Our Ketamine Sessions

Our Sessions

A Nuanced, Layered and Highly Personalized Approach

To feel held in the best way always requires some sense of a beginning, middle and end, temporal boundaries that offer a container around us. That is true in any ceremony, psychedelic or not, and it’s also true of good psychotherapy, which is held within the container of allotted time in a session. Classic psychedelic journeying follows this form by first offering a time of contemplation about a person’s “intentions” before the journey and “integration” after the journey, in which a person brings whatever they gained into greater focus, possibly as a directive toward changes they want to make in their lives.

Our methods at Cardea follow a similar sequence, while aimed more toward helping a person become more ready to forge new paths. This begins with a nuanced, layered and highly personalized approach to, what is called “intention setting,” to the actual psychedelic journey or ceremony, to what psychedelic practitioners often described as “integration.”

Beginning: Layered Intention Setting

Shape Transformation

And intention is exactly as it sounds: a personal goal you pursue in your journey. We know that the meaning of such intentions often shifts radically during journeys, and we want our guests to be open for such shifts. More important, we see a complex story behind every intention, and we want to be sure that we hold that story well, allowing it to remain flexible and primed for contemplation. Take for example a classic intention like “greater self-compassion.” Instead of taking that term for granted as a perfectly understood destination, we assist our guests to do a more in depth intention setting – What’s the unique history of self compassion in their own lives? Where is it already happening? What’s the story of why they may resist it?

Dialogic work: Talking Beyond Words.
We choose the dialogic method, first developed in Finland, because it offers the best means to converse with guests in a way that helps them achieve a deeper understanding of their own unique needs and wishes.

We typically begin with a stack of 50 photographs that we present to a guest and ask them to choose two that are most meaningful or relevant to how they are feeling. This sparks an often surprising discussion that gently probes inner connections that may have not bubbled to the surface.

Dialogic Process

Dialogic work is conducted by two practitioners, who reflect to each other their own thoughts, images or responses to what you say. These practitioners resist formulating ideas about you and remain in a mode of curiosity; they state what might be happening in their own minds without labeling your thoughts with their assumptions. This work attempts to flatten hierarchies such as “client” and “patient” – it is the farthest thing from a clinical meeting in which diagnoses or prognoses are made.

When it makes sense, we also bring in art-making, music and movement as a way to investigate and contemplate a person’s intentions.

Art Beyond Artistry
Not everyone who comes to Cardea makes art, because not everyone wants to, or feels comfortable doing so. But, the making of art – including drawing, painting, writing and dance – is always an option and available as a mode of growth that taps into our more unworded experiences. Psychedelic experiences always carry some level of the ineffable: something like love or happiness, that is impossible to communicate fully in straight forward definitions. In many ways, art is the human activity that attempts to communicate the ineffable in its own roundabout and inexact way. It’s a good thing to have handy or to make central when you are seeking growth or transformation.

Middle: Putting the Tune in Attunement

Art Beyond Artistry

Modern neuroscience confirms what ancient healers and ceremonialists have known for centuries: that sound and vibration play an essential – not an incidental – role in deepening psychedelic experiences. Combined with psychedelics in the right setting, certain vibrational sounds and frequencies “bilaterally” stimulate the brain, helping people enter into more profound states of emotional resonance, wonder and awe. Pretty amazing stuff.

At Cardea we take sound to a whole new level. In our Ketamine Space, we create a personally crafted sonic experience for each of our guests, many performed live by our sound practitioners. Instead of prescribed playlists, we create our own sequences of music and tones with different valences that can modulate someone’s emotional state. At our retreats, we offer entire ceremonies based on sound and vibrational work as the central element in holding space.

End: Not Quite Integration

In the rush to psychedelics, many practitioners offer an “integration” session to help clients make immediate sense of their journey. This makes sense in some ways, since people do often come to psychedelics for answers. But it also betrays one of the best things about psychedelics: that they open our minds to all kinds of questions, allowing us to see different sides of a particular dilemma. That’s really important in any process of human transformation.

To grow, expand and change requires something more nuanced and subtle than landing on a firm answer, even though there are plenty of experts and services out there claiming to provide you with one. And that’s because there are layers of reasons that keep us stuck where we are. If we adhere to one answer, we leave the others behind in the cold.

This is why we prefer the concept developed by the psychoanalyst, D.W. Winnicott of “unintegration.” The difference is subtle yet profound. It means being nimble and receptive – playful and creative – to the experience of where your journey brought you.

To help you get to this place of continued contemplation, we again meet with you using the dialogic method, using the photos, or making art, or just talking, always continuing a reflective, rather than a more formulaic process.