What is Ketamine-Assisted Therapy?
Ketamine-assisted therapy (KAT) is a unique therapeutic method used to address various mental health conditions, including depression, post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, addiction, and some forms of anxiety. It involves using the psychoactive substance ketamine to enhance and deepen the therapeutic process and the use of psychotherapy and other integrative forms of treatment to amplify and prolong the curative effects of ketamine.
We offer KAT as part of our comprehensive and holistic approach to wellness. We have found that this unique type of treatment is most effective when paired with other forms of therapy that complement and deepen the work. In addition to integration counseling, we offer acupuncture and suggest diet, lifestyle changes, and bodywork to support opening to the experience, moving blocked energy, and integrating the therapeutic effects.
Who should consider KAT?
Ketamine is used off-label for various mental health struggles, including depression, chronic pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and addiction.
Some medical and psychiatric conditions need to be treated before you can safely work with ketamine. These include hallucinations, untreated mania, forms of cardiovascular disease, uncontrolled hyperthyroidism, increased intracranial pressure, cystitis, evidence of liver disease, or addiction recovery that could be jeopardized by IV medication administration.
A medical and psychological intake will help you determine if you are an appropriate candidate for this work.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a psychoactive drug with psychedelic effects and was first synthesized in 1962. It has been used in the United States as an anesthetic in medical settings since 1970. Ketamine is considered safe for most people and is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.
Ketamine has been used off-label in sub-anesthetic doses in psychotherapy for more than 20 years to treat chronic pain, depression, and a variety of other mental health concerns, thanks to its rapid onset antidepressant effects, sometimes providing nearly immediate relief from emotional and physical pain. While the antidepressant effects tend to be temporary after a single ketamine treatment, multiple treatments have proven to have a cumulative impact, successfully alleviating symptoms in up to 60% of individuals 60% of individuals with treatment-resistant depression.
In low doses, ketamine can serve as a supportive adjunct to psychotherapy. It provides an opportunity for the temporary softening of the psychological defenses, allowing for deeper self-reflection and psychotherapeutic processing.
In moderate doses, ketamine has psychedelic effects, which have been shown to facilitate profound transpersonal experiences. These types of incidents can help people in various ways, offering important clarity and insight into one’s struggles, adding a spiritual/transcendent dimension to ongoing therapeutic work, and facilitating a sense of meaning and interconnectedness.
What to Expect?
We will start with a phone screening to discuss your symptoms and determine whether KAT might benefit you. If so, you will meet with our clinical staff for an initial consultation and psychiatric assessment. If you qualify for our program after the intake, you will be scheduled for preparatory sessions in which you will get to know the therapist who will be supporting you in your treatment and prepare for your KAT session. There will be a minimum of two preparatory sessions before your first KAT session. In some cases, more than two initial sessions are indicated.
During a 2 hour KAT session, clients first meet with medical staff that will administer the ketamine. Before the ketamine is administered, clients meet with their KAT therapist for 20 minutes to prepare for the session. Ketamine is then given through an IV, and the onset is within 5 minutes and lasts about 60 minutes. The therapist will be present and engaged throughout the experience and help the client begin integrating their expertise after the medication has stopped being administered.
During the peak of the ketamine experience, clients often find themselves in a realm of consciousness described as “cosmic,” “ego dissolved,” “boundless,” or “ineffable.” Due to the intensity of these experiences, it is helpful for clients to be well prepared and supported during their journeys. KAT practitioners seek to do this first, by intentionally preparing the environment (set) to foster a sense of safety, trust, and relaxation; second, by preparing clients (setting) psychologically and emotionally to navigate the trip before inducing this altered state; third, by being present with clients throughout the experience so that they always have an experienced, knowledgeable person to assist them in navigating any challenging parts of the journey; and fourth, assist them in deriving meaning and creating change from their experience.
Upon reentering waking consciousness, there will often be much to process, and not all of it will make immediate sense. This initial stage of returning and remembering is a vital aspect of KAT, where insights can be brought back, processed, and digested into takeaways that can be implemented into one’s daily life. Having a therapist familiar with these journeys and their integration to share one’s journey with can significantly enhance the long-term impact of the ketamine experience along with helping find one’s equilibrium and sense of feeling grounded after coming back from such a profound journey.
After your KAT sessions
You may wish to participate in stand-alone integration sessions in which we will help you integrate your experience during the ketamine session, discuss how you responded to the medicine, and determine an individualized course of treatment moving forward. Generally, multiple ketamine sessions are required to experience lasting effects. We recommend a commitment to a minimum of 3 sessions, as this medicine tends to have a cumulative effect and is most beneficial after multiple treatments. Still, you and your therapist will determine the exact number of KAT sessions based on need. Please contact us directly for more detailed information and to answer any questions you might have.
Jordon holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography from Texas State University and a Masters in Counseling from St. Edward’s University with a focus on Marriage and Family Therapy. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate. He is also training with the Multi-disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies to do MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD.
Jordon is personally experienced with various psychedelic medicines, including ketamine, as well as spontaneous transcendent experiences. He has also worked with a diverse group of shamans and medicine practitioners. He practices Bikram Yoga, meditation, running, and extended plunges in freezing water.
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