For Immediate Release
Contact: Andrew Tatarsky, Center for Optimal Living, firstname.lastname@example.org and (212) 213-8905
November 11, 2015
Leading New York City psychologists are launching a ground-breaking program this week that provides education, counseling and therapy services for people who have had intense psychedelic drug experiences. The Psychedelic Education and Continuing Care program at the Center for Optimal Living will provide monthly educational drop-in groups, training workshops for mental health professionals, and individual therapy sessions. Using an Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy approach, which helps people clarify goals and an approach to change that best suits them, individual therapy sessions will range from helping people resolve difficulties or enhance insights gained from previous psychedelic experiences to assisting those who would like to reduce or stop their drug use.
While the use of psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin mushrooms, LSD and MDMA (“molly” or ”ecstasy”) remains illegal in the U.S., ongoing research from leading medical institutions such as UCLA, Johns Hopkins University and NYU has demonstrated the potential for these substances to promote well-being, enhance psychotherapy for trauma, reduce anxiety and even help people quit smoking. While media coverage of these findings has led to an increased interest in the use of these substances for therapeutic purposes, the possibility for harmful consequences remains a serious consideration, especially in unsupervised settings, and there are currently few options for people seeking professional support.
“Time and again, I saw study participants having profound experiences on psilocybin that often dramatically improved their lives,” said Katherine MacLean, PhD, director of the new program and former researcher and session guide in psilocybin studies conducted at Johns Hopkins. “But even in this carefully supervised setting, we also saw how quickly the experience could turn dark and distressing. People really seemed to benefit from regular, therapeutic support in the weeks and months following an intense experience.”
“Results from clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy are promising, and we may see MDMA become a prescription medicine in the next 10-15 years,” said Ingmar Gorman, MA, doctoral student in clinical psychology at the New School for Social Research. “In the meantime, we can help psychedelic users and their families through education, risk assessment and therapy.”
MacLean and Gorman will lead the program along with Andrew Tatarsky, PhD, founder and director of the Center for Optimal Living. Tatarsky said, “With the increased public awareness of the possible therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances, there is a growing need for science-based information about contraindications, risks and harm reduction measures about psychedelics. There is also a growing need for evaluation and therapy services for people who have had difficult experiences to resolve or integrate these experiences. Our team of experienced psychedelic researchers, educators and substance use treatment professionals is well suited to meet these needs. We are excited to make this useful set of services available to the community.”
The program will launch Thursday, Nov. 12 with a free, public event featuring presentations by members of the core team as well as Stefanie Jones of the Drug Policy Alliance and Julie Holland, MD, long-time NYC psychiatrist, author and medical monitor for federally sanctioned clinical trials of MDMA. The event will be held from 6:30-9pm in the Theresa Lang Auditorium at The New School for Social Research, 55 West 13th St, New York, NY.