Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Working in collaboration with the medical professionals at Roots Behavioral Health​Clear Springs Counseling is grateful and excited to offer a truly groundbreaking approach to mental health.

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is a medication that has been used for decades as an anesthetic well-known for its safety and efficacy. Ketamine is often used with children because of its safety record.

At approximately 1/10th the standard anesthetic dose, Ketamine often produces a psychedelic experience, noted for its dissociative, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant qualities. The science of psychedelic medicine is young, but there is mounting evidence that psychedelic treatments, when provided in a safe, controlled environment in conjunction with ample therapeutic support may be one of the most powerful tools ever to enter the world of mental health.

 

Starting around 2000, Ketamine began to be recognized for its value as an anti-depressant, producing effects in some patients almost immediately, and since then research interest for this purpose has increased, though more research regarding dosage and frequency of treatment is needed. 

The National Institute for Mental Health has found promising results in preliminary trials exploring the impact of Ketamine on both depression and PTSD. Other studies are finding encouraging results with addiction, anxiety, and other mental & emotional disorders. 

    

How does ketamine help?

Research on the physiological mechanism involved with Ketamine is still evolving. One important factor to note is that Ketamine appears to be active in the glutamate neurotransmitter system, which distinguishes it entirely from more conventional depression treatments such as SSRIs and mood stabilizers, and may account for its rapid effect time.

While the neuroscience of this medicine is important, it is likely not the whole story.

The psychedelic experience itself may play an important role in the healing process. The dissolution of our conventional sense of self, the unwinding of persistent self-defeating cognitive patterns, and the sense of being connected to something larger than ourselves may in themselves be potent therapeutic factors. 

At Clear Springs Counseling I focus on:

  • Physical, emotional, and mental preparation for a deep and rewarding psychedelic experience

  • Skilled therapeutic support during the psychedelic experience itself

  • Thorough and effective integration of insights and awareness provided via psychedelic experience

What issues can ketamine address?

Research is ongoing in the field of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, including KAP. At present, there is reason to believe that this approach may assist clients facing issues including:

  • Depression

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Eating Disorders

  • Substance Use Disorders

  • Existential and Spiritual Crisis

One way to think about the impact of the psychedelic experience is that it reliably facilitates a deep change in consciousness. Therefore, emotional or mental challenges characterized by persistent unhelpful habits or patterns within the mind, whether they be conscious (such as self-critical thinking) or  unconscious (such as a diminished or distorted sense of self) are likely to be addressed by KAP.

How does the process work?

I have based my Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy protocol on the psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy research of organizations such as MAPS, Johns-Hopkins, NYU, and the Heffter Research Institute. 

I intend this process for individuals who are interested in a life-changing, deeply-supported, and highly-informed approach. Without passing judgment, my services are not appropriate for individuals who interested in a recreational experience. 

Individuals interested in this approach should expect a process spanning months, and including individual counseling, group processing (if requested), and professionally-supported psychedelic experiences.

Preparation Phase

Clients meet with me 1 to 4 times to establish whether KAP is an appropriate approach. 

These sessions serve to establish a solid sense of trust and therapeutic alliance between client and therapist. This orientation also includes a thorough discussion of the client's history and goals, risks and benefits of this approach, as well as an orientation to the psychedelic experience.

During the preparation phase clients will also schedule an initial appointment with the medical professionals at Roots Behavioral Health to confirm that KAP is the right fit for the client's needs, and to schedule the first ketamine session.

With your consent, I will communicate directly with the medical professionals at Roots Behavioral Health during the preparation phase to discuss your process and potential treatment plans.

Ketamine Session(s)

For ketamine sessions, I will meet with you at Roots Behavioral Health, and will sit with you for the duration of your session. Plan on having a trusted friend or family member drive you home after your session, and plan on relaxing and reflecting for the remainder of your day. It may be useful, though not strictly necessary, to have a day-off from your usual obligations following your ketamine session. For more on specifics see  "What should I expect..." below. 

Between ketamine sessions, I work with clients to integrate insight, build support for new behaviors, and nourish sustained positive change.

Integration Phase

Following any psychedelic experience, there follows a period of adjustment commonly referred to as "integration." This word is apt, in that the task of this phase is to begin allowing the insights of the psychedelic experience to inform our day-to-day lives, both internally and externally. I focus heavily on supporting this phase of the process, such that the psychedelic experience can have lasting value beyond the ketamine session itself. I offer psychotherapy, mindfulness instruction, and support in implementing lifestyle strategies that nourish the changes catalyzed during the psychedelic experience. 

The integration phase continues between ketamine sessions, and as appropriate to the individual's needs and goals.

What should I expect during a ketamine experience?

I will be present for the entire session. You will be reclined on a comfortable couch or chair, and are encouraged to use eyeshades to facilitate a more powerful internal exploration. Music will be played, typically relaxing and multi-layered, without lyrics. The experience typically lasts approximately 1 - 2 hours, followed by an integration discussion. You will likely  feel sensitive for the remainder of the day. 

The ketamine experience, like psychedelic experience generally, is tremendously diverse and therefore difficult if not impossible to describe. Common themes reported are the shifting of consciousness, the dissolution of ego, the transcendence of space and time, disassociation from the body, and deeply felt and understood insight. 

You may go for long periods of your session without speaking, or you may wish to share your experience. As you exit the ketamine experience you may wish to share more, and this phase marks the beginning of the integration experience.

What are the risks of ketamine?

Ketamine, and psychedelic experience generally, is not a magic bullet. Some people find this approach groundbreaking. Some report it as "strange" but do not associate it with major changes in their lives. We should keep our expectations grounded, with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and honesty about what does and does not nourish us.

Ketamine has proven to be very safe at the physiological level. However, in order to maintain an extremely high bar for safety the following individuals are not eligible for Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy:

  • Pregnant or nursing mothers

  • Individuals experiencing a schizophrenic or manic episode

  • Individuals with untreated high blood pressure

  • Some individuals with a history of heart disease or hyperthyroidism

During a ketamine session, you will be asked to lie still while the medicine is affecting your sense of balance and coordination. This effect may last for up to three hours. You will be required to have a trusted friend or family member drive you home following your session. Other temporary side effects may include blurred vision, slurred speech, mental confusion, anxiety, nausea, elevated pulse, and loss of appetite. These side effects, if present, typically last less than 24 hours.

Psychologically, ketamine produces a profound shift in consciousness. For some, this shift can be unsettling or fear-producing. At CSC, we have specifically designed our preparation process to minimize these concerns. Given appropriate preparation and support, many clients find that even should a session include uncomfortable moments, the value and impact of the experience tends to be positive and powerful.

How much does it cost?

No two individuals will take the exact same path. Therefore the cost of this process varies considerably. In estimating your cost, you should include the following factors:

  • Preparation Phase

    • Initial session(s) to determine eligibility and begin preparation for KAP.

      • $140 per 50-minute session. ​

    • I will help you determine the preparation process that is appropriate to you, but you should plan on between 1 and 4 total preparation sessions.​

    • Initial psychiatric evaluation w/ Roots Behavioral Health.

      • Cost depends on your insurance and deductible. Contact Roots Behavioral Health to determine your out-of-pocket cost and schedule.​ Private-pay fee is $350.

      • Notify Roots Behavioral Health that you are working with Dave Wofford at Clear Springs Counseling.

  • Ketamine Sessions

    • Initial ketamine administration at RBH: $100 - $225 depending on client insurance

    • Follow-up ketamine sessions at RBH: $100 - $225 depending on client insurance

    • Therapist support during ketamine session: $250 (per 2-hour session)

  • Integration Phase​

    • Individual sessions at $140​ per hour, typically one per week for duration of the KAP process

Please Note: Not all Ketamine therapy providers are the same. I strongly encourage all who are interested in Ketamine or psychedelics more generally to take very seriously the role of support, set, and setting in order to lower the risk of adverse experiences. Responsible use of these experiences necessarily involves personalized support. Avoid situations where you would be left alone during the experience, or where you are not provided significant preparation and integration support. 

LET'S WORK TOGETHER

I have supported hundreds of clients in a variety of contexts. I would love to help you as well.  I am eager to hear from you, to learn your story, and to support you in your journey.

CONTACT ME TODAY TO GET STARTED.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Clear Springs Counseling

2525 Wallingwood 
Building 9, Suite 900
Austin, TX 78746