Ketamine Sessions: Expectations vs. Reality

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Published on 
July 31, 2023
Updated on 

There are times that you can go into a ketamine session expecting one thing, only to be met with a drastically different experience than what you had ‘planned’ for.

This gap between your expectations and the reality of the session can be a source of confusion and frustration. But don’t worry: regardless of how your sessions “feel”, ketamine still has neurobiological benefits.

The Dual Benefits of Ketamine Sessions

In each ketamine session, you have two equally powerful factors working for you: the neurobiological, and the psychological. 

The neurobiological benefits—the physical benefits that occur at the level of your neurochemistry and biology—are always present with each dosing session. 

These include factors like an increase in BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), increased neuroplasticity, and baseline mood elevation over the following days. These beneficial effects occur every dosing session, regardless of the conscious experience you have in your session.

The psychological benefits—the felt experience of intensity, insight, or healing—can be worked on over your integration period to drive positive outcomes.

While the experience may differ from your expectations, there is always the seed of healing and growth in your experience. Working with your Guide, clinician, or integration material can help make apparent insights or action items that weren’t as obvious in your dosing session. 

It’s important to trust that the experience is giving you what you need and to view your experience through that lens. Sometimes, strong powerful sessions are what is needed. At other times, a restful, relaxing calm session may be exactly what is needed.

Managing Personal Expectations

Managing the expectations you have around medicine sessions is not easy. Even when you say that you have let go of your intentions or don’t have rigid expectations – the experience you have during sessions will put that to the test.

While it will always be important to cultivate your intentions and put effort into creating the space for powerful and positive healing experiences – learning to manage expectations and allow the sessions to be what they are is a good lesson.

And if you ever have an experience which is confusing, your Mindbloom team is there to help you make sense of it.

Working With Your Experiences in Integration

No matter what you experience in your session – there will always be the opportunity to deepen your insights and make real-world changes during your integration period.

If the outcome was obvious, use your 10-14 day window after your session to take action on it, at a time when your mind, brain, and body are more flexible and receptive to lifestyle changes. 

If the experience was challenging, or the outcome was not obvious, take some additional time to reflect on your experience, how you felt about it, and how it may be directly related to your intention or what you need for further healing. Of course, you will always have the neurobiological benefits of ketamine working on your side here.

These periods are also a great time to use the resources that are available to you. Ask your Guide for additional resources or thoughtful advice. Talk it out with a trusted friend. Or simply continue to reflect on it in your own journal. Sometimes these experiences just need time to blossom in our lives. 


In every medicine session, you will always have the neurobiological benefits of ketamine working for you, and the opportunity to realize the psychological benefits in the days that follow. Managing expectations and trusting that the experience will give you what you need is paramount.

With a level of trust and openness, paired with diligent effort on your part to prepare and integrate effectively, these experiences often still lead you where you need to be in the end.

Don’t forget that you have support outside of the sessions, to further help you unpack and integrate your session experiences. 


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Important FDA Safety Information

Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.

Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).

Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:

  • Allergic to ketamine
  • Symptoms of psychosis or mania
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • CHF or other serious heart problem
  • Severe breathing problem
  • History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
  • History of hyperthyroidism
  • Other serious medical illness
  • Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant

Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.

While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.

  • In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
  • Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
  • Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
  • The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.

To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:

  • Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
  • Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
  • Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
  • Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
  • Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
  • Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety

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