MDMA-assisted couples therapy investigated in landmark pilot trial

In the late 1970s and early 1980s MDMA was often utilized to help facilitate positive results in couples counseling. A few dozen pioneering psychotherapists in the United States explored the drug’s therapeutic uses until the US government declared MDMA a Schedule 1 controlled substance in 1985.

Richard Ingrasci, a psychiatrist who had for years been successfully using MDMA as an adjunct to marriage counseling, was one of several therapists who opposed the scheduling of the drug. Ingrasci, whose work became foundational for many modern psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy researchers, provided prominent testimony during the government’s scheduling hearings in 1985.

“I have seen MDMA help many couples break through longstanding communication blocks because of the safety that emerges in the session as a result of the drug,” Ingrasci declared in his testimony from the scheduling hearings. “It is difficult to convey in words how deeply moving it is to watch couples heal in this way with the help of MDMA.”

Of course, we all know what happened next. MDMA was classified a Schedule 1 drug with no medical uses making it virtually impossible to clinically study anywhere in the world. Since the turn of century research into the therapeutic uses of MDMA has slowly but surely moved back into the realm of clinical credibility, largely due to the efforts of Rick Doblin and his non-profit organization MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies).

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