Student Projects

Investigating MDMA-Assisted Therapy for Treatment-Resistant PTSD Related to Natural Disasters

Project Supervisor/s

This project is suitable for a PhD student starting in Q2 2025.


The escalating frequency and severity of extreme weather events due to climate change have led to increasingly complex mental health challenges. In February 2023, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) reclassified MDMA for therapeutic use in treating PTSD. MDMA, as a medicinal agent, primarily influences trauma processing by mitigating avoidance and fear-based responses in the amygdala while fostering social connection.


This project aims to examine the impact of group-based MDMA-assisted therapy on individuals affected by treatment-resistant PTSD resulting from the 2022 Lismore and northern NSW floods.


The trial adopts a randomised stepwise parallel group trial design. Step 1 (low intensity) is a parallel-group RCT for 200 people with PTSD. Step 2 (high intensity) is for 84 eligible participants who continue to experience treatment-resistant PTSD. They will be assigned either to group-based MDMA-AT or wait-list control (6 months) as the comparator.

Project Potential

The trial is assessing the effect of the intervention on various outcomes including PTSD, posttraumatic growth, depression/anxiety, social connectedness, self-compassion, climate change anxiety and health-related quality of life. The student will delve into relevant literature concerning the high-intensity intervention and may explore innovative analyses of the psychological processes likely to yield the most significant impact in a post-disaster context. The student will produce 4-5 scientific publication from this body of work.

To apply for this project, please contact the project supervisor/s

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