I’m kind of curious, how are you navigating the apprenticeship mentorship conversation?
Kyle Buller: That’s a great question. I feel very fortunate and this comes back to this topic of scalability and bottlenecking, I don’t know the right way forward here. So, when I think about my experience, for example, I’ve had really great mentors and, I feel like I’ve just been very fortunate enough to have those mentorships. So, when I think about the breathwork training, for example, if I went through a different program, I would’ve kind of been in a bigger group of people and maybe not have that close mentorship. When I was working with Len Elizabeth, I was very involved in the process on the floor with them all the time, just direct feedback all the time. They really mentored me and the rest of everybody over at dream shadow pretty significantly.
That’s something that I’ve been thinking about, how do we keep these groups small, where we do have mentorship going on, and keeping that thread alive. That’s why I was thinking about these smaller breakout groups where we have our core faculty where they’re able to become mentors to the students and really engage in it and then what also, it’s not advertised as much on the website at the moment, but after graduation, I really want to keep the threads alive with consultation and supervision and groups. So, after people are graduated from the program, then having this opportunity to stay involved with consultation groups, we are continuing that mentoring, being able to get that in person mentorship at retreats and workshops. It’s a challenging thing to try to keep it small and intimate and have that very direct personal mentorship going, and then also think about scalability. But I think we can do that by having a lot of these different breakout groups and being able to hire lots of teachers that can really keep that instead of it just being like Joe and I or just a few people. Whereas in the Dream Shadows it really had just been Len and Elizabeth doing that mentoring for so long. Being able to bring in a lot more professionals to offer that mentorship along the way.
Laura Dawn: And I’ll include the link in the show notes, but what is the website for people to learn more about?
Kyle Buller: Yeah, it’s, vitalpsychedelictraining.com.
Laura Dawn: Okay, wonderful. I can’t let you go until we get just a little bit personal here, as I do on all of my podcasts. I want to put you on the spot here and just ask you a couple of questions about psychedelic leadership and what have you learned putting this together? Being at the forefront, leadership is really this fun, scary place of stepping beyond the edge and creating something that doesn’t yet exist, which we really are doing, as you said, “we’re building the plane as we’re flying it right now,” which I feel like all the time. So, on a personal level, being a leader in the space, what have you learned about yourself?
Kyle Buller: It has been a journey, there have been lots of ups and downs. I think a lot of entrepreneurs and leaders may struggle with just kind of like that imposter syndrome. There have definitely been times where I’m like, who am I to put together this program or who is Psychedelic Today to put this together. But there are lots of different programs coming up and even though it was me and a few of our team members at Psychedelics Today that kind of really crafted the curriculum and built that out. Really inviting others to participate and so I really wanted this to be a collaboration amongst all the professionals in the space, there’s definitely a little bit of that, like imposter syndrome and I got to remember, okay, I’ve been at this for quite a while and to really had to step forward in that. I think the tricky thing with all this right now is that again, we’re operating in a market where it’s not legal yet, and so there’s so many possible delays, the regulations, uncertainty, sitting with uncertainty and saying, I don’t know. And having a little bit of humility with that, which doesn’t always come across as great sales because you want to be pretty confident in knowing some of that stuff. But also, just being really honest about some of the uncertainties as well, that can be kind of challenging, I think as a leader going, okay, we’re entering into this just totally uncertain area. Laws could change again, I feel like the cat is definitely out of the bag at this moment, but there’s that small percentage that things could go backward and then it’s kind of all goes back into the underground, which I don’t think is going happen, but there’s that small percentage that could. And then what does that look like, if that does happen, right?
Just humility, being easy on myself at times, that’s really an important gentle reminder of this is really tough work, also I think takes a little bit of courage to step out into the public to talk about taboo and controversial things that are still illegal. I think that’s maybe one of the biggest challenges at times of like, whoa, yeah, this is like sexy and people are talking about it, but and lots of people like to step into that, but then also thinking about the legality of things as well. I mean, that’s a very real thing for a lot of people. People have spent years in prison for handling these substances. Also on the professional note, being honest about personal past experiences, definitely is a risk for a lot of professionals, stepping into this realm, due to their licensing and stuff like that. There are all these risks that we’re taking on, dealing within this arena. I think it does take a little bit of courage and I definitely have my up days and down days and some days like I got this and other times I’m like, what’s going on, this is tough and challenging and stuff like that.
Laura Dawn: Yeah, and just managing overwhelm because there’s a million things to do and full days, do you have any sort of strategies to help you stay calm, stay centered, stay focused on what’s really important, not get overwhelmed.
Kyle Buller: For me, it’s like really setting boundaries and limits and so really trying to schedule out time to go snowboarding, to go biking, to go out in nature. Maybe this is somewhat terrible, but setting limits around like when I’m in my inbox because there’s just so much work that needs to be done and then just being overwhelmed by all the requests that aren’t necessarily vital related, just like industry requests and stuff like that, where I’m like, what can I really take on? This is another thing I would love to just bring up and chat about is just burnout. I think we really need to be honest about burnout and taking on too much in a rapidly developing field and if we’re working with very powerful states of consciousness, I think we need to be well resourced. Really think about where our priorities are and how much time and energy we’re committing to things, I think that’s going to be essential for practitioners to really know moving forward because if we are going to be opening people up with these states of consciousness, we want to also be sure we’re well-resourced to do so. So, I think that is really important is like finding our own boundaries, our own limits, and being really honest about that.
Laura Dawn: And I’d also love to just name that a lot of people feel quite a lot about money and medicine and we are operating business models within late-stage capitalism, money is still our currency of exchange. I’m curious, especially when we get VC funding injected into the mix and there are investors who have expectations and voting rights and all of these things. So, I’m kind of curious, how do you stay rooted in your integrity and do you feel from your perspective and your personal experience, do you feel like you’re meeting your edge around and being challenged, your integrity is being challenged on like a daily, weekly basis. Yeah. And how do you navigate that?
Kyle Buller: A lot of self-inquiry, and just awareness around that. I mean, that’s been one of the biggest challenges I think is just business development, I feel like I definitely have an entrepreneurial nature, but I think I approach business from time to time in a much different way than say maybe traditional businesses. There’s this part of me that really wants to keep it small right, wants to keep it just something manageable. And then there’s also the other part that is really having capital and being able to build out and serve people on a much bigger scale, is also I think, important, right. Again, we’re thinking about bottlenecks in the industry and in training and how do we do that? I think the thing I struggle with too is like competing in the world, we’re seeing all this competition, all the money flowing in programs being developed and this like urge to want to compete a little bit but I don’t know I keep coming back to more cooperation. How do we like to co-create this field together? How do we see our own limits and see where somebody may be doing something that they’re better at. I think about therapy, for example, like when I take on a client there are certain skills and things that work really well, and I have training for certain clients and then there are other clients that I just don’t see if I can serve them well. So, it’s like, okay, how can I refer them out? Right. There’s somebody else out there that does this way, better, has more training and I think that’s from my perspective, like how do we become a little bit more cooperative?
But, that also kind of challenges capitalism and want to compete and be the best and etcetera. It’s a hard thing, we haven’t you brought up investors and stuff like that, we haven’t brought on any investors with capital, we’ve been really trying to do this, build it up from the ground up, whereas a lot of these companies are bringing in capital and building companies really quickly and having good PR strategies and being flashier. And it looks like, oh man, they’re doing such great things, and then you have to remind ourselves that yeah, we spent years and years trying to build this, and then do we feel guilty by then wanting to take on investors? We have brought on partners, but we haven’t taken any capital from anybody yet, maybe in the future because, this program is going to cost a lot of money to put on. And so, when people talk about pricing, they go, oh, that’s so much and then you don’t see the back end of like how much we’re actually trying to pay teachers and how much this program is actually going run. And you know, what type of profit does the company actually make after paying everybody out. I think that’s been the most challenging thing is just trying to navigate money within this world, because I think there is this idea that everything should be free. I would love that and I’m always reminded that I remember years ago there was a ceremony happening, it wasn’t a psychedelic ceremony, it was like a fire ceremony, where I was living in Vermont. There was all this discussion that ceremony should never people shouldn’t charge for the ceremony and the organizer was like I have to fly this grandmother up from Guatemala, I have to pay for her airfare, I have to pay for lodging, I’m just asking for a donation. We want to support this and I’m always reminded that yes, at one point ceremony was free because we lived in communities that supported each other and people were bringing food together, people were providing, that support during that time, maybe you didn’t have rent to pay because nobody owned the land. And we’re just in a way different place and I think there’s this romanticism about the past that just doesn’t really apply anymore, I think we have to be honest about that and say, we live in a different world than a lot of traditional cultures and you have to pay rent, I have to pay rent, we have bills, massive student loan debt from taking on that professional training and it’s like this is reality. I would love to give stuff away for free and we do, I mean we give tons away for free. I think that’s been one of the more challenging things when we get comments like that of like, oh, this is so expensive or this stuff should be free, and it kind of challenges my internal stuff of like I wish this could be free, but that’s also not reality.
Laura Dawn: It’s so funny you said that. I wonder if I had any influence in that decision to not take on venture capital when I saw Joe and for those listening, Joe Moore is your co-founder of psychedelics today, I saw him at Medelic and he was talking about, we’re thinking about taking on investors and I said, hold out as long as possible, not that taking on venture capital. I know so many people are taking on venture capital funding right now. And I don’t know if you’re clueing into this, but a lot of the conversations I’ve been having in even just the past two weeks, a lot of companies who have just had huge injections of so much money, because there are hundreds of millions of dollars flooding into the psychedelic space right now, they’re actually built on else and they’re really starting to struggle.
Kyle Buller: I think that’s going to be a thing because again, I see some of these companies that have products, well, you can’t really sell a product right now since you’re still in an illegal market and all that money that came into that, how are you getting returns on that? I think we’re seeing that with some of those companies that are saying we’re developing like the Psilocybin chocolate and we’re doing R and D right now, we’ve raised 10 million dollars and it’s like well the market’s also not here. I think there is something to being too early to industries and just trying to time it and you know the tricky thing that Joe and I have really talked about is that psychedelics today was a passion project, so this started off with just wanting to continue our teacher’s lineage to some degree and try to get breathwork back into the psychedelic conversation a little bit more, we started to get more business-minded as the years went on, but this just started as a passion project of ours or something that we wanted to do. We weren’t thinking like, let’s start a big psychedelic business, this and that, we’re going get rich. There’s no money in this right now and again the industry’s not here as much as we think it is, but in the past few years, things have really expanded and blown up and it’s like it’s crazy to think. Like when we started in 2016 where things were at, or even like when I was trying to, decide what I wanted to do, I’m like, okay, I did my undergrad in 2010 thinking not much was going on, there was stuff going on, but compared to now, it’s so crazy. So, I mean, that’s something we think about is like we have this lineage that we’ve been trying to infuse into the psyche stay brand that integrity, how do we keep that alive, but also grow a company. And maybe that does kind of include us a little bit outside of that lineage too. So, it’s this weird, tricky thing of like wanting to grow the company, really wanting to do good in the world, and then also trying to keep that very personal mission and vision alive. And again, what happens if we end up do bringing on capital to help fund the project, pay employees, build, you new departments, and stuff like that. Does that change the mission over time?
Laura Dawn: Well, I think you have to build that into the agreements and that’s where it takes a really super solid understanding of what your core values are. Not having investors have voting rights, which is something you usually have to really defend and fight for and things like that. So, I think there are ways to build integrity into your model. And looking at other models and reaching out.
Kyle Buller: I think being really honest about that with people before you start taking on their money, so hopefully you people get really clear on that. And then when you talk to folks, they kind of know that beforehand, right.
Laura Dawn: If you had to name the three core values that you’re building your business on top of what would you say those three core values are?
Kyle Buller: One for me is definitely more inclusion into this. Like I really think about a lot of the privilege that comes with the field and just for example of just having it within the medical community, I think about this healer archetype that a lot of people embody, right. They have these skills that they’re just naturally gifted at and maybe they didn’t have the privilege to take out a lot of loans and stuff like that to go through that traditional process. But do we just push those people aside? So, I think about how do we become more inclusive, that one value is really kind of trying to stick to our roots a little bit more so that I think about integrity. How do we keep our integrity as we build Psychedelic today?
And then, some other things I really think about are like, how do we give back, think about reciprocity also sustain and I know sustainability is kind of like a funny word, but I think about that in terms of the medicines. We do have some concerns around say peyote or bufo alvarius toad, and we need some conservation efforts to think about the ecosystem. I mean, that’s definitely been a huge thing that Joe and I talk about on the show, if you follow just thinking about spaceship earth and thinking about how do we be stewards of this and how do we keep that alive without overusing and stuff like that.
Laura Dawn: Maybe we should discuss a partnership around grow medicine.
Laura Dawn: Do you have anyone that you’re currently giving back to?
Kyle Buller: Right now, we’re just looking at the students is the first. We haven’t had any strategic partnerships developed, but I know Joe’s been really passionate about the whole bufo AL various things and wanting to support that. I would love to be able to give back to any indigenous, folks that could really use that and in communities, but nothing in stone yet. We haven’t had money, so I think as we are able to build the company and be able to be in a position to give back, we’ve been really bootstrapping a lot of this.
Laura Dawn: Yeah, totally get it. I love so we’re doing so much work on the conservation side, talking about narratives, growing medicine as a project of the indigenous medicine conservation fund, and they’re doing incredible work and we’re actually rewriting the narrative from giving back to sort of paying it forward and moving away from reciprocity toward right relationship. And what does it mean? And actually, moving away from reciprocity as simply transactional and so we’re working with these taglines, like pay it forward, pray it forward, like supporting the sustainability for generations to come. So, it’s not just like oh, we made money now we need to give back. It’s actually like pay first, give first pay it forward, like, you know, support the next seven generations.
Kyle Buller: I think that’s a, a really great way I think about that. Supporting the next seven generations and how do we build those systems to support that.
Laura Dawn: Anything else you want to just wrap up on? Anything that we didn’t cover, that you feel like sharing for our listeners?
Kyle Buller: This has been great and I guess, for those that are just really interested in getting involved in this space, my advice is always get educated and it doesn’t have to be vital, can be another program that can be a lot of free stuff. We give a lot of free; I think really great on the podcast that in self are kind of like master classes. So, for those that just want to listen to some of our podcasts get educated that way get involved. So, start getting out there, meeting folks, going to conferences, going to events. There are so many different ways of getting involved in this space right now. We always think like, man, yeah, we need lawyers that are psychedelic literate, we need, graphic designers to understand this and so how can you really figure out that skillset that you really have and think about where’s your place in the psychedelic community. Doesn’t always need to be clinical, doesn’t always need to be in the space holding sector, but there’s space for everybody. But you know, just start engaging in your own process, getting out there, meeting folks, getting educated, and yeah, we we’re going to build this together. We’re all in it together.
Laura Dawn: Thank you so much, Kyle, always a pleasure dropping in with you. Thank thanks for playing on my coming to my hot seat, sitting in the hot seat so we can get to and know you better as well. So, thank you so much for that.
Co-Founder of Psychedelics Today |Breathwork Facilitator | Therapist
Undergrad in transpersonal psychology with a masters in counseling and somatic psychology.
Passionate about psychedelic education and is a part-time therapist, who integrates ketamine assisted therapy with his clients. Kyle earned his B.A. in Transpersonal Psychology from Burlington College, where he focused on studying the healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness by exploring shamanism, Reiki, local medicinal plants and plant medicine, Holotropic Breathwork. Kyle has been studying breathwork since October 2010 with Lenny and Elizabeth Gibson of Dreamshadow Transpersonal Breathwork. Kyle earned his M.S. in clinical mental health counseling with an emphasis in somatic psychology. Kyle’s clinical background in mental health consists of working with at-risk teenagers in crisis and with individuals experiencing an early-episode of psychosis and providing counseling to undergraduate/graduate students in a university setting.
Curated Playlists for Psychedelic Journeys & Beyond
Sign up & receive your free playlists:
I am absolutely hooked on this Podcast. Laura Dawn presents her topics and guests in a stunningly beautiful, heart centered format while weaving in the most relevant topics in psychedelics today.
Laura Dawn rocks her Psychedelic Leadership Podcast with so much style and grace! Her guests are innovative thought leaders and she asks them the most illuminating questions. She shares a wealth of knowledge and inquiry as well as her passion for the arts and music. I always appreciate how LD conducts herself.
Each time I tune into an episode I get chills all over my body! This podcast is my personal new favourite, I’ve expanded my awareness around these topics so much just tuning into these conversations, from each episode I walk away with a new teaching! Im also deeply appreciative of the way Laura Dawn structures her episodes and interviews.
The psychedelic leadership podcast is blowing my default mode network!!! Episodes include revolutionary science, as well as practical steps we can all take to creatively make change to help heal the planet and ourselves. Laura Dawn is an amazing speaker, and most definitely a thought leader.
Laura Dawn’s experience and service to the healing journey is a recipe for humanity, through modern science, plant medicine and ancient wisdom is amazing. She attracts the best of the best leaders in the space of science, psychedelics and spirituality, I love every one of her podcasts. Thank you LD!
Wow what a powerful lineup of speakers and guests sharing profound experiences and wisdom. So relevant to our times and not just with plant medicines and psychedelics but with just being a human being in these changing, evolving times. May we all grow together. Thank you Laura D 😉 Be-elowan
I’m obsessed with this podcast and I’ve listened to every episode. This is the kind of podcast that has the potential to change humanity if we all listen to these interviews and Laura’s wisdom.
About Laura Dawn
Through her signature Mastermind Programs and Plant Medicine Retreats, Laura Dawn weaves together science with ancient wisdom. She teaches business and thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation, fostering emotional resiliency and unlocking new depths to our creative potential.