What Is a Ketamine Therapy Preparation Group?

March 17, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life

Top points

  • The preparation phase is invaluable to ensure beneficial ketamine therapy.
  • A preparation group is a safe, confidential space to ask questions and receive support.
  • Preparation sessions help you achieve the best mindset and prepare your physical environment for your ketamine journey.

“All things are ready, if our mind be so.” ― William Shakespeare, Henry V

Whether you are already planning to undergo ketamine therapy or considering it, understanding the preparation phase of psychedelic therapy is invaluable.

Just as you wouldn’t journey to a new place unprepared, laying the groundwork prior to your ketamine experience will help to ensure a positive, healing experience during and following the treatment.

To get as much out of your experiences as possible, we offer ketamine therapy preparation groups every weekday. They’re designed to answer all of your questions and provide tools to make your ketamine journey positive and impactful. Following your treatments, integration of your ketamine experiences is reinforced with integration groups and one-on-one health coaching.

The Importance of Ketamine Therapy Preparation

“Attending a preparation group is important because the groups are designed in a specific way to prepare the patient for their ketamine experience,” says Melanie Ward, Nue Life Integration Operations Manager.

Research has shown that preparation, especially with regard to set and setting, is crucial to psychedelic healing.

Camyrn Gentry is a Nue Life Client Success Team Supervisor. She points out the importance of connection when doing at-home treatment. “Our clients are having their experiences at home, essentially on their own with the exception of their sitter,” Gentry says. “These groups foster a sense of community and shared space, which is an important part of any healing journey.”

What to Expect in Your Preparation Group

Group sessions are led by our Client Success Guides, all trained facilitators. They are well-versed in the ketamine experience and ready to answer any questions you have, as well as help you prepare for your experience.

“We will discuss the history of ketamine, the importance of set and setting, the role of the sitter, how to manage a challenging experience, and the importance of integrating the experience afterward,” Ward says. “We will also teach breathing and meditation techniques to help calm the mind in preparation for a patient’s experience.”

Sitters are encouraged to attend preparation group sessions as well. Your sitter is a trusted friend or loved one who will be with you during your ketamine treatments. The sitter’s role is to ensure that you are able to fully relax and surrender to your experience, knowing that there is someone there you trust. Since your sitter will be with you during your experience to control the external circumstances, it makes sense for them to join in the preparation.

The preparation group is a space where your sitter can feel free to ask any questions they have. They will leave with a firm understanding of what to expect and how to best aid the ketamine treatment.

Preparation groups are not group therapy. This is not a time when anyone is expected to share details of their mental health journey. This type of sharing comes after your ketamine treatments through one-on-one health coaching and integration groups, and, even then, sharing is entirely optional.

“The groups are an emotionally safe, HIPAA compliant space where clients and their sitters can ask any questions they may have and share how they are feeling about beginning an at-home ketamine treatment program,” Gentry adds. “The Client Success Guides are there to provide not only educational support but emotional support for our clients and their sitters as well.”

Set and Setting

Timothy Leary and his colleagues at Harvard introduced the concept of set and setting, laying out their ideas in the 1964 book, The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Respectively, set and setting refer to the internal and external factors that influence your ketamine experience.  

“Set” is short for “mindset.” This is your inner climate– your mood, beliefs, perceptions, and so on. Preparation group sessions include discussions of how to achieve the best mindset for your ketamine journey, including the use of meditation and breathing exercises.  

Having a clear intention for your ketamine journey is an important part of your mindset. Taking the time to think about what is holding you back mentally, what you are struggling with, and what you hope to change are ways to arrive at your intention. Remember, that an intention is different than an expectation. It’s important to keep an open mind to the experience, as it may reveal thoughts or feelings you aren’t expecting. These unexpected “detours” may hold the keys to deeper healing.

“Setting” refers to the physical environment where you have your ketamine experience. This includes elements such as noise, lighting, other people, familiarity, and safety. Having your experience in a physical space where you feel safe and comfortable is key to surrendering yourself to the experience. Music is a powerful tool when it comes to creating your optimal setting. We have curated playlists on the nue.life app to help guide your journey and complement your intentions.

Preparation Leads to Integration

Ultimately, the goal of any mental health therapy is lasting change. In psychedelic therapy, this change is achieved through integration, which starts with building a solid foundation for your experiences. We want you to be fully educated and completely prepared for your ketamine treatments so you will have the most beneficial therapy possible, both during and following the experience.

“Meeting our clients and their sitters face to face is one of the most rewarding and wonderful parts of being on the team at Nue Life. We are so grateful to those who decide to attend,” says Gentry.

When you sign up for a Nue Life program you will receive an email invitation to sign up for a preparation group. Current clients can click here to sign up. Click here if you would like to learn more about our Nue Life programs.


SAGE Journals, Constructing drug effects: A history of set and setting

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