What is MDMA Therapy?

MDMA therapy, also referred to as MDMA-assisted therapy, is an innovative treatment approach that combines regulated doses of MDMA with psychotherapy sessions to address specific psychiatric conditions. This groundbreaking therapy has shown promising results in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is currently undergoing research for potential approval by the FDA.

Key Takeaways:

  • MDMA therapy combines regulated doses of MDMA with psychotherapy sessions.
  • It is being researched as a potential treatment for PTSD.
  • MDMA increases certain neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to feelings of empathy, well-being, and improved mood.
  • The therapy typically involves several preparation sessions with a therapist, dosing sessions in conjunction with therapy, and integration sessions. 
  • MDMA therapy should only be conducted in a controlled clinical setting with expert guidance.

Effects of MDMA Therapy

MDMA, also known as ecstasy or Molly, is thought to enhance therapy due to its effects on the brain. It increases neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which can induce feelings of trust, heightened mood, sensory pleasure, and empathy.When administered under controlled conditions, MDMA can have profound therapeutic effects.

MDMA acts on the parts of the brain associated with social behavior, reward, and mood, which can enhance a person’s ability to form connections and empathize with others. This heightened sense of empathy can be particularly beneficial in therapy sessions, allowing patients to forge a deeper bond with their therapists and explore their emotions more openly.

In addition to empathy, MDMA therapy can also enhance emotional openness.Patients often report gaining a greater understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which can be crucial in identifying and addressing the root causes of their psychological distress. This increased self-awareness can lead to profound personal insights and facilitate healing and growth.

Effects of MDMA TherapyBenefits
Increased serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine– Induces feelings of empathy- Improves mood and well-being- Enhances emotional openness and social behavior 


“When it kicked in, it was like an epiphany,” he said. “I could see all these things from combat I was afraid to look at before, and I had a totally new perspective. I relived the parts of me I had lost. I realized I had viewed myself as a monster, and I was able to start to have some compassion for myself. It was a turning point, and for the next year I continued to get better.” – Nigel McCourry, 36, Marine veteran

“During the actual MDMA sessions, I never felt like I was ‘on a trip’ or out of control,” she said. “I felt less inhibited, more open, sensitive and more attuned to what I was feeling.” – Susie Chin, 63

“The reason I like calling this medicine is it stimulated my own consciousness’s ability for self-healing. You understand why it’s OK to experience unconditional love for yourself.” – Scott Ostrom, 36, Marine veteran

Benefits of MDMA Therapy

MDMA therapy offers various benefits, particularly for individuals with moderate to severe PTSD.  It can facilitate the opening up and processing of traumatic experiences, resulting in a reduction of symptoms. The doses of MDMA used in therapy sessions have shown promising results in helping patients overcome the debilitating effects of PTSD.

One of the key advantages of MDMA-assisted therapy is its ability to enhance the therapeutic bond between the patient and therapist. By reducing anxiety and fear, MDMA creates an environment where patients feel more comfortable discussing and exploring their traumatic experiences. This deepened trust and connection can lead to breakthroughs and insights that may not have been possible with traditional forms of therapy alone.

“I was able to almost relive the traumatic experience without all the stigma, pressure, and emotion. You could almost just stand back and analyze it, like you would a movie, looking at the sound effects, the lighting, or the makeup. I came to a kind of understanding, a realization, and I was able to let go of some of that heaviness.” – Nathan McGee, 43- Testimonial from an MDMA therapy patient

The benefits of MDMA therapy extend beyond the therapy sessions themselves. Research has shown that the effects of MDMA-assisted treatment can be long-lasting, with many patients experiencing a sustained reduction in PTSD symptoms even after the completion of the therapy course.This suggests that MDMA therapy has the potential to create lasting changes in the brain and improve overall well-being.

Benefits of MDMA Therapy
Facilitates the processing of traumatic experiences
Enhances the therapeutic bond between patient and therapist
Reduces anxiety and fear during therapy sessions
May promote long-lasting reduction in PTSD symptoms

It is important to note that MDMA therapy should only be undertaken under the guidance of experts in a controlled clinical setting. A therapeutic dose of MDMA is generally 75–125 mg, which can produce effects that last as long as 4 hours. MDMA used in clinical settings is lab-tested for purity. Recreational ecstasy is often adulterated and can contain harmful substances, emphasizing the need for the use of MDMA therapy only in a therapeutic context.

While MDMA therapy shows great promise, it is still undergoing research and has not yet received FDA approval as a treatment option (although it’s close). Ongoing studies and clinical trials are working to further understand its effectiveness and safety, but early findings suggest that it may be a groundbreaking therapeutic intervention for individuals with PTSD and, potentially, other psychiatric conditions.

MDMA Therapy for PTSD

MDMA therapy has shown promise in treating PTSD, providing a potential pathway for individuals to confront and heal from their trauma. When administered in a controlled setting, MDMA-assisted therapy can help patients with PTSD feel safe enough to open up, allowing them to more effectively work through their traumatic events.

MDMA-assisted therapy typically involves several preparation sessions, dosing sessions, and integration sessions over a period of several months.. During these sessions, patients are guided by trained therapists to confront and navigate their traumatic experiences, while the effects of MDMA help facilitate a more productive therapeutic process.

Benefits of MDMA Therapy for PTSD
Reduction in PTSD symptoms
Increase in self-awareness and introspection
Enhanced emotional processing and regulation
Improved ability to form trusting relationships

Research conducted on MDMA therapy for PTSD has shown promising results, with many patients experiencing significant reductions in PTSD symptoms after completing a course of treatment. However, it is important to note that MDMA therapy should only be conducted under the guidance of trained professionals in a clinical setting. It should not be confused with recreational ecstasy, which may contain harmful substances and pose serious risks to individuals.

MDMA Therapy for Anxiety and Depression

MDMA therapy has not been as heavily researched for other conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and end-of-life distress. One 2020 clinical trial suggests that MDMA-assisted therapy can reduce anxiety in people with life-threatening illnesses, but this was an exploratory study with a small sample size of 18 people. 

It stands to reason that MDMA therapy may help people feel more safe and open in therapy sessions, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. However, more research is needed in this area.

Current Research on MDMA Therapy

Current research and studies on MDMA therapy are shedding light on its effectiveness and safety as a treatment modality, with numerous ongoing trials and research efforts exploring treatment protocols and efficacy.

Most notably, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is the closest to completing clinical trials investigating MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. MAPS recently published positive results of a phase 3 trial, the final stage before submitting an application for drug approval. The trial aimed to evaluate the effects of MDMA therapy in a larger population, providing further evidence for its potential benefits.. 

One study conducted by Mithoefer et al. (2018) demonstrated promising results in utilizing MDMA therapy for the treatment of severe PTSD. The study involved a controlled trial in which participants received MDMA-assisted therapy alongside regular psychotherapy sessions. The findings showed significant reductions in PTSD symptom severity, with many participants experiencing sustained improvements in their mental well-being even after the treatment ended.

AuthorsYearStudy TypeFindings
Mithoefer et al.2011Randomized controlled pilot study Decreases in PTSD scores were significantly greater in the MDMA group than in the placebo group (83% vs. 25%). 
Mitchell et al. 2021Randomized, controlled phase 3 clinical trialPatients in the MDMA group saw almost double the improvement in their PTSD symptoms vs. placebo

Mitchell et al. 
2023Phase 3 clinical trialMDMA-assisted therapy significantly reduced PTSD symptoms and functional impairment versus placebo.

The Process of MDMA Therapy Treatment

MDMA therapy treatment typically incorporates MDMA dosing sessions alongside psychotherapy. Current clinical trials generally follow this protocol: three preparation sessions, three dosing sessions, and three integration sessions, all with a therapist’s guidance. These sessions are conducted in a controlled and supportive clinical setting, ensuring the safety and well-being of the patient throughout the process.

During an MDMA-assisted session, the patient is provided with an active dose of MDMA, carefully administered by trained professionals. This dose is designed to induce a state of heightened empathy and emotional openness, allowing the patient to delve deep into their emotions and experiences with the therapist’s guidance.

The therapy session begins with the patient ingesting the MDMA, followed by a period of approximately 45 minutes to an hour before the effects of the drug take hold. During this time, the therapist creates a safe and comfortable environment for the patient, establishing trust and rapport. Once the MDMA begins to take effect, the patient is encouraged to explore their thoughts, emotions, and memories, while the therapist provides guidance.

Integration and Aftercare

After the MDMA-assisted session, the integration phase begins, where the patient works with the therapist to process and make sense of their experiences. This phase typically involves regular psychotherapy sessions, which may include individual or group therapy, depending on the treatment plan. By integrating the insights gained from the MDMA-assisted sessions, the patient can further understand and heal from their traumatic experiences.

Key Components of MDMA Therapy Treatment
Active doses of MDMA
Psychotherapy sessions
Safe and supportive clinical setting
Heightened empathy and emotional openness
Integration and aftercare

It’s important to note that MDMA therapy should only be conducted with expert guidance in a controlled clinical setting. This ensures the safety of the patient and reduces the risk of potential harm. 

Promising Results and Patient Experiences

MDMA therapy has yielded promising results, with many patients reporting a reduction in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and improved overall well-being after completing a course of MDMA-assisted therapy.

A recent clinical trial conducted by MAPS found that 67% of participants experienced a clinically meaningful reduction in PTSD symptoms after just three sessions of MDMA-assisted therapy.

Table 1: Summary of Promising Results

Author/SponsorNumber of Participants% Patients Who No Longer Met Criteria for PTSD After MDMA Treatment
Mitchell et al. 10471.2%
Ot’alora G et al. 2876%

Safety Considerations and Expert Guidance

Safety considerations and expert guidance are vital when considering MDMA therapy, as it should only be conducted under controlled conditions with the assistance of trained professionals. MDMA-assisted therapy, from the process to the materials used, is not the same as recreational ecstasy or Molly. It is essential that individuals seeking MDMA therapy for PTSD do so within the framework of clinical research or approved therapeutic programs.

MDMA-assisted therapy is not a recreational activity but rather a clinical intervention that requires a safe and structured environment. It should always be supervised by licensed therapists who are experienced in working with MDMA and have a thorough understanding of its potential benefits and risks. These therapists are trained to provide the necessary support and guidance throughout the therapy process, ensuring the well-being and safety of the individuals undergoing treatment.

Additionally, it’s crucial to distinguish MDMA therapy from the recreational use of ecstasy, as they are fundamentally different. Recreational ecstasy use often involves substances that are adulterated or of uncertain purity, leading to potential health risks. In contrast, MDMA therapy utilizes pharmaceutical-grade MDMA, which is produced under strict quality control measures. The doses used in therapy are administered in a controlled setting to minimize the risk of adverse effects.

Key Points:
MDMA therapy should only be conducted under controlled conditions and with the guidance of trained professionals.
Therapy sessions should be carried out in a safe and structured environment supervised by licensed therapists.
Recreational ecstasy use is distinct from MDMA therapy and may carry unknown risks due to adulteration.


MDMA therapy holds significant potential as an innovative and transformative treatment option for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When administered in a controlled setting, MDMA can assist patients in opening up and working through traumatic events, leading to a reduction in PTSD symptoms. The drug’s ability to increase neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, can induce feelings of empathy, emotional openness, and overall well-being, which can make therapy sessions more effective..

Studies have shown promising results, with many patients reporting positive outcomes after completing a course of MDMA-assisted therapy. However, it’s important to note that further research is still needed, and MDMA therapy has not yet received FDA approval as a recognized treatment option. 

As researchers continue to explore the efficacy and safety of MDMA therapy, it remains an area of great interest and hope for those seeking alternative forms of treatment for PTSD. While MDMA therapy shows promise, it’s essential to approach it with caution and await FDA approval as further research unfolds.


What is MDMA therapy?

MDMA therapy is a form of therapy that uses active doses of the drug MDMA alongside psychotherapy sessions. Currently, MDMA therapy is being studied as a way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How does MDMA therapy work?

MDMA increases neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This can induce feelings of emotional openness and empathy, which can aid in the therapeutic process.

What are the benefits of MDMA therapy?

MDMA therapy can help patients with moderate to severe PTSD open up and work through traumatic events, leading to a reduction in symptoms. 

Is MDMA therapy only for PTSD?

MDMA therapy has shown promising results in treating PTSD. It is less studied for other conditions, although experts suggest it may be helpful for anxiety and depression related to end-of-life distress. 

How long does MDMA therapy take?

MDMA-assisted therapy typically involves several sessions over 18 weeks. The preparation and integration sessions generally last about 90 minutes, and the MDMA dosing sessions can last as long as  8 hours.

What are the results and experiences of patients undergoing MDMA therapy?

Many patients report a reduction in PTSD symptoms after completing a course of MDMA-assisted therapy. Personal testimonials and research findings highlight the potential efficacy of this treatment option.

Is MDMA therapy safe?

MDMA therapy should only be conducted with expert help in a clinical setting. It’s important to note that MDMA therapy should not be confused with recreational ecstasy, which may contain harmful substances.

Has MDMA therapy received FDA approval?

Currently, MDMA therapy is still undergoing research and has not yet received FDA approval as a treatment option.

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