As a trauma therapist, I am trained in many tools to help aid trauma reprocessing and healing. I have been inspired by the Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) work I am privileged to be doing at The Catalyst Center. I have seen significant evidence that trauma needs to be healed through our bodies more than our minds. Our minds can often get in the way of our trauma recovery as our brains are trained to offer more critical explanations of ourselves; After all, our brains are designed to problem-solve and critically analyze. When we can be more present in our bodies, we can experientially work to move trauma through and heal from our core out. 

I was trained in EMDR roughly 12 years ago. I distinctly remember the excitement the training brought as clients could access parts of the trauma and heartier resources we simply could not access in talk therapy alone. Similar to this, Ketamine seems to be bringing access to a deeper level even still and appears to be helpful for those whose critical parts are overly loud. Because ketamine down-regulates the Default Mode Network (where many of these critical voices reside), many of my clients are experientially able to feel the healing messages we are working to install in trauma recovery in a deeper way than just in talk therapy or EMDR alone. For example, if a client tries to heal the belief that they are unlovable in EMDR, we often fight against the barrage of inner critics. These can be a significant barrier to healing. I’ll watch as the client gains some slight traction only to be swallowed whole again by their more critical parts. I talk to clients a lot about the “head and heart disconnect” that can sometimes arise in mental health work; We can know something to be true logically without believing it to our core. Ketamine work seems to allow clients to experience these positive messages at their core and confront the more negative messages in an important way but from a less critical tone. 

Using KAP, my clients can fully engage in the more adaptive belief of “I am loveable” and report feeling they are being bathed in unconditional love or having a force field protecting themselves from more critical messages. We can take messages that were previously only logical (I know this is true but can’t feel it) and make them fully realized. Statements like “What I do does matter, and I’m okay” Or “I’m safe” become a true felt sense as well as a thought. Often, clients report post-KAP that they have these positive and adaptive thoughts and feel these messages embodied in their system. Once clients have the experiential and felt sense of this change, it becomes much easier for them to access post-ketamine work. They can recall an image or a body feeling from their KAP work and bring the positive message back into view in a way that is just deeper and more lasting than with talk therapy or other trauma therapies alone.

In addition, ketamine can bring a healthy catharsis for clients who have difficulty being in their feelings or find their emotions don’t seem to bring relief. When done in a supportive way, a “healthy cry” or big emotional release can seem to get with it an out letting of trauma from the body.  At the Catalyst Center, we are incredibly intentional about doing KAP. Combining the powerful effects of ketamine in a deeply supportive and contained environment seems to allow clients to reach this deeper level of healing. Especially for those who have experienced relational or persistent and ongoing trauma. Knowing your therapist is right there with you, holding space for whatever your experience can be profoundly healing in its own right.

It’s an exciting and hopeful time for the field of trauma recovery. We are learning more than ever and are unlocking significant insights into how trauma resolves. 


Photo Credits:

Photo by Jacek Smoter on Unsplash

Photo by Toni Reed on Unsplash








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