AMA Thurs 7/30/20: Andrew Penn, NP, UCSF professor+researcher and MAPS MDMA therapist

We are very excited to announce that Andrew Penn, UCSF researcher and MAPS Phase III MDMA-assisted psychotherapy therapist, is joining as a special guest to do an AMA on Thurs July 30 at 6pm PT .

Andrew also has a special ask for you to please describe you relationship with your psychedelic or ketamine therapist and how it’s impacted your experiences here.

Andrew Penn was trained as an adult nurse practitioner and psychiatric clinical nurse specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. He is board certified as an adult nurse practitioner and psychiatric nurse practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. He has completed extensive training in Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy at the California Institute for Integral Studies and recently published a book chapter on this modality. He is a cofounder of OPENurses, a professional organziation for nurses interested in psychedelic research and practice and is a study therapist in the MAPS sponsored Phase 3 study of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. Currently, he serves as an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California-San Francisco School of Nursing and is an Attending Nurse Practitioner at the San Francisco Veterans Administration. He has expertise in psychopharmacological treatment for adult patients and specializes in the treatment of affective disorders and PTSD.

As a steering committee member for Psych Congress, he has been invited to present internationally on improving medication adherence, cannabis pharmacology, psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, grief psychotherapy, treatment-resistant depression, diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder, and the art and science of psychopharmacologic practice. He also keeps regular blogs on all things psychiatric at Psychology Today and Psych Congress. He can be found at

Please post your questions here for Andrew to answer by 3pm PT on Thursday! We will be recording an interview with him and posting the video response in the evening.

Andrew also has a special ask for you to please describe you relationship with your psychedelic or ketamine therapist and how it’s impacted your experiences here.


I have PTSD anxiety and depression
I live in Chicago: I’m tired of taking all these RX pills that make me feel numb: I’d like help finding a maps study locally, any information is appreciated.
H E l P :pray:

As a MAPS therapist, what do you think about the care delivery issue that will limit access to these treatments? The 70 hours or so of psychotherapy that is required for MDMA but the number of practitioners who are trained/qualified/allowed to give these treatments is still very low. How will MAPS and CIIS and other organizations make sure enough practitioners get trained to help as many people as possible? What does the training even look like and who controls it / who decides if someone is qualified to do MDMA-assisted psychotherapy?

And later on as other substances like psilocybin also become FDA approved, who regulates and licenses the practitioners ?

What’s the biggest difference between a therapy skill set compared to psychedelic assisted therapy?

Is there a standard KAP protocol that is accepted as the state of the art?

how do I choose between KAP and ketamine infusions?

what costs more?

what do you think is the biggest challenge for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to gain widespread adoption if/when it is approved?

can you describe what types of clinicians will be part of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy? What would the patient journey look like
For example, get referred by psychiatrist or PCP? Who writes the prescription then who actually provides the medication and psychotherapy and who helps the patient navigate through the care journey/protocol?

I’d love to better understand what psychedelic assisted therapy is like. As someone who has just done ketamine infusions, I can’t imagine trying to talk through one. It seems like that would take away from the inner experience. Can you explain a bit how it works and how it feels from the patient perspective?

Hi Andrew,
Thank you for taking your time to answer questions and help people understand psychedelic therapy better.

I haven’t got experience with it yet but I would love to understand more and especially be able to be a sitter myself. My partner struggles with mild PTSD and I’d love to be able to guide him through an MDMA session. Hvae you got any resources/information on what to do during the session? I have zero knowledge.

My second question is about psilocybin therapy. I would love to experience a guided journey for TRD, and I got some tips from Chi that did an AMA on here recently, on how to prepare etc. My question to you is, what sort of things might come up during a journey and can I control what I say? I was going to “use” my partner as a guide, but I’m afraid things will come up that I don’t want to talk about with him, at least not during a trip - questions about the future and potential change in direction of life. Are those the sort of things that might come up? Is it possible to change the direction the trip takes by preparing (focusing on childhood trauma, limiting beliefs etc). I haven’t got any other person in mind to potentially trip sit for me. Any thoughts are welcome.

Any answer, short or long, is much appreciated :slight_smile: Thank you.

What should be the role of a guide during a psychedelic experience? Also, what can a guide ideally do to help someone through a difficult psychedelic experience?

can you tell me a little about how psychedelic experiences can be beneficial for people with bipolar disorder specifically? is there a “root cause” of bipolar that psychedelic assisted psychotherapy really targets?

also, what steps does grief psychotherapy take? curious about the emotions and issues it delves into or attempts to resolve.

Hi everyone!
Thank you all for your thoughtful questions. Here is a link to today’s full AMA.

Hi Karen, I answer your question during the 1:40-3:40 timestamp.

Hi aviato, I answer your question during the 3:40-9:00 timestamp.

Hi surfsup, I answer your question during the 3:40-9:00 timestamp.

Hi pesar, I answer your question during the 3:40-9:00 timestamp.

Hi jwrld, I answer your question during the 9:01- 15:58 timestamp

Hi Anon, I answer your question during the 20:38-22:12 timestamp

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