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  • Writer's pictureDr. Rob Colbert

The Transpersonal of Ketamine-assisted Therapy: One Client’s Journey

Transpersonal psychotherapy is a form of therapy that delves into the spiritual and transcendent aspects of human experience. The modality often integrates mystical or spiritual experiences that feel beyond the ordinary self, including higher states of consciousness, sensations of expanded awareness, insight and understanding, and exploring universal themes and patterns embedded in the human psyche through archetypes and symbols. The transpersonal goes beyond the traditional focus of psychotherapy of the ego and individual psychology. This expanded focus is particularly evident in Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) where altered states can unlock insights often inaccessible through traditional talk therapy alone.

A series of recent KAP sessions with a client experiencing anxiety, depression, and PTSD from emotional abuse showcases this potential. [Note that identifying information and other details of this client’s story are altered for the purposes of confidentiality.] This client’s first session focused on exploring her relationship with her father as a child and observing her nervous system responses. She was mostly nonverbal during her ketamine encounter, and upon regaining her normal awareness coming out of ketamine she reported annoyance and tension. This first experience was not exactly pleasant, nor did it contribute any significant epiphanies for her. Integration for her involved exercise and body awareness, and she also explored body work, including acupuncture.

The second session for this client offered a contrasting experience. Severe neck pain at the start of the session completely subsided during the ketamine encounter. While in the altered space of ketamine, she delved into the "Mother archetype," describing a connection not only to her own life but to countless others across the cosmos. This broadened her understanding of empathy, revealing a side of empathy that goes beyond connecting with suffering. Prior to this session, empathy for her had always meant sharing the pain of others, like feeling the anguish of someone with a broken wrist. The "Mother" archetype explored in this second ketamine encounter introduced a grounded, positive dimension, opening her to joy and deeper connection not only with herself but others. 

This shift held significant meaning considering her abusive father's attempts to belittle and shame her empathy, leading her to associate empathy solely with suffering. Exploring this new perspective empowered her to reclaim her empathy, finally connecting it to joy and positive connections. As part of her integration process now, we continue to explore potential positive changes this new insight could bring to her relationships and ways of connecting with people and the world.

Transpersonal counseling centers a focus on growth, potential, connection, choice, and helping you reach your fullest potential. It is a holistic approach which encompasses physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions. As a therapist, while I cannot speculate on the timeframe required for talk therapy alone to achieve this, the speed and integration achieved through KAP, for some people, is impressive. Everyone’s journey through KAP is unique and unpredictable, as seen in this client’s neutral (even unpleasant) experience in her first ketamine encounter. However, this short example also highlights the potential of KAP in facilitating exploration and integration of transpersonal experiences, offering rapid access to potentially life-transforming insights.

If you are interested in exploring transpersonal counseling and ketamine-assisted therapy, schedule a free phone consultation with us today.



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