Psychedelic Therapy 101: Setting Intentions Before Ketamine Treatment

Medically reviewed by 
Leonardo Vando, MD
Published on 
March 18, 2020
Updated on 
November 9, 2020

Psychedelics, when used thoughtfully, can help induce life-changing experiences. In a 2006 Johns Hopkins study of psilocybin (the psychedelic chemical in magic mushrooms), over half of the participants rated the experience as “among the five most personally meaningful” of their lives... 14 months later!

For the past half-century, expert psychedelic clinicians and researchers have employed methods that commonly produce profound therapeutic benefits. But what are these methods, and how can you incorporate them into your Mindbloom journey?

The first step is setting your intentions.

Why it’s important to set intentions

Intention setting has always been an essential component of psychedelic therapy, employed by early psychedelic therapists in the mid-20th century and in today’s groundbreaking psychedelic research centers at prestigious academic institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and Imperial College London.

You may have heard the terms “set” and “setting” used in relation to a psychedelic experience. The psychedelic experience is rooted in the user’s character, expectations, and intentions, which are referred to as “set” (mindset, abbreviated). The social and physical surroundings in which the event takes place are referred to as “setting”.

Establishing intentions prior to a psychedelic experience can help cultivate the right “set” by priming your mind with your objectives, or what you hope to gain or learn from the experience. When combined with the right setting, this dramatically increases the likelihood of having a positive, therapeutically valuable experience.

How to set your intentions

What are the right intentions? Just about anything! An intention can be something serious, such as understanding the root of your depression or anxiety or learning how to deal with a loss. But it can also be something lighter, such as how to find more joy in your daily routine.

A great first step for setting your intentions is to think about what brought you to Mindbloom and what you’re hoping to change in your life. Your intentions work best when they are personal, specific, and focused.

Here are some questions you might ask yourself as you get started:

  • Where am I stuck in life?
  • What’s holding me back? 
  • How does my behavior compare to my goals, values, and self-beliefs? 
  • What would I like to change about my life?

Pro tip: don’t just think through these questions... close your eyes and try to feel them!

Next, write down your intentions. Writing them down is crucial for solidifying these goals in your mind. Prepare 1-2 intentions per session (never more than three).

Common themes include:

  • Improving awareness of strengths, weaknesses, blindspots, roadblocks, etc.
  • Exploring creative problems and inspirations
  • Healing from past traumas
  • Improving relationships
  • Overcoming bad habits
  • Cultivating gratitude

Here are some examples below. You can think of these statements, requests, or questions as the beginning of a dialogue you are initiating with a special part of your subconscious mind - your Inner Healing Intelligence.

  • What are the causes of my depression or anxiety?
  • Show me how I can be a better partner to my significant other
  • Help me understand what's holding me back at work
  • I will be more patient and empathetic
  • How can I overcome my bad habit?

Need some expert guidance? Before your first session, you’ll also have the opportunity to discuss and reinforce your intentions with your Mindbloom clinician.

Putting your intentions into practice

At Mindbloom, we advise clients to set intentions – not an agenda. This means going into each session with thoughtful objectives, while being open to wherever the medicine and your subconscious decide to take you (remember to trust, let go, be open). Use each session as an opportunity to collect (but not direct) your experiences. You may be surprised by the profound insights you discover!

After your session, reflect (and journal!) on how the insights and observations that arose during your experience related to your intentions. Discuss these discoveries with a friend, family member, or therapist and see how this contributes to a new perspective.

In subsequent experiences, your intentions may completely change or you might find yourself going deeper into your original intentions. Intentions can (and often will) build on each other – let them!


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

Ready to Explore Psychedelic Therapy?

If you're ready to explore psychedelic therapy yourself, you can get started through the link below.

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