What is Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy?
It is a broad term that encompasses a number of different approaches and protocols using psychedelics, and which has been practiced in the Western medical model since the 1950s. Though psychedelics like LSD showed promise as therapeutic agents in those early years, a period of prohibition starting in the 1960s and through the early 2000s significantly hindered the research and development of these modalities.
The last decade has seen a significant body of encouraging research supporting the efficacy of PAP for a number of mental health issues, especially depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD. Though most psychedelics are still regulated substances, the legal and medical landscape is changing quickly, and more treatment options are starting to become available to the general public.
How does the process work? How many sessions do I have to do?
At Mindspace we have carefully designed a protocol for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy that is meant to take place over 4 to 6 weeks, and which includes an initial medical screening, followed by 2 preparatory sessions, 3 ketamine administration sessions, 3 integration sessions (where you work with your therapist to harness the power of the experience), a closing session, and final medical follow-up. The idea is to do concentrated, well-supported work in a relatively short amount of time in order to facilitate therapeutic breakthrough, and set the conditions for long-term healing and recovery. Each of our clients who enters the program is assigned a personal Health Navigator in addition to the medical and therapeutic team to assist them through the various stages in the process.
How is the ketamine administered?
Ketamine can be administered in a number of ways, including intravenous infusion (IV), intramuscular injection (IM), as well as via nasal sprays and lozenges or rapid dissolving tablets that are placed under the tongue. At Mindspace, presently only nasal spray and rapid dissolving tablets are used for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. The specific dose and method is determined on a case-by-case basis with your medical team at Mindspace.
What is the actual experience like?
At the dosages provided at Mindspace, while under the effect of ketamine, you will most likely experience mild reductions in pain, anxiety and depression, in addition to other possible psychoactive effects such as:
● Increased sensitivity to light and sound
● A dream-like or ‘floating’ feeling
● Diminished body sensations
● Altered sense of time
● Mild changes in perception of sound and vision
● Relaxation of ordinary concerns and usual mindset
● Disruption of negative feelings and preoccupations
While many clients find the effects of ketamine to be pleasurable, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can involve experiencing uncomfortable feelings, engaging in difficult interactions, revisiting painful experiences, or being challenged to see the world in new and different ways. Additional details of the therapeutic approach will be shared with you should you choose to go forward with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.
During the ketamine dosing sessions, you will be in a room that has been specifically designed to support ketamine and other psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies, and to feel as comfortable as possible. Most clients will prefer to rest in a semi-reclined or reclined position. You will have the opportunity to wear eye-shades if desired, and preselected music, specifically designed to enhance the experience, will be offered.
Am I eligible?
At Mindspace ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is only available to individuals between the ages of 18 and 65, and to Quebec residents. At present, youth under 18 years of age, pregnant women and nursing mothers are not eligible for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, since the effects of ketamine on pregnancy, nursing children and youth are still relatively unknown. Though research indicates that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may be effective for a number of mental health indications, Mindspace is currently focused on addressing treatment-resistant depression.
To be eligible for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for depression, you must be evaluated by a medical practitioner and not have any contraindications to this therapy, including any medical or other psychiatric illnesses that suggest this treatment might be unsafe. Conditions that may make you ineligible for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy include, but are not limited to: a history of psychosis (e.g. hallucinations), mania, untreated hypertension, heart disease or stroke, and seizure. Similarly, severe liver disease, untreated thyroid disorders or other medical conditions may require management prior to ketamine assisted psychotherapy.
If you are suffering from treatment-resistant depression our team will work directly with you to determine whether you are a good candidate for treatment by taking a full medical and psychological history.
What does it cost? Is it covered by health care or my private insurance?
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is an exciting innovation in mental health care, but because it is still new, it is presently still an uninsured medical service. Unless you have a private insurance provider or other provider to pay for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, you will need to pay out of pocket as it is presently an uninsured service. The price of the full program is currently under $4700. This includes the cost for all facilities, equipment, screening, medical visits, treatment and psychotherapy sessions but not the ketamine prescription itself. If you have an insurance provider you may be able to claim some portion of the individual psychotherapy sessions, depending on your insurance plan. We will provide you with a detailed breakdown of the costs for each aspect of the service should you require it for any additional insurance coverage you may have.
What if I decide partway through the treatment that Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy is not for me?
From day one our team will be focused on ensuring that you are receiving the best possible care, and supporting you through what may be both a challenging and profoundly healing experience. In the event that you choose or need to withdraw from the program before its completion, you may stop without incurring any additional charges, as long as you cancel your next session with sufficient notice, which varies depending on the session type, but ranges between 1 and 3 days. This will be discussed with you in more detail by your Health Navigator.
I’m interested, what’s the next step?
If you believe you are eligible for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and would like to proceed with the program, the next step will be to obtain a referral from your primary care physician, so that we can initiate the screening process to confirm your suitability. Our Care Coordinators can work with you to obtain this referral from your GP or primary care provider. Once we receive your referral you will be assigned a Health Navigator and we can initiate the medical screening process.
Are residents outside of Quebec eligible to receive Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?
No, we can only provide KAP for clients who are resident in Quebec.
What is Psychedelic Harm-Reduction and Integration (PHRI)?
It does not involve the prescription, administration or supervision of psychedelic drugs or experiences; rather, it represents the support that a therapist or coach might provide to an individual who has had or intends to have psychedelic experiences on their own, outside of therapy. For example, an individual who is interested in using psilocybin mushrooms to help them quit smoking may seek the support of a PHRI therapist to help them plan for experiences they undertake on their own, to minimize risks and increase the likelihood of positive therapeutic outcomes, including through integration sessions following these experiences.
PHRI therapists do not refer clients to underground therapists, and are in no way involved with the sourcing of psychedelic substances, nor do they conduct therapy while individuals are under the influence of psychedelics.