In 2018 I began a deep dive to learn about the healing potential and promise that might be offered by the therapeutic use of MDMA, known more commonly as “Ecstasy”. For patients/clients suffering from Complex PTSD this molecule shows phenomenal possibilities to heal formerly intractable wounds and restore the minds and bodies of so many who suffer from severe Traumatic Stress. We are on the cusp of FDA approval for the therapeutic use of MDMA but at the moment it remains illegal for such purposes.
My curiosity and drive led me to be trained by MAPS and then in a complimentary (and ongoing) training to work with Ketamine, the only Psychedelic Medicine available legally throughout in the US.
That’s a lot of what I’ve been devoting my training energy to for the past few years. And so, I’m now providing Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy on a limited basis through my connection with two Asheville Ketamine providers (see below).
The word Psychedelic comes from the Greek words “Psyche”= Mind or Soul and “Deloun”= to reveal or make clear.
The molecule Ketamine is a legal pharmaceutical used daily around the world in ERs and operating rooms for anesthesia and analgesia. When administered at sub-anesthetic doses, Ketamine induces a variety of Psychedelic phenomena from relaxing dream-like states to profoundly visual hallucinatory states comparable to the classic Psychedelics, DMT, Psilocybin and LSD.
Ketamine is a rapid antidepressant for a large portion of the patients who seek it for Major Depressive Disorder. It often reduces or eliminates suicidal thinking after the first session. Ketamine does not work on the SSRI/SNRI pathways like Prozac but with the Glutamate neurotransmission system.
One important consideration about Ketamine is that unlike the classic Psychedelic molecules, Ketamine has a potential for abuse and addiction. This is typically seen in heavy recreational users and has not been seen evolving from its psychotherapeutic use. Evidence is demonstrating that Ketamine, when used within a therapeutic setting has a low potential for abuse. That being said, with any substance which has an abuse potential, clinicians and patients must keep that in mind when working with it.
Psychedelics, when administered to the right client/patient, in the appropriate setting and with proper therapeutic support, can offer tremendous opportunities for healing. Why? As a growing body of research is demonstrating, these substances (both legal and those still illegal but available for research) allow the brain to talk to itself in ways not typically available to us in our normal, day-to-day waking ordinary consciousness.
The suppression of the Default Mode Network (DMN) is one of the leading theories about how and why Psychedelic Medicines can be so helpful. They can allow us to see outside of our usual patterns, ruts, blind-spots and habits and can help us consider options we did not see or could fathom before. Psychedelics can also present us with difficult and sometimes traumatic past material while supporting a deeply mindful compassionate observing self to help metabolize previously stuck and/or calcified traumatic residue. Some of these molecules are credited with promoting the growth of Dendrites and are considered to be “neuro-protective” agents. These are just a few of a multitude of benefits being researched, stay tuned!
It is best to ignore any “HYPE!” suggesting that “One trip will heal it all!”. This is not my experience about how one works with Psychedelic Medicines. These are tools, with different qualities, best used in careful consultation and with a significant Preparation period before dosing and extended personal Integration afterward to discover meaning from the experience(s) and how to carry those into one’s life for lasting change.
This addition to my practice represents for me a further integration of the skills I’ve acquired over the past 35+ years of practice. Analytic Oriented Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, EMDR, Internal Family Systems, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, HeartMath BioFeedback and Attachment, Polyvagal and Structural Dissociation Theories and others may all figure in the process of Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy from Intake through Preparation, Medicine and Integration sessions.
For more information please contact me. I’m working with Concierge Medicine and Psychiatry (https://www.conciergemedicineandpsychiatry.com/) and with Asheville Integrative Psychiatry (https://www.ashevilleintegrativepsychiatry.com/), two models with different yet overlapping approaches. One size does not fit all and this applies to Psychedelic Medicine as well.
UPDATE: Winter-2023 The effectiveness of MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy (MDMA-AT) to treat Complex PTSD has now been demonstrated through repeated clinical research. MAPS is in the complex process of submitting a so called “New Drug Application” to the FDA for approval. If all goes well we hope to see MDMA approved for clinical use by the FDA in mid-2024. For more information about the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the organization’s leadership in researching psychedelic medicines visit their website here: MAPS