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What to know before your first ketamine assisted psychotherapy session

Ketamine assisted psychotherapy

Ketamine is a dissociative agent that has historically been used for anesthesia since the 1960's, in both children and adults. An unexpected effect has been its positive impact on mental health and overall emotional wellbeing through its psychedelic properties. Ketamine is currently the only psychedelic medicine available legally in the United States, when prescribed by a medical provider such as a psychiatrist.

Some individuals decide they want to go in for their first ketamine medicine session without doing much reading or research on the possible effects of ketamine. But it definitely can be helpful to prepare in order to have a better sense of what to expect and also, to know if ketamine is a good fit for you. Below are some ways to prepare for your first ketamine assisted psychotherapy session.


There are often described to be three separate parts of ketamine assisted therapy: preparation, the actual medicine session, and then starting immediately after the ketamine wears off begins integration, which is a very active part of healing. Rather than thinking of ketamine as a one day experience, consider it a process that spans for days to weeks, and even to months.

Therapy Sessions

The preparation session or sessions involve building a relationship with your therapist/psychiatrist so that you feel safe and comfortable. These sessions also help the therapist gain an understanding of who you are as a person including your current life situation, struggles, triumphs, sources of resiliency, and what your intentions are for ketamine assisted therapy. This is also an opportunity to ask questions and learn about what the ketamine session will look like.

With higher doses of ketamine, much of the experience tends to be internal and within one's own mind rather than outward like normal psychotherapy. However, when administered at lower doses, ketamine can often be used alongside psychotherapy work. Therapy with low dose ketamine can be particularly insightful and meaningful, since typical defense mechanisms tend to be at rest. With both higher and lower doses, there is usually time set aside as the ketamine wears off for individuals to begin processing what they experienced with their therapist.