By Annette Pinder

Stan G. says he worked all his life, starting as a paperboy. Now a C-level manager, he recalls struggling with depression since he was 13. He said, “I thought about suicide for years, but fortunately never carried through with it. Instead, I turned to drugs and alcohol for relief.”

Stan conquered his substance abuse, got married, and began raising a family when his depression returned. After spending 10 years trying different medications for depression without any relief, he tried electro-convulsive therapy, which landed him at Erie County Medical Center with unintended seizures.

When a psychiatrist recommended ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP), Stan decided to give it a try. KAP uses a safe FDA-approved legal medicine called ketamine along with psychotherapy to help clients heal from various mental health conditions. It works by gently bringing individuals into an altered state of consciousness in which processing difficult material becomes easier, helping patients to experience a psychedelic-like journey into deeper parts of themselves.

Ketamine works by blocking the activity of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, a receptor in the brain involved in the processes of mood, cognition, and pain perception. Many patients report an improvement in symptoms within hours or days after treatment, which usually consists of a few in-clinic ketamine dosing sessions integrated with counseling.

Stan undergoes KAP for 45 minute-sessions with his therapist Jenna Witkowski, LCSW-R, while in a reclining chair, wearing eye shades, and listening to music. He describes the experience as “a visual journey during which your brain remains active and occupied, while your subconscious works through different things that are occurring.” He says that the sessions helped him see how big and nasty depression can be. He also recalled a childhood when he accidentally broke a mirror on his friend’s parent’s car. “It wasn’t anything serious, but I remember feeling so small, and wondering why I was even alive. Reliving that incident made me realize how alone I’d felt all of my life. I also realized that my depression came from how I processed my feelings, rather than from having a body imbalance.” By far, the most important realization he says, is “knowing I am enough.”

Stan has reduced the number of treatments and medications he requires. He is grateful to his wife, children, and employer for their support, and to anyone struggling with depression, he says, “Consider KAP therapy to help learn what is at the root of what is happening to you if you find yourself spiraling into dark places.”

KAP is available at Samadhi Therapy Associates in Buffalo, where patients are guided through sessions by a therapist with specific training in working with clients undergoing altered states of consciousness. During these sessions, the therapist acts as your supportive guide and provides psychotherapy while you are experiencing the medicine’s effects to maximize the treatment’s benefit. Your therapist will get to know you and guide you through each step of the process.

Learn more at To make an appointment, call 716-509-844-9476. Also visit at, or call 509-844-9476.