The Catherine Oxenberg Foundation (COF) supports survivors of sexual assault suffering from PTSD. Through the COF’s scholarship program HEALIX IMMERSION, survivors of sexual trauma will participate in professionally monitored and administered psychedelic assisted psychotherapy.
As has been widely publicized, recent research undertaken by doctors and scientists at major research universities continue to validate the meaningful contribution psychedelic medicine can make in many areas of mental health. The Foundation seeks to focus these new therapies on the treatment of the mental health needs of sexual abuse survivors.
In 2018, Catherine wrote a book entitled Captive, it was the true story of a sexual predator and cult leader who targeted hundreds of young women, among them Catherine’s daughter India. Captive details the trauma India and her family suffered at the hands of a particularly pernicious and manipulative predator. The book goes on to tell the story of the extraordinary efforts to extract India from her predator’s influence.
There would have been no road back for India but for the tireless efforts of so many people who joined in helping her reclaim her life: the FBI, prosecutors, judges, Homeland Security, police, journalists, experts on coercive control, and therapists. From 2017 through 2020, this collaborative effort came together to expose, prosecute and ultimately to sentence this predator to 120 years in jail.
However, as was the case with India, the scars persist long after the predator is apprehended. While so many survivors struggle to break free from the enduring neurobiological and psychological damage caused by sexual violence, traditional treatment models often fall short.
Given the groundbreaking developments in the science of psychedelic medicine, we believe these therapies are a game changer in accelerating effective, enduring recovery for those still suffering. While we are careful not to claim that psychedelics are a miracle cure or quick fix to the deeply complex problem of mental health, the Foundation recognizes that too many survivors are left to contend with a lifetime of conscious and unconscious suffering. It is the Foundation’s mission to make these therapies available to as many deserving survivors as possible.
HOW KETAMINE HEALS THE BRAIN /THE IMPACT OF TRAUMA ON THE BRAIN
Trauma can permanently change the way the brain works and alter its structure.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is thought to occur as a result of an over-activated fear circuit. Trauma survivors can remain stuck in a persistent state of fear lasting long past the traumatic event itself. In this way, trauma carves itself into our brains.
Trauma-based illnesses have traditionally been hard to treat. Traditional therapy methods require talking about an event with a therapist. But for people with PTSD, this can trigger them into a fear circuit. Instead of being able to process and metabolize their memories, they feel like they are living the trauma all over again.
HOW KETAMINE WORKS
When clinically administered, ketamine has been found to induce a state allowing the brain to more easily learn, change and adapt, allowing the brain to regenerate neural connections and disconnect from old patterns of thinking, which contribute to mental health symptoms.
〝 This is a game changer,” says John Krystal, MD, chief psychiatrist at Yale Medicine and one of the pioneers of ketamine research in the country. The drug works differently than those used previously, he notes, calling ketamine “the anti-medication” medication. “With most medications, like valium, the anti-anxiety effect you get only lasts when it is in your system. When the valium goes away, you can get rebound anxiety. When you take ketamine, it triggers reactions in your cortex that enable brain connections to regrow. It’s the reaction to ketamine, not the presence of ketamine in the body that constitutes its effects〞
The Default Mode Network (DMN) is an interconnected group of brain regions associated with introspective self-reflections and self-criticism. During a ketamine journey, the DMN is temporarily shut down, quieting our inner dialogue and negative thought patterns. Afterwards, regions of the brain start to work together more cohesively.
When ketamine therapy is paired with trauma-informed individual and group therapy, this can create a window for establishing new “healthy” habits, thought patterns and perception and mental flexibility.
So many times, victims suffer in silence and isolation…
THE HEALIX IMMERSION PROGRAM
We launched the first HEALIX IMMERSION Program on March 15-25, 2023. Our pilot program is a 7-month protocol, including an immersive 11-day group retreat where we will facilitate 5 sessions of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP). Each participant will receive one individual ketamine session on site followed by 4 group administered sessions and additional continuing care for 6 months.
The HEALIX IMMERSION Program is the first psychedelic therapy program in the USA prioritizing sexual assault survivors in a retreat setting.
Our facilitating therapists take a trauma-informed approach and are pioneering experts in KAP. All participants are screened carefully through our intake process and are provided with adequate preparation prior to the retreat. HEALIX IMMERSION curates groups and customizes programs according to each individual’s specific needs, by providing home-like nurturing environments, nutritional meals, by supplementing KAP with methylation-support, NAD+ and vitamin, mineral IV infusions to optimize the ketamine experience. Additional protocols will be offered such as equine therapy, sound therapy, art therapy, biopsycho-social approach to healing, movement, yoga, and bodywork to facilitate somatic release of trauma in the body. We advocate an integrative model of healing and intend to set a high “standard of care” for treating survivors of sexual trauma so that they feel completely safe, supported, and cared for throughout their therapeutic experience.
The retreat will be followed by 6 months of post-integration/monitored group aftercare. The aftercare program will provide ketamine lozenges to self administer at home twice a week, as needed, provided that individuals attend group therapy on a regular basis. Group therapy will be provided to the group twice a month.
All individuals will go through a screening process to make sure that they are a good candidate for at home ketamine lozenges and can benefit from this experience.
We will measure effectiveness of the program by first administering the Adverse Child Experiences survey to get a baseline understanding. Then we will track the following measures: Beck Depression Inventory Test, PTSD checklist, Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, the Resiliency Test, Post Traumatic Growth Inventory, Change of State, and possibly Mystical states inventory. We will monitor their progress on an ongoing basis and will adjust the program as needs arise. The data from the pilot study is being analyzed in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA.
“We are all connected in our pain and in our healing” – MAPS
The Catherine Oxenberg Foundation has a four-pronged approach.
I. Healix Immersion – We are optimistic that our concept will demonstrate sufficient benefits to continue sponsoring the group immersive KAP experience for underserved populations. In addition to our initial pilot in March for cult-survivors, our second and third retreats planned for 2023 will prioritize women with eating disorders and sexual assault survivors in the BIPOC community.
II. Healix Scaling – Once the success of our pilots has been established, we plan on expanding our reach by partnering with the best ketamine clinics around the country. Healix Immersion Program offers a unique opportunity for high-level care, specially curated groups, and a customized residential program. The group experience creates a unique support network and sounding board as others in the group share similar experiences. Healing happens together in community, instead of alone. Each program is specifically designed for each individual, in a non-clinical setting, usually in the privacy and safety of a private residence, with highly-trained trauma-informed facilitators and therapists with experience in psychedelic therapy.
III. Clinician and Peer training – We plan to design and develop training programs to educate prescribing physicians, licensed therapists and peers who have completed HEALIX IMMERSION, a trauma informed Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy curriculum. The intention is for clinicians to learn our sexual trauma treatment protocol and take the knowledge back to their communities across the United States.
IV. HEALIX 180 – In 2023, we are launching HEALIX 180, a website dedicated to healing as a lifestyle: an educational space and resource for exploring evidence-based modalities for recovery from trauma and trauma-related illnesses, such as chronic pain. It will also be a place where individuals can sign up for Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) scholarships as they become available.
The Foundation is deploying Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) to heal sexual trauma survivors. We intend to add other psychedelic therapies as they become legal in the USA.
Catherine Oxenberg is an award-winning actress, producer, author, human rights activist, and philanthropist. Most recently, she was featured in two award-winning documentary film series, “The Vow” HBO and “Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult,” Starz which explored her daughter India’s experience being lured into Keith Raniere’s secret society of sex slaves. Her book “Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult” brings to life the traumatic ordeal experienced by India and Catherine’s successful attempt to rescue her. Catherine’s mission captured global media attention and was instrumental in bringing NXIVM to justice, resulting in a 120-year prison sentence for the cult leader and five of his accomplices. An accomplished actress, Catherine starred as Amanda Carrington on the 80’s ABC prime time TV series “Dynasty,” with a weekly viewership of 100 million people worldwide. Born in New York, and raised in London, she is the daughter of Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and the 7th great-granddaughter of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, for whom she was named. A tireless activist and philanthropist, Catherine has supported numerous causes related to the protection of children, women’s rights, disaster relief, and human trafficking. She sponsored the first birthing center for women in Tibet. In 2022, Catherine received the Colleagues’ Champion of Children Award for her courage, determination and advocacy for survivors. In 2023, Catherine and her daughter India are launching HEALIX 180, a website dedicated to healing as a lifestyle: exploring modalities for recovery from trauma and trauma-related illnesses, such as chronic pain.
India Oxenberg is the author of “Still Learning,” a memoir documenting her seven-year experience with and escape from the toxic cult, NXIVM. By sharing her story, she hopes to raise awareness about the insidious nature of coercion. In addition to writing, she is also an activist and executive producer for Starz. She is responsible for producing the series “Seduced Inside the NXIVM Cult,” and is a part of The National Leadership Council with RAINN and co-founder of the Catherine Oxenberg Foundation.
Vicky Dulai is an independent psychedelic philanthropic consultant. She advises philanthropists and foundations about the emerging opportunities in psychedelic research, treatment, and therapist training. Vicky is the founder of Compassion For Addiction, a non-profit dedicated to a trauma informed and psychedelic medicine approach to treating addiction. She was the first female board member of MAPS in modern times and currently serves as Maps Board Chair. Vicky is a doctoral candidate for clinical psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) and a graduate of the inaugural cohort of psychedelic assisted psychotherapy certificate program at CIIS. She graduated from Columbia University with a M.S. in Narrative Medicine and has a B.S in Psychology from the University of Houston.
Anne M. Champion is a partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Ms. Champion’s practice focuses on complex international disputes, including RICO, fraud, and tort claims, and includes federal and state court litigation and international arbitration. She also has significant experience in First Amendment and intellectual property disputes, and an active pro bono docket. Most recently, Benchmark Litigation named Ms. Champion to its 2022 list of the “Top 250 Women in Litigation.” Ms. Champion was also recognized by Who’s Who Legal in its 2022 Environment Guide. She has twice been named “Litigator of the Week” along with her colleagues by The American Lawyer for her work representing Mary Trump against an attempt to block publication of her now-best seller, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, and for her work representing Chevron Corporation against the enforcement of a fraudulent $18 billion arbitration award. In addition, The Legal 500 US has recognized Ms. Champion as a “Next Generation Lawyer” in the area of international litigation. Ms. Champion and her efforts to resolve the cold case murder of a childhood friend are featured on the podcast Bonaparte from Imperative Entertainment.
Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Phil Wolfson
Dr. Phil Wolfson is Principal Investigator for the MAPS sponsored Phase 2, FDA approved 18-person study of MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy for individuals with significant anxiety due to life threatening illnesses. His clinical practice with ketamine has informed his leadership role in the development of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. Phil’s book The Ketamine Papers has been published by MAPS and is the seminal work in the burgeoning ketamine arena. Phil is a sixties activist, psychiatrist/psychotherapist, writer, practicing Buddhist and psychonaut who has lived in the Bay Area for 38 years. He is the author of Noe – A Father/Son Song of Love, Life, Illness and Death (2011, North Atlantic Books). In the 1980s, he participated in clinical research with MDMA (Ecstasy). He has been awarded five patents for unique herbal medicines. He is a journalist and author of numerous articles on politics, transformation, psychedelics, consciousness and spirit, and was a founding member of the Heffter Research Institute. Phil has taught in the graduate psychology programs at JFK University, CIIS and the UCSF School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Gita Vaid MD
Gita Vaid, MD is a board certified psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing ketamine assisted psychotherapy in New York City. She is a co-founder of the Center for Natural Intelligence, a multidisciplinary laboratory dedicated to psychedelic psychotherapy innovation and clinical practice (www.cni.nyc). Dr Vaid completed her residency training and is on faculty at NYU Medical Center, psychoanalytic training at the Psychoanalytic Association of New York. She trained as a fellow in clinical psychopharmacology and neurophysiology at New York Medical College and completed a research fellowship at NYU Medical Center. Dr Vaid serves as the Director of Psychedelic Awareness and Consciousness research at The Chopra Foundation and is on Faculty as a lead instructor at The Ketamine Training Center.
Taylor Kuhn Ph.D.
Dr. Taylor Kuhn received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Florida. Throughout his career, he underwent extensive training in outpatient, inpatient, and perioperative neuropsychological assessment. He completed his clinical internship at the Boston Consortium for Clinical Psychology with fellowships at Harvard and Boston University. He also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA where he was both chief research and assistant chief clinical fellow. Dr. Kuhn is board certified in clinical neuropsychology through the American Board of Professional Psychology and the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology (ABPP/CN).
Specializing in the intersection of neuromedical illness and mental health treatment, Dr. Kuhn provides outpatient neurocognitive and psychodiagnostic assessment along with ongoing managed care. These services are available to adults with a broad array of neurological and psychiatric concerns. He also provides pre-surgical, rehabilitation and geriatric psychological consultations as well as cognitive rehabilitation and psychotherapy. Dr. Kuhn also offers Cognitive Style testing informing decisions on school, work, teams, relationships and wellness. Finally, he co-founded and manages The Integrated Clinic.
Dr.Kuhn holds a research faculty appointment at UCLA. He has a growing record of accomplished research that bridges the gap between neuropsychology and neuroimaging to investigate relationships between brain structure and function across multiple neurodegenerative disorders, neuromedical illnesses, healthy aging and intellectual giftedness. More recently, his research has expanded to include neuromodulation techniques, such as focused ultrasound, as a non-invasive method for improving cognitive performance and emotion regulation.
Lynn Marie Morski, MD, ESQ.Lynn Marie Morski, MD, JD, is president of the Psychedelic Medicine Association, host of the Psychedelic Medicine Podcast, and Medical Director for Nue Life Health. She sits on the advisory boards of VETS, Inc (Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions), Psychedelics Today, Ketamine Task Force, and Cybin. Dr. Morski received her medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine, completed family medicine residency at Mayo Clinic, and did her sports medicine fellowship at the University of Arizona. She later received her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and is a member of the California Bar.
Vanessa Blackstone, MSW, ACSW
Vanessa Blackstone is the Co-executive Director of the Pain Psychology Center. She specializes in mindfulness and guided meditation. She also integrates cognitive behavioral and psychodynamic therapies with a solution-focused, strengths-based, approach. Vanessa upholds a sophisticated set of interpersonal skills allowing her to connect with others and create a safe, supportive environment. Following her own personal recovery with chronic pain, Vanessa understands the importance of meeting the unique needs of each patient. She also has a background in treating substance-use disorders, and couple’s therapy.
Christine Schneider, MD
Christine Schneider, M.D., is a Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist practicing in Marin County, California. She completed her residency, fellowship, and research fellowship at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. Her research experience has been in community-based intervention with high risk mothers and infants utilizing attachment theory.
Dr. Schneider has a varied career history in both community mental health, working with Veterans, with First Nations populations, with the incarcerated, and in a psychodynamically- and trauma-informed private practice. Reflecting a strong desire to approach medical practice in a holistic way, she trained in and boarded with the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, and incorporated other healing modalities into her practice. Dr. Schneider’s current focus is in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. She completed training in the Certificate in Psychedelic Assisted Therapy and Research Program through the California Institute of Integral Studies, and is completing the training with MAPS in MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. Since completing training in KAP with Phil Wolfson, M.D., and Julane Andries, LMFT, Dr. Schneider has developed a center in a beautiful healing environment where she utilizes KAP, biofeedback, and ecotherapy in her clinical practice. She has worked with Phil and Julane in training other professionals in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. She is continually drawn to the challenge of understanding the intricacies of our human system and experiences, and to practicing a deeply integrative approach to the healing of trauma.
Julane Andries, LMFT
Julane Andries is a practicing psychotherapist in Marin County, Ca. She worked in acute care medicine before becoming a marriage family therapist. She is an investigator in the MAPS Phase 3 study using MDMA assisted psychotherapy for severe PTSD in San Francisco. She was the principal co-therapist for the MAPS sponsored, Phase 2 MDMA assisted psychotherapy study for individuals suffering from anxiety with life-threatening illness. She has been a pioneer in the development of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. Her work is unique and is creative to the psychotherapy process using this medicine. She, along with others on their team, treats patients with treatment resistant depression, first line depression, anxiety and PTSD, as well as those seeking transformation. She and Dr. Wolfson have founded a non-profit, Ketamine Research Foundation, whose mission is to provide training for practitioners, collect data to track outcomes with Ketamine therapy, starting a new protocol for using KAP for those diagnosed with a life threatening illness, and those in palliative and hospice care, research in lactating women and ketamine for post-partum depression, ketamine for PMS and other projects. Julane is also co-founder of the Ketamine Training Center and helps lead training across the country teaching practitioners in the skills used in KAP.
Heather Renz, CNM, WHNP, PMHNP
Heather Renz is a nurse-practitioner and certified nurse-midwife with clinical expertise in obstetrics, women’s health, sexual assault, psychiatry and mental health. Heather completed her Master’s in Science at UC San Francisco (UCSF) where she received her nurse-midwifery and women’s health nurse-practitioner licenses. She has delivered over a thousand babies and has worked at MarinHealth Medical Center and affiliated clinics caring for patients for over 20 years. She has led hundreds of women in group prenatal care using CenteringPregnancy, a model associated with improved perinatal health outcomes and known for nearly eliminating the racial disparities associated with preterm birth, particularly for Black women. Her awareness around the deep impact that trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) has on epigenetics and physical, mental and spiritual wellness has deeply influenced her work to address trauma, throughout the lifetime, beginning in the womb. She was trained by the California Clinical Forensic Medical Training Center to perform forensic examinations on survivors of sexual assault and worked on the Sexual Assault Response Team for Marin County. She has also taught both medical and nurse-midwifery students for UCSF School of Medicine and UCSF School of Nursing.
Later in her career, Heather attended the UC Multi-Campus (UCSF/UCLA/UC Davis) Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Post-Master’s Program. She is certified in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy through the Center for Ketamine Training and completed a residency with ketamine pioneers Phil Wolfson, MD and Julane Andries, LMFT at the Center for Transformational Psychotherapy, where she now works. She is currently providing ketamine assisted psychotherapy at CTP and developing a reproductive psychiatry program for the Marin Community Clinics, the Federally Qualified Health Centers of Marin County.
Dr JoQueta Handy PhD, IMD, SLP-CCC
Dr. JoQueta Handy is an internationally recognized speaker, author, educator, and Natural Integrative Health Practitioner. She is the CEO and Chief Visionary of Brilliant Learning. She is the Co-Founder of Handy Wellness Center where she practices with her husband Dr. James Handy, DC. She has worked in energy medicine for the past 17 years as a certified biofeedback specialist. She is the Co-founder and President of Brilliant Blends, an adaptogen-based supplement company. Dr. JoQueta is also a psychedelic executive coach, certified to assist in Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy. Her educational background includes a BS from Tulsa University, MS from Boston University, and a Ph.D., IMD from Quantum University. JoQueta has spent the last 30 years working with special needs children and their families using a holistic philosophy rooted in nutritional and holistic protocols and extending to specialized learning strategies. It has been Dr. JoQueta’s personal and professional mission to identify, learn from, and highlight these unique traits and strengths for parents, educators, institutions, and governments worldwide. Dr. JoQueta has applied the summation of those life and career experiences in taking her practice to the next level by combining her knowledge of nutrition, Energy medicine, and mental health, to offer a unique and comprehensive experience of mind, body, and spirit to her patients for whole body healing.
STATISTICS ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE
According to the CDC:
What is sexual violence?
Sexual violence is sexual activity when consent is not obtained or freely given. It is a serious public health problem in the United States that profoundly impacts lifelong health, opportunity, and well-being. Sexual violence impacts every community and affects people of all genders, sexual orientations, and ages. Anyone can experience or perpetrate sexual violence. The perpetrator of sexual violence is usually someone the survivor knows, such as a friend, current or former intimate partner, coworker, neighbor, or family member. Sexual violence can occur in person, online, or through technology, such as posting or sharing sexual pictures of someone without their consent, or non-consensual sexting.
Sexual violence affects millions of people each year in the United States. Researchers know the numbers underestimate this problem because many cases are unreported. Survivors may be ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid to tell the police, friends, or family about the violence. Victims may also keep quiet because they have been threatened with further harm if they tell anyone or do not think anyone will help them.
The data shows:
- Sexual violence is common. Over half of women and almost 1 in 3 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes. Additionally, 1 in 3 women and about 1 in 9 men experienced sexual harassment in a public place.
- Sexual violence starts early. More than 4 in 5 female rape survivors reported that they were first raped before age 25 and almost half were first raped as a minor.
- Sexual violence disproportionately affects some groups. Women and racial and ethnic minority groups experience a higher burden of sexual violence.
- Sexual violence is costly. Recent estimates put the lifetime cost of rape at $122,461 per survivor, including medical costs, lost productivity, criminal justice activities, and other costs.
What are the consequences?
- Sexual violence consequences are physical, like bruising and genital injuries, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy (for women) and psychological, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
- The consequences may be chronic. Survivors may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and experience re-occurring reproductive, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and sexual health problems.
- Sexual violence is also linked to negative health behaviors. Sexual violence survivors are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, use drugs, and engage in risky sexual activity.
- The trauma from sexual violence may impact a survivor’s employment in terms of time off from work, diminished performance, job loss, or inability to work. These issues disrupt earning power and have a long-term effect on the economic well-being of survivors and their families. Coping and completing everyday tasks after victimization can be challenging. Survivors may have difficulty maintaining personal relationships, returning to work or school, and regaining a sense of normalcy.
- Additionally, sexual violence is connected to other forms of violence. For example, girls who have been sexually abused are more likely to experience additional sexual violence and violence types and become victims of intimate partner violence in adulthood. Bullying perpetration in early middle school is linked to sexual harassment perpetration in high school.