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PhD alumna Dr. Anne Wagner

Treating PTSD with MDMA

Dr. Anne Wagner
Psychology MA and PhD alumna, professor and founder of Remedy

Dr. Anne Wagner is investigating a new way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – using the drug MDMA and Cognitive Behavioural Conjoint Therapy (CBCT), a psychotherapy developed by her postdoctoral fellowship supervisor Dr. Candice Monson. Dr. Wagner is leading a pilot study on PTSD treatment for individuals using Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and MDMA, funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, external link (MAPS).
 

What is MDMA and why is it effective in treating PTSD?

MDMA is the active ingredient in ecstasy and what we’re using is a pure version of the molecule. MDMA is a really fascinating substance in terms of treatment for PTSD because it allows people to sit with emotions and experiences that they would normally turn away from.

How would you rate your Ryerson graduate education?

Ryerson has been completely instrumental and very supportive of all the work I’ve done, from my Psychology MA and PhD to my postdoctoral fellowship and beyond. At Ryerson, the idea of moving forward, innovating, pushing outside the box are all really encouraged. So the fact that I’ve always got a next idea or a next project has been supported, and my mentors have been amazing around that.

What is Remedy?

Remedy, external link is a mental health innovation community that I incubated at the Social Ventures Zone after finishing my postdoc at Ryerson. It’s a combination of things. It’s a clinical practice, so we see clients here. We run research out of here. And as a social venture, we support the community by reinvesting profits back into research and innovation.

What are your thoughts on the recent resurgence of psychedelic medicine?

Since the backlash against psychedelics in the ’60s, there has been a lot of misinformation and fear surrounding these substances. It’s been a long, slow process but thanks to the excellent work by MAPS and other researchers over the last few decades, we have seen that psychedelics such as psilocybin and MDMA are extremely useful tools for treating end-of-life anxiety, depression and PTSD, as well as fostering personal exploration and growth.
 

Photo: Meera Paleja

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Dr. Anne Wagner, Psychology MA and PhD alumna, professor and founder of Remedy
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