Nautilus Sanctuary is a non-profit center for research, practice, and training in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in New York City. We are a group of hard-working, ethically-driven and spiritually-minded psychologists, psychiatrists, and medical doctors. 

Alex Belser, PhD

Dr. Alex Belser is a psychedelic researcher and psychologist at Yale University.  For the last 20 years, he has been a leader in the psychedelic clinical community, having served as an investigator on a number of clinical trials of psilocybin and MDMA to treat depression, anxiety, substance use, OCD, PTSD, and end-of-life distress.  He is the founding President of Nautilus Sanctuary, the first non-profit center for psychedelic medicine on the east coast.  He serves as the Chief Clinical Officer of Adelia Therapeutics, a Cybin company and the third largest publicly traded psychedelic life sciences company.  Dr. Belser’s research has been featured on the front page of the New York Times, in the Atlantic, the New Yorker, The Guardian, and in Michael Pollan's book, How to Change Your Mind.

At Yale, Dr. Belser is investigating psychedelic treatments for OCD and depression.  He worked as a therapist on studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of severe PTSD.  He previously served on the Board of Advisors to Compass Pathways, then a non-profit organization.  He is a member of Chacruna Institute’s Women, Gender Diversity, and Sexual Minorities Working Group, where he works on issues affecting LGBTQI+ people.  Dr. Belser has authored over a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters and has given over fifty lectures, presentations, and Grand Rounds about psychedelic medicine. 

Dr. Belser studied at Georgetown University, the University of Cambridge, Columbia University, New York University, and Yale University.  Dr. Belser trained at Bellevue Hospital, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, and New York Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University.  He has also received extensive training in psychedelic psychotherapy from recognized senior teachers.  He is a student of somatic practices and is a licensed kundalini and hatha yoga teacher.  

His website is http://alexbelser.com and his practice website is http://centerforbreakthroughs.com.

Willa Hall, PhD

Dr. Willa Hall received her A.B. in Psychology from UC Berkeley in 1987 and her PhD in Clinical Psychology from New School in 1999. Over the past 20 years, she has dedicated herself to raising her children while working in community mental health and private practice in New York City. In 2017 she began work on the MAPS NYC site as a co-therapist on the Phase III trials assessing the efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for severe PTSD. Dr. Hall has a long-standing interest in understanding the ways in which the therapeutic relationship and, in particular, the therapist’s authenticity facilitates a client’s deepening appreciation of their own authentic self.  More recently, Dr. Hall’s attention has turned to understanding the therapist’s role in treatments that utilize non-ordinary states of consciousness in order to maximize growth and healing.

Emily Horowitz PsyD


Dr. Emily Horowitz is a clinical psychologist employed at the New York Veterans Affairs Medical Center, as well as in her private psychotherapy and sound healing practices. She is also a sub-investigator/study therapist for the MAPS Phase III Clinical Trial of MDMA-supported psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD. She specializes in the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse disorders, and the integration of psychedelic and other non-ordinary-states of consciousness experiences. She graduated from Yeshiva University's Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology in 2007.

Phil Lister, MD


Dr. Phil Lister trained in adult and child psychiatry at Weill Cornell's Payne Whitney Clinic, overlapping with training in adult and child psychoanalysis at Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research.  Since then he has been in private practice seeing children, adolescents, adults, and couples.  Over time, he became interested in working with families and individuals coping with bereavement, with traumatic experiences in the medical system, and with trauma more broadly defined.  He studied and incorporated EMDR and Somatic Experiencing into his practice.  Most recently he learned about and trained in psychedelic psychiatry as an extraordinary, powerful model for helping individuals heal from trauma and, more broadly, to grow into a fuller occupancy of our precious lives.

Casey A. Paleos, MD


Casey A. Paleos, MD is a psychiatrist in private practice in the New York City area, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at New York University, He currently serves as both Co-Principal Investigator and Study Therapist at the NYC Private Practice Site of the ongoing MAPS-sponsored Phase 3 clinical trial for MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD.  He is passionate about the advancement of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and has over 10 years of clinical experience in the field, beginning in 2009 with his work as a Study Therapist in the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study.  Dr. Paleos is interested in exploring the curative potential of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of severe mental illness, as well as in its use for more highly functioning individuals seeking personal spiritual advancement and growth.  He views the latter usage in particular as a profoundly important vehicle for more widespread, and desperately needed, positive, grassroots societal change.

Sarah Robinson


Sarah Robinson was first drawn to research after pursuing her B.S. in public health from Brandeis University, focusing on child and maternal health disparities in the developing world. She studied nutritional outcomes for children in public school systems at the Harvard School of Public Health throughout undergrad and into her early professional career. Eventually landing in New York City, she completed a pre-medical post-baccalaureate at Columbia University while working in psychiatric clinical research. With growing awareness, she found MAPS and is currently coordinating a phase 3 clinical trial site examining MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD. She teaches yoga and meditation in her free time and hopes to merge the principles of her teaching practice with her academic and professional pursuits.

Cristie Strongman, M.A.

Cristie Strongman, M.A., is the Director for Chacruna’s Racial Equity and Access Committee. She is a graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University in the program of Counseling Psychology with a concentration on diversity, and multicultural, bilingual competencies. She holds two Master’s Degrees from Columbia University and is enrolled in a third program. The first one is from Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in Regional Studies of Latin America and the Caribbean (2018), where her research focused on the mimesis of indigenous rituals in urban landscapes by contemporary shamans. Her second Master's is from Columbia’s Teachers College in Mental Health Counseling (2019), and her third one in Counseling Psychology, expected in May 2020. Her Bachelor of Arts degree is in Sociology from Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY, 2016), where she studied the sociology of drugs in the USA. Her academic interests primarily focus on the use of alternative methods for the healing of trauma of marginalized populations that incorporate Indigenous traditions with plant medicines, along with the wellness model of mental health counseling. Cristie is currently working at Shiloh Consulting, LLC, providing individual and group psychotherapy to individuals who have been charged with intimate aggression in both English and Spanish. She is a trainee of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy and currently serves as a night attendant for the Phase 3 MDMA studies in New York City. She is a classically trained opera singer who enjoys performing compositions with unique instruments and tunings, including homemade instruments, as she employed in several performances, including Carnegie Hall. Cristie is originally from Central America, Colón, Panamá. She lives in Brooklyn with her orange cat Gustav.



Lewis Leone


Lewis Leone in an aspiring clinical psychologist with several years of experience in research across laboratory, hospital, and community mental health settings in New York. His work and interests involve translating theory from consciousness science into clinical practice, with a particular focus in the area of mind-body interaction. Additionally, Lewis is actively involved in projects investigating anxiety and obsessive-compulsive related disorders, with an emphasis on understanding the interoceptive and metacognitive irregularities which may be present in these conditions. Lewis is optimistic that research into the effects psychedelic substances can help to uncover insight into the nature of consciousness, and that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy can offer powerful healing potential to those who are suffering.


Lewis is a graduate of Georgetown University, and is currently enrolled in a Master of Science program in Clinical Research Methodology at Fordham University.

Ida Benedetto

Ida Benedetto is an experience designer and strategist who provokes new insight through adventure and play. She is often the front-runner in design processes, founding innovative creative practices and advising boundary-pushing projects. Her work has taken the form of games, rituals, adventures, gatherings, documentary media, and educational endeavors. Her research explores the design of transformative social experiences.


She has spoken at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, the Tribeca Film Festival, the Immersive Design Summit, and Businessweek’s Design Conference, and has been featured in Fast Company, The New York Times, NPR, and The New Yorker.


Ida holds an M.A. in Design Research, Writing, and Criticism from the School of Visual Arts, a B.F.A. in Design and Technology from Parsons, a B.A. in History from the New School. You can see her work online at uncommonplaces.com.

© 2020 by Nautilus Sanctuary.