Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy
When It Feels Impossible To Find Long-Term Relief From Painful Psychological Symptoms, It’s Time To Try Something Different
Deep, lasting healing is possible.
If you feel stuck or as though you can’t make progress through other forms of counseling, you may be an excellent candidate for Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy or KAP. Ketamine is a safe and legal drug that can help you temporarily create distance between yourself and your emotions to gain newfound perspectives and reactions to your experiences.
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy at Bay Area Mental Health is a useful adjunct to individual counseling that can facilitate healing on a deep level.
Who Can Benefit From KAP?
Perhaps you’re someone who has struggled with severe or chronic clinical depression and anxiety. If this is the case, you likely experience extreme despair, sadness, and worry. Though you’ve tried therapy and other medications, you’ve only been able to mask symptoms or find temporary relief. Stuck inside these patterns of negative thinking and self-doubt, you may be searching for an alternative method of therapy that will actually produce lasting results.
It could be that you survived a trauma and have a hard time remaining present. You may experience frequent flashbacks or nightmares, causing you to regularly feel unsafe or on high alert. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can result from internalized distress following a trauma, and ketamine therapy has been proven to help reduce symptoms.
Alternatively, you may be someone who struggles with existential angst, trying to understand your greater purpose or make sense of painful events that cause suffering. Looking for a way to connect with something greater than yourself, you may be in search of psychospiritual experiences that traditional forms of talk therapy simply don’t offer. Using ketamine in conjunction with talk therapy could be a meaningful way to reconnect with your authentic self, which may lead to greater life fulfillment.
Regardless of the symptoms you experience, being stuck in counterproductive and painful patterns has probably taken its toll. Whether your career is suffering due to a lack of motivation, or your relationships are strained by emotional disconnect, you know there is more to life than the symptoms weighing you down.
If you’re ready to escape the cycle of pain and trauma or find new meaning in your experiences, Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy can help.
Ketamine Psychotherapy Is A Highly Safe And Effective Therapeutic Intervention
Due to the stigma associated with psychedelics and drug use, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding ketamine. Nevertheless, ketamine is a safe and legal medication.
Ketamine is classified as a dissociative anesthetic and has been in use and regulated by the FDA since 1970. As more research has been done on ketamine, clinicians now see its value as a fast-acting and highly effective antidepressant. Today, ketamine is used in ERs, IV clinics, and therapy offices across the country to target chronic and acute symptoms of psychological distress. And it’s now verified as a highly effective therapy for treatment-resistant depression.
How Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy Works
When a clinician administers low doses of ketamine, clients are able to expand their awareness, reduce their reactivity and create a new relationship to their thoughts and feelings.
By disrupting the Default Mode Network (DMN)—which is the brain system that is activated when we are not focused on tasks or the outside world—psychological flexibility is introduced, and the neuroplasticity of the brain is changed. In the process, knowledge and memories are consolidated more effectively, which in turn quiets the areas of the brain where ruminations and negative inner dialogue take place. Essentially, ketamine acts as a psychological “lubricant,” facilitating transformational change.
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy pairs this medicinal experience with ongoing talk therapy sessions that help clients integrate the insights they gained during ketamine sessions. This is, in fact, the most essential part of KAP, as it supports the strengthening of neuroplasticity while the brain learns new ways of processing information.
Whereas other medicine-based treatments, including IV ketamine and esketamine, offer transient relief, Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy offers the advantage of ongoing support from a mental health professional who can facilitate healing, skills building, and integration. The ketamine experience is only the beginning, and with concurrent psychotherapy, we can help create lasting change.
At Bay Area Mental Health, we offer both in-person and virtual KAP sessions to clients who qualify for this treatment.
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy At Bay Area Mental Health
If you struggle with daily worries and self-limiting beliefs, you may have lost hope that a therapy exists which will actually target your symptoms and provide long-term relief. However, we have witnessed, firsthand, the lasting, positive outcomes that Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy has had in the lives of our clients.
Once it’s determined that you are a good candidate for KAP who doesn’t have any high-risk factors—including heart conditions, kidney problems, psychosis, or other dissociative disorders—you will then be scheduled for a psychological and medical assessment. Our clinicians are highly collaborative, and we will take a team-oriented approach to tailor KAP depending on your unique symptoms and goals for treatment.
KAP sessions last three hours in total. The first 45 to 90 minutes are devoted to the medicine experience, as your clinician administers the ketamine, putting you into a euphoric, dream-like state. For this process, your therapist will create a peaceful environment (also known as “set and setting”) that will allow you to feel safe to gently witness the self and access memories or feelings that would otherwise be too painful. For the remainder of the session, you will process the experience with the support of your therapist and begin the work of removing the psychological barriers that are keeping you stuck in painful patterns.
The integration work following the medicine session is perhaps the most critical part of KAP, allowing you to incorporate insights and knowledge from the medicine sessions into your life, as you reinforce new, healthier approaches to life’s challenges. This, in turn, leads to long-term behavioral changes and encourages refreshed creativity for problem-solving.
Our Collaborative, Individualized Approach To KAP
In addition to the psychological flexibility enhanced by Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy, our clinicians are likely to use other clinical and holistic methods in treatment to facilitate healing. These methods may include aspects of parts work, which lays the foundation for the belief that all emotions and feelings are welcome. We may also use meditation, journaling, mindful movements, expressive arts, and other contemplative practices to help you integrate your experiences in therapy.
Using KAP, our clients have entered a flow state that has allowed them to be more connected to themselves and their environment. By promoting a new perspective, KAP allows our clients to recognize unfulfilling areas of life and instead move toward a more purposeful, meaningful existence.
KAP may help you where other treatments have fallen short. By participating in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy at Bay Area Mental Health, you can finally find relief from symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other obstacles to your happiness.
Maybe You’re Curious About KAP But Still Have Questions…
The idea of using psychedelics makes me nervous.
Given the stigma attached to recreational drug use in this country, we understand that you might have some reservations about Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. But this is not a recreational experience—it’s a therapeutic one.
Ketamine can be administered in low to moderate doses. Clients typically don’t experience psychedelic effects at the lower doses but rather enter a very relaxed, meditative state. Our clinicians implement the rule of “start low and go slow” so that we can ensure an appropriate dosage for you.
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy sounds expensive and time-consuming.
Because KAP sessions at Bay Area Mental Health are three hours, they are more intensive (and thus more expensive) than standard talk therapy sessions. However, ketamine therapy is an upfront investment of time and money into your healing process, which may save you money over the long term. Because you’ll see positive outcomes sooner, you’re likely to ultimately reduce the time you need to spend in therapy overall.
It’s also important to be mindful that while we see more clinics offering lower cost ketamine therapy with minimal oversight, we don’t recommend the use of ketamine unless you have a trained clinician guiding you through both the transformation and integration process.
Ketamine is a safe drug, but it can disrupt the healing process if you have a negative experience and lack the ongoing support of a trained clinician. “Challenging experiences” with ketamine, as we call them, are actually amazing opportunities for growth and change, but they can really backfire if there is no professional support available when they occur.
Where can I learn more about the benefits of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy?
If you want to learn more about Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy and how it can help you, we encourage you to visit the Bay Area Mental Health Resource Center, where we have included additional information about KAP.
We also recommend the book How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan for further exploration of the healing potential of psychedelics, including ketamine.
True Healing Is Possible
If you struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD or other chronic mental health concerns, Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy may help where other interventions fall short.
Meet our Team of KAP Therapists:
Sandy Kong, LMFT
Lisa Prosser-Dodds, PhD
Kimberly McCord, LMFT
Natasha Krueger, PhD
Linnea Butler, LMFT
Contact Us to meet with one our KAP Therapists:
Get in touch so we can start working together.