Ketamine Assisted Therapy
Everything You Need to Know About Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a unique therapeutic modality that uses the medicine ketamine to facilitate and accelerate the psychotherapeutic experience. Ketamine works rapidly, effectively, and safely to help improve a variety of conditions that bring people into therapy such as depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and post-traumatic stress. The ketamine experience is a deeply personal experience that transforms your relationship with self and others. When combined with psychotherapy, the ketamine experience can produce a better and faster therapeutic outcome than psychotherapy alone.
Ketamine was developed in the early 20th century as a surgical anesthetic but over the past two decades, clinical research has demonstrated that, when administered at doses lower than those used in anesthesia, ketamine works rapidly, effectively, and safely to transform your experience of living. The combination of psychedelic ketamine with psychotherapy allows people living with a variety of mental and emotional issues to confront root causes as well as symptoms in a safe, controlled environment; and to do the important work of healing with an expert trained to guide you through the challenges of confidently facing your mind and emotions.
What Is the Purpose and Intended Outcome of Psychotherapy?
Therapy is not just about dealing with the condition for which you are seeking help, it is also about discovering who you are. In fact, knowing who you are is the condition out of which problems clear up. The first and last order of business is to discover and experience who you are. This is not an intellectual process. It’s a realization. It is an outgrowth of the therapeutic process.
The ultimate outcome of therapy is a shift in identity. It is a shift in knowing who you are. How do you identify yourself when you ask the question, “Who am I?” How do you fill in the blank after the phrase, “I am…” Do you identify yourself as this human form with its name and all its qualities and characteristics, with all its history and emotions? Or do you identify yourself as the awareness of this human form? Who is the observer of all these qualities?
As you come to know yourself as awareness itself, you come to know yourself as being. You are not merely the thing observed. And that is the fundamental mistake of human existence. When you look on the mind with all the negative thoughts that occur, the persistent thoughts, the judging thoughts, the fantasies and beliefs, the images of yesterday and tomorrow, you are affirming, I am my mind. I am these thoughts. I am the thing observed. Affirming your mind as your identity is simply making a mistake. The whole problem is a case of mistaken identity!
To know yourself as awareness is to know your whole self. And to know your whole self is to know who you are. And to know who you are is to know peace, love, and joy. When you are yourself, you experience the joy of being yourself. Your only problem is your ongoing attempt to deny who you are. You keep affirming, I am not who I am. You have been trying to escape your Self and, no matter how hard you try, you cannot escape being who you are. To know your true self is the goal of this human existence.
The outcome of therapy is to know peace, love, and joy.
The ketamine experience is transformational in facilitating this shift in identity. You get a glimpse of who you are. You are not merely this human form. You are an eternal being having a human experience.
The Process of Therapy
The work of therapy is consistently bringing you into the present moment where all of life exists. The past is completely over, and the future is never yet. You have experienced troubling events from the past and, perhaps, you anticipate troubling events of the future, but it is your present feelings about the past and future that are the source of your problems. In general, depression is a function of living in memories of the past, and fear and anxiety are a function of living in pictures of the imagined future. The work of therapy is about transcending these thoughts the result of which you’re left living more and more in the present moment. There is no reality apart from this present moment. The present moment is where peace, love, and joy abide.
When you feel stuck in depression and anxiety, it becomes your identity. You say I am depressed, or I am anxious, but miss the reality of the present experience to which these words refer. What are you experiencing when you say you are depressed or anxious becomes one of the focal points of therapy. This kind of questioning leads you into the present moment and lays the groundwork for undoing these experiences. Depression or anxiety no longer becomes a thing but rather an ongoing experience worthy of exploring. Through exploring your experience, you come to know yourself as the observer of your experience which allows your experience to change and flow. The therapeutic encounter becomes a partnership where, together with the therapist, you shine a light on your experience. Therapy is not an intellectual process of learning about yourself but rather an experiential process of being yourself.
The process of therapy is to transform your experience of living.
The ketamine experience is exactly like that. You become the observer of your experience and get a glimpse of what it means to be yourself. What is this entity that can observe it all? It is your whole, complete self. Knowing yourself as whole and complete transforms everything. You’ve given up trying to change yourself and, instead, get in touch with completely accepting yourself.
What Is a Transcendent Experience?
Ketamine truly inspires a transcendent experience that could be described as a mystical experience, an altered state of consciousness, an epiphany, a spiritual awakening, divine revelation, ecstasy, or peak experience. It is a consciousness of pure being, pure awareness, beyond time and space. One’s ordinary sense of self fades into the background. One feels a sense of awe, the stopping of time, a sense of unity with others, nature, God, or the universe. Often people will experience a deep sense of peace, relaxation, and bliss. Some will often say, ‘It is so hard to put into words,’ yet the ineffability of the experience adds to its beauty.
How Is All This Healing to The Person Who Experiences Psychological Problems?
Very simply, one transcends one’s problems. The “human” experience is all about trying to “solve” the problems of existence. It is all about changing and fixing, looking for causes and explanations, and the latest interventions, whether it is medication or the latest psychological technique, all meant to liberate you from your feelings. Your basic stance in life is, “I don’t want to feel what I feel” and so you are continuously attempting to change or avoid these problematic feelings. Ketamine takes you “above” the problem, in observation. When you rise above the problem, the problem clears up because you are no longer identified with the problem. There is nothing to change or fix when you know yourself as whole and complete just as you are.
There is an experience in the ketamine journey some have called “dissociation” which many say is one of the healing aspects of the journey. But dissociation is not quite the accurate word. Dissociation implies a “split” in the mind between a “me” that you identify with and a “me” that you dissociate from. But that is only artificial. When you are in observation, you see the object of your observation, whether something in your external or internal world but you miss seeing yourself as the observer. In fact, the observer cannot observe itself. It can just be itself.
The observer embraces “all of me.” In fact, the observer is all of me. I am the observer and the observed. I can’t see who I am, I simply am who I am. I discover “who I am” by knowing myself as the observer of my experience which always occurs in the present moment.
There are some universal themes that often come up: unity consciousness (we are all connected), everything is going to be OK, I am love, and I am loved, all is well, and all will be well. People oftentimes will report they were able to visit a memory or an incident from the past and see it in a different light. This expansive perspective allows the client to see and reflect on the bigger picture with more compassion for themselves and others.
Forgiveness, gratitude, and acceptance are also major themes. The individual may meet with loved ones or spiritual avatars.
This medicine offers a sweet and healing respite from the business of life; it slows down the mind and allows you to simply be in stillness. In stillness, the answers to many of life’s greatest questions are answered by enabling you to let down some of your armor and soften into an egoless state.
Ketamine Therapy Transforms Your Experience of Living
Ketamine is, by far, the most powerful antidepressant we have ever discovered. But perhaps more importantly, ketamine has the effect of quieting the mind, in much the same way as meditation. Over time, with repeated experiences, ketamine quiets the chatter we all live with inside — especially the negative or self-critical chatter. And when that inner noise lessens, it becomes easier to see the landscape of your life — what matters to you, what you can change, and what you cannot. The greatest peace comes from deep acceptance, which is central to our capacity to love, be loved, and feel fulfilled.
How does “being who you are” solve the problems of your existence? “Being who you are” recognizes that there is no problem in reality. There is simply “what is going on” both in your external world and in your experience. When you know “who you are” you can give up trying to change, fix or judge anything. Unpleasant experiences can be experienced, and it is no big deal. Through full acceptance of the feeling, one recognizes that feelings come, and feelings go. And then you come to discover that…
Problems clear up just in the process of life itself.
What Is the Process of Going Forward with Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy works in conjunction with an ongoing relationship with a therapist. This program combines a ketamine dosing plan supervised by a trained medical professional along with a psychotherapy program led by an experienced therapist.
The typical program includes three stages. If you are coming into therapy for the first time, we would meet for a minimum of three sessions to do a full evaluation of your situation and identify the emotions that you are currently struggling with. It will give us some time to work together to address your situation without the benefit of ketamine. And then if we determine together that this is the right avenue for you, I will refer you for a full medical and psychiatric evaluation. Then, assuming that you would “medically qualify” you would be given a prescription of ketamine for 2 journey experiences for which we would meet in person (or online if you are out of the area) for about 3 hours each time. The effect of the medicine lasts only about 45-50 minutes but takes a little longer to completely wear off.
After the journey experience, we would meet either in person or online for what is termed an “integration session.” Integration is a time to share insights or revelations you have received and discover how you might integrate these insights into your everyday living. After that, we would meet again for a second journey experience described above and a subsequent integration session.
After these two journey experiences, we would then evaluate together whether further journey experiences are appropriate or needed, or perhaps might be helpful or wanted, and the timing of such visits. Research has suggested that 6 journey experiences are an optimal number spread out over a course of time depending on the nature of your symptoms. It is difficult to say in advance what might be the optimal course for you. Research has measured that 70% of people going through a ketamine course of treatment have maintained the positive effects anywhere from several months to ongoingly. And it is even higher when one maintains a relationship with a therapist to continue the process of your growth. And not all require a full 6 sessions. You may be just fine after 2 doses, dealing effectively with life situations as they arise. There is no expectation of where things go other than what feels right for you.
The After-Journey Experience
But the nature of this work is not just what the medicine does “for” you on the neurological level of brain function. There has been much research on how ketamine increases “neuroplasticity” in the brain, that is, how it helps to increase and enhance “neural pathways” for brain functioning. Another way of looking at this work is not so much what the medicine does “for” you as what it psychologically “facilitates” in you. It opens the door for a natural way of functioning that facilitates self-awareness. You come to know yourself as an eternal being that never dies.
You learn to live in a state of self-acceptance, of learning to accept your feelings just as they are. “I have feelings, but I am not my feelings” expresses this. You learn to transcend difficult feelings. You are no longer looking for anything external to “fix” you, “change” you, or “make you” feel better. You learn to turn everything over to the natural flow of life and ride the horse in the direction that it’s going. You learn to give up resistance to anything. You learn to go with the flow of your existence, and it is in this flow that you experience peace and joy, contentment, and satisfaction.
This program is not a “do it for me” way of operating much as it would be like going to a medical doctor for some pain (symptoms), where the doctor evaluates you, diagnoses you, and then provides some kind of curative element or procedure (mostly medication) to help eliminate or reduce the intensity of your symptoms. Instead of trying to “fix” your feelings, you learn to “explore and process” your feelings. You live in a state of self-acceptance. This describes the essential process of therapy where you discover, through exploration, that your experience flows and goes just in the process of living and honoring your inner world. You still live this human life, and you continue to experience your experience, but you learn to gain a new perspective.
Costs Associated with the Ketamine Therapy Process
The ketamine therapy process costs $1,600, which includes the following components:
- Two consecutive weeks of 3-hour in-person journey experiences.
- Two virtual integration sessions after each journey.
For new clients, three pre-sessions without ketamine are required at a cost of $195 each. These sessions allow the therapist to understand your struggles and familiarize you with the therapy process.
Before starting the ketamine therapy process, a psychiatric evaluation is necessary to determine medical eligibility. This evaluation costs $250. If you qualify, the prescription cost for each two-journey experience is approximately $50.
Total Costs: $2485
After completing the initial two journey experiences, clients have two options:
Option 1: Continue with another set of two in-person journey experiences for $1,600. A follow-up psychiatric evaluation is $150.
Total Costs: $1750
Option 2: Undertake a series of self-guided experiences at home, with each prescription costing $75. While optional, it is highly recommended to have an integration session after each self-guided experience, $195 for each session.
Total Costs: $75 – $660
“Ketamine truly inspires a transcendent experience that could be described as a mystical experience, an altered state of consciousness, an epiphany, a spiritual awakening, divine revelation, ecstasy, or peak experience.”