Psilocybin and Depth Psychology: An Interview with Caroline Anton

Caroline Anton is a third-year student in our Counseling Psychology Program, who was one of four students who was awarded a scholarship through Pacifica Extension and Student Services to attend Pacifica’s “Individuation and Psychedelics Conversations with Jungian Analysts” conference, which was held Dec 15-17, 2023. I’m delighted to speak with Caroline about the conference and also her professional experience prior to coming to Pacifica.

Angela: You’ve worked with children with autism and as a crisis counselor and now are pursuing your Masters in Counseling Psychology and are also a Marriage and Family Therapist trainee. Helping people seems to be the theme here. Can you speak a little about what led you to Pacifica?

Caroline:  I’ve always been passionate about psychology, and in my undergraduate studies I minored in psychology. When I got more excited about those classes, I realized there was passion there. I’ve always had a care-taking nature about me. My mom follows a therapist on Instagram who went to Pacifica and she said this sounds right up your alley. So I tried it, and here we are. I liked the spiritual component Pacifica offers with depth psychology. I visited Lambert at first, which was super pretty, and then when I visited Ladera, I was also impressed. It has a lot of nature. I wasn’t as familiar with the work of Jung before coming to this program, which is funny, but it drew me in and I appreciate what I’ve learned of his teachings.

Angela: Congratulations on receiving a scholarship to Pacifica’s “Individuation and Psychedelics Conversations with Jungian Analysts” conference. What about the topic of the conference made you want to attend?

Caroline: The topic drew me in because I’m writing my thesis on psychedelics, specifically “How to integrate the experience of psilocybin while exploring death anxiety through a depth lens.” I’m looking at people who aren’t terminally ill, because the majority of studies look at terminally ill people and I wanted to explore an area less examined. Participants walk away feeling relieved after the psychedelic experience. Psychedelics mimic death, so it’s a death rehearsal. I was facilitating a grief group at my internship site, and I began examining death more and thought to incorporate it in my thesis. I believe my thesis will inform anyone’s counseling practice and any potential clients that may be interested.

Angela: By mimicking death, psychedelics ease the anxiety people might have about their eventual death?

Caroline: In a psychedelic trip, the ego minimizes itself and steps away, and you feel the Self emerge. The ego minimizing can be called an ego death. Your ego dies, in a sense, and mimics death in that way. And you’re able to experience a feeling of death, and people end up feeling less anxious about it because they’ve already experienced it. There is a connection with the sacred or the universe that is often gained because of the ego minimizing. This universality of connection allows people to connect with the world around them, including other living beings. The psychedelic trip can be a powerful experience, so it feels necessary to note the influence of set and setting. Ego dissolution may not be the most amazing feeling, but it can be experienced with love as a guiding force, which is cathartic.

Angela: Were there any highlights of the conference that stood out for you? Any presentations or speakers that particularly inspired you?

Caroline: I really enjoyed Susan Williams’ talk on working energetically with psychedelics, going into the physics of it. Lionel Corbett spoke about the state of psychedelics, which I appreciated. He spoke about the concerns with people creating similar compounds (analogs) to psychedelics, which has a huge value in the market and mentioned ethical considerations of psychedelics. Felicia Matteo Shepherd talked about how as a psychedelic therapist, you need to know your own terrain first. She described using active imagination in conjunction with patients. I thought that was fascinating.

Angela: Did you come away from the conference with any conclusions or ideas for how this work might impact your own research?

Caroline: I walked away feeling very grateful that I was able to attend, first of all, because there were so many brilliant ideas and people, with attendees from all over the world. I realized there are some things I haven’t considered yet. It made me reflect more on the topic. I was feeling stuck on my thesis, and given all I learned at the conference, I was able to apply some of it to my thesis and gain momentum and also more knowledge. I may want to pursue psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in my future practice.

Angela: What do you find most unique about studying at Pacifica, and the Counseling program in particular?

Caroline: I feel like there are a lot of little things that make Pacifica unique. For one, I really enjoy how personable the professors are. I’ve felt held the entire time. There are people I’ve bonded with in my cohort, and the professors make sure you’re attended to. Pacifica’s course structure and topics feel similar to Hogwarts. I really enjoy those aspects, and I appreciate looking at the unexamined or shadow components that depth psychology makes you examine.

Angela: Thank you for speaking with me and best of luck in your studies!

Caroline Anton is a third year Counseling Psychology Master’s student, with an emphasis in depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is currently gaining her hours through a telehealth site as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Trainee and writing her thesis on the integration of psychedelics while exploring death anxiety through a depth lens. She plans to graduate among her cohort this upcoming May 2024. When she is not with clients, she enjoys hiking, doing yoga, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.


Angela Borda is a writer for Pacifica Graduate Institute, as well as the editor of the Santa Barbara Literary Journal. Her work has been published in Food & Home, Peregrine, Hurricanes & Swan Songs, Delirium Corridor, Still Arts Quarterly, Danse Macabre, and is forthcoming in The Tertiary Lodger and Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Vol. 5.