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Behavioral Wellness Clinic


MDMA Conference for Therapists Serving Communities of Color

Sara Reed, M.S., M.F.T., Community Outreach and Culturally-Informed Therapy Trainer and Monnica Williams, Ph.D., A.B.P.P, Lead Culturally-Informed Therapy Trainer and Psychologist

A 2-Part Conference: Workshop & Training Event

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) recently received grant funding for an MDMA Conference for therapists serving communities of color. It will take place this August, led by expert trainers Marcela Ot’alora MA, and Monnica Williams, PhD, along with with an distinguished panel of additional speakers and trainers from all of over the world.

There are 2 parts to this exciting conference:

  • PART 1: Psychedelic Medicine and Cultural Trauma Workshop (open to the public)
    August 10-11

  • PART 2: MDMA Part B Therapy Training (for clinicians only)
    August 11-17

The purpose of this event is to (1) help ensure that MDMA therapy will be available to communities of color by training therapists of color, (2) expand thinking about PTSD to include racial trauma, and (3) improve the culturally-informed curriculum within the MAPS MDMA Therapy Training Program.

In addition to the training’s focus on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, community leaders will join trainees for the 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.

Learn about how to become an MDMA therapist, and more information is available at MAPS.

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.

Lead Trainers:

Additional Trainers:
Dates: August 10-17, 2019
Location: The Brown Hotel, Louisville, KY, USA

Workshop Host

Sara Reed, MS, MFT

Sara Reed is a Marriage and Family Therapist at Behavioral Wellness Clinic and study therapist for the Psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for Major Depression at Yale University. She is a member of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Advisory Board, advancing health equity in psychedelic medicine. Sara also served as a Sub-Investigator and Study Coordinator for MAPS’ Phase 2 MDMA Clinical Study of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at the University of Connecticut, where she continues to participate in research. More about Sara Reed.

Sara Reed, M.S., M.F.T., Community Outreach and Culturally-Informed Therapy Trainer

Workshop Presenters

Joe Tafur, MD

Psychedelic Medicine: Illuminating the Integration of Biology, Emotion, and Spirituality

Dr. Joe Tafur will present ideas described in his new book "The Fellowship of The River: A Medical Doctor's Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicine." The presentation will focus on emotional healing in psychedelic medicine, drawing upon our current scientific understanding of mental health, traditional perspectives on spiritual healing, and case stories of individuals treated with ayahuasca shamanism and traditional plant medicine.

Dr. Joe Tafur

Monnica Williams, PhD

Marginalized Voices, Racial Trauma, and the Psychedelic Healing Movement

Oppression, poverty, and discrimination can all contribute to traumatic experience at both individual and collective levels. These ongoing traumatic experiences — enhanced and compounded for people who exist at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities — are often under-recognized and thus under-treated. There is a vast potential for psychedelics to help heal trauma and move people toward wholeness. Dr. Williams will discuss the traumatizing impact of life in America on people of color and explore how psychedelics can contribute to healing trauma that stems from racism and contribute to a more just society. Bio below.

Dr. Williams

Jamilah George, MDiv

Strength Like No Other: Corrective Experiences of Divinity

Rev. Jamilah R. George, a native of Detroit, MI, obtained her Bachelor's from the University of Michigan, completed her Master's training at Yale University, and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, the psychological effects of discrimination and racial trauma on people of color, the neurological underpinnings of these disorders, and the potential promise of psychedelic medicine as a means to healing. Jamilah's passion for social justice and equality issues fuels her work as she advocates for the mental and holistic wellbeing of socially disenfranchised groups, including women, people of color, impoverished domestic and international communities, and the intersections therein. She will be delivering the message for Sunday's ecumenical service.

Rev. George

Carl Hart, PhD

MDMA for the People: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Carl Hart is the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. His research focuses on the behavioral and neuropharmacological effects of psychoactive drugs. He is particularly interested in what social and psychological factors influence drug use and their effects, and using evidence-based research to formulate more humane drug policies.

Dr. Hart

Discussion Leaders

Camille Barton

Camille Barton is a movement artist who brings her passion for social change to life through a variety of art mediums, including dance, film, and clowning. She is the Director of the Collective Liberation Project, which is dedicated to providing people with emotionally sustainable tools to understand oppression and transform it in their communities.

Ismail Lourido Ali, JD

Ismail Ali is Policy & Advocacy Counsel for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), where he supports the development and implementation of strategies to create legal access to psychedelic substances in medical, sacramental, and personal contexts. Ismail is licensed to practice law in the state of California, and presently sits on the Advisory Committee of the Ayahuasca Defense Fund. Ismail has previously served as Chair of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) Board of Directors, and has worked for the ACLU of Northern California’s Criminal Justice & Drug Policy Project, as well as for the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where he received his JD. Ismail believes that entheogenic consciousness is a crucial piece of collective liberation.

Visit this page again for details about additional speakers and their presentations.

About Our Expert Lead Trainers

Marcela Ot’alora, MFA, MA, LPC

Marcela Ot’alora, MFA, MA, LPC

MDMA-Assisted Therapy

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

Culturally-Informed Therapy

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. More about Dr. Williams.

Fourth Street Live!

Location & Venue

All conference events will take place at The Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville, KY. Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky and the 29th most-populous city in the United States. The Brown Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers easy access to many of Louisville’s most interesting and important destinations, including 4th Street Live, the University of Louisville, and the international airport (SDF). The hotel holds the coveted AAA Four Diamond rating — a testament to its setting, service, and exquisite sense of style.

Registration & Fees

Participants will be able to register for the Psychedelic Medicine and Cultural Trauma Workshop (online registration form forthcoming) or for the entire 8-day conference which includes the workshop and the MAPS Part B training (application process required). Therapists who are part of Expanded Access sites can apply for the training at the MDMA Therapy Training Application for Providers Link; all others wishing to attend the training portion will coordinate registration with conference staff, who will provide participants with a specialized link by email.


We are very grateful for generous grant support from Open Society Foundation (OSF), RiveryStyx, Libra Foundation, Dr. Bronners Soaps, and numerous others to help fund this important conference.

You Can Support this Effort Too

Donate Now

Make MDMA-Treatment More Accessable

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.

People of Color Find Healing Through Psychedelics

Nieves, R. (2019, February 19). How My First LSD Trip Led Me to Accept My Sexuality. Filter.

Luse, B. (2019, February 4). Blue Pill. The Nod. Gimlet Media.

Rodríguez, J. M. (2018, November). MDMA Para Las Víctimas Del Racismo de Estados Unidos: Entrevista a Monnica Williams. Cáñamo.

Rao, S. (2018, October 31). Black Scholars and Healers Use Psychedelics to Treat Race Based Trauma. ColorLines Magazine.

Watson, E. C. (2018, October 30). Black Americans Are Building A Space In Psychedelic Drug Culture After Being Ignored For Decades. Okay Player.

Related Research

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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