Psychedelic-assisted therapy (PAT) has emerged as a groundbreaking approach to mental health treatment, offering new possibilities for healing and personal transformation. By combining the careful administration of psychedelic substances with therapeutic support, this innovative therapy has shown promising results in treating a variety of conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. As trauma experts, we will explore the numerous benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy, delving into its potential to catalyze deep healing, enhance emotional well-being, foster personal growth, and facilitate profound spiritual experiences. Let us embark on a journey to understand how this therapeutic modality of psychedelic experiences is revolutionizing mental health treatment.
Psychedelic assisted therapy has gained immense attention due to its potential therapeutic benefits in the treatment of mental disorders. It involves the use of psychedelic substances such as psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and ketamine to induce altered states of consciousness which allow for more insight into one’s thoughts, feelings and behavior. The effects of psychedelic therapy are believed to be long term and lasting, often resulting in significant improvements physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being.
Even though ongoing research is continuing with psychedelic substances into the long-term effects of psychedelic assisted therapy, numerous studies have already shown the potential benefits it can have on mental health.
For example, psilocybin-assisted therapy has been found to be effective at treating depression and anxiety in randomized controlled trials. Furthermore, there is evidence of other medical psychedelics providing short-term relief from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder with minimal side effects.
We have witnessed in client after client, life-altering changes within a few weeks that after years of traditional therapy alone, haven’t been achieved. This relief has shown up as no more anxiety, lift of mood and depression, no more suicidal ideation, an awareness of purpose and greater understanding of spiritual meaning to name a few. It also has shown potential for helping people reduce high levels of stress, improve coping skills, enhance self-knowledge, manage addiction, or improve well-being, expand sense of personal growth and creativity. What’s more is that these improvements are still in place, indicating long term changes. It appears that the benefits of psychedelic assisted therapy are still unfolding, which is most exciting as a clinician.
When used responsibly under medical guidance, these psychedelic substances can provide powerful therapeutic effects by altering cognitive and emotional patterns to facilitate meaningful transformation in the patient's life. Psychedelic assisted therapy, such as ketamine assisted therapy, is still relatively new - it marks a break from regular pharmacological treatments.
To understand more, a brief explanation of how psychedelics work can be insightful. Psychedelic substances act as non-specific amplifiers, creating a greater space for healing with integrative therapy offering a safe container for the client to share all that comes to light and freely embody their feelings of vulnerability. Together, the medicine and therapy can plunge the client into transformational healing—this is a HIT (Holistic Integral Therapy) for mind, body and spiritual home run win for life altering changes!
The power of Holistic Integral Therapy (HIT) and interweaving with Psychedelic Assitsted Therapy (PAT) in the healing work includes potential benefits, such as:
As Ketamine is currently the only FDA and legal psychedelic substance/ medicine to use in mental health integration for healing, we want to explain in more depth what it is, how does it work, how to receive it therapeutically, and what it has to offer:
What is ketamine? Ketamine is a molecule that has been used as a dissociative anesthetic since the 1960s. Effectively and safely, it induces a trance like state providing relief from pain. Ketamine alters global neuronal connectivity allowing for improved mood and eases rigidity. Studies conclude that ketamine treatment provides beneficial relief for people suffering with PTSD, depression, and addiction.
Since the early 2000’s ketamine had been recognized to have significant anti-depressant effects. In 2019 the FDA approved ketamine for use in treating individuals for depression.
Ketamine is versatile. It can be administered intravenously, intranasally, orally or intramuscular. Different modes of administration highlight different benefits.
For individuals suffering with treatment resistant depression and suicidality, intravenous infusions have been shown to be most effective when administered in a series of sessions. Ketamine assisted psychotherapy (KAP) as an adjunct to the holistic integral therapeutic process requires less frequent dosing.
The administration ranges from slower and more gentle experience. In utilizing this route of administration clients are more available for talk therapy this is the form we refer to as psycholytic therapy. From the get-go, the client engages in integration work of working with the neuroplasticity of the brain in a safe environment –in the office and return to home. Set and setting more honored and ensured.
Other times higher doses are administered to offer a dissociative experience. This more intense experience offers the potential for mystical transformative psychedelic experiences.
A series of ketamine assisted psychotherapy sessions can offer profound transformative experiences. KAP facilitates this process by accelerating one’s access to insights and augments the psychotherapeutic process.
A leading benefit of KAP is that it can help dissolve conscious and unconscious defenses allowing for greater insight and change. KAP can allow us to re-experience and remember parts of our life without the associated emotional charge of the memory, it allows for an emotional disconnection of sorts creating the opportunity for us to re-integrate the story without the pain.
How does KAP work?
To ensure maximum benefit from KAP, we combine our research, knowledge, and experience to co-create the set and setting most conducive to the healing environment.
Set refers to the mindset of the individual. Through discussion, background information gathering, and specifying your specific goals, we develop a KAP treatment plan that best suits your needs.
Setting refers to the physical space which we have cultivated to support your feeling of safety and personal growth.
The stages of KAP: assessment, preparation, ketamine session and integration. Assessment: This is the initial meeting with a clinician where medical and psychiatric baseline information is gathered to determine an individual’s suitability for treatment. KAP is not for everyone.
Preparation: This is an informative session(s) designed to answer any questions about the process, address concerns and educate the client for best results. Here we spend time considering an individual’s readiness, motivation and intention for the treatment. Some clients benefit from several preparatory meetings.
Ketamine: Administration is done safely, in a medically supervised environment. The physical space is uniquely structured with intention for individuals to drop into the experience deeply and comfortably.
Integration: This is the therapeutic process that takes place after the ketamine administration. This work involves the processing of insights and information we had access to during the altered state and the days that follow. Over time one can develop new perspectives and improve cognitive and psychological flexibility. Integration is an ongoing process and where most benefits are derived. During integration we can reimagine the stories we live and gain insight into how those stories continue to affect us. A series of ketamine sessions can allow for new ways of thinking and lead to sustained change.
Ketamine sessions can bring up deeply held unconscious thoughts and beliefs and integration is an opportunity to find meaning and purpose in what we discover. Integration becomes a relevant opportunity to begin new healthy habits such as meditation, mindfulness, gratitude and appreciation for the beauty all around us and of course, new possibilities.
While Ketamine is not traditionally a psychedelic, ketamine used in the setting of ketamine assisted psychotherapeutic healing can create a psychedelic experience and therefore an amplification of one’s emotional state. It is important not to rush into these deeper experiences without preparation and support.
The ‘why’ behind this therapy? Why do it in the first place? The answer to this can be better understood as we share how ways psychedelic therapies open the way for mental well-being in the following areas:
1 Expanded Therapeutic Exploration
Psychedelic-assisted therapy opens doors to expanded therapeutic exploration by altering consciousness and providing a unique perspective on one's inner experiences. Psychedelic substances show great promise in creating a state of heightened receptivity and introspection. This altered state can facilitate the exploration of deeply rooted emotions, memories, and traumatic experiences that may be difficult to access through traditional therapy alone. By loosening the grip of the ego and reducing psychological defenses, psychedelic-assisted therapy offers a safe and supportive environment for individuals to confront and process their innermost struggles for long term changes.
2. Enhanced Emotional Well-being
One of the significant benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy is its potential to enhance emotional well-being. Studies have demonstrated that psychedelic substances can activate regions of the brain associated with emotion regulation and promote neuroplasticity, allowing for new connections to form. It is here that profound emotional healing can occur, insights gained into the root causes of their emotional distress and develop new perspectives. This has been reported as enhancing self-compassion, emotional resilience, and a greater capacity for empathy and connection with others.
3. Trauma Healing and Post-Traumatic Growth
Psychedelic-assisted therapy has shown remarkable efficacy in treating trauma-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). By working in conjunction with trained therapists, psychedelics can help individuals safely revisit and process traumatic memories, fostering profound healing and resolution. Research has indicated that psychedelic substances can facilitate a reduction in fear response, allowing patients to reframe their traumatic experiences and integrate them into their life narratives. Moreover, this therapy can lead to post-traumatic growth, wherein individuals experience personal transformation, newfound meaning, and an enhanced sense of self.
4. Addiction Recovery
In the realm of addiction treatment, psychedelic-assisted therapy has demonstrated potential in breaking the cycle of substance dependence. More and more studies are being done with ketamine showing promise in treating various addictions by helping individuals gain a deeper understanding of the underlying psychological and emotional factors driving their addictive behaviors. This therapy can facilitate a shift in perspective, enabling individuals to confront and process unresolved trauma, address self-destructive patterns, and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Additionally, psychedelic-assisted therapy can induce mystical or transcendent experiences, which some individuals attribute to their successful recovery from addiction.
5. Spiritual Exploration and Connection
Another remarkable benefit of psychedelic-assisted therapy lies in its ability to facilitate profound spiritual experiences and a sense of connection to something greater than oneself. Psychedelics have been used for centuries in traditional rituals and spiritual practices, and their resurgence in therapeutic settings has reignited interest in the potential for spiritual exploration. These substances can induce states of heightened awe, unity, and transcendence, providing individuals with an expanded sense of meaning, purpose, and interconnectedness. Such experiences have been described as deeply transformative and life-altering to living in the present, filled with love and capturing the embodiment of love long term.
As you can see, psychedelic substances can be the future avenue in expediting and carving life altering changes within our mind, body and spirit for long term health and wellness. As I witness the healing experience from my clients, I am more convicted in spreading the word of the efficacy of psychedelic assisted therapy and excited by its transformational and life-altering impact toward wholeness.
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