Mount Sinai’s Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research examines the therapeutic potential of psychedelic compounds for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related symptoms.

PTSD and trauma are highly prevalent in our society. More than 70 percent of Americans will experience a major traumatic event in their lifetime. More than 8 million adults are diagnosed with PTSD each year in the United States, and seven to eight out of every 100 Americans will experience PTSD at some point during their lives. Although some cognitive-behavioral approaches have been designated “gold standard” therapies for PTSD, they have been largely ineffective in reducing symptoms to the extent needed for sustained wellness.

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is changing the game.

Thanks to a recent renewed interest in compounds like MDMA and psilocybin and successful initial trials, the FDA designated MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a breakthrough treatment for PTSD in 2017. Although MDMA itself is not officially legal or approved for clinical use, expanded access status was granted in January 2020. The results of preliminary clinical studies have been extremely promising, and the FDA could approve MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD as early as 2022.

Our Center is initially focusing on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and psilocybin but will expand to studying psychedelic-assisted therapy with other compounds. Using clinical trials, computational genetics, molecular biology, blood samples, and neuroimaging, we hope to accelerate understanding of how MDMA and psilocybin work. We will also hold clinical trainings for therapists in anticipation of FDA approval and lead public and scientific education, including a monthly lecture series.