Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP)
KAP is a unique therapeutic method used to address a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, PTSD, complex PTSD, addiction and some forms of anxiety. It involves the use of ketamine to enhance and deepen the therapeutic process, along with the use of psychotherapy and other integrative forms of treatment to amplify and prolong the curative effects of ketamine.
In low doses, ketamine can serve as a supportive adjunct to psychotherapy. It provides an opportunity for the temporary softening of psychological defenses, allowing for deeper self-reflection and psychotherapeutic processing, which can lead to the resolution of current struggles.
In moderate doses, ketamine has psychedelic effects, which have been shown to facilitate profound transpersonal experiences. These types of experiences help people by offering important clarity and insight into one’s struggles, adding a spiritual dimension to ongoing therapeutic work, and facilitating a sense of meaning and interconnectedness.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is an FDA approved psychoactive drug that has been used as an anesthetic agent since 1970. In the past 20 years, ketamine has been used off-label in doses much lower than those for anesthesia to treat chronic pain, depression and a variety of other mental health conditions. Due to its rapid onset of antidepressant effects, ketamine often provides immediate relief from emotional and physical pain. While antidepressant effects may be limited after only a single dose, research has shown that multiple treatments have a cumulative effect successfully alleviating symptoms in approximately 30-60% of individuals with treatment-resistant depression, especially when combined with psychotherapeutic processing.
What to Expect
We will start with an initial complimentary consultation to determine if ketamine might be right for you. If so, we will then meet for a thorough psychological and medical intake to determine if you are medically cleared to take the medication. We will then meet for a minimum of 3 KAP preparation sessions to discuss goals, issues to be addressed and prepare you for the process of the KAP session.
The ketamine session itself typically lasts for 3 hours. I will be with you throughout the entire time. Prior to the session, you will be prescribed a ketamine lozenge, which you will bring with you to the session. Upon taking the lozenge, the effects of ketamine typically appear within about 15-20 minutes, peak for about 40 minutes, and then dissipate over the next 1 – 2 hours. Ketamine will often either encourage a positive shift in mood, or may bring subconscious information to the surface, which will need processing to bring to resolution. While ketamine is used off-label as an antidepressant, sometimes more challenging emotions and experiences will surface. Often these are at the root of your depression and we will work together so that you can process and work through whatever has come up for you.
After your first KAP session, you will have at least 2 follow-up psychotherapy sessions to 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.
It is recommended that you commit to at least 3 ketamine sessions, as this drug has been shown to have a cumulative effect and is most beneficial after multiple treatments.
For those doing intensive therapy retreats with ketamine, the process is as follows:
Day 1 – The morning is spent in preparation, followed by a 3-hour ketamine session in the afternoon.
Day 2 – Full day integration and processing of the ketamine journey, as well as other insights and topics that may come up.
Day 3 – Rest and reflect in the morning. 3-hour ketamine session in the afternoon.
Day 4 – Another full day of integration and psychotherapeutic processing session.
(More days can be added as deemed appropriate.)
Ketamine is used off-label for a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, chronic pain, anxiety, and PTSD, however, some physical and mental health conditions are contraindicated in the use of ketamine. These include hallucinations, DID, untreated mania, uncontrolled hypertension, cardiovascular disease, increased intracranial pressure, cystitis, and liver disease.