Rachel Yehuda, PhD

Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Creating a scientific paradigm for understanding psychedelic assisted psychotherapy


MDMA-assisted psychotherapy provides a novel approach for combining medication and psychotherapy.  With MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, a medication that dramatically alters a cognitive state is administered for the purpose of facilitating a deeper psychotherapeutic process (5). This well-integrated approach offers a contrast to current use of medications and psychotherapy which are often not well integrated and/or provided under the auspices of a single clinician. The fewer in number, but lengthier sessions in the presence of MDMA also redefine concepts regarding the appropriate approach and length of a therapy session involving engagement with traumatic material.  Given the large effects in Phase II trials for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, an important question arises of trying to understand the effects of this treatment, which likely will entail developing new models that go beyond traditional pharmacologic effects of drugs.  This presentation will describe ways that conventional psychiatry and neuroscience are grappling with changing the paradigms in classic neuropsychopharmacology in order to understand resilience-enhancing mechanisms associated with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.  Applications for trauma-related indications such as intergenerational trauma effects will also be discussed.


Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D. is a Professor and Vice Chair of Psychiatry, and Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is also the Mental Health Patient Care Center Director at the Bronx Veterans Affairs, which includes the PTSD clinical research program and the Neurochemistry and Neuroendocrinology laboratory at Mount Sinai and the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Yehuda is a recognized leader in the field of traumatic stress studies. She has authored more than 450 published papers, chapters, and books in the field of traumatic stress and the neurobiology of PTSD. Her current interests include PTSD treatment innovation, PTSD prevention, the study of risk and resilience factors, psychological and biological predictors of treatment response in PTSD, genetic and epigenetic studies of PTSD and the intergenerational transmission of trauma and PTSD. She has an active federally-funded clinical and research program that welcomes local and international students and clinicians.



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