(Part two of a four-part series, see part one here)
Dr. Ben Sessa, cofounder and head of psychedelic medicine at Awakn Life Sciences AWKNF explained that scientific evidence shows ketamine creates neurogenesis: “You actually have growth of nervous tissue. You can demonstrate this with a slice of nervous tissue in a Petri dish bathed in ketamine, you look at it under a microscope and you actually see new dendrites appearing –which are the connections between nerve cells.”
Dr. Sessa calls ketamine a climate in which patients are in “a state of nerve growth, that then translates psychologically into new possibilities and new flexibilities.” This biological effect is then nurtured with psychotherapy, where the patient is asked how they would like their new life pathways to be.
Because the fact is that most chronic, life-long mental health disorders are about feeling stuck and having a sense of ingrained, overly used pathways and narratives. “Especially when the narratives emerge in childhood, most chronic anxiety and trauma-based disorders, addictions, have underneath them a sense of trauma, a sense of early narrative formation -e.g. ‘I am useless,’ ‘I am a failure,’ ‘I am unlovable,’ ‘I am unloved’,” said Sessa.
These physical brain network pathways become our default pathways, and later in life when facing difficulties we translate that to them. That’s where ketamine comes in, opening up new pathways and aiding psychotherapy to hone experiences that constitute new ways of thinking.
In a recent interview, Dr. Sessa shared with Benzinga an almost tangible analogy someone once told him: “Imagine a mountain and snow. You go skiing every day, and you’ve been doing it all your life, and you’ve always taken the same way down the hill. So that journey has become your lazy, go-to negative pathway, they just pop into your head. And then ketamine is like a fresh overnight snowfall on the mountain. The next day you arrive on the mountain, and there is no ingrained ski track. You can take a new road down the mountain that you’ve never taken before. This is the way the biological process then translates into the psychological possibility of new ways of thinking.”
Another aspect of ketamine-assisted therapy is to become aware of the challenge of treating what could be several years of depression or addiction, which is why or a miraculous cure or silver bullet should be handled with care.
As for psychotherapy, one of the models available used at Awakn -the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which broadly consists of accepting the difficult negative challenging parts of ourselves. “Not denying them or suppressing them, but accepting them, curiously exploring them, and then learning to let go, and so to hold things lightly.”
This therapeutic model is focused on lifting “this burden off oneself,” by helping patients develop flexibility and choose new pathways so that they can recognize and reflect upon whether their activities or behaviors are moving towards or away from their goals
“Usually, it’s a matter of ‘stop-look-listen,’ like crossing the road, you don’t just step out. You make the chosen, reflective decision about when to go. Just holding back and being mindful in a situation: Is this thought I’m having helping me? Is it taking me forwards or is it just keeping me stuck in the same entrenched position?” Dr. Sessa said.
The combination of mindfulness provided by the ketamine experience and therapy working towards, not denying or suppressing, allows the patients to gain flexibility and increase their options.
Stay tuned for part three of this series: The Awakn Approach Explained
Photo courtesy of MART PRODUCTION on Pexels and Jü on Wikimedia Commons.
© 2023 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
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