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Couple Therapy with MDMA – Proposed Pathways of Action

Provisionally accepted
The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon
  • 1Remedy, Canada

MDMA’s first identified potential as a therapeutic catalyst was for couple therapy. Early work in the 1970s and 1980s explored its potential amongst seasoned psychotherapists and their clients. With the completion of the first pilot trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy with couples for PTSD (Monson et al., 2020; Wagner et al., 2019), and as the possibility of conducting MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials expands due to new regulatory frameworks, we have an opportunity to explore and investigate how and why MDMA-assisted couples therapy works. This theoretical paper will explore the neurobiological and neurochemical effects of MDMA in a relational context, the emotional, behavioural, cognitive and somatic effects within a dyadic frame, and how empathy, communication, perception of social connection/support, non-avoidance, openness, attachment/safety, bonding/social intimacy and relationship satisfaction, are all impacted by MDMA, and can be harnessed to facilitate systems-level and interpersonal healing and growth. A model to support MDMA-assisted couple therapy is introduced, and future directions, including implications for intervention development and delivery, will be elucidated.

Keywords: MDMA, couple, therapy, relationship satisfaction, psychedelic

Received: 30 Jun 2021; Accepted: 05 Oct 2021.

Copyright: © 2021 Wagner. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Anne C. Wagner, Remedy, Toronto, Canada,