Veronika Gold, MA & Erik Sienknecht, PsyD
San Francisco Insight and Integration Center
Ethical Considerations in MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy
Recent findings from the MAPS-sponsored Phase 2 clinical trials have shown great safety and efficacy in the treatment of PTSD with MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy. It is more crucial than ever, as we move into Phase 3, to address ethical matters that researchers may encounter. In our poster presentation, we will explicate various aspects of this unique treatment modality and elucidate the guiding principles of the work, including preparation and integration considerations, attention to set and setting, working with non-ordinary states of consciousness, non-directive/inner-directed communication and inner healing intelligence. We will also describe ethical dilemmas that arise in applying these principles within the limitations of the study protocol. Challenges to the therapeutic work within the context of a clinical trial, such as the issue of double-blind placebo-controlled psychedelic sessions, lack of diversity of researchers, diversity challenges in recruitment and selection, power differentials between therapist and participant, and limited access to care following participation in trial, will be explored. A distinguishing feature of this treatment, the role of the co-therapy dyad, will also be examined in light of gender equality issues. We will also elucidate ethical issues of psychedelic research at large, especially the dilemma training of psychedelic researchers and therapists and the value of personal experience with the psychedelic medicine.
Veronika Gold and Eric Sienknecht are as sub-investigators and therapists at San Francisco Insight and Integration Center, site participating in the Phase 3 MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy clinical trial for the treatment of PTSD sponsored by MAPS. They are as well co-founders and therapists at Polaris Insight Center. Gold has an expertise in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. She is a therapist, consultant, and a volunteer facilitator for EMDR HAP and a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and a Realization Process Teacher. Sienknecht received his BA in Philosophy and World Religions from Georgetown University and his PsyD in Clinical Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies. His areas of expertise include treatment of mood disorders, chronic pain and trauma. His professional interests include consciousness research, mystical and peak experiences, and music. Both provide Psychedelic Integration Therapy and serve as a consultants, trainers, and presenters on Psychedelic Assisted Therapies.