Find Qualified Ketamine Clinicians on Psychable
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine can conjure up a number of vastly different images. Is it the illegal party drug popular at raves and clubs? Or is it the life-saving medicine used on the battlefields of Vietnam? Or is it a veterinary tranquilizer?Not only is it all of these things, but it is also emerging as a profoundly effective treatment for PTSD and treatment-resistant depression - possibly the most important one in decades. Psychable, an online community connecting those interested in legal psychedelic therapy with practitioners who can support them, is a one-stop shop for Ketamine information and professionals.
Nicknamed “Special K” in the “underground” scene, this substance can be taken as a powder (insufflated), liquid or tablet (orally), or injected (intravenously). Recreational use of ketamine is illegal, and it is classified as a Schedule III substance with the US Controlled Substance Act. The dissociative, hallucinogenic/psychedelic, and euphoric effects of ketamine are what make it such a popular recreational drug. Regular (especially heavy) use can lead to tolerance, addiction, and serious health issues. Many users who are unable to afford legal ketamine treatments turn to sourcing it illegally in a desperate effort to treat severe depression.
Above ground, it has a wide variety of clinical applications, including use as a sedative and anesthetic. Ketamine can be administered intravenously (IV), intramuscularly (IM), intranasally (IN), and orally (typically via lozenge, or troche). Both neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory, ketamine is an N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist (or inhibitor), a common class of dissociative anesthetics. These drugs are generally safer than other anesthetics, like narcotics, making ketamine popular for procedures in both adults and children.
“Researchers continue to explore the many possible benefits of utilizing this medication for not only pain management, but for numerous mental health purposes,” according to Jemie Sae Koo, Psychable CEO and Co-Founder. “Outpatient ketamine clinics are spreading across the US like wildfire.”
Jemie Sae Koo, Psychable CEO and Co-Founder
More and more, ketamine is being administered in lower and moderate doses to treat depression and other psychiatric conditions. In 2019, ketamine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment-resistant depression. The esketamine molecule was patented under the brand name Spravato in the form of a nasal spray.Increased structural synaptic connectivity may be at least part of the mechanism of action for its effectiveness in treating depression. By inhibiting NMDA receptors, ketamine seems to create a different pathway than classic depression medication treatments like Selective Serotonin Receptors (SSRIs). It also activates prefrontal glutamate transmission which is associated with the antidepressant response. What it seems to do is rapidly create opportunities to see things differently, birthing new solutions to existing problems, which opens up doors for life to actually become different. It also provides relief from excessive worry, mental fixation, and rumination, which are common in depressive episodes.
What might be most surprising is that studies are showing the anti-suicidal effect of ketamine treatments. Although it doesn’t remove all risk of suicide, it seems to table the urge in order to buy time to get other supports on board. Ketamine appears to at least temporarily reverse depressive symptoms for some people. Studies show that more than half of patients responded to ketamine treatments, which is a much higher rate than SSRIs.
Ketamine’s rapid antidepressant effect offers a renewed perspective apart from thought narratives surrounding depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. Patients increase awareness to inner thought dialogues, schemas, constructs of self and somatic presentation of emotions.
In lower doses, particularly oral administration, ketamine acts more like a classic psychedelic . It can interrupt traditional thought patterns, create ego dissolution states, and deconstruct constructs of self.
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy
“Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) pairs ketamine sessions with psychotherapy modalities,” says Matt Zemon, Psychable Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder. “The combination of the pharmacological impact with concurrent psychotherapy processes increases the impact of either modality alone.”
Matt Zemon, Psychable Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder
KAP works by rapidly reducing symptoms, enhancing the therapeutic alliance (creating more empathy and trust in session), increasing emotional distress tolerance, improving memory reconsolidation, and facilitating fear extinction. Ketamine’s structural and functional neuroplasticity helps clients pause distressing thought patterns, challenge cognitive distortions related to their distress, and create competing rational statements in alignment with overall health goals. It also assists with emotional regulation and de-escalation of anxiety and depression. Ketamine can enhance somatic therapy and disconnect patients from somatic presentations of stress, depression, or anxiety. The dissociative aspect creates a sense of euphoria, vivid imagery, dream-like states, and illusions. It can provide valuable insight into the connection between traumatic memories and chronic pain or physiological ailments.
Estimates suggest that one-third of patients with depression do not respond to available antidepressants.KAP is often described as a catalyst therapy because of the rapid and robust symptom resolution it creates. It also provides relief instantly, as compared to other antidepressants, which take two to four weeks to provide relief.
KAP sessions typically begin with the client lying down on a couch with eye shades and music to guide the experience. Sessions are non-directive, meaning the client guides the session (versus using a particular therapeutic modality or clinical intervention).
Does Music Matter?
Music is a powerful tool for enhancing an experience. It can be energizing or promote relaxation, and it can trigger powerful memories and emotions. In the context of a KAP treatment session, listening to music with headphones can promote a more inward experience, as the headphones help to block out any environmental sounds or distractions. It can be a powerful influence during the session, often steering the patient experience. Music can provide a calming, comforting and catalyst effect for sessions involving trauma processing or navigating through complex emotions. Music can also be a great introduction to psychedelic therapy for someone who is new to this type of modality because it provides familiar stimulus and connection to the non-altered world.
Although research is limited on this concept, music provides a “trail” for the brain’s cognitive processing regions to follow and opens up channels for deeper somatic and emotional processing. In some cases, different types of music, songs, genres are linked to different themes and processing in the therapeutic setting.
Music may actually make a measurable difference in the effectiveness of ketamine treatments. A study at the University of Texas found that adding the relaxing instrumental piano songs of Nils Frahm to ketamine sessions reduced both anxiety and suicidal ideation in participants, compared to participants who had no music during their sessions.
One might ask what the best kind of music might be during KAP treatments. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) created playlists for their 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) Assisted Psychotherapy clinical trials. These playlists transfer well to KAP and include instrumental music from numerous genres and cultures, ranging from electronic to native American flute to New Age to world music. These songs are meant to be therapeutically useful during the KAP session. Another great option is Wavepaths, an online music platform which allows therapists to adapt supportive musical environments to patients during therapy.
Some KAP clinics and providers create playlists for the sessions, while others have the patients create their own playlists. Playlists may be catered to the individual to evoke specific memories, incidents or people, using music as a tool to lean into the trauma sources of depression and anxiety.
Selecting appropriate music involves a dialogue between the practitioner and the patient to help cultivate a successful healing journey. Within the ketamine therapy process, music guides the session with melodies and harmonies to alchemize cognitive and somatic processing. The music selected can lead a session in an intentional and productive way. It also provides a layer of comfort for the client to assist in navigating through distressing material in an altered state. The music acts as a guide down the river of the therapeutic journey and assists with the twists and turns of trauma processing and resolution.
Finding a Clinician
To find a ketamine practitioner in your area, consult the database online at Psychable.com.Psychable provides an online community connecting those seeking ketamine therapy with qualified practitioners.
If you have a question about starting your journey, or would like to explore holistic therapies or legal psychedelic therapies, Psychable hosts a list of providers who are screened, credentialed, and vetted as experts in their field of practice.
By making an account, you can ask questions about beginning treatment on the community forum and receive responses from all across the country. Psychable also contains hundreds of evidence-based articles on topics from psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to decriminalization initiatives and the latest research in the field.
Psychable understands that healing is unique and highly individualized, so we provide a judgement-free forum to help answer questions that will help you make the most informed decision on your path. You can even ask questions like, “is it normal to feel super emotional after somatic therapy?” and get answers from others who have been there. In short, Psychable provides a wealth of information at your fingertips.
Did you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts with friends...