Psykedeelinäkymiä, fall 2019


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Saturday October 5th 2019: Seminar
Psykedeelinäkymiä 2019: MDMA-assisted psychotherapy – why?


On Saturday, October 5th, 2019, the Finnish Association for Psychedelic Research will organize a full-day seminar titled “MDMA-assisted psychotherapy – why?” in Ruoholahti, Helsinki. The event is aimed at professionals and students of medicine, psychology, psychotherapy and other relevant fields, but is open to anyone interested in the topic.


Recent research on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy has garnered increasing attention. Clinical trials on the efficacy and safety of MDMA-assisted treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder have entered their final phase, and preliminary findings have aroused much interest in the field of mental health. In contrast to traditional pharmacotherapy, MDMA is not prescribed as a continuous course of medication, but instead offered during selected therapeutic sessions as part of a psychotherapeutic process.


The event will feature three international guest speakers. Professor of psychiatry and psychotherapy Torsten Passie from Hannover Medical School will present the history and mechanisms of action of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Professor of psychiatry, colonel Eric Vermetten from Leiden University Medical Center and the Arq Psychotrauma Expert Group will discuss the application of MDMA and psychedelics in the treatment of trauma-related disorders. Adjunct professor in psychology Anne Wagner from Ryerson University will talk about MDMA-assisted therapy in the context of interpersonal relations and couples therapy.




09:00 Doors open
10:00 Opening words
10:15 Torsten Passie: MDMA-assisted psychotherapy: History, techniques and mechanisms of action
11:15 Break
11:45 Eric Vermetten: Toward a heat map of psychedelics in treatment of PTSD
12:45 Lunch break
14:00 Anne Wagner: MDMA as therapeutic catalyst – Using MDMA with couples and with cognitive behavioural treatment for PTSD
15:00 Break
15:30 Panel discussion: Glimpses into the future of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy
17:00 Conclusions
18:00 Doors close


All sessions are in English. The event will be held in the Kolumbus Auditorium of HTC Helsinki, located at Tammasaarenkatu 1-5, Ruoholahti, Helsinki.




Regular ticket 49€
Ticket for members of the Finnish Association for Psychedelic Research (Psyty) 39 €
Ticket + one year membership of the Finnish Association for Psychedelic Research 59 €
For students, a discount of 10 € is available (valid student card required).


Member discount is also available for members of our Swedish sister organization Nätverket för Psykedelisk Vetenskap.


Limited number of tickets available – get yours now from our web shop.


The psychedelic research organization MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) has kindly offered financial support for organizing the event. You can find more information on MAPS at their website.


Information on the lectures:


Torsten Passie: MDMA-assisted psychotherapy: History, techniques and mechanisms of action


The lecture will first provide an overview on the early therapeutic use of MDMA, including its legal use in Switzerland between 1988–1993 and 2010–2017. It appears that a certain “standard format“ for its therapeutic use was already established during this early use in therapy. Different facets of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy will be explored, including ideas about set and setting, boundaries with clients, integration and preparation, and possible complications. The treatment model developed by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies to treat PTSD will be also presented. The last part of the lecture reviews the psychological and neurophysiological mechanisms of action of MDMA in a psychotherapeutic context.


Torsten Passie, MD, PhD is Professor of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Hannover Medical School and Visiting Scientist at the Dr. Senckenberg Institute for History and Ethics in Medicine, at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt. Apart from medicine, he has studied philosophy and sociology at Leibniz University Hannover and psycholytic therapy under Prof. Hanscarl Leuner, a leading authority on psychedelics and psycholytic therapy, at Zürich Psychiatric University Clinic. During 1997–2010, he led the Laboratory for Consciousness and Neurocognition at Hannover Medical School. Prof. Passie’s research on the psychophysiology of altered states of consciousness has included clinical studies with breathwork, cannabis, MDMA, laughing gas, ketamine and psilocybin. From 2012 to 2015 he was Visiting Professor at Harvard Medical School.


Eric Vermetten: Toward a heat map of psychedelics in treatment of PTSD


Psychedelic drugs are a class of substances with interesting properties as adjuncts to psychotherapy. The substantial change in mental state they produce may increase ability to engage with traumatic material in psychotherapy. After decades of prohibition, psychedelics are increasingly being studied again, specifically for their potential therapeutic applications in engagement with personal memories. This may promote a greater understanding of mechanisms of exposure as well as recovery from trauma. The lecture will present a heat map of different compounds, discussing rationale, administration, setting and evidence in treatment of PTSD.


Professor, Colonel Eric Vermetten, MD, PhD, is Principal Investigator of a new research initiative on a roadmap for medication-assisted psychotherapy in the Netherlands and Europe, including the use of a variety of psychedelics. He is a clinical psychiatrist and employed as strategic advisor of research at the Military Mental Health Service with the Dutch Ministry of Defense and the Arq National Psychotrauma Center. His clinical work involves working with uniformed officers with complex PTSD. He holds an endowed chair in Psychiatry at the Department Psychiatry at Leiden University Medical Center and is Adjunct Professor at the Department of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center. He was trained in the Netherlands and the USA in psychiatry and neuroscience. His focus is on medical/biological as well as psychiatric aspects of complex psychotrauma in military as well as civilian populations. He has published over 250 papers, over 30 book chapters and edited several books on stress, trauma, complex PTSD and neuroscience. He is open to novel approaches in mental health, combining technology as well as novel pharmacotherapies. He lectures on the topic of PTSD, hypnosis, dissociation, resilience, military and veterans’ issues as well as novel approaches to therapy across the globe.


Anne Wagner: MDMA as therapeutic catalyst: using MDMA with couples and with cognitive behavioural treatment for PTSD


Relationships are fundamental in our worlds – be they present or absent, supportive or stressful. When an individual has experienced a trauma and is struggling in its aftermath, not only is the individual impacted, but so are those around them. Therefore, treating the aftermath of trauma in the context of relationships has strong potential power. Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (CBCT for PTSD) was developed to work with dyads in the context of trauma recovery, and has demonstrated decreases in PTSD symptoms, increases in relationship satisfaction and improved partner functioning in numerous trials. Additionally, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy has demonstrated large decreases in PTSD symptoms across several studies. Therefore, in an effort to facilitate deep healing in the context of relationships, Dr. Wagner and colleagues combined CBCT for PTSD with MDMA in a pilot trial. This talk will share the process of combining these approaches, the outcomes of the trial, as well as illuminating the possibilities moving forward of using dyadic frameworks as well as protocol-based interventions with MDMA.


Anne Wagner, CPscyh, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and researcher who is committed to helping understand and improve trauma recovery. She is also the founder of Remedy, a mental health innovation community. She is Adjunct Professor at the Department of Psychology and an Associate Member of the Yeates School of Graduate Studies at Ryerson University. Anne completed a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship at Ryerson University, and is the 2019 recipient of the Clinical Section of the Canadian Psychological Association’s Early Career Scientist Practitioner Award. She is currently the Past-Chair of the Traumatic Stress Section of the Canadian Psychological Association and her work has been funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research, and the Canadian Armed Forces.


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