The healing that comes from a ketamine session isn’t just about the ketamine, it’s about how you approach your path to recovery. Preparing for your ketamine journey is just as important as the journey itself.
Clinical trials continue to demonstrate ketamine’s effectiveness as a treatment option for many mood disorders. Particularly well-studied are depression and anxiety. Many physicians, mental health providers, and patients turn to ketamine for its rapid effects and high success rates.
Ketamine may be an excellent choice for your own healing journey. However, it’s not the sole actor. Preparation for your ketamine therapy, establishing your set and setting, is a crucial piece to your treatment’s success.
Set and Setting
Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary, both famous and infamous for his part in the psychedelic revolution, coined the phrase “Set and setting” in the 1960s. “Set and setting” refers to the mindset of a participant who is about to take a psychoactive and the environment in which they plan to do it. These two factors are nearly half the equation for ketamine therapy. You have a great deal of control over both. So it’s worth it to take some time to cultivate your ideal set and setting.
Before you begin ketamine treatment, take some time to relax. Anything you can do to attune your mood to one of calm, curiosity, and openness will enrich your experience and facilitate your integration afterward. Activities such as journaling, meditating, or walking outside can help you get into the ideal mindset. Take some time to set your intention. Write it down. What do you want to get out of your ketamine therapy session? What do you want to let go of? What are you hoping to achieve in the long term?
Some things to ask yourself while setting your intention are:
- What are the things you like about your life and how can you maximize those?
- What are some obstacles you perceive? Do you need to change them or change your relationship with them?
- What are some beliefs you have about yourself? Are they harmful or helpful?
- What does the best version of you look like? Is it realistic? Is it a kind way to think about yourself?
Now that you know how to prepare your inner world make your physical space mirror your mindset and intentions to the best of your ability. It’s important to be relaxed. You’ll want to have your affairs for the day in order. You’ll want comfortable clothing and a place to change positions from lying down to sitting up and vice versa if you need to. We also recommend keeping a journal on hand, in the event that an insight or realization strikes you. Writing anything down will help you integrate after the session.
Patients see the most improvement when they take the time to incorporate and process what they’ve learned or experienced during their ketamine therapy. However, the neuroplasticity continues for up to two weeks. This is when you can turn your meaningful insights into actions and mental habits. Journaling is one of the most powerful integration tools, and we recommend writing down everything and anything you recall from your ketamine therapy. This will help you put language to what might have been profound impressions or images that may be difficult to apply without solidifying through journaling.
The important next step is to cultivate mindfulness and look for places in your life where you can apply what you learned during your ketamine session. Boosting your mindfulness can include simple but often overlooked activities like short meditations, daily outdoor walks, offering yourself some kind words and loving affirmations, and making a list of things you are grateful for each day. These positive habits can take root during the neuroplastic period and enhance your quality of life.
Remember, healing is not a straight and obvious path. It may be riddled with switchbacks and loops. If you think you’re exactly where you began, remember all the work you’ve put in. Be gentle with yourself. Try to make an honest, rather than a cynical comparison, of what your life looks like after you’ve put energy into your own healing versus what it looked like before. Embrace the uniqueness of your own recovery, and remember to take everything one step at a time.