I am a research scientist with expertise in studying the effects of mindfulness meditation and psychedelics. At Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, I conducted legal clinical trials of psilocybin, the primary chemical found in "magic mushrooms”. In 2015, I co-founded and was the first director of the Psychedelic Education and Continuing Care Program in New York (www.psychedelicprogram.com), where I led training workshops and monthly integration groups focused on increasing awareness and reducing risks of psychedelic use. I have helped to bring medical and humanitarian aid to remote Himalayan villages, as well as create sanctuary spaces for psychedelic support at large outdoor festivals. I'm currently a sub-investigator (part of a therapy team) in a federally-approved clinical trial of MDMA-assisted therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (learn more at www.maps.org).
My teaching and integration approach combines over a decade of training in rigorous academic and clinical research with practical intuition guided by personal experiences, including five silent meditation retreats, a 2-month pilgrimage in the Himalayan mountain range in Nepal, my 29-year old sister’s death journey through metastatic breast cancer, and natural homebirth. During my professional and personal life experiences, I have developed a unique set of skills that allow me to feel safe, and help others feel safe, in extremely unusual environments and powerful states of consciousness. I believe in the power of the body and mind to courageously create healing and transformative relationships with self, community and nature.
I specialize in harm reduction for psychedelic use, embodied mindfulness practices for integration, and science-based trainings to support clinical practice. I have taught large workshops (100-200 people), medium-sized integration circles (20-40 people), and small-group intensives on psychedelic harm reduction and integration. I also consult with individuals who are interested in psychedelic integration, spiritual or mystical experiences, or unanticipated or difficult meditation experiences that may or may not be related to psychedelic use. Please note that I am not a psychologist, licensed therapist, or medical doctor, and thus cannot provide therapy or medical advice. Please see the Resources page for licensed practitioners and integration consultants near you.
More about my research background...
I completed my BA in psychology and neuroscience with Dr. Yale Cohen at Dartmouth College (1999-2003), my PhD in research psychology with Dr. George R. Mangun and Dr. Clifford Saron at the University of California, Davis (2004-2009), and my postdoctoral research fellowship in psychopharmacology with Dr. Roland Griffiths at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2009-2012). I was hired as a tenure-track faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins from 2012-2013. During my graduate training at UC Davis, I was one of the lead researchers on the Shamatha Project, a groundbreaking study of the effects of intensive meditation on psychological and brain function. While a research fellow and faculty member at Johns Hopkins, I apprenticed with and was supervised by two of the world’s top psychedelic therapists -- Bill Richards, PhD and Mary Cosimano, LSW -- learning how to effectively and safely support people before, during, and after high-dose psychedelic experiences. I was also a lead researcher and head session guide on the first study to test the combined effects of high-dose psilocybin, daily meditation training and integration support. My research on meditation and psilocybin indicates that these practices can promote positive and lasting changes in concentration, emotion regulation, openness, wellbeing, and prosocial traits.
You can read my top professional articles below:
Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviours