Benjamin Sessa

Psychiatrist accused of having sex with patient
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Western Daily Press

February 29, 2024 Thursday
Edition 1, National Edition

Copyright 2024 Reach PLC All Rights Reserved

Section: NEWS; Pg. 9

Length: 546 words

Byline: estel farellroig

APROMINENT psychiatrist who opened the UK’s first clinic using ketamine to treat patients in Bristol is accused of having a sexual relationship with a patient.

Dr Benjamin Sessa is facing a misconduct hearing in light of the allegations. Dr Benjamin Sessa, whose area of practice was in North Somerset according to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), is alleged to have engaged in a sexual relationship with a patient for over six months.

It says on the MPTS website: “The tribunal will inquire into the allegation that, between January 2019 and March 2021, Dr Sessa provided care and treatment to a vulnerable patient, Patient A, before discharging her from his care on 31 March 2021 in order to pursue a sexual and/or emotional relationship with her.

“It is also alleged that in August 2020, Dr Sessa consulted with Patient A at a pub whilst she was drinking alcohol. It is further alleged that between July 2021 and February 2022 Dr Sessa engaged in a sexual relationship with Patient A.”

The hearing, which is being held in

Manchester, is scheduled to start today and is expected to last a week.

Dr Sessa is a child and adolescent psychiatrist known for being a vocal advocate of using MDMA and psychedelics in a therapeutic setting.

In 2021, he was behind the UK’s first psychotherapy clinic using ketamine to treat patients in Bristol.

He was also featured in the BBC documentary Drugsland, the Netflix documentary How to Change your Mind and also gave a TEDXTALK at the University of Bristol called ‘Is MDMA psychiatry’s antibiotic?’.

Dr Sessa was the co-founder and chief medical officer at Awakn which, according to its website, offers “revolutionary treatments for addiction” including ketamine-assisted therapy.

In a statement Awakn said: “The allegations made against Dr Sessa relate solely to Dr Sessa’s private practice work at Dr Ben Sessa Ltd.

“This work was undertaken outside of Dr Sessa’s Awakn contracted hours. Dr Sessa tendered his resignation to Awakn prior to notifying Awakn management that the GMC had initiated an investigation into his conduct.

“Awakn had no prior knowledge of the allegations whatsoever. Awakn has supported, and will continue to support, GMC in their investigation when requested.”

The prominent psychiatrist has written several books and has worked with many key institutions in his research career including Imperial College London and the University of Bristol.

His profile on the Breaking Convention website describes him as being “at the forefront of psychedelic research in the UK” for the past 15 years and as “one of the first doctors to develop the field of contemporary psychedelic research in the UK”.

It says: “For 25 years he has worked as a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist with young people and adult patients in the field of addictions and trauma-related psychiatry.

“Ben started studying psychedelics as a junior doctor, and has taken part in research projects at Bristol University, Cardiff University and Imperial College London with LSD, psilocybin, DMT, ketamine and MDMA – receiving and/or administering all of these compounds in legal research settings.”

According to his website, he is currently not taking patients.

The University of Bristol and Imperial College London were approached for comment.