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Traditional Therapy and Ketamine Therapy

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What is Traditional Therapy?

Traditional therapy, otherwise known as cognitive behavioral therapy or psychotherapy, is a form of counseling that often centers around talk therapy to address mental health symptoms. This type of therapy typically focuses on feelings, behaviors, present thoughts, as well as current and past situations¹.

This approach to therapy provides people with the tools and coping mechanisms to move through their negative thoughts and habits, as well as a safe space to express their emotions. Traditional therapy is often goal-oriented and has mixed results¹. Some people find talking to a therapist to be beneficial, meanwhile, others can struggle with opening up or even feel like their symptoms have worsened. Psychotherapy often takes a long time without other treatment measures to see improved results².

What is Ketamine Therapy?

Previously presented as a field anesthetic during the Vietnam War, ketamine is now used as an alternative, off-label treatment for symptoms of mental health and chronic pain. Ketamine therapy is a form of alternative therapy for symptoms of mental health such as treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder³. When administered in low doses, ketamine provides dissociative properties which researchers believe is part of the reason ketamine can help people with treatment-resistant symptoms³.

Published in Biological Psychiatry, researchers found that about 70% of patients with treatment-resistant depression responded positively to ketamine treatments for their symptoms⁴. Ketamine is also used in the emergency room as a treatment for patients with suicidal thoughts. While traditional antidepressants can take around four to six weeks to be effective at lowering symptoms, ketamine infusions can reduce symptoms and suicidal thoughts in about 90 minutes⁵.

Ketamine works fast at lowering mental health symptoms because it activates glutamate production in the brain. Glutamate can repair damaged nerve connections and also form new nerve connections. This production of glutamate allows patients to create different, more positive thought patterns and behaviors with more ease when confronted with challenging situations⁵.

IV Ketamine infusions for depression anxiety ptsd chronic pain fibromyalgia CRPS Bethesda MD McLean VA Washington DC

Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy  (KAP) Benefits

Although ketamine can provide therapeutic benefits for mental health symptoms on its own, at Avesta Ketamine and Wellness, it is highly recommended to implement lifestyle practices and other complementary therapies to maximize the benefits of ketamine.

Avesta providers believe in the power of Ketamine therapy combined with traditional therapy to mitigate mental health symptoms. This combination of therapy is considered complementary therapy and is called ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP)⁶. Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy combines both of these types of therapies to hone in on both of their benefits as well as fill in the gaps where the other may lack. It is a synergistic combination, meaning that the benefits obtained with KAP surpass the impact of either treatment alone.

KAP at Avesta Ketamine and Wellness

By administering a ketamine treatment during a talk therapy session, patients can relax more easily to discuss difficult subjects without the added stress and emotional attachment. Since ketamine is a dissociative drug, it can lessen a patient’s feelings of defensiveness and allow for “deeper self-reflection and honesty⁶,” making it easier to share painful or emotional experiences.

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can also make the healing and recovery process quicker. Not only does ketamine make it easier to share with a therapist, but it can also stimulate nerve growth and increase serotonin levels, making the entire process more streamlined⁶. Additionally, ketamine can also help to stabilize patients before their other treatments such as psychotherapy or antidepressant medications, or even be used in combination with them as a complementary treatment plan⁴.

Mental illness can often heavily affect your quality of life and may even feel debilitating. If you experience treatment-resistant symptoms of mental health, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may be a viable and effective treatment option for you.

Avesta Ketamine and Wellness

At Avesta Ketamine and Wellness, we value your mental health and are committed to improving your well-being. If you are interested in learning more about how traditional therapy can assist with ketamine therapy, please schedule a consultation. We have a list of providers who are adept at KAP, or we welcome your own therapist to join you on your device or in person.

Ketamine Infusions in Bethesda, MD, McLean, VA and Washington, DC


¹ Traditional depression treatment vs Ketamine Infusion: Georgia Renew Clinic. Georgia Renew Clinics. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2023, from

² Field Trip Health and Wellness. (2022, December 7). How ketamine-assisted therapy is different from traditional talk therapy. Field Trip. Retrieved March 31, 2023, from

³ Restorative Health. (n.d.). Ketamine – A Brief History, its Uses, and Possible Future. Restorative Health. Retrieved February 25, 2023, from

⁴ Harbor Psychiatry & Mental Health. (n.d.). Traditional treatments of depression vs. ketamine therapy. Harbor Psychiatry & Mental Health. Retrieved March 31, 2023, from

⁵ When a psychiatrist may recommend ketamine therapy. Future Psych Solutions. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2023, from

⁶ Handoo, I. A. (n.d.). How does ketamine enhance psychotherapy in Kansas City? Dr. Irfan Handoo, M.D. Retrieved March 31, 2023, from

Photo by SHVETS production:

Author Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, FAAN Dr. Eshkevari is the lead clinician at Avesta, and is a long time researcher and educator in physiology, biophysics, and anesthesiology. She is passionate about assisting patients with retractable, difficult to treat mood disorders, and relies on the latest research to bring evidence to Avesta’s practice to better understand and serve patients.

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