Rosalind Watts is a clinical psychologist and the Clinical Lead of psilocybin for depression research (“psilodep2”) at Imperial College of London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research headed by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris and Dr. David Nutt. Psilodep2 compares the efficacy of psilocybin and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants.
From 2006 to 2012, Watts practiced psychotherapy with the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Watts also co-facilitates sessions with the Psychedelic Integration Group in London. In December 2019, she joined the Advisory Board of Synthesis, a psilocybin retreat organization in The Netherlands. She received her clinical doctoral training at University College London.
Watts developed ACE (Accept, Connect, Embody), the therapeutic modality used in psilodep2 sessions.1 She did this by applying her background training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as well as the apparent role of changes in “psychological flexibility” after psychedelic experiences.2
Previously, Watts helped conduct Imperial’s first clinical trials of psilocybin’s effects on individuals with treatment-resistant depression. She was the lead author on the resulting qualitative study, which yielded themes of connectedness and acceptance among participants, published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology in June 2017.3 Psychedelic Science Review highlighted the study in an August 2020 article discussing the mechanisms of change in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Watts also worked directly with participants as a trip guide during Imperial’s trials.
Other research by Watts has examined the influence of context4 (i.e., set and setting), and mystical experiences5 on psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Watts has shared her breakthrough research in the 2017 TedX talk “Can Magic Mushrooms Unlock Depression?” and an interview with YCombinator in March 2018. She spoke at the psychedelic conference Breaking Convention in 2019 about the ACE model and is a featured speaker at Insight 2021. She has spoken and written about the role of psychedelics and connectedness in addressing climate change and mass extinction. In August 2019, she told New Scientist Magazine,
We are in an epidemic of depression and disconnection from ourselves and our environment…When you’re suffering from depression, it’s incredibly difficult to care and do something.