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A safe and calm environment for therapy

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Ketamine Therapy

Exploring the connection between psychedelics, mental health, and therapy

According to Erica Saunders at Tucson Counseling Associates it’s an exciting time for mental wellness. 

Two decades of experience have inspired Saunders to take a holistic approach to her practice. She wanted to give her patients treatment options aside from medication and became passionate about the growing research surrounding the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. 

“Medication has its value for a lot of people, but it’s not for everyone,” she said. Many psychedelic substances are illegal. However, one is legal, easily accessible, and holds promising results as an alternative treatment: ketamine. 

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) has been on the rise as an alternative treatment for patients suffering from depression, especially following the mental health crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. TCA began providing this treatment in 2021 and has had a steady stream of patients seeking the treatment since its opening. All of the ketamine-assisted psychotherapists at TCA are trained in best practices from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. 

According to Saunders, the goal of KAP is to, “capitalize on the neuroplasticity and neurogenesis of the ketamine molecule.” 

This effect is especially seen in patients with PTSD, she said. From a neurological perspective, she said that an individual’s brain can become wired around a traumatic event, keeping them in “survival mode” as a result. 

“People aren’t broken, they’ve adapted,” Saunders said. 

According to the TCA website, low doses of ketamine are minimally psychoactive but do place individuals into a dissociative state. This state gives patients a feeling of distance from themselves, which she says leads to more objectivity in processing trauma and greater feelings of self-compassion. This allows people to process their trauma in a way that won’t be inherently retraumatizing while also promoting feelings of safety within themselves. 

The TCA recommends six weeks of KAP sessions based on best outcomes backed by research. After an initial consultation, blood work, a psychological evaluation, and an initial preparatory session, patients are given their first dose alongside their therapist and a nurse practitioner. Each session lasts three hours, with patients coming back after 24-48 hours after the ketamine dose for a talk therapy session. 

Instead of a clinical setting, the TCA focuses on delivering an experience centered around comfort and safety. Sessions are held in a historic home in downtown Tucson, creating a peaceful setting for those undergoing treatment. 

The non-ordinary state of consciousness ketamine creates helps patients literally “rewire” their brains to break the cycle of trauma. During a ketamine session, the brain is in a state of neuroplasticity, where neural connections are more flexible to change. The 24-48 hour window after the ketamine session is when the brain moves into neurogenesis, where new neural connections are made and sustained. 

“Really helping people reconnect with their trust of self is inherently trauma healing,” she said. 

Ketamine therapy is becoming more and more common as more information is learned about its benefits, Saunders said. Although she says that there is still a stigma around the usage of psychedelic substances, extensive research has been done to confirm the safety of ketamine’s sedation effects.


TCA provides educational materials for those who are looking to understand exactly what the treatment entails. Saunders encourages anyone who is interested in KAP to visit their website at, or call their office at (520)-214-0818.

  • Erica Saunders
  • A safe and calm environment for therapy
  • And a calming space for ketamine treatments