Footage of therapists spooning and pinning down patient in B.C. trial for MDMA therapy prompts review
By Bethany Lindsay
April 9, 2022
WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.
Newly released videos that show two B.C. therapists cuddling, spooning, blindfolding and pinning down a distressed PTSD patient during clinical trials using MDMA have prompted a review of their work and fresh concerns about public safety.
The 2015 footage shows psychiatrist Dr. Donna Dryer and unlicensed therapist Richard Yensen, a married couple who were then sub-investigators for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), during their second experimental session in a Health Canada-approved Phase II clinical trial with patient Meaghan Buisson in Vancouver.
The videos were released last week through New York magazine’s podcast Cover Story: Power Trip, which explores the growing field of psychedelic therapy.
Buisson, a hiking guide based on Vancouver Island, told CBC she hasn’t been able to watch the videos because even hearing her former therapists’ voices triggers her post-traumatic stress disorder.
But she has seen screen shots of the footage and has had the content described to her, including intimate physical contact and a scene where Yensen is lying on top of her and holding her down as she moans in obvious anguish.
She believes the public needs to know what happened in these sessions.
“This is horrific. This happened in a Health Canada-approved clinical safety trial,” she said. “For that to happen in this environment, under far more scrutiny than the substance will ever again be under, is extremely troubling.”
The footage is being made public at a time when psychedelic drugs are becoming increasingly mainstream, and substances like MDMA — a laboratory-made party drug often called ecstasy or molly — are being hailed as miracle drugs for serious psychiatric conditions…