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Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy

Ketamine is a medication used to induce general anaesthesia (in adult or more frequently in paediatric surgery and during dental procedures) and to alleviate pain. Its safety in humans has been well established in the course of more than 50 years of its clinical use. In the last two decades, ketamine began to be used for the treatment of depression in the USA. Its efficacy in this indication has been documented in numerous clinical studies. It is considered a rapid-acting antidepressant, which means that its antidepressant effect occurs on the day of administration and lasts for an average of about 5 days. As an antidepressant, ketamine is used in much lower doses than when used for general anaesthesia, so it does not produce loss of consciousness. At this dose level, the effects of
ketamine typically include:

  •  mild dream-like or dissociative state
  • antidepressant and antisuicidal effect (i.e., it decreases the risk of suicide)
  •  anxiolytic effect (anxiety relief)
  • psychedelic state (expanded state of consciousness).

The method of working with ketamine used at our clinic is referred to as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP). It combines the advantages of psychological treatment (psychotherapy) with the direct biological antidepressant effect of the substance.
The main benefits of KAP are that ketamine catalyses and potentiates psychotherapy, while psychotherapy helps facilitate long-term change, which is something ketamine cannot provide on its own due to the limited duration of its primary antidepressant effect.

Another significant advantage of ketamine is its capacity to produce a psychedelic state, allowing the patients to access and process some of their mental content and inner conflicts (particularly those that are not so readily accessible in everyday consciousness) that may underlie some of their subjective difficulties. This may be why KAP appears to help certain patients who failed to respond to previous therapies.

The cornerstone of the treatment lies in the psychotherapeutic process, which involves the client and our specially trained therapists. We are proud that our therapists are the first specialists in the Czech Republic (and one of the select few hundred worldwide) to have completed official, legal and mostly international training courses in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (e.g. the Certificate in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research (CPTR) at the Centre for Psychedelic Therapies and Research of the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), the MDMA Therapy Training Program for PTSD (MAPS, USA and Europe), Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (Polaris Insight Center, USA), and the European-based training in psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression (Compass Pathways)). Many have also participated as field workers in the PsyCare harm reduction programme provided by the Czech Psychedelic Society (CZEPS) and in psychedelic research projects at NÚDZ.

Our therapists accompany the client during the entire course of treatment. Their role is to secure a safe and humane environment, which is essential for the therapeutic process, and to provide professional support so as to maximize the benefits of the therapy for the client.

The effects of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may include the following:

  • gaining new perspectives on everyday thinking and reality (including established patterns of thought, behaviour, and perception)
  • significant changes in self-image, interpersonal relationships and one’s place in the world
  • positive outlook on difficult situations and challenges in life
  • decreased frequency and/or intensity of negative or obsessive thoughts and negative self-commentary
  • increased self-confidence and self-compassion;
    enhanced ability to deal with difficult situations
  • increased motivation for achieving desired lifestyle changes;
    relief from existential anxiety and potential opening towards an interest in spirituality and further personal growth.

Despite KAP being an effective tool for the treatment of mental illnesses, we would like to emphasize that it is not a cure-all and is not suitable and/or effective for everyone. Every client therefore needs to go through a careful evaluation and indication process before starting KAP. It is our priority that the treatment we provide should always be safe and meaningful for the client.

Currently we only accept clients diagnosed with depressive disorders. If you have a different diagnosis and/or complaint, you can give us your email address and we will inform you if we expand into other indications in the future.

If you’re interested in receiving KAP or if you have any questions, please email us at info@psyon.cz.