MDMA-Assisted Therapy on Social Anxiety in Autistic Adults – Alicia Danforth
Alicia Danforth, PhD, is the co-investigator for a current MAPS-sponsored phase 2 pilot study looking at the effect of MDMA-assisted therapy on social anxiety in autistic adults. She began her work in clinical research with psychedelic medicines with Dr. Charles Grob at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in 2004. After volunteering for a few years, she became a study coordinator and co-facilitator on a Heffter Research Institute clinical trial of psilocybin-assisted therapy for existential anxiety related to advanced cancer. The transformations she witnessed in study participants inspired her to become a psychologist.
In 2013, she graduated from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP), with a specialization in Transpersonal Research and Education. Her dissertation was on the MDMA (Ecstasy) experiences of autistic adults. At ITP, she co-developed and co-taught the first graduate-level course on psychedelic theory, research, and clinical considerations for therapists and researchers in training with James Fadiman and David Lukoff. She also published in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology on using Gendlin’s Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy technique to support individuals in using the bodily felt sense to help set intentions for psychedelic experiences. Since 2004, she has volunteered as a harm-reduction Care Service peer counselor at Burning Man, BOOM, and other festivals and events. Her area of focus is supporting individuals who are experiencing challenging altered states of consciousness.
In addition to providing an overview and progress report for the current MDMA-assisted therapy study, Alicia will share insights into how being in community with visionary women has supported her in her research career. At every step in the process, she has aspired to balance the strengths of both masculine and feminine approaches to research. She will share specific examples of how guidance from participants in the WVC community has enhanced her current research and provided her with methods for helping others who want to contribute to psychedelic science and education.
The full text of a recent review article on the rationale and method for the social anxiety study can be downloaded free of charge here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584615000603