Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) utilizes ketamine to help patients struggling to find relief from mental health symptoms. Research has explored the potential of psychedelics in psychotherapy for several decades. Ketamine's dissociative and pain-managing processes help individuals safely explore painful emotions and memories.
During a typical KAP session—prefaced by thorough evaluation and discussions with the provider—a patient will usually lie down in a quiet room and take the prescribed dose of ketamine. Providers might put on soft music or have patients wear an eye mask to keep the environment as relaxed as possible.In many cases, the medication will be in the form of a lozenge that dissolves under the tongue and takes about 10 minutes to kick in. Other methods include a nasal spray or a series of injections, depending on the patient, the therapist, and the treatment setting. Shortly after, patients will start to feel the dissociative effects. For the next 45 minutes or so, with the therapist monitoring, patients explore whatever arises. According to both providers and patients, these trance-like states that ketamine can produce relax the walls that often come up when trying to address painful emotions. With these walls down, patients can access these things in a controlled environment without fighting against the mind’s natural defenses.After the experience, the patient and provider sit together and discuss what came up. Patients can continue to work through their challenges in the weeks following, ketamine included or not.As with any practice that involves bringing up painful feelings and experiences, things can feel a lot worse before they start to feel better. Anyone looking into KAP should keep this in mind and discuss a potential plan with their therapist if necessary. Many have found that the experience of KAP led to therapeutic breakthroughs at an exponentially faster rate than traditional talk therapy. They’ve uncovered repressed memories, faced previously unbearable emotions, and even found the purpose they have been searching for.