Ketamine-assisted Psychotherapy: Progressive Treatment Offered in Central Texas

By Carl J. Bonnett, MD
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
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By now you have probably heard that ketamine infusion therapy is proving itself to be a very disruptive technology in the treatment of severe treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many clinicians are beginning to understand that ketamine represents a real paradigm shift from the more traditional treatments for mental health disorders.

If you want to really see the “cutting edge of the cutting edge” for mental health treatment however, then let us introduce you to an even more disruptive concept...ketamine assisted psychotherapy (KAP). KAP involves having a licensed therapist conduct sessions with a patient during or immediately after a low-dose ketamine infusion. While ketamine infusion centers have been opening up all over the U.S. during the last few years, only a small handful of the most progressive centers have rolled out formal programs to actually offer psychotherapy integrated into the infusion treatment.

The first dedicated ketamine infusion center in San Antonio was Klarisana, which opened its doors in 2015. Then, beginning in 2016, Klarisana began introducing KAP into its treatment regimens. After Klarisana opened its Austin campus in 2017, it started expanding its integrated KAP program. Klarisana, like many of the centers who are effectively implementing KAP, recognizes that ketamine causes much more than simply a biochemical reaction.

“We have worked very hard over the last two years to learn everything we can about how to incorporate psychotherapy into our ketamine infusion program in an integrated and effective way,” says Gerson Barahona, Klarisana’s Operations Director. “It takes a lot of effort and dedication to do it well which is why I think most other ketamine infusion centers in Texas have not even tried.”

While a great deal of investigation has been directed toward the biochemical aspect of how ketamine treats depression, less attention has been paid to the experiential aspect of the therapy. A growing number of clinicians are recognizing that the changes in perception and thought processes associated with ketamine are probably not a side effect at all, but rather likely play a crucial role in the therapy.

“Ketamine produces some mild dissociation... or disconnection... which extends beyond just changes in visual and auditory perception,” says Brianna Gonzalez, a licensed professional counselor at Klarisana. “It actually allows them to perceive themselves differently and view various issues in their life from a different perspective. While this by itself can be very therapeutic, when we integrate psychotherapy into this process it can really create a very exciting and productive synergy.”

“The slight dissociation that we create with the ketamine seems to provide somewhat of a protective psychological barrier between the patient and his or her trauma,” adds Linda Pusateri, a licensed clinical social worker with Klarisana. “This can make it easier to work with patients with PTSD, especially because we can actually talk about their trauma and they generally don’t feel threatened by it while they are receiving ketamine.”


If you would like to learn more about KAP at Klarisana’s campuses in San Antonio and Austin, please visit klarisana.com or call 210-556-1430.