What Is a Ketamine Therapy Integration Group?

FEATURED
March 22, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life
6 MIN READ

Top points

  • Feelings, ideas, and sensations provoked by the ketamine experience reveal the underlying cause of mental and emotional suffering.
  • Integration is the process of investigating these feelings and ideas so they can inform daily functioning.
  • Virtual integration groups provide a safe, confidential opportunity to share and learn from others.
  • Group integration sessions also explore common themes such as dependency, boundary issues, or anger management.

“The best journeys in life are those that answer questions that at the outset you never thought to ask.” —Rick Ridgeway, American Mountaineer

Have you ever heard someone say that the journey is more important than the destination? While this may be true when it comes to traveling, it’s less than helpful when it comes to your mental health journey. At Nue Life, we want you to get as much out of your ketamine experience as possible.

Much like traveling to a new place, it’s important to have a plan or itinerary for when you arrive. In psychedelic therapy we call this integration. Integration is the process of investigating and understanding what comes up during your ketamine experience in order to use that knowledge to better understand the roots of your mental and emotional suffering.

The integration process begins with participation in preparation groups that focus on the importance of intention, set, and setting before your treatment. Following each treatment, we provide integration groups where you are given the space to investigate and give meaning to what comes up during your ketamine journeys.  

These groups are combined with one-on-one health coaching to provide the support necessary to fully unpack your ketamine experiences and create strategies for moving forward. They take place virtually so you are able to connect with others from the familiar surroundings of your home. The programs are designed to work with your schedule and availability.  

The journey toward positive mental health is full of surprises and setbacks. For many people, mental suffering can seem untreatable. Whether it’s the effects of PTSD, OCD, depression, or anxiety, ketamine therapy helps to make space for new thought patterns and self-care.

Psychedelic Integration Therapy

The research of psychedelics began in the 1950s with great promise as a companion to psychotherapy. In the 1960s, however, psychedelics became popular for recreational use and were subsequently classified as Schedule 1 controlled substances. Regrettably, this brought the research to a halt.

Luckily, psychedelic research resumed in the 1990s. In recent years, psychedelic therapy has shown to be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety. Studies have also shown psychedelic integration to be a promising treatment for substance use disorder (SUD).

How Integration Works

The integration process begins prior to your first ketamine treatment as you discuss your intention and prepare your set and setting. Integration continues in the days, weeks, and months after your ketamine therapy. In this time, you will work to make sense of what came up during your experiences, including processing new insights and any significant memories or emotions that may have arisen.

A psychedelic experience has the potential to provoke a lot of feelings, ideas, and sensations. It can be tempting to ignore them or push them away as if forgetting a dream. However, true healing demands that we engage with these ideas and make room for them.

Any of the sensations, feelings, or ideas that come about during your ketamine experience can prove to be meaningful for the process of healing. Integration creates the space to make meaning of these feelings and ideas to inform better daily functioning.

Integration answers the questions, “Now what? What does it all mean?” Nue Life’s integration groups are a vital piece of the treatment process.

The Work Begins after the Experience

Leah Benson, LMHC, is Nue Life’s Director of Integration Operations and describes integration as a holistic process that includes:

  • Preparation for the journey
  • Understanding the journey
  • Translating insights from the journeys into your daily life
  • Incorporating new emotion and thought regulation skills into daily life

“As Integrations Director I get to positively impact our clients by creating the most effective and efficient pathways to preparing for journeys, to understanding those journeys, to translating insights from those journeys into daily life, and to incorporating new emotional management skills,” she says.

“The great thing about ketamine in particular as a psychedelic is that it seems to open a door for people that makes them more willing to integrate new self-management skills such as diet, meditation, or breathing exercises – which are key to lasting change.”

Group participants are given the opportunity to share their ketamine experience in a safe, confidential setting. Often, comparing and contrasting your ketamine experiences with others helps to bring insight to your own.

Each individual’s psychedelic experience with ketamine will be different. Many find the experience to be an overall positive and even peaceful experience. The experience can also be intense and transformational, potentially revealing emotions and memories that have been locked in the psyche.

Whitney Gilmore, a Nue Life Welcome Team member, adds that the symptoms of mental illness lead to isolation. “Depression, anxiety, and PTSD are very lonely. You feel like you’re on an island and no one gets it,” he says. “Maybe the people around you don’t know how to be supportive. With these group sessions, it’s about community.”

“In the time that ketamine affords you where you aren’t having to deal with those symptoms, it’s great to connect to a sense of community and feel a part of something again after years of suffering.”

Integration Groups: The Key to Lasting Change

You may be thinking to yourself, “I thought this was supposed to be me alone at home with my sitter. What’s with these groups?”

It’s understandable to feel some resistance to group discussion surrounding your mental suffering. Remember, you’re under no obligation to share. However, what you hear will likely prove extremely valuable.

And since the sessions are held virtually, you will be in the comfort of your home with the ability to turn off your camera, mute your microphone, or leave should you feel the need. An article in Psychology Today examined virtual therapy and found that teletherapy can feel more intimate than traditional face-to-face sessions while giving the client/patient more control over the dynamic.

Our programs include participation in online integration groups designed specifically for patients undergoing ketamine treatment. Groups are offered throughout the week with each session lasting sixty minutes. Groups consist of 8-10 participants and are led by a licensed mental health clinician.

“You can expect a private place where you can ask anything or share anything about your ketamine experiences with people on the same journey,” Benson says. “Beyond merely sharing your experiences, you will be given strategies for managing the mental states that are causing suffering.”

Group sessions are designed around themes to build self-loving self-awareness. They include:

  • Belonging
  • Boundaries
  • Anger/Sadness
  • Dependence / Independence
  • Fear
  • Letting go

“The importance of integration cannot be overstated,” Benson says. “It is the key to a legacy of lasting change rather than temporary relief.”

Whether you are a new client preparing for your treatment, or someone curious about our programs, we are ready to help you on the journey to becoming a more fully-realized version of yourself. Integration sets the compass in the direction of long-lasting change.

After choosing a program and returning a New Patient Registration form, you will be placed in the cohort group of your time and choosing. You will receive a welcome email letting you know when the group will take place and how to connect. If you have any questions about Integration or Preparation Groups, please contact your Client Success Guide.

Sources

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