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Ketamine is not a traditional psychedelic. When you take ketamine, the ground won’t melt before your eyes as you journey into a netherworld and dance the night away. Instead, you may see geometric patterns or relive a past experience. You might also see nothing at all, as your ego diminishes, you dissociate from the sense of self, and your limbs go progressively numb. As you relinquish control in the altered ketamine state, you enter a space of psychiatric healing.
Sure, you can take black market ketamine at home or a party, and you might feel great in the hours or days following. But ketamine’s benefits have the power to extend far beyond the trip and fleeting moments that follow. Ketamine sparks a healing process that you must integrate into your life in the days, weeks, and months afterward. With the help of a ketamine integration specialist, a community of support, and your practice, you can forge new neural pathways in search of enduring mental health.
Using Ketamine Therapy as a Tool for Integration
Ketamine therapy is a process of using this legal, FDA-approved psychedelic medicine for inner healing with the help of trained healthcare professionals. Integration is the process of connecting the insights, images, thoughts, and feelings you experienced into a cohesive lesson that you carry with you. Through integration practices, you have the tools to change your habits and your mind.
Integration is critically essential immediately after your ketamine therapy sessions. If you jump back onto your phone and into work mode, you might miss valuable perspectives. In the long term, if you don’t regularly contemplate and integrate the experience into your daily life, you may detach from your newfound awareness. Without integration practice, your depression scores could return to baseline after about four weeks. Luckily, research from the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics suggests you can successfully prevent relapse if you use talk therapy as a tool for integration.
Don’t go at Ketamine Alone
Ketamine therapy is not a solo sport, and it’s not without risks. Due to its “opioid properties”, ketamine has the potential for abuse. You may also feel worse in between ketamine experiences. Physically, you may experience adverse reactions related to dissociation and sedation. You might even witness a dark memory while under the influence that sticks with you. Ruminating on the past can be extraordinarily painful. But through ketamine integration therapy and self-care, you’ll have strategies to re-interpret the memory into a valuable lesson.
1. Work With an Integration Therapist
Research shows when you use ketamine to accelerate psychotherapy with a trained guide or therapist, you’re much more likely to reap lasting mental health benefits. The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs says Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) is more effective at reducing depression and anxiety than infusions alone. That’s why it’s essential to look for ketamine clinics with trained experts to facilitate the entire process. From intention-setting to guided ketamine experiences to 1:1 integration therapy, the more support you have, the better.
2. Integrate Ketamine Through Self-Reflection
You need help from others to support lasting change after ketamine therapy. But you also need to sit quietly or walk alone as you analyze the experience and glean personal insights. No one knows your mind, body, or past better than you. Such self-reflective practices include:
Journaling – Journaling enables you to unpack the psychological and emotional material arising from psychedelic journeys, according to the ketamine clinic, Mindbloom.
Meditation – When you meditate, you help clear the mental chatter and solidify the new neural pathways you opened during ketamine therapy.
Nature walks – Nothing zaps you into the present moment like a vast mountain, reflective lake, or a surprisingly vivid bluebird. Like meditation, nature can promote relaxation and a more positive outlook.
3. Integrate Ketamine Through Self-Care
When you engage in self-care practices, you promote joy, physical health, spiritual health, and mind-body balance—all of which support ketamine integration. Self-care looks different for everyone, so write your own prescription. But if you need a little inspiration, below are a few fan favorites:
Listen to music that inspires you.
Supplement integration with current prescriptions (as recommended by your doctor).
Take nutritional supplements (as recommended by your doctor).
Get massages or acupuncture.
Sleep for eight hours.
Carve out time for lunch breaks.
Eat a balanced diet and drink lots of water.
Engage in religious or spiritual practice.
Clean out your closet and purge items you don’t need.
Turn off your phone and computer for a day.
4. Integrate Ketamine by Having More Fun
When you prioritize fun, you recreate a childlike existence—one that is free from excessive worry, rumination, self-criticism, and doubt. In that sense, fun is critical to your integration process. To get started, choose activities that bring you unexplainable, unadulterated delight, such as:
Socializing with friends and family
Going out to eat
Watching funny movies
Doing meaningful work
5. Integrate Ketamine by Moving Around
Research shows that exercise, in whatever form, can act as a natural antidepressant by increasing blood flow to the brain and boosting happy neurotransmitters like endorphins and serotonin. Movement brings the bonus of helping you stay physically fit and more energetic. The more active you are, the more equipped you are to improve your mental health. So try:
Group fitness classes
Tai chi and martial arts
6. Share Your Ketamine Experience
Chances are you may be the only person you know who’s taken ketamine or thought about taking ketamine for psychotherapy. Your friends and family might be unaware or completely closed off to the idea. If that’s the case, you’ll need another person or tribe to share your experiences with. You won’t easily find these groups on Google, but your ketamine clinic may host a support group or help direct you to a local group you can join.
The Bottom Line
Ketamine therapy can be life-changing—especially if you’re struggling with a persistent mental health condition. But the medicine works best when you integrate the lessons through therapy, along with intentional actions and daily habits. During ketamine treatment, your mind is ripe to create neural pathways, and your body is filled with a boost of energy. During that time, “integrating what you discovered about yourself is the key to lasting change.”