How might ketamine-assisted psychotherapy help you?
I am passionate about offering ketamine therapy because I have seen dramatic and life-changing results from my clients. Most of my clients have felt an accelerated healing process and movement toward their goals.
How does it work?
Often people experiencing depression have a highly active default mode network, which occurs when we ruminate on negative internal thoughts and beliefs. When you tell yourself negative stories about who you are, your narrative about yourself becomes more fixed and rigid. This can lead to experiencing the world and yourself through shades of gray. Ketamine allows your brain to experience a temporary disruption in your habitual ways of thinking and experience something bigger.
This break in thinking patterns often leads clients to a new sense of hope—a sense of ease and new possibilities opening up. In addition, many clients feel a greater sense of acceptance and spiritual connection after ketamine therapy.
It can be challenging.
Ketamine therapy creates resources in the nervous system to process stuck things. These could be traumas, big or small, that we have suppressed or not fully processed because they were too overwhelming. We might not have had enough support when these painful things occurred. Ketamine therapy brings what needs to be processed to the surface. Although this can be challenging, it is why I believe in the use of ketamine in conjunction with psychotherapy. I am here to offer compassion, support, and gentle guidance throughout the process. Moving through the challenge is the path to set us free to find acceptance and peace within us.
Ketamine inherently has antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, but we're using the expanded state of awareness to create a primary healing experience. In my office, I will provide you with a comfortable and safe environment for you to explore an altered state of consciousness. This state can lead to new insights, a more profound sense of connection with the people in your life, a greater experience of community, and unlearning of dysfunctional patterns. After the ketamine therapy session, I will support you in the process of integration to apply your new learnings into your life.
The goal of ketamine therapy is to create enough healing experiences so that you no longer need the medicine. I want to empower you to create a new set of beliefs and self-concept that lays a foundation for the rest of your healing journey.
How do we begin ketamine-assisted psychotherapy?
We will begin with at least 3 non-ketamine sessions to lay a foundation and prepare you for the medicine sessions (sometimes more). Then, I will refer you to a ketamine prescriber I work with. The prescriber will medically and psychologically assess you for safety before beginning our treatment together. If determined safe and appropriate treatment to proceed, the prescriber will give you a ketamine prescription in the form of low-dose lozenges. You will bring your tablets to our sessions.
What can I Expect in Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?
There are three phases in this treatment model: preparation, journey, and integration. The preparation phase comes before we integrate ketamine into the sessions. During this phase, we will have discussions regarding expectations. You may choose to set an intention for your focus during the ketamine therapy session and establish a meditation practice. The journey phase involves taking medicine within a controlled and comfortable environment.. You can bring other belongings, such as pillows and blankets, to create the most ideal setting for your journey. An eye mask and headphones for music may support you during this experience. I will be present with you the entire time to help you process anything that arises during this phase. The integration phase will include psychotherapy sessions with me to continue processing the ketamine therapy journey. I will encourage you to also find ways to integrate on your own. Journaling could be another practice used to integrate your new insights. The goal of the integration period is to find ways to implement changes in your life based on your experience of altered consciousness with ketamine therapy. You may experience an afterglow of good feelings for days following your ketamine therapy session. Your habitual patterns of thought may return, yet, the experience during the medicine session will allow you to choose a new perspective on how to approach these thoughts. Together, we will create new neural pathways in your brain to broaden your options and revitalize your soul.
If you are curious to hear about someone's personal experience, the psychotherapist Dan Ronken shares his experience with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy in the video linked below:
Neuroplasticity with Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy
Neuroplasticity, the concept that brain functioning is malleable and able to change, represents the key principle underlying the effectiveness of ketamine therapy. Depression causes changes in the brain circuitry, specifically, the number of neurons and the strength of interconnectedness between them decreases. But there is hope, even for those who have not experienced any benefits from typical antidepressants.
The most popular antidepressants in our culture, SSRIs, target the neurotransmitter serotonin. However, this neurotransmitter only makes up 20% of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Thus, it makes sense that only 40% of people respond to SSRIs. The other neurotransmitters that make up 80% of the brain's neurotransmitters include GABA and glutamate. Ketamine works on both the GABA and glutamate receptors in the brain, which could contribute to the antidepressant effects of this medicine.
Ketamine also increases neuronal connection by regrowing the synapses between neurons, ultimately rewiring the brain. The effect may be mediated by stimulating a critical period, approximately for 72 hours after the medicine is administered, in which time the brain's plasticity increases at the cellular level and possibly the functional level too! During this time, clinicians can work with clients to change their outlook to more effectively respond to both internal and external stimuli. Thus, ketamine is only part of the treatment. It's essential to pair medicine sessions with psychotherapy in order to stimulate and maintain new cognitive pathways to handle life's stressors. If you choose to work with me, I will assist you in integrating your learnings into your new framework by supporting your meaning-making process. Using ketamine therapy, we will reset your brain and provide you with the tools to more effectively navigate the stressors in your life.
To hear and read about this from Yale Medicine, click the links below: