What is Peer Support?

October 9, 2021
Ketamine 101

Congratulations on beginning your healing journey. You're one step closer to improving your mental health so you can embrace a new, vibrant life. Making this decision took a lot of courage, and it’s an excellent step to help you reach your goals.


Before your first treatment, it's important to discuss the role of your Peer Support (PS). This person is a roommate, friend or family member whom you will choose to be present at each of your virtual dosing sessions. Selecting the best person to support you is an important decision, so let’s go over the responsibilities of your PS, tips for selecting your PS, and why you need one.


After reading this, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Your PS is a vital and required part of your ketamine therapy, so we want to ensure that you feel fully prepared before we start.

What Is Peer Support?

Your PS is a trusted adult (18 years or older) who agrees to be present at each of your dosing sessions. This is a required part of treatment. If you prefer he or she not be in the same room, they will need to be nearby and easily accessible within the same living space. This is why they are called Peer Support - this person is a peer whom you trust, and someone whose role it is to physically monitor each therapy session.


Your PS also has a secondary role: emotional and mental support. While receiving ketamine therapy, you may experience strong emotions. Your PS is there to offer a sense of comfort and safety, ensuring your physical wellness and providing reassurance during any point throughout the session.


With your PS physically present, you’ll be able to relax fully into the experience, embracing each session so you receive the most benefit.

Selecting Your Peer Support

While reading this, did any of your friends or family members immediately come to mind? The best criteria for selecting your PS is to choose a person who supports you, someone you trust and feel safe around. Ideally, this is someone who cares for you. Having a solid relationship is a good foundation for your PS.


Your PS should also be supportive of your ketamine therapy. Anyone who doesn’t believe in the power and potential of the healing path you’ve chosen can negatively affect your personal growth. You want to feel supported and cared for during each session, not judged or unsafe.


Your mindset is a priority. You want to approach each session with a sense of security, knowing that it’s a safe space. It’s important to be completely transparent with your PS about ketamine therapy and about his or her responsibilities. This way, you can get confirmation that your PS is able and ready to support your journey, and you can feel safe turning your focus inward.


Remember, the psychedelic experience can make you quite vulnerable and uncertain. You may feel a range of emotions, from joy and compassion to more challenging ones. Having someone physically available throughout the process is essential, so you can remain grounded in the present.


Qualities of a good PS include:

  • A calm and compassionate personality
  • A solid understanding of the basics of psychedelic therapy 
  • Stays calm under pressure and follows directions given by Better U
  • Able to remain available throughout each session
  • Comfortable with the situations that may arise

Peer Support Responsibilities

The primary purpose of your PS is to ensure your physical safety. Once you select someone you trust, we provide protocols so he or she will understand safety expectations for each dosing session. There are no specific requirements or certifications that your PS needs in order to assist, but they will have direct guidance from us because we want you to get the most out of your treatment.


Essentially, your PS is a facilitator, helping the process move along smoothly.

Before your very first session, make sure your PS has read all the information and resources in the member portal to fulfill each responsibility.


During each session, your PS will check on you to ensure you are safe and secure. He or she should check in every 15 minutes. If you encounter any challenges during therapy, your PS will provide a positive, supportive presence, comforting you so you can return to a secure, open mental state. If you need to use the bathroom, your PS can guide you safely there and back. And at the end of each session, they will help bring you into a waking and lucid state. 


If something serious should arise, your PS will contact us or call for emergency services if needed. Although a situation like this is rare, your safety is the priority. This is why a PS is required to be present with you and required to adhere to our protocols.


To recap, your PS has the following responsibilities:

  • Check on you every 15 minutes to ensure you’re physically safe
  • Escorting you to the bathroom if needed
  • Being a positive presence if you want support or company during the session
  • Contacting Better U or emergency services if the need arises


Hopefully, you now feel confident in selecting your PS and moving forward in the process. Please share the above information with him or her so they can make an informed decision and feel fully prepared to support your healing journey with ketamine therapy. 


Also, here are a few reminders for your PS:

  • When in doubt, contact us for a second opinion. Clinicians and guides at Better U are on call and available.
  • If the person you’re monitoring needs your presence, try not to intervene or influence their train of thought. Sometimes just being there is enough. Let them be in their experience as fully as possible.
  • Side-effects can arise and that is normal. Side-effects may include sedation, dizziness, nausea, audiovisual distortion, temporary increased blood pressure, limited physical abilities, manic moods, and confusion.

Dr. Sam Zand

Dr. Zand has merged his passions for lifestyle medicine, performance coaching, and entrepreneurship to establish platforms which build leaders and self-healers in the community. Dr. Zand specializes in psychiatric care for peak performance with executives, professional athletes and has helped countless high-performers optimize their mental health. Sam is a psychiatrist with years of experience working with ketamine and other psychedelic medicines in both research and clinical settings.