A criticism leveraged against using psychedelics for therapeutic work, efforts towards enlightenment, spiritual connection, and meditative practices, is that it is a shortcut. The implication is that shortcuts are bad, that we only deserve good things if we spend decades of herculean effort to achieve them.
Some people get to live early adult lives with regulated emotional systems, solid self-esteem, and a belief in the general goodness of the world and its ability to meet their basic needs. They get that from good enough parents, that love them sufficiently and reliably, with a stable home situation, that is free from significant trauma. That is really fabulous, and what we all hope to provide for our own children.
Most of us however, enter adult life, with internal and external barriers to a fully functioning self, with some dark shadows we maneuver to pull off daily life. We may be happy and successful, but still have to work with parts of ourselves that are injured and damaged, self-sabotaging, plagued with doubts and mistrust, and all the other ways life can feel complicated and difficult.
As a clinician, the things I hope to help clients minimize, over time, is the stuff they do to relieve their suffering that ultimately hurts them or keeps them in the same stuck place. Most of us do a fair amount of stuff like that, and while not our best move, it may alleviate enough suffering that we should give ourselves a break while we do our work to create new options.
Using ketamine within an assisted psychotherapy experience is not a bandaid to alleviate a moment of suffering. It is an activity that has the potential of offering a life altering experience. The experiences vary widely, and in intensity, but they frequently give people access to new perspectives, narratives, truths, and clarities, about themselves, their lives, their relationships and their world. These experiences are often accompanied with feelings of connectedness, goodness and well being. For many, their psychedelic experiences are peak life experiences that become core memories that direct future actions.
Ketamine doesn’t solve anything. No one takes it and become a new person, who has magically resolved their life issues. If it did, it wouldn’t have to happen within a therapy context. People would just be better. It provides an experience, that the client then needs to use to continue to do the work of self/life/relationship improvement. But what it can offer is a moment of revelation, and epiphany, an embodied somatic experience of goodness. This offers our client inspiration and a vision for the path their self-work can take.
Framing inspiration as an indulgent shortcut is a cynical, cruel, and primitive understandinging of what it takes to self-actualize. For any who has been on a journey towards self-enlightenment and healing, working to craft a more sustainable, joy filed life, short cuts are a welcome opportunity.
If you are interested in Ketemine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP), make sure to look for a therapist who has specific training in supporting clients with psychedelic experiences. Feel free to contact us at Full Living. If you are in Pennsylvania, we can provide you with services, and otherwise, are happy to help you find a practitioner in your area.
Smith is an analytically oriented psychotherapist with 25 years in practice. She is additionally the Founder/Director of Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice, which specializes in matching clients with seasoned clinicians in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
If you are interested in therapy and live in Philadelphia or the Greater Philadelphia Area, please let Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice match you with a skilled, experienced psychotherapist based on needs and issues as well as personality and style. All of our therapists are available for telehealth conferencing by phone or video in response to our current need for social distancing. Request an Appointment Today.
If you were interested in this blog post, check out some of these:
Ketamine for Psychotherapy? Yes!
Psychedlic Psychotherapy: A Novel Tool for Our Stuck Places (a video blog)
Psychotherapists are like Dance Archeologists
Attending to the Unconscious in a Psychotherapy Session
Myths about Psychotherapy (a video blog)