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The Importance of Integration in Ketamine Therapy

By Ashley Barnes, M.S.

Reviewed by: Mark Hrymoc, MD

Ketamine Therapy Integration


As many may know, ketamine therapy is an effective and fast-acting treatment method that is used to address treatment-resistant depression.


Ketamine treatment has been studied to be most effective with six sessions over the course of a two to three week period, essentially two to three sessions each week to make six total. For each treatment session, there are five components to the ketamine therapy experience: choice of route of administration, choice of sitter/co-pilot, preparation, journey, and integration. The last component is a crucial one and when done correctly, it can enhance the benefit one receives from ketamine therapy and promote lasting change.


The purpose of integration is to analyze the ketamine journey and glean personal insights that one can carry with them as they move toward a better quality of life. Insights gained from self-reflection can then be used to implement lasting positive change in one’s life. This self-reflection can be achieved through ketamine assisted psychotherapy, self-reflection, and self-care.


Further, a crucial part of integration is taking positive action based on insights gained during ketamine therapy.


How to Integrate:


Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy


Much like how medication and psychotherapy is more effective than just medication or psychotherapy alone, ketamine is more effective when we do supplemental cognitive and processing work. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, ketamine assisted psychotherapy was observed to be more effective in treating depression and anxiety than ketamine infusions alone (Dore et al., 2019). Ketamine assisted psychotherapy is a process where ketamine is used to enhance and deepen the healing experience while a patient is having a psychotherapy session. We have two skilled trauma-informed therapists who can conduct ketamine assisted psychotherapy.


Self-reflection


One key way to utilize integration is engaging in self-reflection. Journaling can enable us to unpack our emotional and psychological experiences that arise during the “journey” part of ketamine therapy. Research has found journaling to be an effective practice for emotion processing, even found to mitigate mental distress and enhance well-being (Smyth et al., 2018). Journaling enables us to unpack the emotional and psychological material uncovered from the psychedelic journey while also solidifying our understanding of insights gained.


Some journal prompts include: Did you feel or experience something you haven’t felt before during your most recent ketamine therapy experience? Did you experience something familiar during your most recent ketamine therapy experience? What did you learn about yourself through the experience?

What insights did you gain from your most recent ketamine therapy experience? What action(s) do you want to take in your life based on your insights?


Other ways people can enjoy self-reflection include peaceful time spent in nature and mindfulness meditation.


Self-care


While self-care looks different for everyone, engaging in self-care practices promotes mental health, spiritual health, physical health, and mind-body balance; all of these components support effective ketamine integration. Self-care describes anything we can do to take care of ourselves so we can stay physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally well. This may look like listening to calming music, meditating, exercising, spending time with loved ones, or doing something that exercises our creativity.


Take Action


After undergoing ketamine therapy, some people develop an understanding that in order to have a more fulfilling and healthy life, they should reach out to loved ones more. For others, action may look like venturing out of their comfort zone (playing a sport, learning to play an instrument, or traveling). For others, action may look like slowing down to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.


Whatever realizations you acquire from the ketamine therapy process, it is important to determine a feasible course of action to work towards a better life. When insight is paired with action, real and lasting positive change becomes reality.


Ketamine Therapy Center


Ketamine Therapy Center is a treatment branch from the Mental Health Center that specializes in ketamine infusion therapy. We plan to offer even more types of psychedelic treatments and assisted therapies when it is permissible to do so, as we believe in evidence-based treatment approaches that have the power to transform one’s life.


Our doctors offer Ketamine Therapy Evaluations to thoroughly assess patients for ketamine therapy candidacy; from here, they collaborate with patients to develop treatment plans. Our office in the Cedars- Sinai Medical Office towers houses rooms specially designed for patient comfort. Our highly experienced and talented nurses are well-versed in ketamine infusion therapy and help patients feel comfortable as they move through the treatment process. Our therapists are trained in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy and offer therapeutic guidance to enhance the psychological benefit of the treatment while simultaneously creating a grounded and safe space.


For more information, please do not hesitate to explore our website or contact our office!



References


Dore, J., et al., (2019) Ketamine assisted psychotherapy (KAP): patient demographics, clinical data and outcomes in three large practices administering ketamine with psychotherapy, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 51:2, 189-198, DOI: 10.1080/02791072.2019.1587556


Smyth, J. M., et al., (2018). Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR mental health, 5(4), e11290. https://doi.org/10.2196/11290

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