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Albany’s first psilocybin service center is open, and people from across the country are taking the trip, in both senses of the word.

In 2020, Oregon became the first state in the nation to legalize psilocybin for supervised therapeutic use after voters approved Measure 109. The rules were finalized in January and the first psilocybin center became licensed in May in Eugene.

The second was licensed in Albany.

Psilocybin Provider_Space Room_One on One

Dee Lafferty, right, and fellow facilitator, Pat Winczewski mimic what a typical one-on-one session looks like. Participants have access to weighted blankets and and others sensory deprivation items.

Deirdre Lafferty is a social worker with a mental health center downtown. She’s also the owner of a magic mushroom therapeutic center in North Albany. So far, more than half of her clients are coming from out of state to experience the psychedelic, she said.

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Alternative medicine

Inside Inner Guidance, 904 NW North Albany Road, each room represents a different atmosphere, Lafferty said. There’s earth, water, desert and space. The lights are dim and a shelf holds blankets and tissues. Large leather chairs face each other.

Lafferty believes in the healing power of psychedelics. She has seen it at work first hand, she said. She wore a blazer, her blonde shoulder-length hair in a blunt cut.

“Standard methods help, but it takes years. With psychedelics you can see results quickly,” she said.

One patient she had was a veteran who had battled treatment-resistant depression for years. Within one session, it had disappeared, she said.

Psilocybin Provider_Group Casual

Will Brown, Olivia Drenning, Dee Lafferty and Pat Winczewski stand in the reception area of Inner Guidance Services, the first facility to offer psilocybin treatments in Albany, and the second in Oregon.

Lafferty attributes the change in how psilocybin interacts with the brain.

“It lets part of your brain — the part that worries — relax, while the rest of your brain can focus on healing,” she said.

Lafferty went back to school to learn how to use psychedelics for healing, she said. It started when she had some patients using ketamine, and she wanted to learn more.

Once Measure 109 was on the ballot, she wanted to know more about psilocybin specifically, and with the help of her daughter, opened her own service center in Albany.

Lafferty has her own painful family history of substance abuse. So before opening a psilocybin service center, she grappled with whether it could fit into their lives, she said.

It took some deconstructing over time, she said. And ultimately, what she found was that psilocybin was different, she said.

Research suggests psilocybin may help address depression, anxiety, trauma and addiction. Recent studies have added migraines and anorexia to the growing list.

Indigenous communities have used the mushroom for centuries in religious ceremonies.

Taking psilocybin is a different sensory experience for everyone, but the overall consensus is a deep connection with nature and a feeling of peace and oneness.

“You gently lose touch with reality, and your worldview changes, and there is an inner healing, that each person has the innate ability to be healthy,” Lafferty said.

The Oregon Health Authority has provided state oversight in licensing programs, rules and regulations for administration.

Under the program, people 21 and older can take regulated amounts of psilocybin under the supervision of trained facilitators in licensed facilities.


Last year, Pat Winczewski urged Albany elected officials not to ban psilocybin in the city. Now he is a facilitator in Albany, and since the service center opened on June 21, he has conducted around 30 sessions. He believes that might be the most a single facilitator has overseen in the state.

Psilocybin Provider_Trio

Facilitators Dee Lafferty, center and Pat Winczewski, right, stand alongside office administrator Olivia Drenning at Inner Guidance Services Inc. in North Albany, which features a team of four facilitators and several support staff.

“A lot of people all over the country are coming to Albany to get this medicine, and many of them see it as a last hope,” he said.

The reasons they come are myriad. Winczewski has seen people use psilocybin at the end of their life through Stage 4 cancer. He has also seen people address childhood trauma that has followed them for decades.

Trauma is essentially an emotionally charged memory, Winczewski said. Using the psychedelic, some clients were able to separate the two.

“It gave the memory less power over their day-to-day life,” he said.

Sporting a pair of glasses and a beard, Winczewski considers himself a sturdy, stable force with a relatively happy disposition. You might think hearing people unload their trauma and big emotions would take a toll on a person, but Winczewski doesn’t feel like he has to compartmentalize.

Sessions last four to six hours, and a plan is established to get the clients home, as they are not allowed to drive.

It’s really an internal, individual process for the client, he said.

Psilocybin Provider_From Outside

Inner Guidance currently has four unique rooms, like the “space” room seen here, from which people seeking treatment can choose for their sessions. Each room is equipped with room-darkening curtains, noise-canceling headphones and color-changing lights for gentle visual stimuli.

Being a facilitator isn’t exactly like being a therapist or even a guide, Winczewski said. He’s just there to be a grounding presence and maybe take a couple notes to bring up later in the integration session.

“Our goal is to be an unconditional, supporting, loving presence,” Winczewski said.

Winczewski is one of nine facilitators at Inner Guidance, though not all of them work full time like he does. 

To become a facilitator, Winczewski completed a six-month program that involved lectures, tests, practice administering psychedelics and working with therapy professionals. It cost about $8,000, the low end of the licensing programs, he said.

There’s a lot of stigma about psilocybin, Winczewski said. People just don’t know much about it. He also got that sense when he was in front of City Council, he said.

Many people uphold the “abstinence-only” drug model and see all drugs as equally bad, when psilocybin is a relatively safe substance — that can even be used for addiction treatment.

“I think the more we approach it with a scientific lens, the more we can dissolve the stigma,” he said.

Winczewski has a chemistry degree from Oregon State University, and that helps inform some of the work he does, he said. On a chemical level, psilocybin resembles serotonin and can open up similar neural reward pathways and affect mood.

“The next huge clinical therapy breakthrough is going to be psychedelic use,” he said.

Psilocybin Provider_Earth Room

Dee Lafferty, left, explains that part of their treatment plan involves a four- to six-hour session during which patients are led through their experience with a facilitator, a person trained to administer the psilocybin treatment.

And Oregon is laying the groundwork. Winczewski is still in awe that he can do psychedelic service in the city where he lives, where a ban was almost on the ballot, he said.

Running a business

Inside Inner Guidance, Lafferty and adult daughter Olivia Drenning sat on large leather chairs, the same ones used for sessions. One of the lights shifted colors like a lava lamp as the two demonstrated how the room becomes a sensory experience.

Albany was the perfect spot because they can reach more underserved areas and those who may find it difficult to get to the bigger cities, she said. For Lafferty, it was important to get access to rural communities and lower income individuals.

She also has another business, Reclaim Life Mental Health Center, in Albany.

OHA licensed the psilocybin service center on May 14, and the first client came through the doors a little more than a month later, June 21. Originally, Lafferty was hoping to get a license as early as January, but there were some setbacks.

Finding a space was difficult, she said, because psilocybin is so new and the stigmas that come with that. Even getting a loan was a hurdle, Lafferty said. While psilocybin is legal in Oregon, it isn’t nationwide. So setting up the finances is tricky. Banks are federally insured, and the U.S. considers psilocybin a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

She borrowed from her retirement to start the business, she said.

That means clients have to pay for the psilocybin products themselves in cash, she said. The whole experience totals about $2,000.

But you have to keep in mind the service could be replacing the cost of years of therapy, Lafferty said.

To get an Oregon license, a business has to have a location, staff and everything in order. So it’s a big leap of faith, she said. Her own training cost $10,000, she said.

Currently, there’s a waitlist of about 100 people, but they are getting actively scheduled, Drenning said. She has been doing the office work for her mom’s business.

Though they’re seeing many out-of-towners, the duo hope more Albany locals take advantage of the service, Lafferty said.

It’s not an easy service to promote. OHA regulations are strict, and no one under 21 is supposed to see ads or visit psilocybin-related websites, she said. So they have left leaflets in dispensaries, she said.

Lafferty has instituted several of her own safety measures as well, for peace of mind. There’s a defibrillator she doesn’t think she will ever use, and the service center has chosen not to administer mushrooms to pregnant people.

There needs to be more research before Lafferty would feel comfortable doing that, even though OHA regulations don’t prohibit pregnant clients, she said. 

Psilocybin has a sordid history, Lafferty said. It was once used for conversion therapy. That’s why it’s important for her center to make it accessible to those in the LGBTQ+ community, she said.

The center also offers a scholarship program to make cost less of a hurdle for Black, Indigenous and people of color as well as people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ and other minority identities.

Winczewski said not everyone is a good candidate for psilocybin. It may not be right for people who have mental health conditions with psychosis and serious heart condition. But he believes most can benefit.

“So many people can benefit from this, and I think if you are the type of person that is living a life you don’t want, stuck or find yourself in a rut, this could be very beneficial to you,” Winczewski said.

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