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Local veteran finds new healing with ketamine assisted psychotherapy

<i></i><br/>A Kansas City
Lawrence, Nakia

A Kansas City

By Sharon Chen

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    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) — A local veteran from North Kansas City is finding new healing from what is usually thought of as an illegal party drug.

Crystal Clark said ketamine assisted psychotherapy, or KAP, sessions are changing her life. She invited KCTV5 to attend a session.

“It’s just this feeling of expansion,” Clark said.

Clark is an Army National Guard Veteran. She served on and off in the Middle East for 10 years.

“When I came home from Afghanistan in 2014, I just more or less had a break down,” she said.

Like many who return from the war zone, she suffered from intense anger and anxiety — PTSD.

“I had a deep fear of being judged,” said Crystal. “I would filter everything I said through three layers.”

She turned to drugs to cope.

“Cocaine was my go to,” she said. “It was just a way to numb out.”

She even considered giving up.

“I didn’t want to die, but I was exhausted,” she said. “I wanted my anxiety to stop.”

Clark tried everything from medication to tradition therapy. She eventually landed at KAP KC.

“Your mind is the medicine,” said Anne Bethune.

Bethune is a clinical social worker who was one of the first in the Midwest to offer KAP sessions.

“It was just this sense of, ‘We have to do better if there’s something out there, something that can help more people,’” said Bethune.

Born out of the 1960s, ketamine was used as a battlefield anesthetic in Vietnam and Afghanistan. The ketamine works as a portal, allowing clients to enter into what’s called a stream of consciousness.

“It’s a trip,” Bethune explained. “You can feel like you’re out of body, you’re moving through air. They know they’re here but they’re very much in their head.”

It’s unclear how ketamine works, but it is believed to boost feel good chemicals. Studies show it allows the brain to form neural pathways and create new habits and behaviors.

“It gives you access to the possibility that you can be free from these limiting beliefs; you can feel connected to something bigger than yourself that feels hopeful,” said Anne.

Bethune said unlocking that hope provides the mindset for a clean slate.

“They come back and say everything’s really ok,” said Anne. “So, this is a reset. It doesn’t wipe out the memory, it doesn’t wipe out the experience.”

“If I had to describe the time before ketamine, I would say nervous, neurotic, out of control, messy and aggressive,” said Crystal.

Crystal is now on her fourth KAP session, she said the treatments have allowed her to leave the past behind.

“Things have really changed,” said Crystal. “Now I’m responsive, as opposed to reactive. Spacious as in I have more space for compulsions that were always like anger. I have more harmony, flow, and peace.”

She’s even telling her story for the public to hear.

“I had a deep fear of being judged!” said Crystal. “Let this be a testament to the power of psychedelics.”

Ketamine treatments run about $500-800 a session and are generally not covered by insurance.

Known side effects can include changes in blood pressure, changes in mood, nausea and drowsiness.

Bethune said to use caution if you’re interested in ketamine treatments.

“The centers are popular, especially since the pandemic,” she said. “Make sure you go to one backed by clinical professionals. You need someone who can help you respond in a therapeutic way.”

The KAP session also requires an intake session where the patient’s maladies, goals and intentions are assessed. You will also need a prescription from a physician for the ketamine.

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