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Ketamine Assisted-Psychotherapy:

Frequently Asked Questions

Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy: FAQ’s

Although Ketamine has been utilized in medical settings for quite some time, Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy is a relatively new treatment for various mental health concerns. We’ve compiled answers to frequently asked questions from prospective clients and referring providers.

Interested in more information?

New Client F.A.Q’s

Many people have questions about Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. Here are answers to the most common questions we get asked. If you would like additional information, please contact us and we will schedule a consult with our KAP team.

Could I benefit from Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP)?

Ketamine can be a highly effective treatment for clients struggling with various forms of depression, including Treatment-Resistant Depression. Treatment-Resistant Depression is often defined as a client who has not previously experienced adequate benefits from two or more antidepressant medications. Ketamine can also be used to assist clients with conditions such as Anxiety disorders, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Eating Disorders, and Bipolar Disorder. 

Many people who don’t have a clinical diagnosis also benefit from Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP). The transformative psychedelic experience and powerful biochemical effects (especially new neuronal connections) can support personal growth. They may assist in resolving issues such as burnout, existential anxiety (e.g., fear of death), spirituality, identity challenges, or feelings of stagnation in one’s life.

What is Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP?) Is it the same as ketamine infusions?

Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) combines the biochemical and psychedelic benefits of ketamine with evidence-based psychotherapy to maximize the positive benefits of this cutting-edge mental health treatment. The addition of this therapeutic support helps guide clients towards deeper insight, connection, and growth. KAP includes consultation and oversight by a medical provider, preparation session(s), ketamine experiential, and integration therapy sessions.

Ketamine clinics offer access to ketamine medicine but might not provide in-house therapeutic support. The Catalyst Center offers both ketamine and therapeutic guidance under one roof. In addition, we can also offer preparation and integration sessions with clients receiving ketamine at an infusion-only clinic.  

The KAP model at The Catalyst Center offers treatment packages that include three to six ketamine treatments (with your therapist in the room), your medical consult, preparatory sessions, and follow-up therapy sessions after each ketamine experiential session. Though the process might seem involved, this model is designed to give you the best possible experience during the ketamine treatment while deepening the benefits you receive afterward. This contrasts with the infusion-only model. With ketamine infusions only, clients may achieve symptom relief, but the gains are more limited and could be more difficult to sustain long-term.

How does ketamine work?

The mechanism action of ketamine is still being widely studied. Here is what we do know. Unlike antidepressant medications which work on the serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine neurotransmitter systems, ketamine boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a critical brain hormone that promotes the creation of new connections between neurons. The resulting neuroplasticity can reverse some long-term effects of chronic depression, anxiety, and trauma. It can also help a person create or strengthen positive neuropathways.

Ketamine also resets the Default Mode Network (DMN), which provides an opportunity to shift away from negative thinking patterns and establish hope for a healthier future. Additionally, ketamine blocks glutamate, a neurotransmitter linked to brain inflammation. Inflammation is associated with depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. 

Is ketamine addictive?

Ketamine appears not addictive when a prescribing clinician administers it at the appropriate dosage and frequency for treating mental health concerns. Even so, ketamine, like other medications, can be abused when misused outside of a clinical setting. There is a history of ketamine being used as a “party drug,” however it should be noted that the risk for such abuse is extremely low when proper controls and monitoring are in place. When ketamine is used in KAP, there is special attention paid to ensure the medicine is given at safe dosages for the purpose of healing. Moreover, KAP limits the frequency of ketamine administration to ensure that your body does not become dependent on the medicine from overuse. All KAP clients are closely monitored and guided by medical professionals throughout ketamine treatment to ensure that the medicine serves the intended purpose and, most importantly, is used safely.

How many ketamine treatment sessions will I need?

The answer to this question varies somewhat, but generally, a recommended course of treatment consists of between three to six ketamine experiential and integration sessions over several weeks. Much of the research has followed a course of six ketamine experiential sessions to achieve the best outcomes, and we have built our KAP model around these findings. We generally recommend six experiential and six concurrent integration therapy sessions to experience the full benefits of the treatment.

There may be cases when a client might need fewer sessions, such as addressing burnout, interest in personal growth work, or spiritual exploration. Clients can work with our KAP team to determine the best treatment plan based on their clinical needs, goals, and life circumstances.

Do I need to take off work and if so, how long should I plan for?

To maximize the benefits of ketamine, it is best to limit your commitments on the day of your ketamine experiential session and even over the following days. In our experience, our clients tend to be more reflective and internally focused for a period of time after their ketamine session. It might be difficult to concentrate on work as you usually would. Set yourself up for success by limiting what you “have to do” so you can be empowered to choose whatever you feel you need after your ketamine session.

Completing a full round of KAP can take between three and six weeks. Clients can participate in a three-week intensive that involves two ketamine treatments and one or more therapy sessions per week. This model would likely necessitate time off of work for those three weeks. Depending on treatment goals, clients might opt to complete the treatment over six weeks, reducing the amount of work time they miss.

Our KAP team is happy to consult with you and create an individualized plan based on your needs and goals.

What medical conditions might disqualify me?

Ketamine is not recommended for clients who have cardiovascular conditions such as uncontrolled hypertension. Clients with active mania or a history of psychotic illnesses (e.g., schizophrenia) should not take ketamine, as there could be severe risks. Ketamine is also not indicated for clients who are actively abusing substances or have abused ketamine in the past. It is essential to talk with our Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner if you have a history of these types of conditions so we can determine the best plan for your care.

Do I need a referral from my doctor?

You do not need a referral from your doctor, as we do all the necessary screening and evaluation throughout the treatment process. The first steps include meeting with our in-house prescriber for medical consultation and one of our therapists specializing in KAP. These providers will continually ensure that ketamine is the proper treatment for you. We can speak to your other providers with a signed Release of Information if you desire external coordination with other medical providers.

How much does KAP cost?

As described above, the number of KAP sessions, including both the ketamine experiential and integration sessions, depends on a client’s treatment goals. We recognize the overall cost can feel like quite an investment up front. However, we believe ketamine treatment can save a person time, energy, and resources due to less time needed in therapy, prevention of the need for a higher level of care, and reduced time off of work due to mental health struggles.

The following information is based on our six (6) Ketamine Experiential Session KAP Package:

  • A 60-min Medical Intake with our prescriber, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Adrienne Long, PMHNP-BC

  • Two (2) 50-min Preparatory Sessions with your Trained KAP Therapist

  • Six (6) 2-hour Ketamine Experiential Sessions:
    • Medical Oversight: Adrienne Long, PMHNP-BC
    • Therapeutic Support: KAP therapist 
  • Six (6) 50-min Integration Sessions with your KAP therapist

     

Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy Intensive
Package Pricing
6 Ketamine Experiential Session KAP Package 6280 3 Ketamine Experiential Session KAP Package 3610
Custom Length KAP Packages Also Available
Ala Carte Sessions
2-Hour Ketamine Experiential Session 750 50-min Integration or Prep Session 250
60-Min Medical KAP Intake 350    

 

Referring Providers F.A.Q’s

Below are answers to questions we commonly receive from referring therapists, prescribers, doctors, and other community partners. If you have additional questions, please contact us and we will schedule a consult with our KAP team.

Who can benefit most from Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP)?

Ketamine is a legal anesthetic medication that has been around for decades, and has recently been used off-label to treat various mental health conditions. The combination of ketamine treatments with psychotherapy promotes longer lasting change and symptom improvement. This combination is known as Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) and has the potential to work more effectively than ketamine treatment alone.

Significant research has shown to be an effective and fast-acting treatment for clients struggling with Major Depressive Disorder, especially for Treatment-Resistant Depression (two or more adequate medication trials have failed). In fact, over 70% of patients with Treatment-Resistant Depression responded to ketamine treatment. Emerging efficacy research also supports the use of ketamine with conditions such as anxiety disorders, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

It is important to note that active psychosis or a history of psychosis is a rule out for ketamine treatment. Although KAP can be quite effective for complex clinical presentations, significant personality disorders are not the best fit as the response rate is quite low and it is unlikely to be worth the time, effort, and cost to the client. 

Clients do not need to have a significant clinical diagnoses to benefit from KAP. The transformative psychedelic experience and powerful biochemical effects (especially new neuronal connections) can support personal growth and may assist in resolving issues such as burnout, existential anxiety (e.g. fear of death), spirituality, identity challenges, or feelings of stagnation in one’s life.

When to consider Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) for my client?

Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) can be a helpful adjunct to therapy and medication for many mental health conditions that are characterized by stuck or ruminative thoughts or beliefs. Clients can experience profound limitations in life and in treatment stemming from rigid thinking, difficulty internalizing corrective messages, or an inability to adopt new perspectives. KAP can help clients feel less “stuck” in their life by increasing cognitive flexibility and helping clients become more open to change. Ketamine also creates a non-ordinary state of consciousness that allows clients to step outside their typical ego defenses. Clients are able to bypass their default way of viewing themselves, their lives, and their relationships, which creates the opportunity for new insights to be more deeply understood and internalized.

Given that ketamine creates conditions in the brain that allows clients to pursue and internalize deeper healing, you and your clients may wish to consider KAP when:

  • Your client is struggling with mental health concerns such as Depressive and Anxiety disorders, PTSD, and/or an Eating Disorder, and does not seem to be progressing.
  • They are experiencing significant burnout related to a multitude of stressors (career, relational, pandemic related, etc.).

  • There is an interest in deep, personal exploration or spiritual growth and connection.
  •  A history of trauma that has led to  feelings of disconnection, isolation, and/or self-criticism. 
How does consultation with your KAP team work?

We believe consultation is vitally important and would be happy to connect with you about how your client is progressing in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP). We deeply value your clinical perspective and believe in collaboration so we can more effectively help your client achieve their goals during their journey. Our KAP team members are available to consult on topics such as what material is coming up from ketamine sessions, what growth is taking place, and where a client might want to focus in their ongoing therapy. Our KAP team will also be available to discuss whether follow up ketamine sessions or future booster sessions are needed.

What exactly does The Catalyst Center's KAP program entail?

Our Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) program is based on a model of six ketamine treatment sessions with at least six accompanying integration sessions. Prior to the actual Ketamine treatment sessions, clients meet with Adrienne Long, our Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), for a medical evaluation. Clients also meet with their KAP therapist for one to two preparation sessions prior to receiving the ketamine medicine.

Specifically, ketamine treatment sessions refer to sessions where ketamine is administered by Adrienne Long, PMHNP and a qualified KAP therapist is present throughout the two hour session. During the ketamine treatments, our PMHNP will be available if needed. Integration sessions refer to follow up therapy sessions where a client processes the emotions, insights, and perspectives that come up during and after treatment sessions.

For more information on our specific KAP programs: Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy Programs

How many KAP sessions will my client need?

The answer to this question varies somewhat, but generally a recommended course of treatment consists of between three to six ketamine experiential sessions over a period of several weeks. Specific to Major Depressive Disorder, research has demonstrated that six ketamine sessions produces a robust antidepressant effect. 

There may be cases when a client might need fewer sessions such as when your client’s goal is personal growth or spiritual exploration. Our KAP team consults on all referred cases and makes recommendations for the optimal number of sessions depending on client needs and goals. After their initial sessions, clients might need additional booster sessions at some point in the future. However, these booster sessions tend to be relatively infrequent and are often helpful in rejuvenating the benefits experienced from the initial treatments.

How often would KAP be needed?

Our Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) program involves either a three week or six week commitment to fully complete KAP. Clients committing to the three week schedule will receive two ketamine treatments (in-person) and two integration sessions (virtual or in-person) per week. Clients in the six week program receive one ketamine treatment and one integration session per week. Clients work with our KAP team to determine the best treatment plan based on their clinical needs and life circumstances.

 

As the referring therapist, what is my role in the KAP process?

While your client is participating in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP), your role will shift slightly and is crucial to your client’s healing journey. Your existing therapeutic relationship remains an important vehicle of growth for your client, and the stability this offers can be very beneficial. Your perspective is valued by our KAP team and will contribute to treatment planning. Additionally, your continued support is important as your client is preparing for, undergoing, and returning from their course of ketamine treatment.

Given the recommendation that your client complete integration sessions (sessions in between ketamine treatments) with one of our trained KAP clinicians, your client might see you less frequently for a few weeks as they complete our program. The reason for this is that there are critical techniques and protocols we use during integration sessions to facilitate growth from psychedelic experiences. However, we encourage you to remain in contact with your client during ketamine treatment, and are happy to consult with you as the process progresses. Moreover, your client will be referred back to you once they have complete KAP so they can now capitalize on their new gains in their ongoing therapeutic relationship.

What can I expect after my client has completed KAP?

Our goal is for your client to have a transformative experience during Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) so that they are ready to come back to you and dig in deeper to the work you have been doing together. KAP can often unburden stuck beliefs or complex traumas and help your client connect with their own inner wisdom in a way that promotes healing. Your client might gain insight into their internalized beliefs and patterns and also be more open to corrective messaging or perspectives. Your client can then take these realizations and insights back to their work with you in ways that could potentially help them achieve new breakthroughs in their ongoing therapy work. 

The insights your client gain through KAP are often thematically related to the clinical work you have already been doing. For instance, perhaps your client has been working on self-acceptance in the spite of many traumatic experiences that have left them feeling rejected. Although they strive for this self-acceptance, it might be that your client struggles to internalize healthy beliefs, which can leave them feeling stuck. KAP could assist your client with seeing themselves and their trauma in a much different light. The collection of experiences during ketamine treatment sessions and subsequent integration sessions could help your client achieve a deeper awareness of and openness to compassionate perspectives toward themselves. From there, they can then continue their work with you while capitalizing on these new insights and flexibility. 

How does ketamine compare to other psychedelic medicines?

There has been a great deal of public press regarding the potential healing benefits of psychedelics. Medicines such as psilocybin and MDMA are actively being researched for possible FDA rescheduling in the coming years. Ketamine is currently legal and used off-label for mental health treatment and also initiates a psychedelic experience in similar ways as MDMA or psilocybin. In addition to being legal, another advantage of ketamine with regard to treatment applications is that the experience is shorter than other psychedelic medicines and lasts approximately 1-2 hours versus 6-8 hours. This provides better flexibility in terms of logistics, accessibility, and time investment.

Ketamine has been actively used by the medical community for decades so the medical properties and safety profile are well-established. It is currently the only legal psychedelic and is capable of providing powerfully transformative experiences. 

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