The Wellness-Washing of Ketamine-Assisted Therapy

ketamine assisted therapy

Ketamine has had a “party drug” reputation for decades, but this 1970s, FDA-approved anesthetic is garnering new attention today as a psychedelic treatment for people struggling with depression, trauma and substance misuse.

A recent Harper’s Bazaar article, “Ketamine’s Woo-Woo Rebrand” by Shayla Love, highlights the concerning increase of ketamine’s popularity in the wellness industry. The author recounts her experience visiting a high-end, executive suite for ketamine services. She was given an intramuscular dose of ketamine and laid unattended in a reclined chair, in a darkened room, and had a dissociative experience that she equated with a terrifying near-death experience.

Love explains that since becoming FDA-approved in 2019 for use in people with treatment-resistant depression, ketamine is the only psychedelic-assisted treatment available in the U.S. Doctors can prescribe and administer it in multiple forms ranging from IV, to intramuscular injection or intranasal. Some clinics focus solely on administering medication, believing it promotes neuroplastic changes that lead to clinical improvement (a claim not rigorously proven). Other practices offer varying levels of psychotherapy integration not only during a session, but before and after ketamine sessions.

Ketamine is working its way into the wellness industry, offered to people with money to spend who are seeking personal transformation. While simultaneously discounting the fact that ketamine is a powerful, synthetic pharmaceutical drug, it is offered as part of a holistic, distinctly non-medical, approach to personal wellbeing.

Ketamine has been marketed with millennial aesthetics and the vague language of “wellness” to promote the promise of a new beginning, becoming a better you through mind and body transformation.

Although Ketamine is a powerful and promising treatment, it is not risk free and not something one should experience without preparation and guidance by a qualified medical and behavioral health professional. The power and effectiveness of psychedelic therapies are tied up in set, setting and intention. Ketamine is not something you should do on a spa-day in between a Himalayan salt massage and mani-pedi.

At CARMAhealth, we offer ketamine-assisted therapy for people dealing with depression, trauma, substance use disorders and chronic pain conditions done under the supervision of qualified mental health professionals.

Please contact to learn more about our ketamine-assisted therapy at CARMAhealth.


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