Faculty Spotlight: Jason Sienknecht

Jason Sienknecht, LPC, CAC II

PRATI has been blessed with Jason’s presence from day one. Jason is a KAP therapist and MAPS-trained MDMA-assisted psychotherapist. With a warm, soft, presence Jason is a born educator and co-leads the development of PRATI’s KAP curriculum. In this Faculty Spotlight, PRATI Executive Director Jamie Harvie sat down with Jason to explore his passion and inspiration for this work.  

JH: Jason, when we met you shared the honor and joy you feel in your role as a KAP therapist. Can you share a few sentences about your journey to become a KAP therapist and what it means to you?

JS: I’ve been aiming towards the goal of becoming a psychedelic therapist since 2002. Several powerful, transpersonal psychedelic experiences in my early 20s inspired me to find a professional path that leveraged the potential of psychedelic medicine to help people heal. I considered it more of a pipe dream that would likely never come to fruition unless I chose the clandestine path of an underground therapist. But I never found the courage to go underground, as I was too fearful of the risks involved in that pursuit. So, over the next 15 years, I worked in community mental health trying to find meaning and purpose in practicing a range of mostly traditional, directive forms of psychotherapy.

I think I was recovering from my 3rd or 4th professional burnout episode when I first heard Dr. Scott Shannon on a podcast discussing the work he was doing with ketamine at Wholeness Center. I promptly scheduled a meeting with him, shadowed him during a few IV ketamine sessions, and was offered a therapist position at the clinic. From day one, I was head-over-heels in love with the work. During my first week, I came to the astounding realization that I had finally landed my dream job as an above-ground psychedelic therapist.

I have been practicing Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) for the past 3 years and I have never lost touch with my gratitude for being able to do this work. It is such an honor to be able to witness how ketamine can help people find their ground again, align with their inner healing intelligence, and find their own path out of dysfunction and into empowerment. The joy this brings me on a daily basis is indescribable, but it’s also all together real.

JH: As part of PRATI’s Lead Faculty, you have played a role in the development of our KAP Training curriculum. And you also weave in such beauty and heart, in particular through the poems that you share in our training. Can you tell us a little bit more about poetry?

JS: I’ve always used mystical poetry for support during my own psychedelic journeys. I found that reading the Vedas, or Rumi, or Rilke, or even the Psalms under the influence of a psychedelic would somehow bring me closer to what truly matters. These poems would provide me with mid-journey direction and inspiration through aligning me with my Self. I also found that I was reliably able to reconnect with that source of wisdom after my journeys were over, simply by reading those poems again in a sober state. There is power in the words, and this power can be lifted off the page and taken into oneself. That is why I share select poems at the beginning of KAP sessions—both with my clients at the clinic and with PRATI trainees—to assist in grounding and inspiring the journeyer.

JH: What is some advice you would offer for a provider interested in starting to practice KAP?

JS: First, if you are committed to working clinically with psychedelic medicines, find clinicians who are similarly passionate and you’re eager to work alongside. Even a little passion goes a long way. And second, attend a KAP training program, ideally one that combines a mix of didactic and experiential learning. Alongside the theoretical learning of KAP, there is power that comes from creating space for a subjective and collective experience of ketamine.

JH: Thanks Jason!