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MDMA therapy

Increasing data on psychedelics' safety and effectiveness may result in more effective treatments for adult mental health problems and disorders. Including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other chronic medical conditions. Although it won't be available to everyone in 2022 and may take some time to become known and accepted. Experts say you can expect to hear a lot more about this breakthrough therapy this year and in the years to come.

The MDMA program developed a small team of psychedelic researchers. They had worked for years despite criticism, funding difficulties, and disapproval. Encouraging results show that this approach might have a significant benefit and higher compliance over currently available treatments.

What is MDMA?

MDMA is a synthetic stimulant and psychedelic. This psychoactive substance is often known as ecstasy. Ecstasy and clinical MDMA are not the same things. In a randomized clinical trial empathogen, also known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is used. Pharmaceutical standards are followed in the production of MDMA for clinical use.

MDMA elevates serum oxytocin resulting in positive emotional cues. It affects a person's spatial and perceptional distortions and increases the satisfaction of sensory experiences. MDMA enhances emotional empathy and self-awareness. The drug experience is pleasurable and lucid. As a result, it is one of the most abused drugs and has a very high potential for psychological addiction.

What is MDMA-assisted psychotherapy?

Administering MDMA in line with a doctor's recommendation as a supplement for therapy sessions is known as MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. According to research, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy may enhance treatment efficacy for complex and treatment-resistant PTSD diagnosis and other forms of post traumatic stress disorder (severe PTSD).

MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session looks less like standard psychiatric medication and more like a high-level talk therapy session that needs specific attention and supervision. It incorporates a therapeutic partnership where one is expected to dive into the experience, learn from it, and then process, integrate, and share those experiences in the following days. Individual practitioners provide psychedelic therapy in accordance with their own procedures because there is no accepted technique of administration and practice. But there are a few things in common:

  • Administering a psychedelic substance in a low-to-moderate dose
  • Professional supervision throughout the hallucinogenic experience
  • Retaking the psychedelic dose with a one- to two-week gap between doses

The elements of "set" and "setting" are crucial during a psychedelic session. The set includes concepts like attitude and anticipation. The setting describes the session's location and interaction with the therapist. It is important to feel at ease with both the therapist and the setting. The result suggests that in contrast to more conventional psychiatric drugs like antidepressants, which may make an individual feel better more automatically, the effect of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy comes from the person's experience and conscious reflection.

Certification Program

The therapy Certification Program offers high-quality instruction and oversight to assist therapists in providing moral care in psychedelic assisted psychotherapy. The organizations take their responsibility to ensure participant safety and their function in encouraging ethical development for people who take part in clinical programs.

To uphold this commitment, the group created the MAPS Code of Ethics for Psychedelic Psychotherapy, which serves as a set of principles and rules for psychotherapy within the MAPS framework. Instead of attempting to impose a predetermined course or outcome on the participant's emotional process, the therapists should have a client-centered orientation and should have completed enough inner work to feel comfortable following and supporting whatever course the participant's emotional process takes.

Clinical trials

Midway through the 1980s, the USA outlawed MDMA, primarily due to its rising recreational usage, and research into its use as a therapeutic agent ended. With the publication of a paper in 2010, clinical research resumed. That was the start of Phase 2, so MDMA assisted psychotherapy trials continued. Clinical trials demonstrated significant reductions in PTSD symptoms. In 2017, the FDA designated MDMA-assisted therapy as a "breakthrough treatment."

Basic and clinical research is currently in Phase 3 and is being conducted as randomized, double-blind, controlled studies in 15 different U.S. cities, two Canadian cities, and three Israeli cities. The clinical setting should not be confused with the recreational use of a drug. These trials are the last step before the FDA determines whether to approve the prescription of MDMA for use in combination with psychotherapy as a treatment for PTSD.

MAPS has made available a visual representation of its research:


What will MDMA- assisted therapy be used for?

MDMA-assisted therapy will be used in the future as an addition to psychotherapy sessions, as assisted therapy for PTSD and other mental health difficulties like:

Posttraumatic stress disorder

MDMA alters emotional processing and positively impacts social interaction. It fosters emotional connection. That is why MDMA may be more effective for treating PTSD than other diseases. Some trials indicated that giving octopuses MDMA made them more social.

In a therapeutic environment, PTSD victims open up and speak about their memories, reliving their traumas while doing so, and then experience a wave of self-compassion that enables them to let go of the past and go on. The therapist acts as a non-prescriptive guide throughout the therapeutic session and creates a safe environment.

MDMA-assisted couple therapy

Before MDMA was outlawed in the middle of the 1980s, couple therapy with MDMA was practiced. In several examples of MDMA-assisted therapy research, including those involving couples, Greer and Tolbert (1986, 1998) found that patients' fears of emotional harm decreased, and their ability to communicate and reflect increased.

In a relational context, an MDMA session can facilitate meaningful interpersonal healing and growth. The pair is developing a model for future interactions that will help them communicate effectively, reflect together after stressful events, and navigate intense emotional experiences. This can assist model the experience for their partnership by developing an attitude of cultivating trust and openness to whatever occurs in the treatment process.

Individual MDMA-assisted psychotherapy could be used in depression treatment. Findings from dyadic interventions for specific diagnoses demonstrate improvement in both mental health outcomes (OCD, PTSD, depression), relationship satisfaction, and functioning for both partners.


MDMA is not an approved prescription drug. Anxiety, cannot be treated with it by prescription. However, MDMA is being looked into as a possible therapy for post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. Although further research is required, the encouraging outcomes of trials involving MDMA to treat people with PTSD have prompted some researchers to hypothesize that MDMA might potentially be a useful adjunct to treat psychiatric disorders like:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety problems
  • OCD-obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Suicidality
  • Diseases caused by drug addiction

Eating disorder

A randomized placebo-controlled study on adults with severe PTSD found that eating disorder symptoms were considerably reduced by MDMA-assisted therapy. Even when EDs are not present, people with PTSD frequently have low weight. When compared to therapy with a placebo, the effects of MDMA-assisted therapy dramatically improved Eating Disorder symptoms in individuals with severe PTSD.

Risks to consider

Risks are so far associated with people who have psychotic disorders. When using psychedelic drugs, a person may have unpredictable effects that change according to dosage, personality, environment, and surroundings. It's essential to take into account the possibility of adverse psychological reactions like panic, anxiety, and paranoid symptoms.

How to get started?

You can be part of the research trial if you're curious about trying psychedelic therapy. The National Institute of Health can look for clinical trials accepting volunteers (NIH). Research and trials that accept volunteers may also be sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the John Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research.

Never try to use psychedelics for self-treatment. Acute MDMA intoxication can be life-threatening. People who use psychedelic drugs in clinical settings receive a precise, pure dose. Their psychological and physiological effects are closely monitored throughout the experience, and they receive expert assistance from a therapist to integrate the experience.

Vivien Freeflow

Vivien Freeflow ยท 9/16/2022

Decorative Wave
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Reviewed by

Hope Martyn

Hope Martyn

Freelance Native Content Writer & Reviewer

Hi, I'm Hope, I'm a native English Speaker from England but based now in Portugal. I love all things Technological, Travel and Mental Well being. I also have a BA Hons Media Production degree.