Françoise Bourzat — The Maven of Consciousness Medicine (#519)

Illustration via 99designs

One quick but important disclaimer on this episode: Two to three months after the publication of this episode, public allegations of sexual misconduct were made against Françoise Bourzat and her husband, Aharon Grossbard. Subsequent media coverage has catalyzed critical conversations in the psychedelic communities about therapeutic boundaries, potential abuses of power, and how to prevent and mitigate misconduct.

I struggled with whether or not to take down this episode entirely, especially given my own history as a childhood victim of sexual abuse. For now, I’ve decided to leave this episode up with this clear disclaimer added to the beginning of all audio and blog posts on related to the episode. I’ve made this decision—and my feeling could change later, of course—because this conversation also includes tools and frameworks that I think can be very valuable to those considering psychedelic medicine in any capacity.

Suffice to say, it’s with a very heavy heart that I deliver this update, but I’m also happy that these conversations around ethics are happening now, at the forefront and before we have thousands of additional therapists in the field.

Thank you for listening.

— Tim

“It is an insult to the potency of this inner work to not take the time to integrate what has been revealed.”

— Françoise Bourzat

Françoise Bourzat (@Francoise_Bourzat) has been bridging the divide between Western psychology and indigenous wisdom in collaboration with healers in Mexico for the past 30 years. She is a co-founder of the Center for Consciousness Medicine, which trains people to become guides in a holistic method of psychedelic-assisted therapy. She is also the coauthor of Consciousness Medicine, published by North Atlantic Books.

Françoise served on the advisory board for the Oregon Prop 109 initiative and is currently helping to design training for future facilitators of mushroom experiences. She is also collaborating with the Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, California, in an FDA-approved research study on psilocybin-assisted therapy for COVID-related grief. She leads mushroom ceremonies and retreats in Jamaica for bereaved parents.

She has a Master of Arts in somatic psychology and is trained in the Hakomi Method. Françoise has taught at CIIS in San Francisco, and she lectures at other academic institutions, such as Yale, Stanford, and UCSF. She runs online courses and contributes to advisory boards and organizations offering value-aligned trainings on the topic of mushroom ceremonies.

Please enjoy!

P.S. During this podcast, Françoise shares a few stories of people participating in her retreats, and she wishes to inform the listeners that these people have given her consent to speak about them and their experiences.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#519: Françoise Bourzat — The Maven of Consciousness Medicine

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear another episode with someone who understands the growing need for well-trained psychedelic therapists? Listen in on my conversation with psychotherapist and installation artist Marcela Ot’alora, in which we discuss why psychedelic therapy is probably less sexy and more difficult than you think it is, resolutions to particularly trying sessions, how psychedelic therapy is like alchemy, what separates a good psychedelic therapist from a great psychedelic therapist, how you can take the first step on the path to becoming a psychedelic therapist if you think you’ve got what it takes, and much more.

#396: Marcela Ot’alora — How to Become a Psychedelic Therapist
  • Connect with Françoise Bourzat:

Website | Twitter | Instagram


  • How did Françoise come to lead mushroom ceremonies and retreats in Jamaica for bereaved parents, and how has the experience helped them through the grief process? [05:39]
  • How did an early experience in north Thailand prove to be formative for Françoise, and what helped her process the trauma of that experience and the difficult decision it forced her to make? [08:43]
  • How did psychedelics — particularly MDMA — really initiate Françoise’s healing process? [21:03]
  • In Françoise’s estimation, how crucial was the presence of a skilled guide to take her through these healing psychedelic experiences? To what does she attribute the skill her own guide wielded? [26:13]
  • In the context of psychedelic journeys, what is chaos music? [32:22]
  • What’s the difference between a facilitator and a guide? [38:22]
  • When did Françoise become interested in learning about the craft and the toolkits associated with these medicines? [45:05]
  • Who was Ralph Metzner? [47:58]
  • How was Françoise introduced to the psychedelic traditions of the Mazatec? [52:47]
  • After spending time in the psychedelic healing space among mostly male mentors, teachers, and colleagues, how did it make Françoise feel to be exposed to an ancient tradition so tied to a lineage that was primarily matriarchal? [56:57]
  • For what purposes do the indigenous people of the Oaxacan region use mushrooms, salvia, and morning glory? What effects might one experience when utilizing them as intended, and what problems are they traditionally used to solve? [1:01:17]
  • Can these substances be used to treat maladies in people who live outside the framework of these traditions — for instance, a Westerner from an industrialized city whose problems might seem alien to an Oaxacan curandera? [1:18:54]
  • What does a retreat in Jamaica for bereaved parents look like, and what goes into its preparation? [1:26:55]
  • During these retreats, what therapeutic purpose does the introduction of elements like art classes and walks in nature serve? [1:33:28]
  • What is the Council for 13 Indigenous Grandmothers? [1:38:44]
  • What are the potential risks of using psychedelic plants and compounds without the supervision of trained facilitators and guides? [1:41:02]
  • How does a well-trained guide help someone back to reality if their psychedelic experience leaves them existentially hollow and bereft of meaning? [1:44:29]
  • What is the Hakomi Method? [1:51:49]
  • What would Françoise like the Center for Consciousness Medicine to achieve? [1:53:28]
  • What does Françoise consider to be the criteria for a great therapist specializing in psychedelic-assisted therapy? [1:56:47]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:02:48]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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13 Replies to “Françoise Bourzat — The Maven of Consciousness Medicine (#519)”

  1. Tim,
    I noticed your mention of Jacob Collier, and wasn’t sure if you’d seen his NPR Tiny Desk concert. The video is amazing. It’s just him (reproduced 4 times) in his studio.
    [Moderator: Link to cool YouTube vid of Collier titled “Jacob Collier: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert” removed to prevent video embed.]

  2. Tim! great show par usual. I wanted to see if you have ever considered that the app you use on this site to play the podcast is extremely clumsy! You cannot fast forward or reverse with any accuracy, so if I get distracted and want to go back, I have to click a dozen times to find the right spot, its always frustrating but it’s nice to listen here so I can see the links

    1. Really being able to have control over the playback probably requires using a podcast app. It’s really hard to do it in a web page because of the technical requirements and capabilities of web page design.

      I strongly suggest BeyondPod. Then subscribe to Tim’s podcast.

  3. Thanks for another great conversation. Bourzat is remarkable. I wanted to leave a comment related to your latest 5-bullet Friday note and the piece about the historical use of psychoactive substances. The ESPD50 talks organized by Dennis McKenna had some great material covering what is currently known about the history of some psychoactives (all the talks were excellent). Constantino Manual Torres gave a talk on the (probable) prehistory of ayahuasca, and Keeper Trout gave a wide ranging talk on mescal, peyote and red bean. Videos of all the talks are available

  4. Please interview Ben Patrick! Tim, I’m a big fan of the podcast and I would love for you to delve into the story of “knees over toes guy.” You could also do a combo interview with Keegan Smith, a student of Charles Poliquin and Australian Rugby League strength coach. They have started a company called Athletic Truth Group (ATG) and I’m really excited about their stuff. Thanks!

  5. I live in France, and have been wondering whether by any chance you are aware of people or places dealing with the therapeutic use of psychedelics in this country. And by the way, thanks a lot for your work. With no exaggeration, the people and the words I have heard on your podcasts help me get through pretty somber days and months.

  6. Hi Tim. Not related to your post but wanted to say my thanks and this is most likely the more probable way of reaching you.

    I am 20 years old and i am currently in university to become a registered dietitian in Canada. With all the pressure of paying for university, paying debts, monthly charges such as insurance and phone, finding my true career etc, The 4 Hour Work Week, 29 pages alone in the extended edition, felt like it was worth more than anything i’ve spent money on. Crazy to think 29 pages of a 35CAD$ book was worth more than the 20000$+ all the things i bought since working from 14 years old.

    To cut to the chase, the life wisdom in your book will prevent me from making so many mistakes that would cost me so much of time, so much of my life later on. The Definition and Elimination from DEAL helped me enormously. So many things for me to worry and stress about every day that seriously impacted my mental health. All by simple means of eliminating the bad.

    With the combination of “The 4 Hour Work Week” and “The ONE thing” by Gary Keller, i feel as i have expanded my knowledge of important life lessons from the struggle of never having a dad in my life and bullying in school that brought me to an incredible low. And those “lows” tought me precious life lessons. I never look at an obstacle as a negative thing anymore.

    So Tim thank you very much. I want you to keep in mind that your book still changes lives of the young that haven’t even started the corporate world yet. Much appreciation.


  7. During the podcast you kind of promised that you would provide some links regarding chaos music. I was really hoping to see some.

    Could you give some more specifics?

      1. Copy that, thanks. I’ve seen other pod webpage players that have the 15 second rewind and fast forward though, that would make it so much easier. I do subscribe on itunes but their player is only slightly better on a desktop (as opposed to mobile). Tim’s is the worst one Ive used though because to back up 10 seconds I end up clicking 5 times and still not sure where Im going to land!

      2. Actually, scratch that comment!!! I haven’t listened here in a while and when I just went up and looked at the player, the cursor has changed and is much easier to navigate…Thank you!

      3. Thanks, Timothy! Also wanted to mention that you can now click on the three dots in the player and change the playback speed.


        Team Tim Ferriss

  8. I’m not sure where to post this. A long while ago, Tim recommended the John Hopkins Covid-19 Situation report of unbiased information. It was a great source for a while, but I don’t believe it is anymore.

    For example on August 10, 2021, the Cov-19 SR reported:

    “Among people previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, full vaccination provides additional protection from reinfection, according to an early release study published last week in the US CDC’s MMWR”

    On August 26, 2021 the below article was published and has yet to appear in the Cov-19 SR.

    Another example, the Cov-19 SR has reported many times on in ineffectiveness of ivermectin.

    On August 3, 2021, the below article was published and has yet to appear in the Cov-19 SR.

    I haven’t picked sides, but I like to hear about studies from both sides of the aisle. I have messaged the editor Alyson Browett, but have yet to receive a response. Tim has much more influence that I do. I wonder if he can use influence to pressure them into more honest journalism.