Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that has been used in medical settings for several decades. Recently, however, ketamine has gained attention for its potential use in mental health treatment, specifically in the form of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP). This emerging form of therapy involves the use of ketamine to facilitate a therapeutic experience, in combination with psychotherapy.
In this blog, we are going to discuss the history of KAP, the mechanisms of action of ketamine and psychotherapy, and how they work together during treatment.
A Brief History Of Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy
Ketamine was first synthesized in 1962 by Calvin Stevens, an American chemist working for Parke-Davis Laboratories. Initially, ketamine was used primarily as a veterinary anesthetic due to its rapid onset and relatively short duration of action. In the 1970s, however, ketamine began to be used in human medicine, particularly in emergency medicine and surgical settings.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that ketamine began to be used in mental health treatment. Anecdotal reports suggested that ketamine could produce profound changes in consciousness, leading some therapists to experiment with using it as an adjunct to psychotherapy. However, it wasn’t until the 2010s that the use of ketamine in mental health treatment gained widespread attention.
How Ketamine And Psychotherapy Work
Ketamine works by blocking the action of a neurotransmitter called glutamate, which is involved in learning and memory processes. By doing so, ketamine produces a dissociative state, in which individuals may feel disconnected from their bodies and surroundings. This altered state of consciousness can facilitate introspection and self-reflection, making it a potentially powerful tool for psychotherapy.
However, the effects of ketamine are relatively short-lived, typically lasting no more than a few hours. Therefore, ketamine is used in conjunction with psychotherapy, which helps individuals process their experiences and integrate them into their daily lives.
Psychotherapy, in general, works by providing a safe and supportive environment in which individuals can explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Different forms of psychotherapy may focus on different aspects of mental health, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which emphasizes changing negative thought patterns and behaviors, or psychodynamic therapy, which explores unconscious thoughts and feelings.
During ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, the therapist works with the individual to facilitate a therapeutic experience while under the influence of ketamine. This may involve guided imagery, mindfulness exercises, or other techniques designed to help the individual explore their inner world. The therapist may also help the individual process their experiences and integrate them into their daily lives during subsequent psychotherapy sessions.
Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy In Practice
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy typically involves several sessions, spaced out over a period of weeks or months. During each session, the individual is given a dose of ketamine, usually administered via an IV infusion, and then engages in psychotherapy with a trained therapist.
The experience of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can vary widely from person to person. Some individuals report feeling a profound sense of connection with themselves and others, while others may experience fear or anxiety during the session. However, many individuals may feel a sense of relief and improved mood following the session.
Common Uses For Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy
KAP is primarily used as a treatment for treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. It has also shown promise as a treatment for end-of-life anxiety, existential distress, and enhancing creativity and problem-solving abilities in individuals. KAP has been found to be particularly effective in cases where traditional forms of therapy have not been effective, such as in cases of treatment-resistant depression or PTSD.
The dissociative effects of ketamine can help individuals gain a new perspective on their thoughts and feelings, while the psychotherapy component of KAP can help them process their experiences and integrate them into their daily lives. Overall, KAP is a promising new form of therapy that may offer hope for individuals struggling with a range of mental health conditions.
At Mindful Infusions, we believe in the transformative power of ketamine infusion therapy and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. We have seen firsthand the positive impact that these treatments can have on the lives of our patients, many of whom have struggled with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health conditions for years.
Our team of medical professionals and therapists is dedicated to providing the highest quality care in a safe and supportive environment. If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental health condition, we encourage you to reach out to us to learn more about our services and how we can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation and find out if ketamine infusion therapy or ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may be right for you.