Green Tea Conversations
Mind-Shift: Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy Unveiled with Dr. Erica Burger & Dr. Ciara Christensen
July 9, 2023
In this empowering episode of Green Tea Conversations, we delve into the world of Ketamine Assisted Therapy and Psychedelic Integration with our two guests, Dr. Erica Burger from Driftless Integrative Psychiatry and Dr. Ciara Christenson from Psychology Services. Join us as we unravel the transformative power of this groundbreaking therapeutic approach. Dr. Burger and Dr. Christenson expertly guide us through the intricacies of Ketamine Assisted Therapy, shedding light on how it is conducted at both low and high doses. Discover how patients can expect a profound shift in consciousness, opening new doors for exploration and healing. With their deep understanding of trauma, they share how this therapy assists individuals in safely and compassionately navigating their traumatic experiences, offering hope and potential for profound transformation. Additionally, we delve into their upcoming retreat, a four-day immersive experience for healthcare providers to learn more about, and experience, Ketamine Assisted Therapy and Psychedelic Integration Breathwork in a supportive and safe environment.
[00:00:01.440] - Candi Broeffle
Good Morning and welcome to Green Tea Conversations, the radio show that delves into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine to bring you the local experts who share their progressive ideas and the latest information and insights needed so you can lead your best life. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, and today we have a fascinating topic to explore, which is Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. Joining us in the studio today is Dr. Erica Burger of Driftless Integrative Psychiatry in Lansing, Iowa, and Dr. Ciara Christensen of Psychology Services in Milwaukee. Welcome to the show, ladies.
[00:00:49.870] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
Thank you for having us.
[00:00:51.350] - Candi Broeffle
Really excited to have you in this studio today and really excited to get into this topic that we're discussing, which is the Ketamine Assisted Therapy. So before we get started, I always like to ask our guests to give us a little bit of background about yourself. Tell us about your journey and what brought you to doing the work that you're doing today. So if you don't mind, I'm going to start with Dr. Christensen and ask you to tell us about your journey.
[00:01:22.400] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
Sure. Thank you again, Candi, for having me today and inviting Erica and I in this space and talking with you. It's a really exciting to share with the audience Ketamine assisted psychotherapy as a treatment option and talking more about it. I'm a clinical psychologist practicing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as you mentioned, and I've been in private practice since approximately 2019. And prior to that, I was a hospital psychologist working in Twin Falls, Idaho. So moving into a private practice space, I brought with me some of my clinical experience in utilizing all lternative treatment strategies, including clinical hypnosis as well as the use of EMDR, both of which I utilize in therapy with individuals coming to my practice. I got really interested in looking at additional ways that I can work with people and offer therapeutic services. Ketamine assisted therapy caught my eye, at which point I wanted to get more experience in training. So I pursued education with Integrative Psychiatry Institute based out of Boulder, Colorado. I have now received my certification and I am in the process of offering this as a therapeutic modality for the individuals coming to my treatment. So that's a little bit about me.
[00:02:41.340] - Candi Broeffle
Well, thank you so much for that. And Dr. Burger, I'm going to ask you to go ahead and give us a little bit of information about your background.
[00:02:48.850] - Dr. Erica Burger
Sure and thank you again, Candi, for hosting us. And it's been this wayward path, it feels like at times, to where I am now in my practice. But I'm trained as an integrative psychiatrist, completed my residency training up in the Twin Cities. And after that, I went and worked for a bigger health care system in outpatient psychiatry. And throughout my training, I've been really focused on learning more of these holistic integrative modalities outside of the realm of medication and therapy is the only options that we have I also completed training through the Integrative Psychiatry Institute, but in a year long integrative psychiatry training program during my residency. And that was actually probably where I first really got interested in psychedelic therapy and Ketamine assisted therapy. There was some talk in our residency training about psychedelics, but it felt so far down the pipeline. But I kept getting more and more curious. And once I left my conventional outpatient psychiatry, employed position and started my own practice back in 2021, it really gave me the flexibility to learn more or additional modalities that I thought might be really helpful and effective for my patients. And so that has led me to complete additional training in Ketamine assisted therapy back in 2021 now.
[00:04:29.980] - Dr. Erica Burger
And it has really been, I tell people I have offered quite a few different tools to help with their mental health, but I have found that Ketamine assisted therapy in particular has probably been one of the most effective tools that I can offer people. It is a big part of my practice. It's not the only tool that I offer, but it is definitely a big part of my practice now.
[00:04:56.770] - Candi Broeffle
Okay, well, keeping on that idea, why don't you go ahead and tell our audience? Because we hear about Ketamine quite a bit. I don't know how many people actually know what Ketamine is and what Ketamine assisted therapy is. So Dr. Burger, if you want to give us an explanation of what it is, that would be the best place for us to start right now.
[00:05:19.180] - Dr. Erica Burger
Yeah. And it's interesting because there's quite a bit on the media these days, I feel like, about psychedelic therapy and Ketamine and Ketamine therapy. So I'm happy to dispel some myths and share a little bit of information about Ketamine assisted therapy in particular. And so it is Ketamine just in general. So it's considered America's only legal psychedelic. And in terms of Ketamine, do you want me to go into a little bit of background on Ketamine? Would that be okay?
[00:05:52.740] - Candi Broeffle
Yes, please.
[00:05:54.510] - Dr. Erica Burger
So Ketamine, it is a really interesting medicine or substance. So it actually has been utilized in medicine as a dissociative anesthetic and has been used in operating rooms and emergency rooms since 1970 when it was clinically approved or FDA approved for use. It really has been helpful to help people take away feelings of pain from a broken bone, for example. Because of this history, it has this proven safety record, too. And it has been found over time that there was likely some antidepressant benefit to it in the way that it affected the NMDA receptors in the brain. And so back in, I believe, early 2001, there was a a monumental study done at Yale that found it to be really helpful for treatment resistant or I don't know if it was treatment resistant depression or major depressive disorder. And that has really brought Ketamine more to the surface of an option in psychiatry for treating, for helping people dealing with major depressive disorder, suicidal ideation, PTSD, anxiety. So it is classified in this role in this category of a psychedelic because we find that, especially at higher doses, it does have psychedelic properties. It can be as powerful of a psychedelic as other ones that people have probably heard about like Psilocybin or MDMA.
[00:07:39.320] - Dr. Erica Burger
In psychiatry, it's really interesting because we have nothing like it that's available to us for use right now. It combines Ketamine assisted therapy. It combines spiritual, medical, and psychological realms. It really brings our field back to the origins of psychiatry. When we think about even the word psychiatry, that actually means medical treatment of the soul. As psychiatry has modernized over the years, it has really put aside this religious and spiritual and soul based work and really gravitated toward this more mechanism, biological approach, which honestly, it has always, to me, just felt such a too simplistic of a view of mental health and brain function. When we can incorporate more of these spiritual ethereal aspects, it just seems to be a much more holistic way of helping people find wholeness and return to wholenness. Ketamine assisted therapy in particular, so that's a therapeutic approach utilized by mental health professionals, psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, psychiatric therists, practitioners, utilize realizing Ketamine as a tool to help people struggling with depression, unhelpful thought patterns. And for a lot of people, it can be a way to really go more in a deeper way into the understanding more about themselves, understand what might be getting in the way of their healing.
[00:09:21.480] - Dr. Erica Burger
And it really takes all of Western medicine and puts it on its head. Whereas I'm not the one who's the expert telling people what they need to do. T hat's how we've been trained, particularly in psychiatry and in medicine. And it's more of them learning to listen to their own inner healing wisdom and utilizing that as a catalyst for transformation. And so that's where it's very powerful and very different from these other tools that we have in conventional psychiatry.
[00:09:55.800] - Candi Broeffle
Well, I want to get into this even more. But what is it about Can you tell me what makes up Ketamine? Is it a natural substance from something? What is it that makes up Ketamine?
[00:10:08.490] - Dr. Erica Burger
Ketamine was, I think it was first synthesized in a lab, maybe in the early 60s. And so it's a synthetic substance. Mdma is another psychedelic that is a synthetic substance, for example. And so it is an NMDA receptor antagonist. So the NMDA is a receptor in the brain. And when Ketamine attached to that receptor, it actually stops the activity of Glutamate, which is our body or our brain's main excitatory neurotransmitter. We're getting a little bit into the weeds, but hang with. And so what that Ketamine does is what we think it does from a mechanistic standpoint, it actually leads to a surge and an increase in Glutamate levels. And that increase in Glutamate actually increase is the substance called brain derived neurotrophic factor, which is basically known as like miracle growth for the brain. So that is what allows new neuronal, new brain cells to grow. Gives us some flexibility for... Increases flexibility for thinking and increases what we call neuroplasticity in the brain. So Ketamine is the workaround the circuitry in this different way from a lot of other psychiatric treatments.
[00:11:29.170] - Candi Broeffle
Okay, well, we have to go into a break, but when we come back, we're going to continue this conversation and learn more about what Ketamine assisted therapy is and how it might be able to help you. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM 950, the progressive voice of Minnesota, and we will be right back. Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, and today we are talking with Dr. Erica Burger and Dr. Ciara Christensen, and we are discussing Ketamine Assisted Therapy. So just before the break, we got a good explanation, well, we got a very good explanation of what Ketamine therapy is. So Dr. Christensen, I'm going to start with you, and I'm going to ask you to help us understand, what are the different ways that Ketamine is administered and how it's used in different types of therapies?
[00:12:36.260] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
Yeah, sure. So I'll cover a little bit of this ground and then I'll turn it over to Erica because there's a couple of different ways in which we work in this space. As a psychologist, I have some working with the lozenge piece versus her as a psychiatrist, she's going to be working with more the intramuscular or IM versus IV routes of application. So as a psychologist, typically individuals will have already scheduled with the provider. They will have gotten some sembence of clearance, recognizing that they're a viable candidate for Ketamine Assisted Therapy. They will generally have a prescription of Ketamine lozenge tablets, which they will bring to the therapy session with me. At that point, we will go over some of the ways in which the medicines work, how the experience is going to be set up for them. We'll go over in my office, we use the flight instructions for the experience of Ketamine and sitting with the medicine, some of the things that they can expect, at which point I will ask them to take the medicine in the lozenge form. They will put those inside their mouth. Generally, this creates saliva. When they're having this saliva, they switch this around in their mouth.
[00:13:57.380] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
The medicine gets absorbed in their at which point about 12 minutes in when they're moving the medicine around in their mouth, I will ask them to spit into a cup and then have them sit. Usually there's a backdrop of music to create a nice atmosphere for them to focus on going inward and really sitting with the medicine in that space. After about that 14 minutes, I usually check in with an individual and typically in my setting, individuals are either invited to sit in the space where they're at. Usually, I talk to people or I've heard people describe to me that it's more of this dreamlike space almost between waking and not quite, but you're in a space where it feels relatively good and relatively able to navigate. You're able to think about your thinking, but your thinking is a lot more slowed and a lot more malleable to play with. Generally, people describe having a sense of calm, a sense of ease settling into. And this can also hinge on the type of music that's playing in the background. Typically, we have non vocal music, very instrumental, very calming and quieting for the body and the mind in this space.
[00:15:20.850] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
And then as I'm sitting with an individual, and again, depending on the work that we're doing, I more or less leave it up to the person to really, if they're interested in engaging with me, they're open to maybe communicating a few of the choice words that they said that they wanted to reflect on. Sometimes an individual will want to reflect on maybe a mantra of being more open, being more compassionate. And so sometimes an individual will say, I'm feeling that openness, and then maybe I might respond with, Where are you feeling that openness in your body? And generally speaking, they give me a bit of a response. In this case, I get a response. I feel it more in my chest, that openness, my heart center feeling more warm, expansive and open. And then I encourage them to sit with that feeling. And then generally speaking, we don't have much dialog thereafter. It's much more self directed, it's much more internal focused. And this really reinforces that allowing for more communication to occur with less defensiveness on board. Erica before was talking about how some of the brain chatter reduces and some of the effects in the context of therapy also arises where you feel that less critical part taking over and evaluating or analyzing some of the things that you're saying, it's just easier to talk freely.
[00:16:50.070] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
And in that space of talking freely, you decouple from some of those emotions that are very evocative or seem to get you gripped and then hold you. And then you get really entrenched in that feeling almost as though you can't unhook from that. And that's some of the things that we see in depression, right? A lot of that rumination, if only I could, if I were better at, gosh, it would be great when. And really, the Ketamine space allows for us to step back from that repetition, those loops, those reoccurring themes and observe them in a different way. And when we're observing them in a different way, we have this opportunity to step outside of that and say, I wonder what it would be like not to think that way. I wonder what it would be like not to have that heavy feeling. They get to play around in this dreamy state where that's not the felt reality. That offers this corrective emotional experience that when a person is coming out of that medicine state, they're able to talk to with a different openness and curiosity. And that curiosity fuels later conversations that people talk about in therapy and maybe ways that they interact with their surroundings or interact with their loved ones or interact with nature or even themselves and how they approach themselves in taking care of their body.
[00:18:26.560] - Candi Broeffle
It's so interesting that you say that as you're talking, I'm thinking about how many people I know and myself included, having gone to therapy, if you've experienced any childhood trauma or prolonged childhood trauma, that type of thing, there's always these messages in your head about, should I say this? Should I not say this? What is she going to think if I tell her this? And it sounds like this really helps to take that pressure for yourself away so that you can really do that healing work. And I know so many people I talked to, I will ask them, so how did it go? When you went to your psychologist, how did it go? Did you guys talk about this? Oh, no, I would never bring that up. I'm thinking, well, isn't that the point about going? Is that we need to work through these things. But there's such a much of that training that I think we have to overcome. And it sounds like the Ketamine Assisted Therapy really allows you to let go of some of that, the should have it a would have that we tend to experience.
[00:19:33.350] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
I would certainly say that that's been the experience that I've seen and observed in individuals that have come to therapy. And I've seen that difference in traditional therapy versus the use of Ketamine assisted therapy. In the use of Ketamine assisted therapy versus traditional therapy, like you were saying, I think that Ketamine assisted therapy really allows for a softness of the psyche, a softness of setting into the self in a way that you can almost observe yourself as an outsider witnessing. Then as you're observing yourself as this outsider witnessing, it's as though you see this narrative and you're watching this individual, perhaps experiencing things that are terribly unpleasant and wish they had never gone through or that you had seen them gone through. And you're thinking, Wow, that individual, I have so much empathy for them. If only I could reach out and give them a hug, I would give them a hug. And that dialog is actually, Oh, this is me talking to myself. This is me, I would give myself that hug. And it's that reconnect with self and that re nurturing of self that really allows for that more broad and robust compassion to come through.
[00:20:48.890] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
And that broad, robust compassion leads for empathy. And empathy creates a lot more softness. And when you have a lot more softness, you can sit with difficult things, not be carried away by those things, but actually be able to observe them in a sense of.
[00:21:06.190] - Candi Broeffle
[00:21:06.960] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
That is really sad that that's happening. I really have a lot of feeling for what's happening. And at the same time, I know that that was then and this is now, and now I'm going to do better. And now I'm going to be available for that part of me or this person in my life or care to my body in ways that I might not have otherwise if I didn't settle into this softness or have this experience of softness arise for me.
[00:21:33.680] - Candi Broeffle
It really sounds like we hear a lot in our community that we have to feel it in order to heal it. And I think people get confused by that because it's like, why would I want to be retramatized and have to go through those feelings again? And what you're saying is you're allowed to feel it through different eyesight, right? You're allowed to feel it as an observer rather than as somebody who's having it happen to them.
[00:22:00.830] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
Yeah, I think that you're really onto something there, Candi. I think that there's a really important thing to be included in that piece as a psychologist and having some of that work that I've done in the past with the use of clinical hypnosis. One of the things that we really, really work towards, especially when we're helping people process trauma, is really allowing for and bolstering the ego strength to come in from the therapist and the therapist helping the individual know that they're not alone. That was then, this is now, and we're working towards the mantra of in and through. And as those difficult emotions are arising, they have resources from which they can draw from and repeatedly utilize with the therapist being present to help them do that. At which point they gain a lot more competence and confidence and mastery over tolerating the emergence of difficult emotions, determining is this something to attend to or not, being able to differentiate and being able to really feel a sense of getting through that experience competently.
[00:23:13.070] - Candi Broeffle
When we come back, we'll continue our conversation. I do want to let people know for people who want to learn more about Ketamine assisted psychotherapy and the Driftless Integrative Psychiatry, visit, and that's D R I  F T L E S S  Integrative Psychiatry. You can also find Dr. Christensen's profile at You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM 950, the progressive voice of Minnesota, and we will be right back.

Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle. And today we are talking with Dr. Erica Burger and Dr. Ciara Christensen about Ketamine Assisted Therapy. So just before the break, Dr. Christensen was telling us about how it's used in psychology and using it more at a low-dose lozenge type of application. So, Dr. Burger, I'd like to hear from you how it's used in psychiatry and more of the higher dose applications.
[00:24:35.120] - Dr. Erica Burger
So in my practice and how I work with Ketamine, it's switched over, it's changed over the past year. I used to utilize lozenges quite a bit more, but now I'm finding that I really enjoy working with the intramuscular, which is the IM form. And that, just to explain a little bit about what that is, is basically when you go and get maybe a flu vaccine in your shoulder. So it is a small needle that we use. Ketamine, like I mentioned earlier, it's a complicated medicine. When it's utilized in this intramuscular form, it tends to take on a bit more of a different role than the oral lozange form that Ciarra had previously discussed. The dosing is very much a spectrum. And so a lot of times we will have discussions about what the dosing will look like. But in general, intramuscular does tend to be quite a bit more of a potent form. And the thing to note with that is these higher doses in this intramuscular form, they can induce this profound, transformative experience. People can often feel I like to describe this to my patients too, because it's really common for people to feel anxious about, what is this going to be like?
[00:25:52.790] - Dr. Erica Burger
It can feel really scary. One of the things to note too is that both Ciara and I have undergone in our training, we have experienced Ketamine assisted therapy ourselves. And so it's nice that we can utilize our own experiences and from what we've seen from our patients. But with the intramuscular form, people are still awake. If I say their name, they're able to come back into the space. But there does tend to be a little bit more of a higher intensity with the intramuscular form where people feel the sense of boundarylessness, shapelessness. There might not be as much connection to navigating thoughts, for example, as Sierra had mentioned. It really can feel like a reset is how I explain it. It's also akin to ego dissolution, for example. People can really feel outside of their body. I will note, too, that that can feel scary for a lot of people, especially if you're someone who likes to feel a sense of control or if you've experienced trauma. This can feel very, very scary. A lot of our work, particularly leading up to the first Ketamine session, is helping people building trust. We move really at that speed of trust and also helping people learn and build upon their skill set for tolerating uncertainty and any prevalence that may come up during the session.
[00:27:26.580] - Dr. Erica Burger
And so really, I see our role is to be a guide to be there, help create a safe container for someone to do this deeper inner work. So these higher doses and particularly the intubascular doses, they're known to create more of this psychedelic effect. And that can potentially be more challenging, but it also can really help facilitate a deeper connection with oneself and a broader perspective on life. So that's a little bit about the intramuscular form.
[00:27:55.610] - Candi Broeffle
So after somebody has been administered Ketamine, and you said when it's intramuscular, when we were on a break, you said it takes anywhere from 3 to 4 minutes to start feeling the effects of it. But once they're in that space, what does the therapy look like? Are you asking them questions? Are you guiding them through exercises? What does that look like?
[00:28:19.900] - Dr. Erica Burger
Yeah, it's a good question. And there really is no cookie cutter model for what that looks like. It really is so individualized. I find that at the higher doses, people find it maybe harder to communicate and share. People are able to sometimes, and we will. Like Sarah had talked about, I will also encourage them to just notice what they feel in their body. Encourage curiosity and compassion for themselves with whatever feelings or sensations are coming up. But after they get the injection, so they're laying on a couch, they have a blanket on them. I have a weighted blanket if they would like that. There's music without lyrics playing in the background. They're wearing a comfortable eye mask. Often I'll lead them through either a guided meditation or sometimes I'll utilize a hustle, which helps bring people's nervous systems down through sound vibration because I really want them to feel comfortable. There's going to be some level of anxiety for sure. That's very common with their first session. But as much as we can help bring their sympathetic nervous system down a little bit and help them feel safe and ready to do this inner work.
[00:29:29.790] - Dr. Erica Burger
So after they get the first injection, they really are in their own experience. And I actually encourage that. I found that the more that I can lean into not inserting myself into their experience seems to be the most helpful for people and using that word self directed. So really encouraging people to use their own curiosity and just see what they find. Knowing that I'm still there, I'm in the room with them the whole time. So if anything really scares you, it comes up, I can help be a resource, but I really encourage people to self resource. And so when they get that first dose, they will go very deep and often people can lose track of time, which is completely okay. I also tell people there's no right or wrong way to experience this. But often people lay still, most people don't move, but if that feels comfortable for them, I encourage them to listen to what feels right. If that's humming or singing or sharing or moving their arms or their torso. Everyone has a different experience. And even if they come back in a month and get the same dose, they're going to have an entirely different experience and that can be tough, but that's also part of the way that it works, the way that psychedelics and Ketamine work.
[00:30:53.370] - Dr. Erica Burger
People are very internally focused, particularly with the intramuscular form. Then I tell them we set a side three hours for this session, which is more than enough time, but I really care about not being rushed. And so we spend time checking in, doing the guided meditation or having them utilized and who so answering any questions that they have. And then I go prepare the Ketamine, they get their first dose. And then the Ketamine typically lasts for both the intramuscular and the oral, lasting anywhere from a half hour to about an hour. It's relatively short, especially compared to other psychedelic like Psilocybin or MDMA, for example, that can last for hours. People are typically pretty internally focused and on their own experience for that hour. Then there's really, like I said, no rush in coming back. And so often people can feel like a... I use the metaphor of a plane landing. And often I feel very meditative and relaxed as they're coming back to my office. But sometimes there can be some turbulence and that is to be expected. So the more that I can help prepare people, discuss expectations beforehand, too, that can be really helpful for them knowing what to do.
[00:32:15.650] - Dr. Erica Burger
And then when they come back and are waking up, look at the water, their snacks, and then I'll encourage them to share what they experienced and what they saw. And often our thinking brain, people's thinking brain starts coming on. But I encourage them to really just be with whatever is coming up for them and utilizing those principles of curiosity and compassion for oneself as they're coming back and just seeing what they notice.
[00:32:41.070] - Candi Broeffle
So we have a couple of minutes before we go into our next break. So I m just going to ask you, Erica, if you can share an example or a success story of somebody you worked with without, of course, divulging any personal information, but just somebody who has had a success with this?
[00:33:01.910] - Dr. Erica Burger
Yeah. An example that comes to mind is a patient who had recently graduated college and has a history of childhood trauma and had been on conventional psychiatric medications. And really just feeling stuck and not like she was thriving, felt detached from herself, wanting to heal from trauma. And so we started working together. She first actually came for a Ketamine assisted therapy personal retreat. So she came for five days to my clinic here, did this intensive two Ketamine sessions with integration and preparation all in that five day session. She found a lot of benefit from it and really utilized it as a catalyst for understanding more about herself, bringing in some softness into how she relates to herself and other people. And she's come back for several, I believe, four additional Ketamine sessions or two additional Ketamine sessions and really has found it life changing. I'm very cautious about saying that it's life changing for everyone, but she has found Ketamine to be very, very helpful helpful. And like I said, changing how she relates to herself, changing thought patterns that weren't so helpful for her and behaviors. And together, we've actually been able to help her take her off of psychiatric medications because she really wanted to see how she felt with herself when she wasn't on medications.
[00:34:34.080] - Dr. Erica Burger
And so it's been a very, I would say, it seems like a very empowering experience for her and to get to know herself from this place of.
[00:34:42.520] - Candi Broeffle
[00:34:43.310] - Dr. Erica Burger
Respect for her yourself and not having to rely so much on psychiatric medications, but learning how to tolerate emotions as they come up and processing them, which has been just such an honor to be a part of.
[00:34:58.390] - Candi Broeffle
[00:34:59.650] - Dr. Erica Burger
Pretty incredible.
[00:35:01.030] - Candi Broeffle
Yeah. Well, we're going to go into another break, but when we come back, we're going to talk about an upcoming retreat that you are offering together. And so that will be in our final segment. For people who want to learn more about Ketamine assisted psychotherapy and the Driftless Integrative Psychiatry, visit That's D R I F T L E S S Integrative Psychiatry dot com. And to learn more about Dr. Christensen and the work she's doing, and to find out how to get in contact with her, you can view her profile on You're listening to Green Tea Conversations, and we will be right back. Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, and today we're visiting with Dr. Erica Burger and Dr. Ciarra Christensen about Ketamine Assisted Therapy. Dr. Christensen, I wanted to ask you, the work that you are doing with utilizing the lozange type of Ketamine and what Dr. Burger is doing with the IM application, how is that different than, say, the IV clinics that we see popping up all over our community, the Ketamine IV clinics? What is the difference between that and actually the Ketamine assisted therapies?
[00:36:36.640] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
Sure, Candi. I think that's such a wonderful question and such an important one for people to consider thinking about in terms of what they want their experience to be like and what they're hoping to achieve in this space. From my perspective, I think that the work that I'm doing is leading and lending a lot more to the relationship component of being in a different space, being in a different mindset in that space, and having another person being witnessed in that space while you're doing some inner work. And what I'm talking about there is already you're in this vulnerable place, and we have unfortunately some stigma that's associated with people who are considering the use of Ketamine assisted therapy, unfortunately. And we really want to create a container where, at least from my perspective, I want to create a container where I open that doorway for an individual to come in and sit with themselves to do some deep work. And me, I see myself in this role of bearing witness to them doing that work in that space. And as I'm a witness to them doing that work, they might be talking about some things that they might not feel comfortable talking with other people about or sharing with other people, at which point it's really a nice thing to have another individual such as myself or somebody sitting in that space and witnessing, holding witness for them to talk to and be able to process through once they're done with the medicine experience.
[00:38:08.510] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
I like that because we talk about the unexamined life is not worth living. And so when we have this space where we're really honing in in this microcosm, this petri dish of ourselves, of our psyche, and we want to ask these deeper questions, it's really nice to have somebody who can hold space and just reflect. I wonder what you meant when you said, and just leave it available for the other individual to ad lib and hear themselves talk about that, because that might be really important information for some part of them to heal, which offers them a key, a tool, a resource that they might use as a later time to get through a difficult or challenging situation. There's lots of different ways in which this unfolds for people. More typically, we see the tail end of this unfoldment of these experientials that people come to sit with happen a couple of weeks, a month, or even six months later, where people are really stepping back and saying, Wow, this meant so much to me. Now it means that much more. I have a deeper clarity, a different understanding. It really reinforces what a person thought was un alterable actually has a lot more malleability than they initially realized.
[00:39:32.130] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
And that's a really cool insight for people to cultivate, to know is possible and experience fully. And it happens in all sorts of ways. And it's nice when you have a person that you can sit with to help you reflect on those points in just very open person centered ways.
[00:39:50.200] - Candi Broeffle
That's beautiful. Yeah, I love that. I love how you have both said at different times during this interview how it helps you to become curious and be an observer in your life and in the life experiences that you've had, which is great. Now, you guys are coming together and you are offering a retreat this fall for health care providers who want to learn more about Ketamine assisted therapy. The retreat is September seventh through the 10th, and it is at Red Clover Ranch, which is the Driftless region of Wisconsin. So for those of us who don't know what the Driftless region of Wisconsin is, can you tell us what that's nearby?
[00:40:27.750] - Dr. Erica Burger
Yeah, I'd be happy to answer that. So the Driftless Driftless region is actually... It covers four states, so Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and then Wisconsin. And so we think of Southeast Minnesota, Southwest Wisconsin, Northwest Illinois, and then Northeast Iowa. So it's this region where interestingly enough, the glaciers didn't come through. And so that has left the land around here, which is where my clinic here in Lansing, Iowa is located. The land here is very hilly, and that has really affected the economy. There's a lot of organic farms, a lot of focus on these local food infrastructures. So this region is known as the driftless region.
[00:41:16.730] - Candi Broeffle
Okay. So tell us about the retreat. Who is this for in particular, and what are they going to expect to experience when they come?
[00:41:25.350] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
Sure. I can start us off with that. Our retreat is focused on offering an opportunity for health care professionals to have an opportunity to experience Ketamine while at the same time having a retreat experience for themselves to refresh, reset, and have a little distance from the work that we do because as we know, since pandemic times, the work has been ladened with a lot of heavy emotions. We have often worked and depleted a lot of our emotional reserves. This offers an opportunity for health care professionals to really take some time in a quiet, serene setting just to uncouple from the role of being a provider to allowing and receiving and being able to have that opportunity themselves. Erica and I are both looking forward to facilitating that. When individuals come to the retreat, what they can expect is driving down this beautiful enchanting driveway filled with trees. It's going to be autumn. The likelihood for the leaves to be changing that much higher setting into where we have our cabins, they'll have their own shared space. Then we'll welcome everybody to our retreat. We'll talk about some of the structure of that, meaning the session where we'll be doing the medicine or Ketamine, and then followed by some space to do some integration, a little bit of movement, followed by some nutritious, wholesome meals to replenish them.
[00:43:01.230] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
Then we'll move into the afternoon, at which point we'll be doing some psychedelic breath work integration, which is a very particular and focused type of breathing technique that has been very complementary with Ketamine and the Ketamine space. We'll move into doing some more movement artwork, whatever is speaking to an individual to really help them create a coherent representation of their experience. A lot of times people do this through art. Sometimes people do this through drawing. A lot of different resources will be available for people to engage in different expressions that are speaking to them. Then we'll come together collectively talking about each and every person's experience. People are invited to share what they would like to. They're also welcome to sit back and be witnesses as other people are sharing. Then we'll talk about how they can really focus on taking care of themselves, different ways that they can cultivate practices of mind fulness, maybe mindfulness with body movements, and of course, practicing kindness and the use of nutritious foods and different things of this nature to really create a cohesive experience for this retreat. Maybe, Erica, would like to add something.
[00:44:16.670] - Dr. Erica Burger
Yeah, if I can also add to that, too. Ciarra and I had just gone out to Red Clover Ranch together last weekend, and this is going to be incredible. This is going to be a really truly healing and connective experience for health care professionals. I think if you're a health care professional listening, it can be really hard to be vulnerable with your peers and just in general, just from the way that we've been trained. And so Sierra and I really care about creating a space for people to feel safe, to be themselves and not only bring their hat as a health care professional, but also as a human and being witnessed to each other, for each other. So we're really looking forward to co facilitating this retreat.
[00:45:01.610] - Candi Broeffle
So how many spots do you have available?
[00:45:04.260] - Dr. Erica Burger
We have five open spots.
[00:45:06.530] - Candi Broeffle
You have five open spots now for the retreat. So if people are interested, they really need to register very soon. Is there any training involved with this? Is it just more to help people refresh and renew and relax who are health care professionals? Or is there a training aspect to this as well? Are you wanting to help people learn about Ketamine to be able to suggest to their patients, or but it's a purpose.
[00:45:31.740] - Dr. Erica Burger
Yeah, and I'll speak to that. A part of the goal, I think, with this, too, the people who have signed up are people who are interested in offering Ketamine in their practices, I would say. I know as a physician, I try to do a lot of education with my colleagues and in other health care systems about Ketamine assisted therapy. And there's a lot of myths and people just don't know about it. So it is a good way for them to really experience what this is and learn more about it. We're not offering a formal training in Ketamine assisted therapy. That's not the goal of this, but really allowing people to focus on themselves and their own feelings. If people are struggling with depression, anxiety or trauma, they are people who definitely might benefit from attending as well.
[00:46:16.960] - Candi Broeffle
So pretty much you're talking about just about anybody who's in health care, right? Yeah. Anybody who's actually walking the Earth right now who may have stress, anxiety or trauma. Well, ladies, it has really been a pleasure having you with us today and having you share with us what Ketamine Assisted Therapy is and how it can really benefit people who are on a healing journey. And we really appreciate your time today. Thank you so much for being with us.
[00:46:47.870] - Dr. Ciara Christensen
Thank you so much, Candi, for your time today and inviting us. Really appreciate it.
[00:46:51.460] - Candi Broeffle
I want to let people know, if you want to learn more about Ketamine Assisted Therapy and the upcoming retreat, visit Driftless Integrative Psychiatry at And that's D R I F T L E S S Integrative Psychiatry dot com. To learn more about the work that Dr. Christensen does, you can visit her profile on To read the online edition of Natural Awakenings magazine or to check out our complete calendar of events, visit You can find a podcast of this show on or Apple and Google podcast. Thank you for joining our conversation today as we awaken to natural health. You've been listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, the progressive voice of Minnesota, and I am wishing for you a lovely day.