511 Canal Street, Suite 500, New York, NY
Customized Ketamine Journeys
Designed for Improvisational Growth
The therapeutic force of ketamine comes from its ability to help you open up a little – or a lot, giving you the capacity to see the world differently and adding some nimbleness to your thoughts. This is why ketamine seems to help with particular forms of psychological suffering that have a habitual or repetitive element to them. It’s also why Ketamine can help people beyond their suffering, to give them a chance to more deeply contemplate life-changes, get unstuck creatively or reach moments of awakening.
Yet we don’t think ketamine is very effective on its own, and we worry about some of the more exuberant claims regarding the use of ketamine. With decades of experience in the healing fields, we’ve witnessed the long history of hype in the selling of pharmaceuticals as magic bullets, and we’ve seen how such quick-fix offers have often led to disaster.
We see ketamine as most effective when experienced within the care of people who have been well-trained to provide the right space for growth. After all, research on human transformation shows time and again that growth happens most vigorously in relational spaces that are both collaborative and compassionate, and that the human element is always the strongest force in change. It’s no coincidence that psychotherapists talk about utilizing a “nurturing environment” and good psychedelic practitioners use the term “holding space” for what they do. They are talking about the same thing.
Founded by seasoned leaders in both the psychedelic space and psychological recovery, CARDEA is composed of everyone from psychotherapists and ceremonialists to vibrational composers, artists and thought leaders in personal growth. While diverse in our backgrounds and fields of focus, we harmonize around the common principle that growth and greater awareness happen improvisationally. With each act of expansion new routes unfold, and it takes great skill to follow people as they grow. We bring this skill to CARDEA.
What to expect
We like to think of ourselves as your hosts. When you come to CARDEA, you work with a small team of individuals to figure out the next steps in care by contemplating your experience together in the sessions. In the world of psychedelic care, this is known as reintegrating. We’ve developed a particular method for this process at CARDEA called the Lascaux Method, that synthesizes certain forms of psychotherapy, vibrational sound work, as well as the choice of other creative activities and bodywork. This plan is crafted together as you go, allowing the improvisational evolution of your growth to be honored and as it guides the next step in your journey.
If you’re already engaged with their own private therapists, we are prepared to stay in close communication with them throughout our time at your host, and offer them, when it is appropriate, to opportunity to attend a session or two, in order to provide them with our own reflections and learn more about how we may assist the two of you. We believe that the communication between professionals works best when the person of concern is present.
The compounds we use are also designed for customized comfort, aimed to adjust in strength during session, and designed specifically to suit each guest’s needs. After your intake call, you will meet with our Doctor for a medical evaluation. Once medically cleared, the doctor will write you a prescription for a ketamine nasal spray, which will be delivered to your home prior to your first ketamine session. During the session, the ketamine is administered nasally through a spray application, making it comfortable and easy to use. Our administration method allows for us to finely tune the spray to meet each guest’s unique needs through a compound pharmacy and allows our guests to gently raise dosage during a session. This is safe, legal, and yours to take home after the session with proper care and instructions.
The use of sounds and vibrations are a central guiding element in our ketamine journeys and space holding, and a pivotal element to our method. Our sound work is not like any other in that it is oriented to each person’s unique needs and focused on their improvisational movement toward growth. Instead of standardized playlists, we curate sound based on the “Iso Principle”, a concept from music therapy that is about matching the sound experience to each individual’s preoccupations, intentions, moods, and somatic experiences. This is why we offer meetings with sound practitioners before and after your ketamine journeys. Our sound practitioners are trained in both traditional indigenous and modern sound healing techniques, attuned to your therapeutic experiences, and skilled at creating a platform for authentic self-discovery.
We believe that live sound experiences, rather than recorded ones, are often much richer for our guests. For this reason, we are offering live sound for anyone’s initial journey with us, at no extra cost.
Continuing with our aim for an inventive and creative atmosphere of care, our physical space is a giant work of art. Developed by the installation-based artist and LEED-accredited master builder Randy Polumbo, it is a calming, novel and imaginative “holding space” for transformative experiences. The space’s design materializes our concept of “radical hospitality”, placing the guest and their goals at the center of the experience. All sensory interactions have been considered, from lighting, sound, scent and textures, which leads each moment through to a new discovery.
We offer a range of single and multi-session packages, from three to thirteen hours of customized services, all based on your own unique intentions. The cost ranges from $200-$450 per hour. We also offer live-sound group ketamine experiences for up to 7 people in our gathering grotto for a more accessible rate. With the help of our non-profit partner, Psychedelic Access Fund, we offer financial assistance to sponsor an individual’s group series experience through donation based funds. We’re happy to discuss our range of packages in detail in person or over the phone.
Whatever course brought you here, our aim is to remain alert and curious about you in order to hold space that is contoured to your unique being.
FAQs for Professionals and Guests
At Cardea, we believe in the sanctity of therapeutic relationships, and that these relationships, more than any technique or model, are the key to creating a space for growth. This belief, which has been repeatedly validated in research on human transformation, views a person assisting in another’s transformation as like a gardener helping tend fertile ground for growth, as opposed to a surgeon intent on removing disease. We feel a special kindship with the many therapists who share this view—which is, in truth, foundational to the original ethos of psychotherapy—and, at the same time, are concerned by therapy that has become focused solely on the removal of psychopathologies via scalpel. Our reverence for the curative force of relationships guides our model, thus we make it a priority to respect and support our clients’ preexisting therapeutic relationships.
We are willing to attend therapy sessions (if invited) in order to help each guest and their therapist think through their intentions for their time with us. We also maintain constant communication with these therapists and invite them to either attend ketamine sessions or meet with their clients afterward in our offices.
We are. We believe that psychedelics hold real hope for the care of psychological suffering, but we don’t believe that it is curative to approach people in a uniform way that views extreme events of mind and mood as solely the result of skull-bound pathologies. We think that people are always the experts when it comes to the design of their own lives, that a lot of misery occurs when they are treated as if they are not and that the more treatment leans toward the surgical removal of problems by the so-called experts, the more it becomes a power grab in the guise of a cure.
Our leadership has worked for years with individuals who have experienced significant and destructive events of mind and/or mood or engaged in problematic habits, but you will rarely hear us using diagnostic language to describe our guests. What you will witness is our attempt to walk in their shoes. That being said, we do believe that a lot of the suffering that is defined by professionals as “pathology” can be relieved, and even cured, when an individual is approached as a unique being with unique means of dealing with pain or growth, which is a creative effort that is best supported by individuals intent on collaboration. Repeatedly, the science on human change backs this point.
Yes, some are, and we do offer ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for clients who want that. Our entire staff, however, is not made up of trained psychotherapists, and most of what we do should not be considered psychotherapy. What our staff does bring is years of experience in helping people through psychedelic experiences. Again, what we all do at Cardea is “hold space,” providing right relational ingredients to help our client enter a playful stance.
A lot of ketamine clinics offer “integration” work intended to help clients make meaning of their experiences. Do you do such work?
Yes and no and more. We most often see the work we do with our clients outside the ketamine journeys as equal to or more important than the events themselves, and so we do a lot of work with our clients before, during and after ketamine sessions that may help them articulate and think through their experiences. That being said, we don’t believe that it is always necessary to do so in order for a person to benefit from ketamine, and hold the firm the belief that well-trained healers offer something much more important: they “hold space.” It’s no coincidence that good psychedelic practitioners use this term, while well-seasoned therapists talk about “holding,” a “holding environment” and providing “a container.” They are talking about the same thing: the capacity to provide the right relational nutrients for growth. So, our work is not only about what happens before or after the session, but how we create a comfortable yet invigorating experience for our guest before, during and after their sessions. And in this, we don’t always see the ketamine as the center of our work, but the whole process we offer as the “event.”
We believe that growth is an improvisational event, and that good care is an improvisational art form in which one person in the room is contemplating “problems of living” while another is following along in order to provide the right kind of environment for change — one filled with curiosity, warmth, attunement and compassion. In the place of “psychedelic integration,” we offer what we call the Lascaux Method, which focuses on enhancing these elements in order to help our guests achieve the kinds of goals typically sought in ketamine treatment.
We chose the name for our method carefully, and in it there lies a very slight joke. The “Lascaux Method” might sound like an approach based on the works of a famed French theoretician and, as such, something that takes a lot of training and learning to understand before one can apply its techniques. Our name, however, actually derives from work done by individuals who would have had a hard time choosing an outfit for their first day at the Sorbonne, let alone sitting through arduous training in therapeutic technique. The Lascaux caves, where wall paintings drawn more than 17,000 years ago by prehistoric cave people are preserved, lie just over 500 kilometers from Paris. These remarkable depictions are signs of artistic and seriously playful impulse in our early ancestors. Paleontologists believe that the Lascaux caves were painted as part of a ritual space and thus call the domed chamber where most of the art is, a “prehistoric Sistine Chapel.”
Play is often associated with fun. And while fun is great, and often a part of play, it’s not really what we, wise and learned Lascauxians are talking about when we use this word. Instead, we mean something deeper and very specific; something we think that these early humans were trying to reach: an impulse, with serious psychological and spiritual elements.
The Lascaux Method aims to coax people out of a habitual, rote response to the world and into a place in which a more playful one becomes a central posture they take toward their existence and the world around them. In other words, the aim of this method mirrors the changes ketamine and psychedelics promise: a mind that can move beyond powerful narratives in order to choose new and innovative roads to growth, to awaken and to experience each day anew.
One way to understand Lascaux is to see it as a form of improvisation art, in which one person in the room is the focus of creating a more playful and lively existence, and another person is following along, providing the right kind of environment for play to occur. That makes it very close to the original processes behind psychotherapy. And it also shares a psychotherapeutic ethos of helping people with “problems of living,” playlessness and a deadened existence big problems in this area. But it is not a psychotherapy, and it isn’t beholden as a method that can only be used by trained psychotherapists. It’s typically short term and/ or sporadic and often offered as an adjunct to a person’s preexisting psychotherapy, but not always. In this way, the Lascaux method can be thought of as similar to a lot of the current work in the psychedelic space. It’s a way to get people to a place of awakening that can help in the psychotherapeutic process, or generally help them along their way to more pliability in their approach to the world without psychotherapy. And yet, it is not simply a method for “Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy,” or a way of “psychedelic space holding.” It’s more than that: sort of its own thing.
It’s helpful to think of the Lascaux Method as containing five components held within a general approach that we call “radical hospitality.”
Radical hospitable hosting. By radical hospitality we mean an approach to care that is always shifting and changing depending on what is happening with our guests. We see it as a model of response that places our guests and their own original relationship to the world as our focus, and a way of care that matches our belief in the improvisational nature of growth. Typically, a person who comes to Cardea is assigned a “personalizing guide” who meets with them at the beginning of care in order to finely tune a mutual expectation for their work with us. This initial meeting is conducted “dialogically,” a process we will discuss further in a moment. Following that meeting, the guide will meet regularly with the guest both before and after they receive a service. In these meetings, guest and guide discuss any changes in regard to the guest’s understanding of their goals and needs. They may also work with the guest’s therapist, if there is one, in order to think further about any changes. In these meetings, guests can also can meet with our sound practitioners in order to help modify the sound experience in their next session. Guests may also want to engage in other practices with us such as art therapy, more dialogic sessions or work with one of our dance or movement practitioners. The personalizing guide will set these all up.
Dialogic sessions. Influenced by a Finnish model of care called Open Dialogue, our dialogic sessions are a central element in the Lascaux Method. We choose this model because we believe it offers the best means to converse with guests that does not impose our own formulations about their needs in our care but provides an excellent way to help them achieve a deeper understanding of these needs. There’s a lot of good talk in the psychedelic world about “setting intentions.” We take these intentions very seriously and we want to understand, as best we can, the meaning of these intentions as we walk alongside the guests in our care. We also know that the meaning of such intentions can shift and change along with a person’s growth, and we want to be there, too, for that shifting and changing care. All of this gives us the opportunity to build a collaborative relationship with our guests in which we design the road for their care as we walk on it, and often choose the nature of the next session soon after one is finished. Here are the four most important things to know about the dialogic sessions: 1) They are conducted by at least two practitioners. 2) These practitioners often reflect to each other their own thoughts, images or responses to what you have to say. 3) These practitioners resist formulating ideas about you and remain in a mode of curiosity and uncertainty; they state what might be happening in their own minds without labeling you or your own thoughts or images with their assumptions. 4) All of this is an attempt to create a “sense” of your experiences and wishes without nailing them down with clinical certainty. In this, a dialogical session attempts to flatten hierarchies. It is the farthest thing from a typical clinical meeting in which diagnoses or prognoses are made.
Sound work. The use of sound in psychedelic experiences has a long history, so much so that it is difficult to image psychedelic practices without some element of soud. At Cardea, sound is the central guiding element in our ceremonies and space holding, and a pivitol element in the Lascaux Method. We offer different forms of sound experience for both our ketamine sessions and for sessions without the medicine. Our sound work is not like any other in that it is oriented to each person’s unique needs and focused on their improvisational movement toward growth. We believe in the “iso principle,” a concept from music therapy that is about matching the sound experience a person has as closely as possible to their unique internal life. This is why we offer both recorded and live sound experiences, and why we most often conduct meetings with sound practitioners prior to and following ketamine journeys.
Nasal ketamine. Our guests self-administer ketamine with a nasal spray. We’ve chosen this method for two reasons modeled to the Lascaux Method: 1) We can finely tune the spray to meet each guest’s unique needs through a compound pharmacy. 2) During sessions we can help guests raise their dosage to levels they feel are optimal. We also offer small-dose, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, and offer our space to therapists and guests if they wish to use ketamine in their therapy.
Whole-person services. Again, the goal of dialogic meetings with a personalizing guide is to develop the care for our guests step-by-step. It is also our goal to develop a plan for more playfulness that is, itself, playful and imaginative, and bring in professionals with particular expertise for our sessions. Artists, art therapists, dancers, dance therapists, bodywork practitioners and musicians are all ready to facilitate meetings that match clients’ improvisational care.
We don’t think so. We see this method as agile enough to aid in a person’s therapy, but also as an effective way to help people that stands on its own.
People can come to us just for the ketamine sessions, with recorded or live sound, and without engaging in our method. While we happy to host people in this way, prescribing ketamine and providing a physical environment in which to take it is not the main mode of our work. That’s because we don’t believe that psychedelics are magic bullets that will alleviate psychological suffering, nor do we see them as quick-fix solutions for achieving growth. This point of view stands in contrast to current discussion about psychedelics that claims that simply ingesting the medicines can help people achieve the same therapeutic outcomes as those achieved by years on the couch. As the science on human change repeatedly proves, the element that best helps people change through professional help is the right kind of therapeutic space, held and contained by a curious and compassionate practitioners. While we do seek to aid such relationships when they exist, we also take very seriously our role in providing the kind of human care that supports the potential effects of the medicines. In this way, we mostly see ourselves as part of the package when someone comes to our ketamine space.
Yes, you can. We are happy to subtract the price of your single session from the package price, consider it your first session within the package and begin.
Book a free consultation with our Clinical Director directly on his Calendly!