PT227 – Dr. Anne Wagner – Couples Therapy, MDMA, and MAPS

In this episode, Joe interviews Dr. Anne Wagner: Toronto-based clinical psychologist, founder of Remedy (a mental health clinic combining therapy with research through their corresponding Remedy Institute), investigator on the MAPS-sponsored trial on cognitive behavioral conjoint therapy for PTSD, and current lead investigator on MAPS’ trial of cognitive processing therapy + MDMA for PTSD. 

She talks about working with Candice Monson in 2013, having her first MDMA therapy session with Michael and Annie Mithoefer a year later, her first couples study on PTSD using MDMA, her MAPS training (she’s now a trainer in-training), her passion for relational healing, Remedy and what she hopes to accomplish there, and what she’d like to do next: a larger MDMA couples therapy study with hopes of proving its efficacy towards relationship satisfaction improvement to the point of running a study without PTSD being a factor, and a new protocol combining mindfulness-based work with psilocybin. 

They also talk about the idea of personal optimization and how it relates to community, speaking at psychedelic conferences, behavioral accommodation, psychology’s struggles with being accepted in a scientific data world, how to measure what makes a therapist good, and the importance of clinicians-in-training going through extremely in-depth training and doing their own work.

Notable Quotes

On trying MDMA with MAPS: “[I] went and had that therapeutic experience for myself, and was convinced in that moment that this is really, really worth pursuing. And it honestly shifted not only the course of my research, but of my career, my personal life, everything.”

On MDMA being used in therapy: “We saw 6 couples go through this protocol, and it was very compelling. Really, as someone who works with PTSD all the time in my clinical practice and in many different trials over the years, it is the thing that’s excited me the most as a clinician and a researcher, and I feel so much hope for the potential future clients who might get to access this.”

“The advice I really give to people is to try to be an expert in something, and it doesn’t have to be psychedelics. …So, it could be that you are going to be a therapist. Fantastic. Become an amazing therapist. You could be a statistician. We’re going to need those. Become an amazing statistician. We’re going to need great lawyers, or great people who understand policy- all of these things. I really believe in this model of: become an expert in a skillset, and then apply it to psychedelics.”

“Right now, everything’s focused on the drug- this pharma model of: ‘Is it the drug or the placebo? Which one has more effect?’ When really, I think the question needs to be: ‘Should it be the therapy, or the therapy plus the drug? …Is it the process, or the process amplified?’”


Remedy Centre instagram

MAPS: Anne Wagner

MAPS: Overview of current CPT+MDMA Pilot Study

About Dr. Anne Wagner

Dr. Anne Wagner, C.Psych., is the founder of Remedy, a mental health innovation community, and is the lead investigator of the pilot trial of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for PTSD + MDMA and the upcoming randomized trial of Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD (CBCT) + MDMA. This work and collaboration builds on the MAPS-sponsored pilot CBCT+MDMA trial she ran with colleagues Michael Mithoefer, MD, Annie Mithoefer, BSN, and Candice Monson, PhD. Anne is deeply committed to bridging the worlds of psychotherapy and non-ordinary states of consciousness, and has a passion for its use for relational healing. She is committed to supporting and protecting traditional and Indigenous wisdom with sacred medicines and consciousness expansion, and uplifting the voices of women in the psychedelic world. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology and an Associate Member of the Yeates School of Graduate Studies at Ryerson University. She is also certified in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, and is engaged in learning and practice of somatic, emotion-focused and transpersonal methods of healing. She is the Past-Chair of the Traumatic Stress Section of the Canadian Psychological Association, is a Global Ambassador for the
International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, and sits on the Board of Directors of Casey House (Toronto’s HIV/AIDS Hospital).

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