Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy

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Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) is a therapeutic modality in which ketamine is used as a complement to psychotherapy to help eligible patients experience more frequent breakthroughs and sustained improvement in symptoms.

 

Heather Valdez, LCSW, offers Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) in partnership with an organization called Journey Clinical. Heather takes on the psychotherapy portion of the experience, while Journey Clinical’s medical team supports all medical aspects including determining eligibility, developing a custom treatment plan, prescribing the medicine, and monitoring outcomes.

 

Below is more information about KAP to help you navigate if it may be a good fit for you.

 

What is Ketamine?

 

Ketamine is a synthetic pharmaceutical compound. Although it is commonly known as a dissociative anesthetic used in medical settings, it is also used as an effective off-label treatment for a variety of mental health conditions, including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety and PTSD.

 

Ketamine has rapidly-acting antidepressant and mood-enhancing effects, which can begin to take effect within 1-2 hours after treatment. It works by blocking the brain’s NMDA receptors as well as by stimulating AMPA receptors, which are thought to help form new synaptic connections and boost neural circuits that regulate stress and mood. Ketamine has also been shown to enhance overall neuroplasticity for lasting symptom improvement. Studies have shown that the benefits to mood and neurological growth can last up to two weeks after the ketamine experience. Antidepressant effects can tend to be cumulative, therefore requiring multiple dosing sessions.

 

Ketamine can be administered in a variety of ways, including IV infusion, intramuscular injection, via nasal spray, and using sublingual lozenges. Journey Clinical prescribes sublingual lozenges for KAP treatment.

 

How Does Ketamine Feel?

 

The peak effects of ketamine lozenges typically start anywhere from 5-15 minutes post administration, and last for approximately 45 minutes. These effects can make you feel a sense of detachment from your body, environment and usual sense of self, and facilitate shifts in perception that can often feel expansive in nature. The intensity of these effects can fluctuate with dose, and impacted by various factors. Your motor and verbal abilities during the dosing session will be reduced, so you will be lying down in a comfortable position during the experience. You may also experience sensitivity to light and sound, an altered sense of time, out-of-body sensations, feelings of movement or floating, vivid imagery, and other sensory effects. Once these effects have subsided, you and your therapist will spend the remainder of your appointment giving you space to process and discuss your experience. You may experience some lingering altered sensory effects for several hours after your session, and your therapist will support you in making a safety and self-care plan for the remainder of the day.

 

How Does Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Work?

 

Below are steps to the KAP process:

 

1. Initial Clinical Intake with Your Therapist

If you are a new client, you will have an initial clinical intake session with Heather Valdez, LCSW. During this session, your therapist will complete an assessment to determine whether KAP may be a potential treatment option for you. Your therapist may then make a referral to Journey Clinical for a psychiatric intake to determine your eligibility for KAP.

 

If you are a current client interested in KAP, your therapist will provide education on KAP and will work with you to determine whether KAP may be a potential option to add to your treatment plan. Your therapist may then make a referral to Journey Clinical for a psychiatric intake to determine your eligibility for KAP.

 

2. Initial Consultation with Journey Clinical

Once your therapist completes the referral, you will schedule an initial evaluation with a clinician from the Journey Clinical medical team via Zoom. They will go over your medical and psychiatric history with you, provide education on the treatment, and determine if you are eligible for KAP. If eligible, they will develop a personalized ketamine prescription and outcome monitoring plan for you.

 

Journey Clinical’s medical staff will write a ketamine prescription for you, and a small amount of oral ketamine will be sent to your home, enough for the first two KAP sessions. You will be taught to take your vitals and self-administer the ketamine lozenges by Journey Clinical’s medical team in advance of your KAP sessions.

 

3. Preparation Sessions

You and your therapist will schedule your KAP preparation, dosing, and integration sessions. Preparation session(s) will be scheduled just like regular therapy sessions prior to the KAP dosing session. The goal of a preparation session(s) is to align on the KAP process, set goals and intentions, address immediate needs, and provide you with information in preparation for your KAP sessions.

 

4. KAP Dosing Sessions

A typical ketamine dosing session lasts between 2-2.5 hours and will take place remotely via telehealth using Zoom. During a dosing session, you will self-administer your ketamine lozenge in your home with a support person (i.e. friend, partner, family member, etc.) present in your home with you. You will be in a comfortable, reclining position wearing an eye mask and listening to calming music. Your therapist will be present with you on Zoom the entire time to hold space and provide therapeutic support as needed.

 

5. Integration Sessions

After your KAP dosing session, you and your therapist will meet for integration therapy sessions to review the memories, thoughts and insights that arose during your dosing session, explore how to apply them to your daily life, and prepare for the next dosing session.

 

6. Follow-up Consultations with Journey Clinical

After your first or second KAP session, Journey Clinical’s medical team schedules regular follow ups with you to monitor outcomes and prescribe ketamine lozenge refills, as appropriate. The frequency of follow ups depends on your unique treatment plan, at a minimum of once per quarter.

 

What is the Cost of Treatment?

 

KAP Fees

 

Please visit the following link for current fees for Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy: KAP Fees  

 

Some fees may be eligible for out-of-network reimbursement, including preparation and integration psychotherapy sessions. KAP sessions are currently not eligible for reimbursement by insurance. Please check with your insurance carrier about reimbursement rates prior to beginning therapy.

 

For those with limited finances, please inquire for sliding scale availability – priority for reduced fees will go to those with marginalized identities.

 

Journey Clinical Medical Fees

 

The medical intake and follow up appointment fees at Journey Clinical are separate from the above KAP fees. The below fees are not currently covered by insurance, but they are eligible for out-of-network reimbursement. Please check with your insurance carrier about reimbursement rates.

  • Medical Intake: $250 (one-time fee)

  • Follow-up Sessions: $150/Session (minimum of 1/quarter)

  • Cost of Ketamine Lozenges: $75 for approximately 4-6 lozenges (not covered by insurance)

 

How Do I Sign Up?

 

If you would like to explore the possibility of working with Heather Valdez, LCSW, for KAP, please submit the contact form at the bottom of the home page or email info@heathermvaldez.com to schedule a free 20-minute consultation call to discuss eligibility and next steps.