Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy

What is Ketamine?


Ketamine is a medication most notably used historically to date as a ‘dissociative anesthetic’ often given to patients in emergency rooms to calm them and to induce a sense of ‘availability’ to treatments such as stitches, minor surgeries, etc… It has been commonly given to children in ER’s at much higher doses than we use at the Woodstock Therapy Center “therapeutically. It was widely used as a field medication for wounded soldiers in the army, both in Viet Nam and the Middle East. It is considered VERY safe at the doses in which we’ll administer it. Its use has very recently expanded because research has shown it is highly successful in treating difficult psychiatric disorders.

How is ketamine used to treat Psychiatric Disorders?

Research over the past 15-20 years has shown that ketamine has a rapid and robust anti-depressant effect and there have been an array of studies showing ketamine is particularly effective in treating a broad range of disorders we might call neuro-rigidified disorders…people who experience thought, feeling and behavior patterns in a very stuck or rutted form. Some of the major disorders that fall into this category include treatment resistant depression, chronic suicidal ideation, ruminative anxieties, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, immobilizing fears of death in the terminally ill, and many of the addiction disorders.

More specifically, how does ketamine work?

Ketamine is a glutamate modulator. Glutamate is one of the more pervasive neurotransmitters in your brain and therefore, has a fairly widespread activation of neurons. If you think of the psychedelic experience as chemically induced neuronal stimulation or over-firing (… why we ‘see or hear things that aren’t there’ … that are a result of internal, chemically generated stimuli), and combine this with the learning principal “What fires, wires!”, then you can understand how ketamine might induce a broad array of new neuronal connections. Ketamine researchers are observing broad acting neuronal reactivation, … and ultimately actual measurable synaptic and dendritic growth has been observed, possibly reversing years of neuronal degeneration from things like alcohol abuse or the ‘shutting down’ associated with trauma history or depressive entrenchment.

What mental disorders does ketamine improve and how might it help me?

As indicated earlier, the mental disorders most commonly associated with a sense of feeling ‘stuck’ are the ones most effectively treated by ketamine. These include disorders such as treatment resistant depression, ruminative anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and disorders that include suicidal ideation, moodiness, and hopelessness.

What does it feel like to be ‘inside’ the ketamine experience?

The range of experience is very dose dependent. With a LIGHT DOSE, you may feel light headed, deeply relaxed, groggy, and able to talk in a more open way.

A MEDIUM DOSE brings a more significant ‘trance state’ even while still maintaining a sense of self. Intermittent speech remains possible within the session. Often memories, hopes, regrets, and intentions are activated. It is not unusual to experience some vivid internally generated visual patterns & images. Though some anticipate these with fear, we find the context of a comfortable office environment combined with our supportive presence, the hallucinatory properties of ketamine are at least, curious and interesting, and at best, experienced as quite enjoyable. There is usually a powerful sense of openness and reflectiveness in this medium dose trance state. You might find yourself able to reframe past experiences from a standpoint of distant embrace and equanimity, and upon return to normal, awake consciousness, able to report back what happened without a lot of emotional charge. Euphoria or a sense of liberation is commonly associated with this level of dose.

With a HIGHER DOSE, people are fairly quiet, internally focused. The experience truly can feel like a ‘journey’, and though most people cannot recall specific elements of the experience with clarity, it is commonly felt to be transformative or mystical in nature.

How long does it take to recover from the treatment, after the sessions?

Directly following a session, we take precautions to insure you feel well enough to go home. In other words, that you are alert and present. The medicine has sedating and dissociating effects. These must subside before you leave. Usually people are ready to leave between 2-3 hours after their session begins. It is similar to the recovery process following minor day medical procedures such as dental work or a colonoscopy. You must have someone (a responsible friend, spouse, etc…) drive you home. Expect feeling a bit hazy, perhaps unsteady on your feet, for a few hours. All patients receiving the medicine must agree (sign a contract) that they will not operate a motor vehicle within 12 hours after a treatment, and that they will be brought home by a responsible adult.

What are the broader effects I might feel?

Many report rapid relief of symptoms after ketamine treatments. It seems to induce in people a broad sense of openness, expansiveness, and a sense of no longer being weighed down by recurring anxieties, worries, fears, or thought patterns. There is often an openness to entertain new ways of thinking or make different choices. These feelings are thought to be a direct result of ketamine’s chemically induced neuro-plasticity; a rekindled propensity for learning.

Are there any negatives to using ketamine as a medicine? Is it addictive? Are there any long term negative side effects?

Ketamine has stood the test of time in the medical system. There has been no evidence of long term negative consequences at the frequency and dosages we are prescribing at the Woodstock Therapy Center. At this level of use, it is safe, predictable, and effective. It is not considered to be a physically addictive medication. And though many people enjoy the experience under the influence of the medicine, it is difficult to become psychologically addicted, even if so inclined. Using it often is not particularly appealing to most people. Additionally, it is a controlled substance that is not commonly prescribed outside of the highly supervised setting of hospitals, clinics, or offices. While some clinics do write scripts at very low dosages for home use in very conscribed circumstances, it is not particularly common. When it has been appropriate, instances of addiction are extremely rare.

What are my chances of being helped with this treatment?

People who’ve been in therapy for years, whose treatment has been characterized as ‘maintenance oriented’ are finding themselves to be 70-80% responsive to ketamine assisted psychotherapy. With the protocol we offer at the Woodstock Therapy Center, combining psychotherapy with this powerful medicine, we bring the best tools available to help you optimize your chances for positive change.

How is the Woodstock Therapy Center different than other ketamine clinics?

Most existing clinics that offer ketamine treatment, do NOT offer the full support of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP). They are primarily medicine infusion programs run by anesthesiologists or medical doctors, without psychotherapists on staff. This method avails itself of the pharmacological benefits of the medicine alone. At the Woodstock Therapy Center, we certainly see that approach as beneficial…to a point. Further though, we see that approach as not fully taking advantage of ketamine’s potential for healing. It is as though you’ve suddenly become very open to learning patterns, but then continue to live inside the same small assumptions and environment that had left you feeling constricted in the first place. When you receive ketamine treatments, there is tremendous potential for new learning. For a period of time you have a window of opportunity in which it’s particularly critical to listen carefully to your deepest hopes and desires and reset your sights on ways of being, ways you may have left for lost… At the Woodstock Therapy Center we will help you reconnect to your deepest self and align your day to day life with goals that are both realistic and more connected to your highest aspirations. You will want to focus on establishing new patterns. We will help you consider these new possibilities so you can optimize your chances of feeling success.

What will your Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) treatment at the Woodstock Therapy Center include?

The minimum KAP treatment is a five part module consisting of:

  1. Initial screening - Phone or Telehealth interview with a trained screener to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for the KAP treatment at WTC. This will last about 20 minutes.
  2. Medical screening - Phone or Telehealth review of your medical history by our MD to determine eligibility and protocol for your Ketamine treatment. This will last about 45 minutes.
  3. Initial Integrative Therapy session - Telehealth or in-office session with therapist to prepare you for your Ketamine experience. Therapeutically exploring your history and individual needs, questions, and setting goals and intentions. 1 hour.
  4. The Ketamine experience - In office with MD and therapist. The Ketamine experience starts with settling into the room adjusting the music, lights, etc to become comfortable and grounded. The MD will administer your Ketamine as an intra-muscular dose. Your sitter (MD or therapist) will be with you during your next hour of experience. After about an hour you may want to move about, interact with your sitter, or journal to begin processing your experience. You will be ready to leave soon after this.
  5. Post integrative therapy session. Telehealth session with therapist facilitating integration of your experience. 1 hour.

After the completion of your initial five part module, you and your team will discuss further treatments to reach your personal goals. Treatment plans can include additional three part modules.

A three part module consists of:

  1. Integrative Therapy session
  2. The Ketamine experience
  3. Integrative therapy session

Your treatment pricing is as follows:

  1. Initial screening - N/C
  2. Physician Intake - $300
  3. Initial Integrative Therapy session - $175
  4. The ketamine experience - $500
  5. Post integrative therapy session - $175

Just as a seed has within it the intelligence to grow into a vibrant and blossoming plant, you possess the inner intelligence to heal....

For more info and to book your initial screening, please write us at: hudsonvalleyketamine@gmail.com

Matthias Von Reusner
,
M.D.
Donna Sorgen
,
L.M.H.C., LPC

Our team includes Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Specialists and Holistic Practitioners. We proudly serve the communities of Ulster County, The Hudson Valley and the entire Catskill region.

15 Pine Grove St
Woodstock NY 12498