November 28, 2023

IFS and Ketamine Therapy: The Role Internal Family Systems Therapy Plays Before, During, and After Ketamine Therapy

Introduction

You may have heard of Ketamine therapy and be curious what it is all about! Although not yet FDA approved, many clinicians have begun to adopt Ketamine therapy as a powerful tool for healing from trauma, depression, or anxiety. Studies have shown the therapy helps people release painful memories and gain access to the tools they need to move on. If you're thinking about ketamine therapy, it's important to understand how it works and what you can do before, during, and after treatment to maximize your potential for healing. This article will teach you everything you need to know about ketamine therapy: what Internal Family Systems (IFS) is, how it relates to ketamine treatment, and why combining both therapies can be so effective in treating trauma.

What is Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)?

Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) is a unique form of psychotherapy that helps people discover their true self.

The goal of IFS is to help you rediscover your authentic self. This can be done through the use of parts therapy, which involves identifying different personality traits and then learning how they interact with each other within yourself. By understanding all the different parts of your personality, you will be able to make better decisions in life because you know what drives each one of them. For example, if there's a part that always wants more money but doesn't care about spending time with family, then it might be best for this part not be involved when making financial decisions such as saving up for retirement or buying something expensive for yourself like an expensive car or house.*

There are many benefits associated with this type of therapy including:

-Learning how to communicate and understand with all of the different parts of you, including the parts you typically try to keep hidden such as insecurities, anger, or self harming behaviors.

-Learning how to make better decisions in life based on the motivations of each part of yourself

-Understanding why you act or react the way that you do in certain situations

IFS for Anxiety and Depression

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is an innovative therapeutic approach that offers valuable insights into the treatment of anxiety and depression. IFS proposes that our minds are comprised of different parts, each with unique emotions, desires, and beliefs. In the context of anxiety and depression, IFS suggests that these conditions arise from internal conflicts between different parts of ourselves. The goal of IFS therapy is to help individuals identify and communicate with these conflicting parts, thereby fostering understanding, compassion, and cooperation among them. By establishing a harmonious relationship between the parts, IFS allows individuals to address the underlying sources of anxiety and depression. This approach empowers individuals to access their inner wisdom and healing capacities, leading to a greater sense of balance, emotional well-being, and personal growth.

How does IFS relate to Ketamine therapy?

Studies have found that IFS can be a useful tool before, during and after ketamine therapy.

Before: IFS helps you understand what is going on inside of you so that when you are ready for treatment, it will be easier to know what to expect and how best to work with your parts. By identifying the parts of us that need a little extra compassion or attention, we can set intentions around these parts going into the ketamine therapy sessions.

After: Once the ketamine therapy sessions have ended, the journey towards healing continues which includes reflection and incorporating lessons learned from the experience into everyday life. Here we can use IFS to identify any parts that have let their guard down and are able to take on new, healthier roles.

When ketamine therapy is combined with parts therapy, it can be more effective at helping people heal from trauma.

As a practice, we’ve seen countless cases where people have improved in their relationship with triggers and trauma. Although we can't 100% directly correlate that to the ketamine therapy, the improvements overall are vast. Psychedelic therapy can be used to help heal from trauma, but it's important to understand what happens during and how to integrate those experiences into daily life.

IFS is a method of working with parts that are stuck in trauma or stuck in old patterns of behavior. These parts may also be holding onto emotions such as fear and anger. When ketamine therapy is combined with parts therapy, it can be more effective at helping people heal from trauma because IFS helps them identify and work with their parts during the process.

Try it Yourself!

Here is an IFS exercise you can try on your own to work on identifying parts of us that may be stuck in a protector role. This can be helpful to explore before or after psychedelic therapy.

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can focus on your internal experience.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself.
  3. Bring to mind a specific situation or issue that triggers anxiety or depression for you.
  4. Ask yourself, "Who is the part of me that protects me in this situation?" This protector part might be anxious, critical, controlling, angry, or any other manifestation.
  5. Invite that protector part to step forward and visualize it as if it were a person or an image.
  6. Start a conversation with the protector part, asking it questions to understand its role better. Some possible questions include:

○    "What is your purpose? What are you trying to achieve or prevent?"

○    "How do you feel about the situation or issue?"

○    "What are you afraid would happen if you didn't play this role?"

○    "What strengths or positive qualities do you bring to my life?"

○    "What do you need from me to feel heard and understood?"

  1. As you listen to the protector part's responses, approach it with curiosity, compassion, and openness.
  2. Thank the protector part for its presence and its efforts to protect you.
  3. Reflect on what you've learned from this conversation and how it relates to your anxiety or depression.
  4. Take some time to process the experience, either through journaling or by discussing it with a therapist or trusted friend.

Remember, this exercise is a starting point, and it's crucial to approach it with patience and self-compassion. Understanding and integrating protector parts can be an ongoing process, and it's often helpful to seek support or combine this practice with other methods of treatment such as psychedelic therapy.

Conclusion

Many studies indicate Ketamine therapy as a promising treatment for people who suffer from PTSD. When it's combined with parts therapy, a very powerful tool for trauma, you can't help but wonder about the transformative and healing benefits it may have.

Disclaimer

This blog is not medical advice or therapeutic advice but general knowledge to help you get the most out of your experiences with psychedelic therapy. At-home psychedelic therapy sessions with generic ketamine may be prescribed "off-label" for suitable candidates as an alternative pathway. Over the last two decades, research suggests that ketamine may be able to safely and effectively improve many treatment-resistant conditions. A form of ketamine, Esketamine (Spravato), is an FDA-approved medication for depression. Spravato treatments are only available in-person in our office. Our at-home programs include therapeutic guidance, safety protocols, breathwork, virtual treatment preparation and 1-on-1 integration coaching to get the most out of your sessions.