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Ketamine Therapy: Complementing Ketamine Infusions with Psychotherapy

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Peck
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Reading Time: 4 minutes
Psychotherapy with Ketamine

Psychotherapy, on its own, is only so effective.

As more progressive research is being done, things like ketamine therapy are being considered as alternative options for those who just can’t find relief from traditional treatment.

Often referred to as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, this has been shown to offer remarkable results for patients struggling with more challenging and complex mental health conditions and concerns.

In some cases, patients were invited to write down their thoughts and experiences after a session or discuss them with the attending nurses and/or physicians.

However, that didn’t prove to be as effective because some people struggle to find the words to speak about what they’ve experienced, even after a ketamine infusion.

Enter the assistance of psychotherapy. With guided assistance, it’s believed that more people can experience improvements in their mental health and better deal with the challenges that they face.

What Is Ketamine Infusion Therapy?

Ketamine infusion therapy on its own has been under research for several years now, and it is becoming a much more common practice.

The infusions can be used to treat mental health issues, but not generally on their own.

This is often considered complementary therapy for those already seeking psychotherapy services or other assistance with lifestyle or health changes.

Thus, it’s only natural that studies would go further to find out how else this therapy can be incorporated in other ways to help people heal.

How Can Psychotherapy Help?

Whereas the concept of writing things down leaves the patient to their own devices, adding the experienced guidance of a psychotherapist can improve the overall treatment in many ways.

Instead of people having to struggle to remember what they experienced, a professional will be able to walk them through it and help them find more answers and clarity as they go.

This can open the door to valuable perspectives and insights that people may not have come to on their own or that may have taken much longer to arrive at otherwise.

The Rising Trend of Psychedelic Therapy for Complex PTSD and Other Conditions

Ketamine is just one of the drugs being explored for psychedelic therapy and treatment of complex mental health concerns.

Other studies involve substances like psilocybin therapy, utilizing the compounds found in “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms” as some people call them, to help people sort through complex trauma, emotions, and other issues they are struggling with.

Again, all of these studies are still ongoing, and there isn’t a lot of long-term information because they’re so new, but so far, there’s been great progress and the trend toward making these therapies more available continues.

Whether it’s ketamine or psilocybin, the use of a drug that alters the mental state, when combined with guided psychotherapy and discussion, the idea is that it will allow people to break down barriers and get past obstacles they couldn’t otherwise manage with a clear, conscious mind.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to “trick” the brain by retraining it in creative ways, and that’s what’s being done here.

What to Expect During the Process

Patients undergoing this therapy will first have the ketamine infusion. This is administered with nurse-monitored support. In traditional sessions, once the infusion is done, the appointment is over.

By adding psychotherapy, we are essentially adding a resource step. After the infusion has been completed, the therapist will join the patient to help them unpack anything that comes up or to discuss their thoughts/feelings/experiences in relation to the process.

The idea is that the added psychotherapy immediately after the infusion may help people to better deal with trauma and various events they may have otherwise forgotten.

This also embraces the psychedelic effects of ketamine and its impact on the brain. It helps open people’s minds and reduces inhibitions so that they can deal with their demons, if you will.

The best thing you can do is have a consultation with a licensed psychotherapy provider to determine if this is for you and to learn what you should expect.

Psychedelic Therapy Q&A

Before we close, we want to cover some of the biggest questions and concerns people have about ketamine infusion therapy and the use of psychotherapy, as well as other psychedelic therapy treatments.

What are psychedelics? Which ones are used for this type of therapy?

Psychedelics refer to synthetic and plant-based substances that alter the state of consciousness, often being so unique and powerful that they’re compared to religious experiences, near-death ecstasy, and other extreme states of being. The most common substances used include ketamine, LSD, MDMA, and psilocybin, the hallucinogenic substance found in some mushrooms.

What mental conditions can psychedelics be used for?

Currently, psychedelic therapy is being explored for mental health conditions like PTSD, depression, anxiety, OCD, and even addiction. When combining these substances with psychotherapy, studies are showing increasing promise in the treatment of various mental health conditions.

Can’t I just take some mushrooms or try LSD myself?

While some people attempt to experience these altered, fluctuating states of consciousness on their own, it’s not recommended. For starters, these substances are still largely considered illegal drugs when purchased off the street by an individual. Not only that, but you won’t have the professional assistance to ensure that you’re medically safe, or that of the therapist to help walk you through what you’ve experienced.

Are ketamine and psychedelic therapy safe for everyone?

Some people may not be recommended for these types of treatment options, even with their complex mental health issues. For example, those who exhibit control issues to the level of extreme paranoia may find that the altered state of consciousness only induces more panic, rather than helping the situation. That’s why an individual evaluation is done for each patient before treatment is started.

What if I don’t want to “get high” but am interested in this therapy?

These treatments are generally administered in small, micro-doses to begin with, and they usually remain that way. This allows people to get all the benefits of the psychedelic without the extended “trip” that comes from consuming more of the substance. Get in touch now to learn about how psychotherapy-supported ketamine infusions and other options could work for you.

Resources

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/psychedelic-therapy
https://www.cedars-sinai.org/newsroom/expert-qa-psychedelic-drugs-and-mental-health/
https://ketaminehealthcenters.com/blog/ketamine-assisted-psychotherapy-what-to-expect/