By Dr. Ashley Gundermann
Ketamine therapy represents an exciting and versatile mental health treatment option, and one that can facilitate profound and lasting personal transformation. One way patients can maximize the benefits of this novel therapy is through the intentionality they bring to the treatment journey. There are several ways to bring greater intentionality to treatment, one of which includes intention setting.
What is an Intention?
An intention is a statement or goal which reflects what you are hoping to get out of your treatment. Examples include “find greater peace,” “release grief,” “cultivate greater self-compassion,” “connect with my higher power,” or “explore my relationship to stress.”
Why is it an Important?
Setting an intention is important because it helps you get more out of your treatments. The process of selecting an intention can facilitate fruitful self-reflection, and allows you to examine where your opportunities for growth and healing lie. It also helps to focus your sessions and grounds the treatment as something you are pursuing in service to your health and healing.
Selecting an Intention
Intentions that are meaningful, positive and broad are encouraged. Setting a broad and spacious intention promotes the type of flexibility that we want to bring to ketamine therapy. We want to set intentions for treatment but hold the intention with what I like to refer to as a "loose grip." On treatment day, we revisit the patient’s intention, after which point I then encourage the patient to release the intention and do their best to just go with the flow of the session and see where their journey takes them. Oftentimes treatment sessions will connect with or circle back to the intention that was set, however, sometimes the sessions may touch on something different, which may be just as beneficial - trust that whatever comes up in your session is what's ready to be healed. Part of the ketamine treatment journey is learning to trust the medicine and trust the process.
Sometimes patients may vacillate between a few different intentions. In trying to decide which intention to select, I recommend picking an intention based on what’s feeling most alive for you right now - meaning what’s feeling most present for you or most at the top of your mind. I find picking an intention this way tends to lead to richer sessions. You may have a different intention for each session, or you may use the same intention for several treatments. This is entirely up to you and may be a question of whether you still feel there’s more left to explore with a particular intention, or a question of what’s feeling most present for you on treatment day. Selecting an intention can be a valuable practice in checking in with yourself and learning to trust yourself and your ability to tune into what you need.
The Big Picture
Intention setting is an invaluable component of the ketamine treatment journey. It is a simple yet powerful way to get more out of your treatment. Not only does it help ground and focus treatment sessions, but it also helps you lean into and leverage the deep inner work and self-exploration that ketamine therapy offers.