Psychedelic Medicine


Becoming an MDMA-Assisted Therapist with Shannon Carlin, MA, LMFT


This episode of the Plant Medicine Podcast features a conversation with Shannon Carlin, MA, LMFT, to discuss how to become an MDMA-assisted therapist, including a discussion of the MAPS training program. Shannon is the Director and Head of Training and Supervision at the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation (MAPS PBC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a 501(c)(3) non-profit where she oversees the development and implementation of clinical training programs that prepare mental health and medical professionals to deliver MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in approved clinical settings. Shannon started working with MAPS in 2011 before joining MAPS PBC in 2016.

In this conversation, Shannon discusses her personal background and some of the nuances of psychedelic-assisted therapy. Shannon shares her experiences being trained as an MDMA facilitator in 2014 when this therapy was much less mainstream and mentions how much the program has grown and evolved since then. In discussing her own background with various forms of therapeutic work, Shannon emphasizes the unique client relationship obtained in the longer sessions of MDMA therapy, saying that this therapy is very well-suited to meeting people in their time of need.

Shannon also discusses the details of the 100-hour MDMA-assisted therapy training program she leads and supervises at MAPS. The program consists of an online course, a training retreat with senior MDMA-assisted psychotherapy researchers, and opportunities for experiential and didactic learning.

Shannon additionally touches on the topic of MDMA therapists-in-training undergoing this treatment themselves as a learning experience, stating that this is an opportunity MAPS tries to make available and that many of those who have had this opportunity found it beneficial to their future work with MDMA in a therapeutic context. In closing, Shannon discusses MAPS’ commitment to equity and mentions that some scholarships will be available for the training program.

The MAPS MDMA Therapy Training Program is now accepting applications from trained mental health and medical practitioners. To learn more, visit https://mapspublicbenefit.com/training

In This Episode

• How MDMA therapy differs from traditional talk therapy
• The importance of nurses and other paraprofessionals in MDMA-assisted psychotherapy
• The history of the use of MDMA in therapeutic contexts prior to prohibition
• Current training programs in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy
• The future of legal MDMA use in therapy
• What skills translate from MDMA psychotherapy to other forms of psychedelic psychotherapy
• How to enroll in the next round of MAPS MDMA training


“Our training program really focuses a lot on the therapeutic relationship in MDMA therapy and the ways that that relationship changes, deepens, becomes more complex.” [13:20]

“As we do our training program we have a really multidisciplinary group. We have physicians and psychiatrists and we have nurses, we have psychiatric nurses, social workers, therapists, psychologists, clergy people.” [15:56]

“We work in a cotherapy model so every session has two providers in the room, so we always have one person who is licensed to practice psychotherapy and then we have flexibility about exactly what the role of the second person is.” [26:09]

“We’re looking at possibly MDMA-assisted therapy becoming a legal treatment medicine, not only in the US, but in multiple countries, even as soon as in the next two years.” [28:21]

“It’s really difficult to do healthy volunteer therapist studies because the FDA thinks about clinical trials in terms of treating a disease.” [35:21]


* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.