OPEN Foundation

Alicia Danforth – Exploring MDMA-assisted therapy as a new pathway to social adaptability for autistic adults

The first randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled Phase 2 study of MDMA-assisted therapy for the treatment of social anxiety in autistic adults is nearing completion. Fear and avoidance behaviors associated with social anxiety interfere with the ability to work, attend school, and develop relationships. The search for psychotherapeutic options for autistic adults who want to improve social adaptability is imperative considering the lack of effective conventional treatment options for this population in which social anxiety is common. This talk will feature an overview of the research as well as preliminary findings.
Alicia Danforth, PhD is a clinical psychologist and co-investigator for a current phase 2 randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled pilot study on the effects of MDMA-assisted therapy on social anxiety in autistic adults. Her dissertation research was on the subjective MDMA/ecstasy experiences of adults on the autism spectrum. She began her work in clinical research with psychedelic medicines with Charles Grob, MD at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in 2004. She co-facilitated sessions for the first clinical trial of psilocybin treatment for existential anxiety related to advanced cancer since psilocybin became a controlled substance in the United States. She also co-developed and taught the first graduate-level course on psychedelic theory, research, and clinical considerations for therapists and researchers at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.