6 Questions to Ask Before Starting Psychedelic Therapy
The decision to embark on any therapeutic program is a big one, and deserves appropriate consideration. After all, this is life-work. It affects your inner and outer worlds, and it’s not always easy. You want to make an informed decision.
You’ve come to the point of considering psychedelic therapy as the next step in your healing and growth journey. How do you know it’s the right step? Are there ways to determine when the time is right for you?
To help you get a sense of how you’re feeling, there are a number of questions you can ask yourself that will help to provide some clarity.
Am I eligible for ketamine treatment?
Right now, ketamine therapy is the only legal avenue (not including clinical research trials) for someone to receive psychedelic therapy. Common reasons to seek this treatment are to help work through depression and anxiety.
Before exploring the possibilities much further, let’s make sure you’re eligible for treatment. When considering treatment options, whether psychological, or pharmacological, there can be contraindications to consider. Contraindications are specific circumstances that could make someone ineligible to move forward with the treatment.
Ketamine, due to some of its effects both physically and psychologically — has its own set of contraindications. All medical considerations are discussed in your consultation with a licensed clinician.
If you’d like to check your eligibility, you can try our survey here.
Am I informed about psychedelic therapy?
When making a decision about psychedelic therapy, you should explore all aspects of the medicine, experience, and treatment program. This helps determine whether this is the right next step for you at this time, given what you may be coping with, what you’d like to work on, and what results or outcomes you’d like to achieve.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself to help better understand the process:
- Do I know what medicine I’m working with?
- Do I know the team and practitioners that I’ll be working with?
- What does the treatment program look like?
- What are common outcomes with this treatment, and what outcomes should I expect?
- What additional support is available to me during or after psychedelic therapy?
There are number of vectors and categories one can look at to get as much information as possible, here are some categories worth exploring for any psychedelic therapy treatment:
- The medicines or compounds involved in treatment
- Details about the full treatment protocols
- Available peer-reviewed research on psychedelic therapy and its outcomes
- Dosing protocols, subjective (or psychedelic) effects, and potential side-effects
Getting more information on each of these categories will give you an overview, and hopefully the confidence, to make an informed decision. This way, you prioritize safety and act in your own best interest. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Do I have a clear intention or goal for treatment?
If the clinician has determined that you’re eligible, and you’ve made an informed decision to move forward with this method of treatment, have you thought about what you’d like to address or work on?
Having a clear, focused intention is vital to successful outcomes. Knowing what you want to work on, your desired outcome, how you’d like to feel, what you’d like your life to look like —all these factors shape how you show up for the treatment. This helps ensure everyone involved —the clinicians, the staff, yourself— are working in unison to support the treatment and results you’re looking for.
Do I want to change, grow, or heal?
For some, this question can seem obvious, but it’s worth a level of reflection and honesty with yourself before committing to the plan. Change and personal growth can be difficult, particularly when you’re working with long-established habits and ways of being.
Sometimes change and healing can require large commitments from you: getting out of relationships that don’t serve you, making career changes, asserting firm boundaries with friends and family, or using your voice and being more forward. These can be unnatural decisions or behaviors at first, uncomfortable even. If you feel a resistance toward making these changes, or a resistance to leaning into the process, acknowledging and working with this resistance will likely be vital to allowing space to cultivate your healing process.
The commitment to your journey of growth and healing is essential when embarking on a psychedelic therapy program.
Am I willing to do the work?
For many, psychedelic medicine is not a “magic pill” that suddenly makes everything better. This is why the use of psychedelics is often supported by some form of therapy or psychedelic integration.
The cycle of diving into the medicinal experience, then integration, and back, can ask a lot of you. It challenges you to analyze parts of yourself that you may have packed down deep inside, either consciously or unconsciously, for your own safety. It can bring things to the surface you haven’t confronted in a while and open you up to having uncomfortable conversations with yourself and others. This work can challenge you to make behavioral changes that are more inline with your personal values and how you want to live your life based on insights gained.
The work starts the moment you commit to this healing process by taking time to evaluate yourself, setting your intentions, and preparations around preparing your mindset and treatment setting. When the afterglow wears off, the goal is that the work you have done with integration has helped you land with your feet firmly planted further ahead on your path of healing.
When you embark on a psychedelic psychotherapeutic process, you’re there for lasting, positive change. This requires you to be present for the process. Some lessons can take weeks, even months to fully integrate, but the potential for decades of benefit is well worth the initial investment.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do this by yourself. Throughout your healing journey you’ll have support from licensed clinicians and guides, and often the support of family or close friends who are invested in you reaching your full potential.
Am I ready?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you’re likely ready to begin a psychedelic therapy program. Check in with yourself, making sure it is a deep and clear “yes.”
If you’re ready to potentially change your life with psychedelic therapy, Mindbloom is here to assist. You can start your journey here.
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.
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