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Behavioral Wellness Clinic


Therapy Training Event for Communities of Color

MAPS Part B Training

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) recently received a grant from Open Society Foundation (OSF) to support an MDMA Therapy Training event for Communities of Color in August 2019 led by Marcela Ot’alora MA, LPC, and Monnica Williams, PhD, ABPP, with support from additional expert trainers. The purpose of this training is to ensure that MDMA therapy will be available to communities of color by training therapy providers of color in this modality, to expand thinking about PTSD to include racial trauma, and to inform the ongoing development of culturally-informed curriculum within the MDMA Therapy Training Program.

In addition to the training’s focus on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, community leaders will join trainees for a workshop entitled Psychedelic Medicine and Cultural Trauma (below), to engage in dialogue about the social, political, cultural and historical causes of trauma, as well as to discuss barriers to acceptance of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in communities of color while envisioning ways forward.

Donate Now

MAPS will continue to fundraise for this event and provide training opportunities for therapy providers who come from or work with marginalized communities. More information on this event, including date, time and application information will be posted online in the coming weeks. If you would like to support MDMA Therapy Training opportunities for people of color, please consider donating to this effort. Your donation is tax deductible and will help to build equity and inclusion for this important new healing modality.

Psychedelic Medicine & Cultural Trauma Workshop

Trauma experienced by people of color is historical, cultural, systemic, and communal, in addition to an increased likelihood of experiencing discrete interpersonal trauma. Therefore, to understand individual therapy, it is imperative that therapists, as well as community leaders, understand the larger traumatic context. This day and a half long portion of the training will focus on the larger political and social factors contributing to trauma. These dialogues will feature a range of interdisciplinary presenters, as well as draw on the personal expertise of MAPS study therapists of color and participants, to co-create a discussion-based day. The workshop will consist of short presentations, dialogues, breakout groups, and somatic body-centered practices interspersed. The last day will conclude with music, dancing, comedy, and opportunities for processing and decompression.

One main goal of this workshop is to empower community leaders of color who can help disseminate accurate information about MDMA therapy, advocate for access in communities of color, and directly connect people to their local therapist team. Portions of the workshop will focus on difficulties and best practices for advocacy and education. Conversations will engage with how best to integrate psychedelic healing with current community healing practices in communities of color, including a dedicated portion on faith and spirituality as both a tool and impediment to community healing. Presentations will include a history and broad overview of indigenous psychedelic practices, as well as the trauma of colonization and genocide on native healing practices, especially in the United States. Dialogues will also specifically address the intersectional traumas of LGBTQ people of color.

More information about this program is available at MAPS.

Lead Trainers:

Additional Trainers:
Dates: August 2019
Location: Louisville, KY

How To Become an MDMA Therapist

woman sitting at a computer

The current MAPS training program includes five critical parts, described below:

  • Part A: Online Course. This 14-hour course outlines chemistry and history of MDMA, common reactions, possible mechanisms of action, and study design. The online course was developed out of content from the MAPS Treatment Manual, protocols, scientific literature on the subject.

  • Part B: Residential Training (7 days). This part is focused on therapy video review and live dialogue with experienced MDMA-assisted psychotherapists, and covers topics outlined in the Treatment Manual. Trainees are taught how to conduct sessions, provide inner-directed therapy, and adhere to treatment protocol, in a culturally-informed manner. It will includes diagnosis of PTSD and psychedelic issues in therapy.

  • Part C: Experiential Learning (15 hours). Each trainee is invited to participate in FDA-approved clinical trial offering MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to professionals training to become providers in the modality (called MT-2). Clinicians will be enrolled in this study, and receive treatment with MDMA-assisted psychotherapists. MT-2 resembles a brief version of the MDMA-assisted psychotherapy protocol outlined for the treatment of PTSD, as it includes a screening process, one 90-minute Preparatory Session, one 8-hour MDMA Session, one 90-minute Integration Session, and a follow-up period. Each trainee will complete a practicum experience by assisting a lead therapist in one MT-2 case to gain training and valuable mentorship from an experienced MDMA therapist. This involves an orientation call with the lead therapist, shadowing the screening process, and assisting during one preparatory session, one MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session, one integration session, and follow-up.

  • Part D: Role Play (1 day / 6 hours). Therapy pairs will gather to conduct role play didactic training. Role play scenarios will be provided, each trainee gets a chance to play the role of provider, participant, and observer. The role plays will be video recorded so that recordings may be reviewed by a supervisor, or they may be watched live by a supervisor.

  • Part E: Supervision and Evaluation. Trainees will receive in-depth video review and clinical supervision during the treatment of their first patient receiving MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Therapy video recordings are rated for adherence to the treatment method. Supervision will be provided by experienced MDMA-assisted psychotherapists. All therapy sessions for the first participant treated by an approved Therapy Pair in an Expanded Access protocol would be video recorded to be viewed by a supervisor. Supervisors evaluate trainees based on adherence criteria, observation of therapy videos, and participation in training modules. A final evaluation is provided in the form of a narrative summary from the supervisor.

Trainees who satisfy all the training requirements and can demonstrate the ability to deliver the treatment well will be granted a MAPS certificate of completion, which will enable them to offer MDMA-assisted psychotherapy at approved expanded access clinics. To apply, visit the MDMA Therapy Training Application for Providers Link. Therapists working at the Behavioral Wellness Clinic are also required to complete approved diversity training and a FAP Level 1 training prior to consideration.

About Our Expert Instructors

Marcela Ot’alora, MFA, MA, LPC

Marcela Ot’alora, MFA, MA, LPC

Marcela is dedicated to the treatment and research of trauma, through art and through the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. She worked as a co-therapist in the first government approved MDMA-assisted psychotherapy study in Madrid, Spain and is the Principal Investigator of the Phase 2 and 3 MDMA-assisted psychotherapy study in Boulder, Colorado. She received her MA in Transpersonal Psychology from Naropa University and MFA from University of Greensboro in North Carolina. She was born and raised in Colombia, South America and now lives in Boulder, Colorado. She is bilingual in Spanish and English. She will be leading the MDMA therapy training.

Monnica T. Williams, PhD, ABPP

Monnica T. Williams, PhD, ABPP

Dr. Williams is a board-certified clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Her work focuses on ethnic minority mental health and psychopathology research. She completed her undergraduate studies at MIT and UCLA and received her doctoral degree from the University of Virginia. She was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania for four years, followed by five years at the University of Louisville, where she served as Director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities. Dr. Williams has published over 100 scientific articles, primarily on OCD, trauma, and cultural issues.

Recommended Reading

Williams, M. T., & Leins, C. (2016). Race-based trauma: The challenge and promise of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Bulletin, 26(1), 32-37.

Ot’alora, M., Grigsby, J., Poulter, B., Van Derveer, J. W., Giron, S. G., Jerome, L.,Feduccia, A. A., Hamilton, S., Yazar-Klosinski, B., Emerson, A., Mithoefer, M. C., & Doblin, R. (2018). 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder: A randomized phase 2 controlled trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 32(12), 1295–1307.

Michaels, T. I., Purdon, J., Collins, A. & Williams, M. T. (2018). Inclusion of people of color in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy: A review of the literature. BMC Psychiatry, 18(245), 1-9. doi: 10.1186/s12888-018-1824-6

Miller, A., Williams, M. T., Wetterneck, C. T., Kanter, J., & Tsai, M. (2015). Using functional analytic psychotherapy to improve awareness and connection in racially diverse client-therapist dyads. The Behavior Therapist, 38(6), 150-156.

Williams, M. T., Printz, D., Ching, T. & Wetterneck, C. T. (2018). Assessing PTSD in ethnic and racial minorities: Trauma and racial trauma. Directions in Psychiatry, 38(3), 179-196.

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