Cautionary Tales: MDMA & MDA in Psychotherapy

Yensen and Dryer are barred from MAPS and MAPS PBC activities, especially providing MAPS-sponsored MAMA-asssisted therapy, due to the ethical violation described in Public Announcement of Ethical Violation by former MAPS-sponsored Investigators.

We encourage you to read and follow for detailed information regarding MAPS Code of Ethics for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and our practices to create a culture of safety in psychedelic therapy. 

You may safely and confidentially direct misconduct reports related to MAPS-sponsored studies, MAPS staff, MAPS PBC staff, or collaborators to MAPS’ Compliance Team via email or by calling (844) 627-7722.

June 14, 2016

From the event website:

Cautionary Tales: MDMA & MDA in Psychotherapy — A Talk with Richard Yensen and Donna Dryer (San Francisco, CA)

Examine the unique properties that make MDMA and MDA promising candidates for adjuncts to psychotherapy clinical experience. Dr. Yensen and Dr. Dryer will discuss the shortcomings of compounds that affect judgment as therapy aids through the insights gained from their 45 years of experience with these drugs in research psychotherapy settings. This discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of these compounds includes case histories.

The unique property of the family of drugs including MDMA and MDA is their ability to enhance rapport and depth in the therapeutic process. This happens through a combination of psychedelic and euphoric actions. The euphoria often associated with these drugs affects judgment. These drugs engender a sense of well-being, modify the capacity to feel fear, and create a sense of safety through their pharmacological action. This places a unique responsibility on psychotherapy teams and presents a challenge to therapists-how do you protect someone from temporary alterations in their capacity to evaluate reality?

Richard Yensen, Ph.D., is currently administrator and research psychotherapist for the MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) sponsored MDMA & PTSD study in Vancouver, BC. He has been a pioneer in transpersonal psychology since 1972 when he began his psychedelic research career working with Stanislav Grof as a Research Fellow at Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in Baltimore, Maryland USA. He went on to work in Mexico with Salvador Roquet, a Mexican psychedelic psychoanalyst, and Maria Sabina, priestess of the sacred mushrooms, who first disclosed their secret to the west. He was co-holder of IND 3250 from the US Food and Drug Administration for the psychotherapeutic use of LSD. He has pioneered non-drug ways to access deeply sacred states of mind usually only available through high doses of sacred medicines. He has taught at Harvard & University of Maryland medical schools, Johns Hopkins and Union Graduate School. He is director of the Orenda Institute on Cortes Island.

Donna Dryer, MD, FRCPC, is a transpersonal psychiatrist in private practice on the coast islands of British Columbia and a faculty member in psychiatry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. With her husband, Dr. Richard Yensen, she had received permission for LSD psychotherapy research protocols with addicts and people dying from cancer from the US Food and Drug Administration in 1991. They have been giving an “entheogenically-informed” workshop, The Heart of the Shaman, for 28 years at Hollyhock Retreat Centre, Cortes Island. Dr. Yensen and Dr. Dryer are carrying on the MAPS sponsored research study of MDMA for people with treatment-resistant Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Vancouver.

Originally published May 12, 2016 with the title “Cautionary Tales: MDMA & MDA in Psychotherapy — A Talk with Richard Yensen and Donna Dryer”

Updated May 3, 2022: the title was changed to remove the names. The search function of the new MAPS website ranks results more highly when the search term is in the title, however MAPS has determined that the Public Announcement of Ethical Violation by former MAPS-sponsored Investigators should be the first result returned for searches of “Yensen” or “Dryer” on our site.