Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Cambridge Biotherapies offers Ketamine-Assisted-Psychotherapy
to patients on a case by case basis.

What is Pyschotherapy?

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a way of helping people deal with emotional challenges that stem from stress, trauma, or mental illness of any kind. Psychotherapy involves regular meetings with a trained therapist, who begins by establishing trust and alliance with the patient. Over a series of sessions, the therapist supports the patient’s exploration of thoughts and emotions with the goal of deepening the patient’s understanding of their own mind, healing psychological wounds, and developing adaptive and positive behaviors.

What are Defenses?

We all make use of what are called psychological “defenses,” which are ways of managing painful or frightening inner experiences. Defenses help keep these experiences hidden from us, in our unconscious, and allow us to interact with the world without being overwhelmed by these intense emotions. However, when our defenses are over-developed, they can wall off our inner experiences – both positive and negative - and make deeper insight and healing difficult. Much of psychotherapy involves helping people feel safe enough to lower their defenses, so they can encounter, accept, and transform these inner thoughts and feelings into positive and useful psychological energies. We cannot heal ourselves if we do not have access to the wounds.

Many people can engage in psychotherapy for long periods, and obtain some benefit, but find they are unable to access the deepest parts of their minds, because their defenses are just too strong to overcome. And this is where ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can make all the difference.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a medication that was originally developed in the 1960’s as an anesthetic. It is still widely used as an anesthetic, especially for children, because of its excellent safety profile. It turns out, however, that at lower doses ketamine is the most powerful and fastest-acting antidepressant ever discovered. Ketamine has been exhaustively studied as an antidepressant, proven to be safe and effective, and has been used for over 20 years, especially for patients who have tried traditional antidepressants with no benefit. You can learn more about ketamine by reading the information we have posted on the Ketamine in the News, Ketamine Research and Treatment pages.

How is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Done?

Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy employs three types of sessions: preparatory, medication (one to three sessions with moderate to high doses of ketamine), and integration sessions. For some patients, a single therapist is best. For patients who have suffered through sexual trauma, however, a female therapist or both a male and female therapist working together can create a stronger sense of safety for the patient. During the preparatory sessions, the therapist or co-therapist team engages the patient to explore his or her life history and to help the patient understand his or her symptoms and intentions, with an emphasis on the potential for emotional and psychological growth. They also educate the patient about what to expect during the ketamine sessions, and work to develop a strong therapeutic alliance. 

During the ketamine session, the therapist maintains integrity and safety for the therapeutic relationship. The medication is administered in a comfortable room with a reclining chair, in an environment that is decorated and appointed so that it will feel familiar and not intimidating in the way a medical office or institutional setting might. The patient is encouraged to focus his or her attention inward, and is offered the option of listening to music and wearing eye shades. For the next 60 to 90 minutes, the therapist listens empathically to the patient and maintains a nonthreatening, neutral therapeutic stance. The drug effects and the patient’s thought content drive the experience. The therapist’s goal is to facilitate a sense of safety, trust, and openness.

After the medication session, during the integration sessions, the therapist works with the patient to interpret the content of the ketamine experience into meaningful long-term change through identifying insights or interpreting thoughts or ideas that arose during the experience.

Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy can be a transformative experience. It does not need to replace any current therapy or treatment, and is in fact best used as an adjunctive treatment in the context of ongoing psychotherapy. Nevertheless, there are some patients who benefit from a course of KAP even though they are not currently engaged in another psychotherapy or treatment plan.

Cambridge Biotherapies takes the training of our therapists seriously, and we emphasize integrity and safety above all else.

If this treatment makes sense for you, please feel free to call us and we would be happy to speak with you in greater detail.

Cambridge Biotherapies

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American Society of Ketamine Physicians, Psychotherapists & Practitioners

7 N Pleasant St, Amherst, MA 01002
Phone: (617) 803-9722
Fax: (617) 812-1680

6 Bigelow St, Cambridge, MA. 02139
Phone: (617) 803-9722
Fax: (617) 812-1680