Dr. Bruce Tobin is a clinical psychologist and Founder and Chair of the nonprofit organization TheraPsil based in Victoria, British Columbia. He received his Doctorate in Philosophy of Psychology from the University of Washington in 1983. Dr. Tobin spent 35 years in private psychotherapy practice and 20 years working with local First Nations communities, specializing in treating individuals with anxiety, depression, and emotional trauma. He has also taught clinical skills as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria for 25 years.
TheraPsil’s website describes the nonprofit as “a coalition of healthcare professionals, advocates and stakeholders dedicated to helping Canadians receive therapeutic access to psilocybin.”
Dr. Tobin’s interest in psilocybin originated in 2016 when a client suffering from terminal cancer requested psychedelic therapy from him. Since his client’s plea, Tobin has advocated for patient access to psilocybin-assisted palliative therapy in Canada. In 2017, he applied for a status exemption under Section 56 of the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in order to provide such therapy. According to a Vice Canada article, during a presentation at a conference session called Activist Therapists: Taking Initiatives to Change Laws, Dr. Tobin stated,
I was uncomfortable about breaking the law, but I didn’t want to ignore the suffering of my patients or my ethical duty toward them. I thought if I don’t want to break the law, I better try to change the law.
He founded TheraPsil in 2019 after launching an official legal case to Health Canada, the country’s public health agency. In June 2020, TheraPsil began a program to help patients apply for their own Section 56 exemptions.
In 2016, Dr. Tobin began writing Communicating With Clients About Therapeutic Use Of Psychedelic Medicines,1 a paper exploring legal and ethical considerations in therapist-client relationships when navigating conversations around psychedelic use. In April 2018, Dr. Tobin authored an article for the Psychedelic Psychotherapy Forum entitled “Taking a Walk on the Dark Side,” which cautioned against “dangerous thinking” about psychedelics that may derail progress in the latest wave of the psychedelic revolution.
More information about Dr. Bruce Tobin and his work can be found on his ResearchGate profile.