How to Get The Most Out of Your Ketamine Experience

Updated on


Medically reviewed: Paloma Lehfeldt, MD
A man sitting during ketamine treatment

Optimizing Your Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine therapy for mental health could be a positive alternative care plan for you if you have failed to respond to other mental health treatments in the past. Early studies indicate that ketamine could be a viable tool for combating conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar depression, substance use disorder, and chronic pain.(1)

Current research involving ketamine infusion treatments paired with integrative counseling and psychotherapy indicates that these techniques, among other factors, may be part of what makes ketamine therapy an effective mental health treatment. It would seem that an integrative approach to ketamine treatments can enhance its felt effects and positive benefits. While more research is needed, it appears that ketamine and psychotherapy or counseling are more effective than ketamine treatment alone, which may be due to many factors.(2)

Combining ketamine treatments with other techniques and purposeful lifestyle changes could make it even more effective. Anecdotal evidence and patient testimony indicate that things like mindfulness training and integrative counseling could increase the success of your ketamine treatment. If you are interested in ketamine for mental health, there are some ways you could potentially optimize your care.(3)

How Can You Get the Most Out of Ketamine?

Integrative counseling and mindfulness training are two intriguing methods to boost your ketamine therapy experience. These practices could help you achieve a breakthrough and continue to reap the potential positive benefits long after your ketamine session has ended.

Combining Ketamine with Integrative CounselingIn the context of ketamine treatment, integrative counseling aims to address specific things that arise during your ketamine session. In this, you work with either a licensed or unlicensed counselor or guide or with a licensed psychotherapist. The latter is referred to as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP).

Integrative therapy uses psychiatric techniques from a range of schools of thought to help patients develop insights regarding past and present experiences. This means that by developing deeper personal insights into things that may have caused past trauma, you could be more likely to experience a positive outcome from therapy. These combined techniques employed in ketamine therapy (ketamine with counseling or KAP) may be more effective at improving mental health outcomes than psychotherapy alone.(4)

During ketamine treatment, you may have some insights about your life that relate to your condition. For example, you may discover that you’ve unconsciously been holding on to feelings related to a past traumatic event that you have been unable to fully process. This thought may have held you back from taking action for your own good. Your counselor can help you unpack this thought, its roots, and how to move forward in a positive direction in your life. An aggregate review of seventeen articles involving 603 participants showed that KAP could prolong clinically significant benefits from ketamine therapy.(5)

It stands to reason that integrative therapy or other psychotherapy techniques can help you take a deeper, more well-rounded look at the information and clues revealed in your ketamine treatment sessions. Typically your medical provider or a counselor will conduct integrative counseling before, during, or after your ketamine infusion. This may involve setting specific goals or intentions for your session and discussing memories, events, or trauma that may come up over the course of your ketamine treatment.
During integrative counseling, you and your provider will speak in detail about your ketamine experience and address concerns or realizations you came upon during the event. By immediately addressing the things you learned from your treatment session, you may be able to incorporate them more easily into your healing process. This could make your overall ketamine experience even more beneficial. 
Certain psychiatric techniques can be highly effective when paired with a drug like ketamine.(6) This is likely due to ketamine’s ability to help you feel more relaxed. Ketamine is also dissociative, making you feel detached from yourself and your body. It may also cause you to have deeply personal insights into your condition simply through the ketamine experience. This sense of detachment may allow some patients to address issues that would otherwise be too painful to discuss. 

What is Mindfulness Training?Mindfulness training(7) is a discipline that emphasizes the connection between your mind, body, emotions, and surroundings. Some providers can help people undergoing ketamine treatment learn to be more mindful. Essentially, they are helping you strengthen your connection with yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings. Mindfulness is also about being present and fully immersed in the moment. This can help you identify, understand, and disconnect from repetitive thoughts and worry about the past or the future. By building up this connection, you can learn to take more control over your thoughts and actions, which in turn can help you achieve a clearer, more stable mental state. 

How Does Mindfulness Training Improve Ketamine Treatment?

Mindfulness and ketamine treatment go hand in hand. This is because ketamine may improve neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to build new neural pathways) which could help the mind to open to new modes of thinking.(8,9) Combined with integrative counseling, additional mindfulness techniques can help create a strong, healthy mental landscape for yourself.(10) This, in turn, can aid you in recognizing and learning from the insights you may make during a ketamine treatment session. 

The usefulness of being more mindful also extends well beyond your ketamine treatment sessions. Mindfulness can help you recognize that things like emotional challenges, unwanted thoughts, or negative emotions are transient parts of life that happen but that do not have to control your day-to-day experience. 

As discussed above, mindfulness can help you develop closer connections to your body. This can give you an increased sense of self, leading to a happier, healthier mentality that you can carry throughout everyday experiences. While no single modality is a cure-all, combining ketamine treatment, mindfulness, psychotherapy, and other lifestyle changes could lead you to faster recovery and fuller healing. 
a woman practicing mindfulness after ketamine therapy

Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes Could Boost Ketamine Treatment’s EffectivenessKetamine has the potential to revolutionize mental healthcare. But what can you do outside the ketamine experience to help improve your mental health? Of all the potential changes you could make, lifestyle adjustments like increasing exercise are both easy to start and effective.

Exercising for Your Mental HealthUnfortunately, 21 million Americans experienced at least one episode of major depressive disorder in 2020. While some people will benefit from pharmacological intervention alone, many others may find success by making some simple lifestyle changes.(11) Studies have shown that increasing the amount of daily exercise may positively impact your mental health.(12)

This boost in mental clarity and mood elevation is due to various factors. For example, exercise can raise the levels of certain endorphins (the body’s feel-good chemical) in your system.(13) At the same time, research has shown exercise can cause an uptick in the number of neurotrophic proteins in the brain.(14) Neurotrophic proteins help the brain grow, repair itself and establish new neural connections (your mind’s information highways). 

The best part is you don’t have to make immediate, drastic changes. Raising the time you spend exercising by as little as 10-15 minutes a day can have a huge impact on your mental well-being. When paired with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP), and/or integrative counseling, and mindfulness, you could set yourself on the path to successful symptom reduction and improved mental well-being.(15)

What is IV Vitamin Therapy?Intravenous (IV) vitamin therapy takes hydration and vitamins to the next level. Using an IV, you receive a hydrating solution of vitamins and minerals. Many ketamine therapy providers have begun pairing ketamine infusions with IV vitamins to boost the positive results of ketamine infusion therapy.

There is no direct link between pairing IV vitamin therapy with ketamine for enhanced mental health effects. However, vitamin and mineral deficiencies can significantly impact your psychological and physical well-being.(16) Combined with dehydration, these deficiencies may compound preexisting mental health disorder symptoms. 

Studies have shown a direct link between low levels of the vitamins, such as vitamin D, and mental health disorders like depression.(17) Therefore, some providers believe that they can help you improve the results of your ketamine therapy sessions by ensuring your body has optimal levels of essential vitamins and minerals. 

Are You Interested in Learning More About Ketamine?

Ketamine therapy shows great potential as an alternative treatment modality for people with some mental health conditions. However, ketamine is not for everyone. You should consult a medical provider if you have pre-existing mental conditions or a history of kidney, heart disease, or high blood pressure.

If you are interested in ketamine therapy for mental health, you can use our convenient search tool to find a ketamine clinic near you.

Where to Find
Ketamine TreatmentLocate outpatient ketamine clinics and at-home ketamine service providers in the U.S. that offer care for pain, depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and addiction.