Ketamine plays a unique and curious role in the modern psychedelic renaissance. Having been safely and successfully used in clinical practice as an anesthetic for several decades, the recent discovery that sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine rapidly induce profoundly therapeutic, antidepressant effects that are psychedelic in nature has made it a “trojan horse” of sorts for other psychedelics to begin breaking into the modern therapy scene. One company pioneering the ketamine-assisted psychotherapy movement across North America is the psychedelic pioneers at Field Trip Health. They have opened several clinics across Canada and North America that, unlike other ketamine clinics, incorporate compassionate and comprehensive psychotherapy into the process. This guide explores their cutting-edge ketamine-assisted psychotherapy program for prospective clients and psychedelic enthusiasts alike.
Ketamine is Showing Exceptional Clinical Promise in the Treatment of Depression & Suicidality
Upon the FDA’s approval of Spravato, an esketamine nasal spray formulation for acute depression and suicidality, several more ketamine clinics have begun to populate the landscape. The use of ketamine for severe mental illness and rapid symptom relief of suicidal ideation is rapidly taking off, from the emergency setting to the integrated therapy clinic. In fact, ketamine is so effective, studies have shown it can reduce suicidal ideation in just hours! Compare this to the time it takes standard antidepressants to even begin working effectively (it’s on the order of several weeks) and we can see pretty immediately that ketamine has special potential in mental health treatment. While many clinics simply keep their patients in a dark room while they receive either an IM bolus dose or IV infusion of ketamine, the team at Field Trip Health includes psychotherapy into their model, setting an exciting precedent for the emerging psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy space.
The Bold Team at Field Trip Health is Integrating Psychotherapy Into their Ketamine Clinic Experience
The bold and progressive team at Field Trip Health is one of the first to truly incorporate the psychotherapy element into the ketamine session, however, which is truly unique and stands to improve an already efficacious treatment, perhaps manyfold. Their comprehensive protocol offers a detailed pre-treatment process, a safe and relaxed medicine session, and robust aftercare and integration measures. From virtual video visits with their psychiatrist or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner to a comfortable and safe setting where the medicine is administered and the therapy is administered, the Field Trip team has certainly paid attention to detail when it comes to caring for their patients. Furthermore, the Field Trip team doesn’t shy away from the dissociative state or “psychedelic experience” when it comes to ketamine. In fact, they lean into it and, in fact, studies have shown increased beneficial clinical outcomes with the psychedelic experience. Incorporating the psychotherapy and integration sessions just helps take things to the next level. Here’s a quick snapshot of the process their patients go through for treatment.
Attention to Detail From the Very Start: Comprehensive Pre-Screening & Rapport Building Precedes Medicine Work at Field Trip
Since psychotherapy is fundamental to the treatment model at Field Trip’s psychedelic-assisted therapy clinics, the team takes the time they need to really understand the patient, their needs, and goals before commencing therapy. From video visits with their clinical care team, including the psychiatrist or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner that approves the treatment protocol, patients are welcomed into therapy with a complete clinical picture established to use moving forward. Through the questionnaires filled out by the patients and their meeting with the clinical team, a detailed and personalized treatment plan is generated and the patient is ready to move forward in the process.
The Medicine Experience: Bolus dose of IM Ketamine Sends Field Trip Patients on a Guided Journey
One of the more unique aspects of Field Trip’s practice is their use of a bolus dose of ketamine via intramuscular (IM) injection to induce a psychedelic, dissociated state. Unlike many other clinics that focus on extended intravenous (IV) infusions of ketamine, the high-dose IM ketamine journey is truly special to someone who considers themselves a veteran psychonaut. At Field Trip, patients will have the opportunity to take advantage to engage in this immersive ketamine-assisted psychotherapy session from the comfort and safety of their comfortable, zero-gravity chair and with the company of their trusted therapist. While ketamine has been established as one of the safest drugs ever invented, patients will find it comforting to know that the Field Trip team uses a sophisticated, non-invasive, continuous vital sign monitoring system to continually monitor their vital signs and biometric data. After the journey has been completed, the really special work can begin during integration.
Integration is Where the Magic Happens: Exploring Post-Medicine Care at Field Trip Health
While psychotherapists can have a grounding presence for patients during their ketamine trips, it is during the integration process that the role of the therapist truly shines. Since patients generally develop a comfortable rapport with their therapist, they are able to deeply explore the complex emotions, experiences, and sensations that arose during their journey. This integration process is powerful and important to help patients internalize and make some sense of the journey they just experienced. Field Trip’s highly trained clinical staff and therapists are skilled in helping patients maneuver both the journey during the experience and their insights and memories afterward. Patients have the opportunity to discuss their trip immediately after the medicine’s effects wear off (approximately 40-70 minutes) and in follow-up sessions. This provides the patient ample opportunity to integrate and explore the expansiveness and depth of their psychedelic experience.
Early Results Suggests Promise for Field Trip’s Protocol With Promising Developments Ahead
Currently, patients are advised to start off with two ketamine sessions a week, per week, for three weeks. After this, it is suggested that they engage in such psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy sessions on an individual, case-by-case basis. Currently, early results from their first patients seem to suggest promising outcomes after a course of treatment has been completed. So far, at their new Chicago clinic, three patients have completely completed the program with a fourth completing the program in a week, following this piece being written. Testimonials have been positive, glowing even if you consider one patient reported their depression lifting after a ketamine therapy session, followed by the disappearance of their chronic pain, something they hadn’t experienced for years. Certainly, the Field Trip team is confident they will be able to expand access to more patients who genuinely need ketamine therapy today.
We had the pleasure of connecting with the Founder and Executive Chairman of Field Trip Health, Ronan Levy, to get his take on these exciting developments at Field Trip. He had this to say:
“More and more, medicine is moving toward a more functional and integrative approach that recognizes that a person’s outlook, mindset, and mental health is critical to their overall health as well. At Field Trip, we built our protocols and, truthfully, our entire experience to recognize the importance of this. We treat people like people, not patients. We look beyond just treating a person’s mental health, and work to help them empower themselves to lead a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.”
The company’s Chicago office expects to gain four to five new patients in the coming weeks. As their practice expands, long-term patient outcome data from their clinics will become an invaluable resource to this emerging, nascent space.
If you or a loved one are suffering from treatment-resistant mental health conditions, including depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and trauma, ketamine therapy may benefit you. Click here to learn more about Field Trip Health’s robust ketamine-assisted psychotherapy program and to see if there is a clinic near you.