Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy

Post by 
Casey Brachvogel
September 21, 2021

Thinking About Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy?

Here's What You Need to Know

For those experiencing treatment-resistant depression, severe anxiety, or PTSD, ketamine assisted
psychotherapy holds out hope.
Ketamine is not FDA approved to treat depression, but a derivative of it called esketamine, is. This works
as a nasal-spray that accompanies antidepressant medications. Ketamine’s official medical use is for
anesthesia during surgeries.

Despite this, ketamine is being used in outpatient facilities through off-label loopholes. Its off-label uses
• Pain disorders
• Mental health disorders
• To facilitate psychological growth
Through multiple studies, ketamine has proven to be highly supportive and useful in treating mental
health problems. After intense screening, patients can work with a psychologist to administer and work
through their experience with ketamine.

How Ketamine Works Within The Brain

Ketamine works in the brain by improving, and in some cases speeding up, the healing process by
targeting multiple pathways. Most antidepressants target either serotonin, dopamine, or
norepinephrine. However, ketamine is different. It targets glutamate. Glutamate strengthenssynaptic
connections and is critical in regulating how our brain processesthoughts, emotions, and new
information and experiences.
More specifically, it targets the NDMA receptor site. The result is an enhancement of mood, less anxiety,
and even helps fight off addiction. It could even help with new connections that promote healing that
leads to a greater sense of connection with other people and ourselves.
Even with this information, however, scientists are still puzzled by how ketamine does this to the brain.
One theory suggests that ketamine stimulatesthe regrowth of synapses, which rewires the brain
This has been confirmed by a recent study conducted by psychiatrist Conor Liston at Weill Cornell
Medicine. He and his team found that synapse growth is a big part of this process, in an unexpected
way. When studying mice, they revealed that ketamine causes a change in the brain circuit function.
Then, much later, the drug stimulated the regrowth of synapses. This shows that ketamine works long
after the initial ‘high’ wears off.
While the jury is still out on the exact mechanisms behind ketamine, the results are in and are
unanimous. This drug can be extremely helpful at reversing the symptoms of major depression and

What Is Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy?

In order to benefit fully from ketamine therapy, individuals are encouraged to consider ketamine
assisted psychotherapy. This unique approach to traditional psychotherapy creates an immersive
experience where the user can experience healing, rather than simply talk aboutit.
For each session, patients are asked to set aside a full 2 hours. This allows the patient to fully
understand their experience, learn how to integrate it, and begin to heal.

During the session, patients will have access to both their therapist as well as medical professionals to
ensure their safety. Psychologicalcounseling is a major component of the treatment and helps the
patient absorb, integrate, and enjoy the experience. This also prevents the person from having a
negative reaction to the drug and should that happen they have on-hands psychological support to work
through it effectively.
Having both the support of a skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced psychotherapist at your side
during an intense psychedelic experience allowsfor more space to heal.

Psychotherapy & Ketamine—A Match Made In Heaven

The potential of ketamine in a psychologicalsetting is powerful. Psychologists who work with the drug
have had positive results in treating patients with depression and anxiety.
But the reasons behind these results are intriguing. For starters, it allows us to access the unconscious

mind. With low, and safe dosage, ketamine can produce a dreamlike or hypnotic state. During our day-
to-day life, we put up defense mechanisms that push away unpleasantmemories. Phobias and emotions

are pushed away from our every-day consciousness because they interfere with the tasks at hand. This is
all the more pronounced in busy cultures like our own.
When we push these thoughts, memories, and emotions into our unconsciousness it makes it difficult to
access them. Ketamine loosens up those barriers and reduces the filter that keeps us away from it. With
higher doses of the drug, dissociative and deep, transpersonal experiences can be enjoyed by the
patient. This is one of the best ways to quickly accessthe pain or problems holding us back. While talk
therapy is critical and helpfulif often takes months or even years to fully access these buried memories
and emotions.
Some therapists have even reported breakthroughs within four weeks of ketamine treatment! However,
the combination of talk therapy with ketamine can be extremely powerful. Psychotherapy provides a
safe and freeing environment where you can work through what comes up during your session.
Before diving into ketamine facilitated therapy, you also need to have a few psychotherapy sessions to
get to know the therapist so you feel safe working with ketamine. During that first session, you will have
your medical and psychiatric histories analyzed to make sure you are a good fit. Fortunately, ketamine is
a relatively safe drug that has very few complications, so most people are a good fit for it from a medical
With the help of a psychotherapist, you can explore the emotions that come up and what they mean to
you as a person. It also allows you to incorporate those experiences to the benefit of your life.

Determining If It’s Right For You

Ketamine treatment requires a strict screening process. It is not the right treatment for everyone. For
example, individuals suffering from psychotic disorders or those who have specific depressions, may not
benefit from treatment. For proper ketamine treatment and results, you should first go through
traditional therapies and medications to ensure these treatments do not work for you. Additionally, the

duration of your depressive episodes is also important. It is not recommended that you seek ketamine
treatment for your initial attempt to relieve symptoms of psychiatric issues or pain management.
Eliminating other options first is the best path forward.
If you have not experienced results with antidepressants or CBT group or individual therapy, it could be
time to try ketamine treatment.
Get the help you need. Consider ketamine if you’re ready for real change.

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