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The Importance of Integration

May 25, 2021

The hours and days after your ketamine exploration is when the real work starts. It is up to you as the journeyer to make change and take the new paths after the medicine increases your neuroplasticity. This is where psychotherapy and behavioral change comes in. Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) encourages people to take advantage of this opportune time for developing new habits by processing and crystallizing what the medicine brought up. Whether you had a positive or challenging experience, the important thing is that you recognize and reflect both with yourself and your therapist.

“If we don’t integrate what came up during our psychedelic experiences, then it’s just another cool story,” says Emma Knighton, LMHC and former Psychotherapist Care Coordinator at Field Trip Health. “We have to make it mean something for our everyday life.

What is the Integration step?

Integration is where patients, along with one of Field Trip Health’s psychotherapists, distill and process the experiences, feelings or memories that were revealed during the administration of the psychedelic medicine and exploratory sessions. Self discovery can involve exploring triggers for anxiety or depression, facing and processing trauma, or understanding different personal insights that may have bubbled to the surface and presented themselves during the experience. These are discussed between the patient and therapist during integration to support and sustain your journey.

Field Trip Health’s treatment plans generally consist of two to three sets of Integration, depending on the number of modules an individual takes. Each integration follows one or two psychedelic exploration sessions. The treatment program happens over the course of 4-6 weeks, and involves exploring what the individual saw or felt. Exploring these types of personal discoveries helps individuals understand themselves from new and different perspectives. Integration might sound intimidating, but it’s the most rewarding part of treatment.

Understanding Integration tools: mindfulness & resourcing

Like the treatment itself, there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to the type of integration tools that a therapist might use. Field Trip Health therapists are all trained in different modalities, which means each one could use slightly different methods depending on what is most suitable for their client.

Still, there are two commonly used techniques.

The first is mindfulness, the practice of recognizing thoughts, sensations or emotions and being able to sit with those feelings.

“If something is right up in front of our face, it’s hard to see what’s actually happening. Through mindfulness, breath and connecting to the body, we can step back and increase the amount of space between us and whatever is going on,” says Knighton. “We can create a relationship to our emotions, our thoughts, our body sensations, our trauma, and look at it from a more removed perspective. Often we gain more insight in that space.”

The way mindfulness is approached during Integration will vary from person to person, but the outcome is the same.

“Whether it’s someone’s trauma that came up that we’re working on processing or a spiritual resource that appeared during a session, if we can have a relationship with these things—through the mindfulness experience and with mindfulness tools—then we are much more able to feel a sense of ownership and create a place of autonomy. Versus a place of oppression or victimization, says Knighton.

A sunset in the countryside.

Another technique often used by therapists during integration is resourcing.

“Resourcing is this idea that we can create internal and external resources. With psychedelics, oftentimes we’ll have internal resources show up. This could be something connected to mystical or spiritual experiences or things really connected to the earth,” says Knighton. “I have a lot of clients who’ve experienced things during a session and feel connected to plants, water, the ground—these natural elements.”

The term “resourcing” could be called something different, depending on the therapists’ training or background—somatic therapy, internal family systems, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), for example.

“Through the Integration practice of resourcing, it’s basically this question of: how can we help connect you to these things that felt like supportive entities or elements in your session? How can we help get you connected while you’re in this level of consciousness, while you’re sober,” says Knighton.

Regardless of which form or forms of therapy are used, the purpose of Integration work is to help patients make sense of their treatment experience. Then implement these learnings into their day-to-day life to make positive and lasting lifestyle changes. For a wide range of integration meditations, articles and journal prompts, download our free Field Trip app.

Talk therapy can positively prolong effects

Some of Field Trip Health’s therapists will also use conventional cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). New data has found that CBT can positively affect patients during Integration, particularly in those with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) in the past. By using CBT to alter the self narrative from negative to positive, therapists at Field Trip Health’s clinics can guide patients to rewire their brain’s neurological patterns. This is especially important at this post-psychedelic experience stage when the individual is more open, malleable and receptive to change.

More research is needed to fully understand how CBT can be used to create long-lasting change, but these initial studies are promising in proving the efficacy of psychedelic-enhanced psychotherapy.

In addition to in-clinic treatment, we also provide access to the Field Trip Health Portal, a digital resource with educational videos and articles that help to support individuals from the comfort of their own home. The Portal helps keep patients organized and accountable; registered users can see upcoming appointments, log their thoughts and mood in a wellness journal, communicate with their therapist, access exclusive mediations and track their milestones.

Field Trip Health’s providers are professionally trained and licensed medical practitioners, including experienced doctors and psychiatrists, registered psychotherapists, and licensed nurse practitioners. We help individuals embark on a journey to learn more about themselves and create space to reach their own inner healing intelligence – and integrate it into their lives.

Written by Lisa Felepchuk for Field Trip Health