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PsychEd: educational psychiatry podcast

Apr 23, 2022

Welcome to PsychEd, the psychiatry podcast for medical learners, by medical learners. This episode covers psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy with Dr Emma Hapke and Dr Daniel Rosenbaum, both of whom are psychiatrists at the University Health Network in Toronto and co-founders of UHN’s Nikean Psychedelic Psychotherapy Research Centre (in addition to being lecturers in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto).


The learning objectives for this episode are as follows:


By the end of this episode, you should be able to…

  1. Briefly describe the history of psychedelics in psychiatry
  2. List the four classes of psychedelic drugs and their mechanism of action
  3. Summarize the evidence regarding psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for various psychiatric disorders
  4. Discuss patient selection considerations for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy
  5. Describe the safety, tolerability and possible side effects of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy
  6. Understand how a psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy session is practically carried out


Guests: Dr Emma Hapke and Dr Daniel Rosenbaum


Hosts: Dr Chase Thompson (PGY4), Dr Nikhita Singhal (PGY3), Jake Johnston (CC4), and Annie Yu (CC4)


Audio editing by: Nikhita Singhal


Show notes by: Nikhita Singhal


Interview Content:

  • Introduction - 0:00
  • Learning objectives - 02:47
  • Definitions/categories of psychedelics - 03:24
    • Classic psychedelics - 04:15
    • Empathogens (e.g. MDMA) - 07:15
    • Etymology of the term “psychedelic” - 09:30
    • Ketamine - 12:24
    • Iboga - 13:28
  • Brief history of psychedelic medicine - 17:51
  • Current evidence and ongoing trials - 27:38
    • MDMA and PTSD - 29:26
    • Psilocybin and treatment-resistant depression - 32:24
    • A word of caution - 34:29
    • End-of-life care - 38:47
  • Practical aspects of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy sessions - 45:45
  • Safety considerations - 01:04:04
  • Future directions - 01:10:33
  • Closing comments - 01:19:07





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  • Carhart-Harris R, Nutt D. Serotonin and brain function: a tale of two receptors. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2017;31(9):1091-1120.
  • Davis AK, Barrett FS, May DG, et al. Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2021;78(5):481–489.
  • Griffiths RR, Johnson MW, Carducci MA, et al. Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer: A randomized double-blind trial. J Psychopharmacol. 2016;30(12):1181-1197. d
  • Griffiths RR, Johnson MW, Richards WA, et al. Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors. J Psychopharmacol. 2018;32(1):49-69.
  • Johnson MW, Hendricks PS, Barrett FS, Griffiths RR. Classic psychedelics: An integrative review of epidemiology, therapeutics, mystical experience, and brain network function. Pharmacol Ther. 2019;197:83-102.
  • Mitchell JM, Bogenschutz M, Lilienstein A, et al. MDMA-assisted therapy for severe PTSD: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 study. Nat Med. 2021;27(6):1025-1033.
  • Mithoefer MC, Mithoefer AT, Feduccia AA, et al. 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans, firefighters, and police officers: a randomised, double-blind, dose-response, phase 2 clinical trial. Lancet Psychiatry. 2018;5(6):486-497.
  • Nicholas CR, Henriquez KM, Gassman MC, et al. High dose psilocybin is associated with positive subjective effects in healthy volunteers. J Psychopharmacol. 2018;32(7):770-778.
  • Reiff CM, Richman EE, Nemeroff CB, et al. Psychedelics and Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy. Am J Psychiatry. 2020;177(5):391-410.
  • Rosenbaum D, Boyle AB, Rosenblum AM, Ziai S, Chasen MR, Med MP. Psychedelics for psychological and existential distress in palliative and cancer care. Curr Oncol. 2019;26(4):225-226.
  • Swift TC, Belser AB, Agin-Liebes G, et al. Cancer at the Dinner Table: Experiences of Psilocybin-Assisted Psychotherapy for the Treatment of Cancer-Related Distress. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 2017;57(5):488-519.


CPA Note: The views expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the Canadian Psychiatric Association.


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