Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy FAQs

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Written by PRATITeam

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) continues to grow in popularity and prominence as an effective treatment for a variety of mental health challenges. As nonprofit educators, our goal at PRATI is to provide mental health professionals and people interested in KAP with clear and accurate information about this treatment. To this end, we have compiled some frequently asked questions for people new to KAP.

If you’re already a KAP practitioner, feel free to direct your clients to this resource. If you’re new to KAP and considering adding it to your practice, welcome! We offer Foundational KAP Trainings for medical and mental health professionals in a retreat-style format, having trained over 400 people from around the world. If you’re a patient looking for KAP treatment, explore our directory to connect with a provider near you. 

What is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a therapeutic modality that combines the use of the drug ketamine with psychotherapy. Ketamine is a medication primarily used for starting and maintaining anesthesia, but in smaller doses it can produce a psychedelic or psycholytic experience and support significant and lasting benefits for mental health. Learn more about ketamine therapy in our previous article, Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy vs. Ketamine Infusion Therapy!

How Does Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Work?

Ketamine works by blocking a specific receptor in the brain called the NMDA receptor. This blockage initiates several downstream effects, ultimately leading to an increase in the growth of new neural connections, which can help alleviate symptoms of mental health disorders. 

Following a ketamine journey, patients experience a period of greater synaptic activity in the brain, which results in increased neuroplasticity, enhancing the brain’s ability to change and adapt. This is called the “neuroplastic window.” The earliest effects of neuroplasticity can begin at approximately 24 hours, peaking at 72 hours, and lasting up to 3 weeks after treatment.

The psychotherapy component of KAP provides a supportive environment for individuals to explore and make sense of the experiences and insights that may arise during the ketamine sessions. Ketamine can help catalyze more rapid changes and progress in therapeutic treatment, allowing people to access shifts in perspective that may be otherwise difficult to achieve. Because of the neuroplastic window, psychotherapy is particularly effective when conducted within a few days following treatment. This opportunity allows clients to integrate experiences from their ketamine journey and build new, healthier practices that lead to significant changes and improvements in mental health. 

What Conditions Can Be Treated With Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?

KAP has been used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as certain types of chronic pain. However, it’s important to note that while KAP can be a powerful tool, it is not a cure-all and should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

What Are the Potential Benefits and Risks of Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?

The potential benefits of KAP include rapid symptom relief, increased self-awareness, and improved mood. However, like all treatments, KAP also carries potential risks. These include temporary side effects like increased blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, and changes in perception. It’s also important to note that ketamine can be habit-forming, so it should only be used under the supervision of a trained professional.

How Long Does a Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Session Typically Last?

A typical KAP session lasts between 2 to 3 hours. This includes time for the ketamine journey, which usually lasts about 40-60 minutes, as well as time for preparation, integration, and discussion with the therapist after the journey.

How Many Sessions of Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Do I Need?

The number of sessions needed can vary greatly depending on the individual and the condition being treated. Some people may see significant improvements after just one or two sessions, while others may require longer treatment.

What Should I Expect During a Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Session?

During a KAP session, you will be in a comfortable, safe environment under the supervision of a trained professional. After the ketamine is administered, you may experience changes in your perception, thoughts, and feelings. Your therapist will be there to support you throughout this process.

What Is the Cost of Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy? Is It Covered by Insurance?

The cost of KAP can vary widely and is often not covered by insurance. However, some providers offer sliding scale fees, payment plans, or group KAP formats to help make treatment more accessible.

What Qualifications Should a Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Provider Have?

A qualified KAP provider should have training in both psychotherapy and the practice of ketamine-assisted therapy. They should also be knowledgeable about the specific mental health conditions they treat and be able to provide a safe, supportive environment for their clients. KAP therapists typically collaborate with medical providers who perform an evaluation to ensure the treatment is appropriate and prescribe ketamine for the sessions. 

Are There Any Contraindications or People Who Should Not Use Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?

KAP is not suitable for everyone. Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure or a history of substance misuse, may not be good candidates for KAP. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment.

Can Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Be Used in Conjunction With Other Treatments?

Yes, KAP can be used in conjunction with other treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and medication management. It’s important to discuss this with your healthcare provider to ensure a comprehensive and effective treatment plan.

How Do I Prepare for a Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Session?

Preparation for a KAP session may involve fasting for a certain period before the session, avoiding certain medications or substances, and coming prepared to discuss your feelings and experiences. Meeting with your therapist for a period of time prior to beginning KAP can help you explore your treatment goals, intentions for your journeys, and questions you may have before getting started. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions based on your health history and the specifics of your treatment plan.

What Happens After a Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Session?

After a KAP session, you may feel tired or disoriented. It’s important to arrange for a ride home and to take it easy for the rest of the day. Some people report changes in their perceptions or emotions in the days following a session. Your healthcare provider will provide guidance on what to expect and how to care for yourself after a session.

Can Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Be Done at Home?

While some providers may offer at-home services, KAP is typically done in a controlled clinical setting under the supervision of a trained professional. At PRATI, we highly recommend that KAP be performed in a controlled setting such as a therapist’s office. This helps ensure the safety and effectiveness of the treatment. 

Can Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Support Personal Spiritual Growth?

Yes, the transformative psychedelic experience and powerful biochemical effects of ketamine can support personal growth, including spiritual development and exploration. The altered state of consciousness induced by ketamine can lead to new insights and perspectives, which can help individuals navigate a variety of emotional, psychological, and spiritual challenges. Some individuals find that these experiences help them address issues such as existential anxiety, spiritual concerns, identity challenges, or feelings of stagnation in their lives.

Learn More from PRATI

If you’re interested in training to become a KAP therapist or KAP provider, we offer four-day, in-person, experiential KAP trainings in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We are one of the few nonprofit psychedelic training organizations, and we’re proud to nurture a new approach to mental health through psychedelic medicines. Join our mailing list to stay informed about our trainings, webinars, and other offerings!

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