January 9, 2023

What is Integration and Why It's Important in Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine isn’t like other medications in several important ways. Unlike some antidepressants, ketamine doesn’t have a limited window of effectiveness. On its own, a single ketamine treatment can produce effects that improve mental health for weeks at a time. But if you pair ketamine treatments with integration practices the effects can last even longer. 

If you read our article on neuroplasticity you may remember that the period shortly after a ketamine treatment is when neuroplasticity peaks. It’s the time when the brain is primed for rewiring and open to new ways of thinking. 

Taking ketamine will enhance neuroplasticity, but going further by incorporating integration is what really sets ketamine treatments apart from other therapies. When treatments are paired with integration the benefits of ketamine can be long-lasting and even alter behavior for the better. 

What is Integration?

Integration is the act of reflecting back on the treatment experience when the mind is open and neuroplasticity is elevated. Essentially, you are taking all of the insights, visualizations, ideas and feelings that occurred during the ketamine treatment and looking at it collectively to derive a lesson out of the session. It can also help you see past events from a new perspective that give them new meaning. Integration is an opportunity to reveal what’s needed to change negative thought patterns, behaviors and habits. 

Contemplating and applying what you learned from an experience to your everyday life is integration. You’re integrating this new perspective or awareness into your daily life so that change can occur.

The Role of Integration in Ketamine Therapy

Integration is a key component of ketamine treatments. During a ketamine therapy session a patient isn’t thinking about or seeing things as they normally would. They may have visions, have an out of body experience or relive a past event with a different vantage point. 

To get the full benefit of the therapy, the patient needs to take advantage of the period of enhanced neuroplasticity just after the treatment by reflecting back and contemplating the experience. Exploring the insights that are gained during the treatment and then putting them into practice is how new neural connections and pathways are formed that can dramatically improve mental wellbeing. 

It can be argued that integration starts at the beginning of the treatment if the patient defines their intentions for the treatment session. This preparatory step helps to keep you focused and very intentional during integration later on. 

During the treatment the ketamine therapy guide can take notes for the patient. The notes can prove useful during integration. They can serve as reminders of the new perspectives that were gained and the thoughts that were provoked. 

Integration should occur in the moments after the treatment. Neuroplasticity will peak between 12-24 hours after the ketamine treatment so integration at this point will help your brain adapt and grow in the way you intended. It will direct your focus as new synapses are formed based on the experience.  

Without integration growth is limited, and it’s harder to achieve lasting, long-term results. With time if the insights from sessions aren’t put into practice and reflected on then the patient will eventually return to their baseline and more treatments will be needed. 

Integration Techniques for Ketamine Therapy

There’s no single prescribed way to use integration to gain the full benefit of ketamine therapy. Integration in the hours, days and weeks after treatment can include:

  • Discussing the experience with your ketamine therapy guide at the end of the session.
  • Going over the insights afterward with a therapist.
  • Writing down your thoughts and feelings.
  • Journaling daily about applying insights. 
  • Meditating at least five minutes a day. 
  • Practicing yoga or tai chi. 
  • Going on a quiet nature walk. 
  • Creating art or working on a creative project.
  • Visiting an art museum. 
  • Getting a massage.
  • Focusing on your physical health and nutrition. 
  • Setting goals 
  • Introducing new healthy habits
  • Breaking old habits
  • Taking a break from social media 
  • Being mindful of what we put into our consciousness (tv, movies, music, etc.)

The more you reflect on the experience the more you will take away from it. So give yourself the time and space to incorporate integration into your daily routine for real, lasting improvements to your mental health. 

Would you like to learn more about how ketamine therapy works? Contact Choose Ketamine for information on this novel treatment or take the online questionnaire to figure out if you’re eligible to receive ketamine treatments.