What happens in a psychotherapy session after a ketamine infusion?
Ketamine assisted psychotherapy, also known as KAP, involves a ketamine session paired with a psychotherapy session. These integration sessions bring together talk therapy and the ketamine experience.
The big question is: “How close is a ketamine therapy session to a psychedelic session?” Psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin, are described in the news as having therapeutic benefits. Is an IV ketamine session similar to the psilocybin experience?
Psilocybin has been proven beneficial to patients who are near the end of their lives, suffering from terminal illnesses, such as cancer. Guided sessions provide new insights into the nature of life and the universe.
The psilocybin patient gains a new perspective and is relieved from stress and anxiety by coming to terms with their existential crisis. A therapist is a critical component of this process, providing much-needed guidance to the client to keep the experience on-track with a positive outcome.
Interestingly, ketamine infusion therapy is somewhat different from a psilocybin or LSD experience. While those drugs change the user’s perspective and understanding of the world around them, ketamine treatment provides direct healing to the brain at the level of interneuronal connections.
Does a ketamine clinic provide a KAP therapist during the IV ketamine medicine session?
While psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin, can reduce a person’s ability to communicate fluently during the psychedelic experience, they are still able to carry on a conversation and to listen to guidance from a therapist, counselor, or coach. A guided integration session improves the effects of the psychedelic medicine.
So, a psilocybin psychedelic assisted psychotherapy session would typically occur concurrently with the drug experience. Ketamine assisted psychotherapy is done differently.
Unlike psychedelic treatment, ketamine assisted therapy is more like traditional talk therapy, and it is provided on a different day from the ketamine experience. Ketamine, as a dissociative anesthetic, helps the patient to achieve a relaxed state and a floating sensation.
During the infusion, the patient is not in an ideal state to carry on a conversation with a mental health professional. Traditional therapy is offered the following day, after ketamine infusion.
While the brain healing effects of ketamine are such that patients can benefit even without psychotherapy, experts agree that any treatment of mental illness should include talk therapy. For example, depression treatment, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mood disorders should include a psychotherapy treatment plan.
Does ketamine work for chronic pain without psychotherapy?
It is clear that talk therapy should accompany medical treatment with ketamine for treatment resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, or addiction. However, chronic pain seems to be in a different category. Should chronic pain patients also receive psychotherapy?
While chronic pain is a physical condition, it is often associated with depression and other psychological manifestations. A KAP session for chronic pain works very well when the patient is able to experience the healing effects of ketamine, and also to have related mental health issues addressed.
Chronic pain results from sensitization to pain in the central nervous system. A person with a history of trauma from early adulthood or childhood may be at a higher risk for developing a chronic pain syndrome.
Hence, when we treat chronic pain symptoms, we should always consider mental health conditions as well. Patients who receive ketamine infusion treatments for pain should always be offered talk therapy.
Whether the pain syndrome is neuropathic pain or nociceptive pain, ketamine can help. Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy will almost always provide a better experience and better outcome.
Why do people call ketamine a psychedelic substance when it is really a brain-healing medication?
Ketamine is an FDA-approved medication, and it has been for many decades. It does not induce the mind-bending hallucinations associated with psychedelic drugs.
The effects of ketamine are well understood, and it is known to be a very safe medication. Psychedelic drugs, such as LSD or psilocybin, are not as well understood in their long-term effects on the brain.
We simply do not know if people who use those substances regularly will have cognitive issues down the road. While there are scientists studying these substances to better understand their potential benefits, it may be many years before we understand the long-term risks.
The ketamine infusion experience does give patients some sensations that are similar to the effects of a psychedelic treatment. Yet, the ketamine experience is different from the psychedelic experience, and the goals of therapy are also different.
A ketamine patient does not have to be prepared for a world-altering change in perception that might occur with psychedelics. There is nothing to fear when going to the ketamine clinic. When you start a ketamine infusion in Annapolis, you can simply lay back and relax.
Should we stop calling ketamine a psychedelic?
There are some benefits to placing ketamine in the same category with psychedelic therapies. For example, people seeking psychedelic therapy may discover ketamine infusion, which can provide better results in treating many mental health conditions, as well as chronic pain.
On the other hand, referring to ketamine as a psychedelic can also give some people the wrong idea about what ketamine assisted psychotherapy is all about. Ketamine works differently from drugs such as psilocybin.
We have many decades of data to demonstrate the beneficial effects of medically supervised ketamine infusion, paired with psychotherapy. Ketamine promotes improved connections and communication within the brain.
The experience is pleasant and relaxing. Unlike psychedelic therapy, ketamine patients do not have to be concerned about unpleasant or unwanted thoughts or visions.
OCD patients benefit greatly from ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, and they do not have to worry about intrusive thoughts during the IV infusion. Depression patients do not have to worry about the risk of a bad trip.
Ketamine is not a psychedelic drug, and it does not cause psychedelic trips. Ketamine infusion therapy is a true medical treatment that is highly effective, and even more effective when paired with regular psychotherapy.
Where can I go for ketamine assisted psychotherapy?
There are ketamine clinics that focus exclusively on providing the medication, either by IV, intramuscular injection, or even ketamine lozenges or nasal spray. Other clinics focus on the most effective form of treatment, IV infusion therapy.
When a patient is seeking ketamine assisted therapy, they should look for a clinic that offers both ketamine IV infusion and talk therapy. The ideal protocol separates the infusion from the therapy sessions by at least one day.
When you begin to research ketamine facilities, ask about how they view the treatment they are providing. Do they see ketamine as a psychedelic? Or do they see it as a proven, safe and effective medical therapy?
Ketamine is safe, yet it is important to work with the most knowledgeable healthcare staff at a clinic that takes this form of medical treatment seriously. The staff should avoid using terminology associated with psychedelic drug use.
Your comfort level is important when you go in for your initial ketamine session. The setting of your ketamine clinic, as well as the professionalism of the staff will contribute to a productive infusion session, as well as an insightful and therapeutic counseling session.