Catalyst-Assisted Psychotherapy - Emerging New Treatments

catalyst-assisted psychotherapy

By Nicholas P.W. Reeves, MD

One direction of intense interest currently is the potential of certain powerful psychoactive agents such as psilocybin or MDMA to act as catalysts for powerful transformational healing in conjunction with intensive psychotherapy.  MDMA and psilocybin can be powerful catalysts for psychotherapeutic healing because they help to temporarily break the subjects’ brains out of the conditioned patterns of thinking and behavior that have perpetuated their symptoms, thus enabling psychotherapy to have markedly enhanced efficacy through breaking down barriers such as deeply entrenched psychic defense-mechanisms.  Famous UC Berkeley journalist Michael Pollan recently released a great book on this topic called How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence.

At this point, there have been tremendously exciting positive results in clinical trials using MDMA as a catalyst to augment psychotherapy for patients with PTSD.  MDMA helps break the sufferers’ brains out of the abnormal patterns of neural network activity (correlate of symptoms and psychic defenses) that were established through the powerful conditioning that occurred as a result of their traumatic experiences.  There have also been incredibly fascinating results from studies using psilocybin-assisted therapy to treat end-of-life anxiety/depression, treatment-resistant depression, nicotine addiction and alcohol addiction.  These therapies (unlike TMS, DBS, and ketamine) are not yet legal for community clinicians to perform, and they require further study of their efficacy and safety before the FDA will grant approval.  Dr. Reeves has been following this line of research very closely for many years, and at least in the case of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, it seems to be getting close to the point of potential FDA approval, as Phase 3 Clinical Trials are just now beginning and the FDA has granted MDMA-assisted therapy its coveted “Breakthrough Therapy” designation.

There are currently ongoing psychedelic research studies in San Francisco and Marin, such as MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD (UCSF) and for end-of-life anxiety/depression (Dr. Phil Wolfson in Marin), as well as psilocybin-assisted group therapy for depression related to the trauma of the 1980s AIDS epidemic in gay men (UCSF).  Dr. Reeves is a close acquaintance of many of the psychiatrist-scientists conducting these studies, so please feel free to call him if you think your patient might benefit from referral to any of the mentioned clinical trials.

In summary, the field of psychiatry is undergoing exhilarating changes that are inspired by the principles of neuroscience, and several dramatically efficacious and neuroscience-informed treatments are emerging that may radically change the way psychiatry is practiced in the second half of the 21st century.  There has never been a more fascinating time to be a scientifically savvy (read: nerdy) psychiatrist, and each successive generation of new psychiatrists will be able to truthfully say the same thing.

Creating Flexible Exposures in Treating OCD and Related Anxiety Disorders - CE 10/31

Creating Flexible Exposures in Treating OCD and Related Anxiety Disorders - CE 10/31

Clinicians, please join Mind Therapy Clinic staff and Patricia Zurita Oña, PsyD for ACT for a professional training: Creating Flexible Exposures in Treating OCD and Related Anxiety Disorders.

  • Presenter: Patricia Zurita Oña, PsyD

  • When: Wednesday, May 9, 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

  • Where: Mind Therapy Clinic, 240 Tamal Vista Drive, Corte Madera CA 94925, Upstairs Classroom

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The Future of Psychiatry - by Nicholas Reeves, MD

The Future of Psychiatry - by Nicholas Reeves, MD

In the words of famous neuroscientist Donald Hebb, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”  Thus, the conditioning that led to abnormal neural circuit activity can be recognized, and new patterns of thinking and behavior can be strengthened through conditioning that installs healthier patterns through the mechanisms of neural plasticity (e.g. changes in number of synapses for communication between neurons within a network and number/sensitivity of the neurotransmitter receptors on the postsynaptic neurons). 

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Neuroscience-Informed Psychiatric Medication Management

Neuroscience-Informed Psychiatric Medication Management

The neuroscience helps us to understand the distal mechanism of action of the medications we use in psychiatry.  What is important to understand from the neuroscience is that the final result for individuals with any psychiatric disorder is that there are changes in the connectivity and function of various brain circuits that correlate with the symptoms of their respective illness

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Neuromodulation Therapies - Exciting New Development

Neuromodulation Therapies - Exciting New Development

There are now two well-researched neuromodulation therapies that are specifically designed to alter activity in brain circuits that exhibit abnormal activity in specific psychiatric disorders.   Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) were developed specifically with an understanding of neuroanatomy and the physiology of neural networks as a guide. 

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Welcome Ellen Shmunis, our new intern to Mind Therapy Clinical Training Program.

Welcome Ellen Shmunis, our new intern to Mind Therapy Clinical Training Program.

A warm welcome to our newest intern, Ellen Shmunis.  Ellen is an Associate Marriage Family Therapist and has her Masters in Marriage Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Francisco. She is supervised by Mind Therapy Clinic's Carol Dietrich. Mind Therapy Clinic's Internship Program in Clinical Psychology prepares interns to relate to clients and the community in constructive, positive, and effective ways and to utilize an integrated approach to therapy.  If you are interested in becoming an intern or would like to refer a patient who could benefit from receiving care from our interns on a sliding-scale based fee, contact Nicole Poell, PsyD, Mind Therapy Clinic's Director of Clinical Training.

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Neuroscience-Informed Psychotherapy - Why certain therapies may be effective.

Neuroscience-Informed Psychotherapy - Why certain therapies may be effective.

The science also provides some explanatory power as to why certain therapies may be effective.  For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps patients to identify how certain errors in their thinking and certain maladaptive behaviors they exhibit helped generate and/or help perpetuate their disorders, as well as the interconnection between these cognitive distortions and the behavioral manifestations of their disorder. 

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Challenges and Successes in Applying Cognitive Processing Therapy - 6/22 CE

Challenges and Successes in Applying Cognitive Processing Therapy - 6/22 CE

Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD Treatment

This two-hour presentation on Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) introduces participants to the 12-session format of this empirically supported treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. The theoretical framework of CPT be reviewed and key concepts of CPT will be defined. Participants will engage in experiential exercises to contextualize and practice CPT techniques. 10 SPACES AVAILABLE.

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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Emotional Regulation on 5/9 - CE Training

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Emotional Regulation on 5/9 - CE Training

Clinician, please join Mind Therapy Clinic staff and Patricia Zurita Oña, PsyD for ACT for Emotion Regulation training event.

  • Presenter:  Patricia Zurita Oña, PsyD
  • When:  Wednesday, May 9, 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
  • Where:  Mind Therapy Clinic, 240 Tamal Vista Drive, Corte Madera CA 94925, Upstairs Classroom
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Introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on 5/2 - CE Training

Introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on 5/2 - CE Training

This training introduces clinicians to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and will provide a brief history of this powerful approach, ACT's goals and components and experiential activities.

Objectives:

  1. Gain a basic understanding of the components of the Hexaflex
  2. Identify when to use the six components of ACT 
  3. Take away at least one tool to use in therapy

FREE with no CEs. $25 for 2 CEs.  Tea and light snacks will be offered.

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Diagnosing Using the DSM-5: Continuing Education Training for Professionals

Diagnosing Using the DSM-5:  Continuing Education Training for Professionals

Please join Mind Therapy Clinic's staff at our April 4 training with Dr. Hassert.

The Training

This training will focus on updates made to the DSM-5. We will cover how the DSM-5 is organized by familiarizing ourselves with the overall layout and assessment measures.  We will use an applied model of learning in which case vignettes will be presented to better understand common DSM-5 criteria and rule out diagnoses. Practical diagnostic tools to use within a standard clinical setting will be reviewed, as will the importance of accurate diagnoses and the implications that making diagnoses have on our clinical practice and clients' lives

Participants will:

  • Identify significant changes made to the DSM-5 from the DSM-IV
  • Apply DSM-5 diagnostic criteria through the use of clinical vignettes to accurately assess common psychiatric conditions
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Mindful Psychology: Integrating Mindfulness Into Psychotherapy - 2 CE, Dec. 13 @ 11:15am

Mindful Psychology:  Integrating Mindfulness Into Psychotherapy - 2 CE, Dec. 13 @ 11:15am

Join Neil S. Kobrin, PhD, LCSW, MFT of  Mind Therapy Clinic & Founder, Academy  of Mindful Psychology for 2 CE training seminar alongside Mind Therapy clinicians to explore explore the integration of the ancient practice of mindfulness within psychotherapy.

When:  Wednesday, December 13, 11:15 AM - 1:15 PM

Where:  Mind Therapy Clinic, 240 Tamal Vista, Corte Madera CA - Upstairs Classroom

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Tips for Balancing the Upcoming Holidays

Tips for Balancing the Upcoming Holidays

The winter holidays, with the promise of joy and togetherness, also carry the shadow of stress and tension. Our culture has cleverly molded the very human rituals of banishing the dark and spiritual celebration into a non-stop whirlwind of buying, eating, drinking and events. However, if your plate is full and if you also struggle with mental illness or addiction, these extra demands will inevitably create stress and tension. 

Below are a few tips for balance that we offer to our clients (and to ourselves!) via individual and family therapy and in our wonderful array of groups, including Mindfulness in Action, Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), DBT, CBT, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and Seeking Safety.

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A More Natural Way to Treatment

A More Natural Way to Treatment

Most of us go through some level of mental instability throughout our lives but for some, it's devastatingly paralyzing and can affect our physical health, relationships and careers. Traditional thought is that only medication can treat the symptoms of anxiety, depression, etc. but that's no longer true thanks to a new breakthrough in diagnosing and treating the brain in a non-pharmaceutical manner. Think of it as a technology based approach and it's appropriate for both short-term and long-term treatment of a varietal of mental health issues. These treatments are non-invasive (no surgery), non-systemic (nothing is ingested and circulating into the blood stream), and do not require any anesthesia or sedation.

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MTC Training Update on Biology & Medications Treatment 2 CEs Friday, November 17 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM

MTC Training Update on Biology & Medications  Treatment  2 CEs Friday, November 17 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM

MTC Training Update on Biology & Medications for Addiction Treatment 2 CEs

Friday, November 17, 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM

This training will provide an update on the neurobiological model of addiction. With this model as foundation, the role of medications for addiction treatment will be discussed, with particular emphasis on medications for opioid use disorders.

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When Left Brain Meets Right Brain: A Creative Arts Approach to Recovery

When Left Brain Meets Right Brain:  A Creative Arts Approach to Recovery

Individuals with mental illness can become trapped in a destructive cycle of self-recrimination, which impairs their ability to live a balanced life.  This presentation on Monday, October 23rd, introduces the application of experiential methods to stimulate creativity and flexibility via exercises that prompt spontaneity, trust, emotional expression and the development of an observing self.  Focus will be on utilizing creative practices to assist clients with separating from their disorder and integrating a compassionate voice of recovery. Emphasis will be placed on the use of masks and role-playing to facilitate integration.

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Effectively Treating Borderline Personality Disorder and Trauma - CPE Event Oct 20

Effectively Treating Borderline Personality Disorder and Trauma - CPE Event Oct 20

Join us on October 20th to learn how Dialectical Behavior Therapy treatment addresses the symptoms that arise in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). We’ll review the symptom presentation of BPD and how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms may occur in conjunction with BPD. The basic tenets of Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy will be presented and its effectiveness of PTSD treatment. Learn how DBT and PE work together in one combined protocol to address the presentation of trauma symptoms with co-occurring BPD symptoms.

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