The One Thing You Should Do Before Starting Ketamine Therapy

The One Thing You Should Do Before Starting Ketamine Therapy

Before starting ketamine therapy, remember to do one thing: Do your research!

When I was first being trained in ketamine treatment, I quickly discovered several factors involved in this new modality. This reinforced how important it is to deeply understand the nature of this work.

Ketamine has been around since 1962 — an analog of the drug phencyclidine (also known as PCP). It wasn’t until 2019, though, that the Food and Drug Administration approved Esketamine, (ketamine in nasal spray form).

Three years later, Ketamine is now useful for a variety of psychological and behavioral conditions. These include trauma, anxiety, addiction and even existential distress.

RELATED: Here is a list of the ketamine clinics closest to you as well as other psychedelic therapies in your area.

When Doing Research on Ketamine Therapy, Here Are 5 Great Questions to Ask the Clinician

QuestionReason for Asking
1. What are your qualifications and experience in administering ketamine therapy?To ensure that the clinician has the necessary training, certification, and experience to safely administer ketamine therapy.
2. What is the treatment protocol, including dosage, frequency, and number of sessions?To understand the specific treatment plan, how it’s tailored to individual needs, and what to expect in terms of commitment and duration.
3. What are the potential risks and side effects of ketamine therapy in my specific case?To be aware of any possible negative outcomes or side effects and how they might impact your health or mental well-being.
4. How do you support patients during and after ketamine sessions?To know the level of care and support provided during the therapy, including how any challenging experiences or side effects will be managed.
5. Can you provide any data or research that supports the effectiveness of ketamine therapy for my condition?To understand the evidence behind ketamine therapy’s effectiveness for your specific condition, helping to gauge its potential benefits.

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And here’s the thing: The administration of ketamine comes in a variety of factors — all with varying results:

  • Type and training of health practitioners involved in treatment
  • Dosage of the drug
  • Different routes of administration

Despite the patent for Esketamine, a nasal spray form of ketamine, a much less expensive form of generic ketamine is available. This generic form can be administered to patients intravenously (IV), intramuscularly (IM), and sublingually (SL) using lozenges.

Each of these different routes of administration (or ways of having ketamine absorbed into the bloodstream) have differential potencies. This is due to different bioavailability (how much crosses the blood-brain barrier) and they each have different duration and intensity of action.

However, before starting ketamine therapy, many people don’t know they often have more choices when it comes to administration routes. Clinicians who work with ketamine must be able to describe these different options, make recommendations, and optimize patient choice when it comes to ketamine treatment.

RELATED: Ketamine Experiences: Would I Be In An Unfamiliar Environment With Unfamiliar People? And What If I Have A ‘Bad Trip’?

How To Choose The Right Ketamine Clinic

What about the various practitioners? Health practitioners who offer ketamine may have very little explicit and in-depth training in mental health care. These are professionals like anesthesiologists, primary care physicians, or family nurse practitioners.

However, they may have the requisite education and training to administer all sorts of medications — including ketamine.

Psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners also prescribe and offer ketamine treatments with or without any psychotherapy before, during, or after ketamine dosing sessions. Some ketamine prescribers also partner with psychologists, social workers, or other licensed psychotherapists. These professionals work with patients in a psychotherapy model before, during, or even after ketamine dosing sessions.

Therefore, patients need to know the following:

  • Their prescriber
  • The formula of the ketamine administration
  • Whether or not some kind of psychotherapy is part of the whole process (as a recommendation or as an option)
  • The setting in which any part of ketamine treatment will be delivered

To research ketamine clinics near you, utilize HealingMaps as a resource.

RELATED: Study Finds Ketamine Telehealth Is A Safe And Effective Treatment For Anxiety And Depression

The Importance Of Research Before Starting Ketamine Therapy

From my experience as a ketamine-assisted psychotherapy practitioner, I have heard of various settings in which patients get ketamine treatment.

Below are some options:

  • At-home, self-administration of sublingual lozenges. A health practitioner is present via teleconferencing (this was more common during the more intense phases of COVID-19).
  • Cash-based clinics where someone is in a recliner with an IV drip. The patient has minimal contact with a clinician or clinic staff member.
  • One or more psychotherapy sessions (called preparation), a psychotherapist present throughout the dosing session (up to 3-4 hours), and one or more “integration” or post-dosing psychotherapy sessions.

For all of the above reasons, the one thing everyone should do before starting Ketamine treatment is do the research!

RELATED: Looking For Ketamine Therapy In Salt Lake City, Utah? Here Are Three Things You Need To Know

Dr. Rick Barnett

View all posts by Dr. Rick Barnett

Dr. Rick Barnett is a licensed psychologist-doctorate, licensed alcohol and drug counselor with an additional Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychopharmacology.

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Comments (1)

  • Shelley
    April 22, 2022 at 7:37 pm Reply

    Where does Dr Barnett practice and would he be available for support?

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