In recent years, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) has become a popular approach to treating mental health conditions, especially as there has been a resurgence of interest in psychedelic research and its potential use in therapy. However, with the proliferation of information in the field, there seems to be some confusion. We feel it is important to clarify the differences between KAP and therapeutic ketamine infusions.
Ketamine Infusions vs. KAP
Ketamine infusions are a traditional, biomedical approach that involves administering ketamine hydrochloride intravenously over 40 minutes in sub-anesthetic doses. Most ketamine infusion clinics are managed by certified anesthesiology or pain management providers, who monitor patients’ vital signs and discharge them an hour after administration. Psychotherapeutic support is not typically a consideration in these clinics as the method and application of treatment is strictly medicinal in nature.
On the other hand, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is an interdisciplinary approach that involves a therapist and/or a “trip sitter” (Daytryp utilizes trained “TrypGuides”) working closely with patients during the pre and post-administration phases of the ketamine. Trip sitters are not always licensed health professionals. They can come from diverse backgrounds, but they all possess a deep understanding of the psychological and spiritual aspects of their role. They are equipped to provide a safe and supportive environment for clients during their journey.
The KAP approach emphasizes a kind of sacred respect for oneself and the medicine, and the importance of integration. Integration refers to the process of exploring, understanding, and applying the profound experiences and insights gained during the ketamine-induced psychoactive state into one’s daily life to promote lasting personal growth and healing. Integration is considered a crucial aspect of KAP. Without it, some patients may be subject to feeling lost or overwhelmed by their experience, unable to process it in a way that is conducive of transformation and healing.
The Benefits of KAP Over Infusions
When administering ketamine outside of standard mental health facilities, the goal is often to avoid the psychedelic or dissociative effects achieved through slower administration. However, a secondary analysis study showed a potential correlation between depression treatment success and experiences of dissociation during ketamine administration.
Providers of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy usually administer lower doses of racemic ketamine, typically ranging from 0.4 to 1.5 mg per kilogram of body weight, which differs greatly from the medical approach.
Using the KAP method, clients often report reduced anxiety and a non-ordinary state of consciousness (NOSC) lasting 40 to 60 minutes. This state, ranging from trance-like to transformative and even mystical, has been found by practitioners to enhance clients’ self-efficacy, connections, perceptions, and provide valuable insights. Ketamine infusions tend to be less on the mystical side.
In addition to valuing the NOSC experiences during ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, providers also consider the overall environment to be crucial. This includes the setting, clinicians, music, eye cover use, and the use of ceremony to create a safe and supportive atmosphere. This differs greatly from the more clinical approach seen in ketamine infusion clinics.
What the ‘Psychotherapy’ in Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Really Means
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy does not involve full psychotherapy sessions like one might assume based on its name. Instead, KAP involves the use of the practitioner or trip sitter to help navigate and talk through their ketamine experience. Although the ketamine experience is often enough to facilitate transformation in a patient’s life, we encourage taking ketamine in a controlled and supervised setting, and using it as an adjunct to traditional psychotherapy to enhance its effects.
The focus of KAP is usually on a specific issue or goal, with the actual ketamine experience being used to facilitate deeper exploration and understanding of the issue. The psychotherapy component of KAP simply involves talking with a therapist or trained trip sitter to help you process and integrate the experience post-treatment.
It is important to note that some providers are advertising “therapeutic ketamine services” without providing concurrent psychotherapy. This is a source of confusion for consumers, other clinicians, and communities interested in psychedelics for medicinal and healing use. The term “therapeutic” in pharmacology refers to the dose or amount of a medication considered effective in treating specific conditions. Therapeutic ketamine treatments do not involve psychotherapy in any way. We hope this clarifies any confusion surrounding the different types of ketamine therapy available to you!
At Daytryp Health, we know that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a powerful tool in the treatment of mental health conditions, especially when used in combination with psychotherapy. If you are interested in exploring this approach, we would be happy to answer any questions you may have and help you determine if KAP is right for you. Contact Daytryp Health today!