psychedelic.support creates a network for psychedelic therapists

Alli Feduccia is a Clinical Data Scientist working for MAPS’ Public Benefit Corporation — a for-profit entity owned by MAPS. She is currently working on a collaboration with MAPS and software engineer Shawn Grona to develop a state-of-the-art online psychedelic therapy and integration support network — psychedelic.support. This website will showcase clinics and providers who are looking to network with one another and connect with people seeking treatment. This site could soon become a useful asset to anyone interested in the professional world of psychedelic-related therapy.

Feduccia spoke with Psymposia about the psychedelic.support website and how she originally got involved with MDMA research.  

 

 

 

 

How did you end up getting involved with MDMA research?

Alli Feduccia: I first started working here about three years ago. I started as a volunteer, then did an internship, then started working on the clinical team.

I had been studying MDMA in rodent models in grad school, studying serotonin and dopamine release while rats were self-administering MDMA and then putting them in different environmental conditions — like playing music, or increasing the temperature of the cages. The idea being to replicate the rave scene.

I had read about the first MDMA studies in humans starting and I really wanted to get involved. What you can grasp from rat models about psychedelics is limited. I reached out in 2007, but there weren’t any opportunities. I went on to do some more clinical work, studying mainly alcohol addiction and looking at different medications and how they might work to help addictions. I got back in touch with MAPS around this time, and ended up getting a job there eventually.

 

Where did the interest in working with MDMA come from?

I was working in a lab and we were studying other drugs alongside MDMA, such as alcohol and cocaine. It was surprising in 2004 to see that people were using MDMA in this first clinical trial for treating PTSD. I went on to learn a bunch more about its use in the 1970’s and it made sense to me that the pharmacological effects of MDMA could potentially be beneficial when combined with therapy to help people with processing traumatic memories.

 

How did you begin working on psychedelic.support?

We met a lot of therapists at trainings and started to see that people were looking for psychedelic integration, or more open-minded providers in general. It is really hard to find these people. MAPS has lists online, but we wanted to take that a step further and use technology to make it easier for people to find therapists by location, and create a way to connect therapists to one another.

In collaboration with MAPS and other groups, we’re publishing documents defining terms like “integration”, and presenting them in a more accessible way to the public and other mental healthcare professionals who may want to get more involved. 

Besides listing provider profiles, we’ve listed events for professional training opportunities and integration events. Most of these are in-person in small communities. The hope is that we’ll be able to expand to have more online groups for people who don’t have something in their area. Ten people could maybe join a web chat facilitated by one person.

 

You said you are working on defining terms like “integration” in a therapeutic setting. What does “integration” mean from a therapist’s perspective?

It can be a lot of different things. People work in different modalities of therapy. As far as why we’re working on honing the definition, there was an article that was recently posted that was sort of like: “Watch out therapists — if you are offering integration, you should talk to your board before doing this.”

The problem was that the writer lumped in integration to mean someone taking a drug and a provider working with them. She convoluted this underground work — where a therapist might be present during an experience with a drug — with something else. Integration is more in line with harm-reduction or talking to someone about an experience they had before.

On psychedelic.support we are requiring providers to agree to a code of conduct, basically saying they are working above ground, not giving illegal drugs, not sitting with people knowing that person has taken a drug. People can now offer ketamine and cannabis if it is approved in their state.

With all this emerging, there are lots of questions from therapists, and we’re trying to focus on making resources more available about what terms mean, what things are clearly legal, and what are not. At some point people may even start going to the boards to get more clarification on these topics.

 

Looking through the website, I noticed a couple providers in Austin, Texas and one in Asheville, North Carolina. Most therapists are on the West Coast. I was curious if there is any outreach to therapists in the Midwest or central United States. Is it harder to find people in those areas?

So far we’ve invited a limited number of people who we knew. Since setting up the site, people have been asking to be added. We review their resumes and their websites, and make sure they agree to our code of conduct, and then we will set them up. We haven’t done a lot of solicitation yet.

 

What other features about psychedelic.support are you excited about?

We’re also publishing articles on psychedelic.support. These are written by the providers or other people in the field on a number of different topics — either psychedelics or some sort of personal growth resources.

We want to give a platform for therapists and professionals in the field to talk about what their impressions are, and what they are seeing in therapeutic sessions. As more things become available, just putting out resources and information to the public that is understandable, especially for people who are looking for these treatments.

These articles are a way to help people know more about an individual provider. We link all the articles to the profiles of the writer. That way you might learn more about each person by reading a longer article that they wrote.

In the future I think we will introduce some kind of rating system on the clinics, so people will be able to get a better idea of what the services are like there. I think that is really important information that I would want to know if I were going to spend that much money on a treatment.