Episode 59: In recent years, there has been growing interest and skepticism about the role that psychedelic drugs, including ketamine, can play in treating mental health conditions. Ketamine functions as an analgesic and dissociative medication, and it appears to trigger a cascade of biochemical, structural, and functional changes that are believed to work by making the brain more malleable and receptive to therapy or alternate ways of thinking. In this episode, we’ll discuss this new treatment modality, called Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP), and clear up some of the confusion about how it works and how to access it. Joining me for this conversation is Spencer Wollan, who has experienced “life changing benefits” from Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy. Also with us is medical doctor, social worker, and ketamine prescriber Dr. Jesus Ramirez and psychotherapist and ketamine therapy practitioner Ellis McCauley.
Broadcasts 10/1/23 & 10/9/23
Special thanks to Jeanne Baldzikowski for audio production and Patrice Vecchione for story coaching. And thanks to acoustic guitarist Adrian Legg for composing, performing, and donating the use of our theme music.
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* Indicates a Monterey Bay Area Resource
KRIYA Ketamine Research Institute – a hub of information for clinicians and clients alike to learn about ketamine. This site offers a wealth of information.
*MAPS: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies – an ethical, generous and powerful force for research, education and advocacy of psychedelic medicines, since 1986. Search their site for numerous research articles about ketamine.
TWLOHA: To Write Love on Her Arms – offering scholarships for treatment to those who cannot afford lifesaving, mental health treatment.
The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation – an organization offering the highest quality and newest research on trauma and resources for those suffering from dissociative symptoms.
Advice from a Ketamine Patient: Avesta Ketamine and Wellness: Anesthesiology – a patient shares tips to help others get the most out of their ketamine infusions. Includes suggestions about intentions, what to focus on, and exercises.
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP): Patient Demographics, Clinical Data and Outcomes in Three Large Practices Administering Ketamine with Psychotherapy – a lengthy, research-based, comprehensive review of the history, effects, benefits and limitations to ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. It gives a nice overview of the potential for healing that ketamine can facilitate.
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) – Beyond depression, this professional article describes the transdiagnostic benefits of using ketamine as a tool for developing conscious awareness in psychotherapy.
How Does Ketamine Work Differently from Other Psychedelics? – a Psychology Today article by Annie Lennon and co-authored by Dr. Jeffrey Becker, MD (2021) describing how ketamine and psychedelics work in profoundly different ways and because they have different mechanisms of action, they may be better suited for different use cases.
Ketamine for depression: What it feels like and who it can help – Washington Post article by Rachel Zimmerman. September 12, 2022 – The hype around psychedelic drug therapy has put the spotlight on ketamine. In this article, ten common questions are answered.
Antidepressants Work Better Than Sugar Pills Only 15 Percent of the Time – While some people benefit from SSRIs and other antidepressants, research shows the benefit is indirect and most people don’t have long-term benefit. The popular misconception that a chemical imbalance is responsible for depression is not supported by scientific evidence, and yet it became widespread through direct-to-consumer drug marketing in the 1980s.
I was Paralyzed by Severe Depression. Then Came Ketamine – A vivid account of one person’s life-changing experience taking ketamine for crippling depression that had failed to respond to mainstream treatment.
Behind the Buzz: How Ketamine Changes the Depressed Patient’s Brain – Popular science article explaining how depression is caused by stress which leads to atrophy of brain cells, and how ketamine restores connection between brain cells.
Ketamine Therapy Is Going Mainstream. Are We Ready? by Emily Witt, Dec 29, 2021 – The New Yorker article examining this mind-altering drug which has been shown to help people suffering from anxiety and depression and looking at how it helps, who it will serve, and who will profit.
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan (2019) – an investigation into the medical and scientific revolution around psychedelic drugs and the story of the author’s own life-changing psychedelic experiences. Now also a Netflix series.
Sit Around the Fire – Music video capturing the essence of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy: quiet the mind, open the heart.
Psychedelic Assisted Therapy: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver [NSFW] –This is a whirl-wind, humorous, and accurate review of the history and promise of psychedelic therapy, with real-life examples and an explanation of why it is not just about taking a pill.
How to Change your Mind – a 4-part Netflix documentary video series where author Michael Pollan explores the history and uses of psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and mescaline.
Alchemy Therapy – an agency providing sliding-scale/low income ketamine therapy in Oakland, California
*Shine a Light Therapy Center* – offering low-cost therapy services to low-income and uninsured patients in Santa Cruz and Watsonville, California.
*Family Service Agency (FSA) of the Central Coast is a dedicated underwriter of State of Mind. FSA provides resources, support, and counseling services to adults and children. FSA believes in the power and potential of people of all ages and backgrounds to discover their own creative solutions and welcomes people of diverse cultures, genders, sexual orientations, ages, faiths, socio–economic backgrounds. FSA Counseling Offices offer Medi–Cal, Medicare, and low–cost, sliding scale services in both downtown Santa Cruz 831–423–9444 x200 and in Soquel 831–346–6767 x200.
Iris Healing Retreat – a small, southern California, substance abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment center with high quality, well trained nurses and therapists who utilize many different modalities to treat the whole patient. Recommended by show guest Spencer Wollan.
Ellis McCauley, LMFT*
Specializing in psychotherapy for Trauma, OCD/Anxiety, BFRBs, Grief/Loss.
Offering ketamine-assisted psychotherapy
In-person in San Rafael and East Bay, virtually throughout CA.
Website: ellismccauleymft.com Phone: 831-824-4540
* Indicates a Monterey Bay Area Resource