What is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy: A Game-Changing Mental Health Treatment

The word ketamine written on a white notepad on a blue background near a stethoscope, syringe, electronic thermometer and pills. Medical concept

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a relatively new form of treatment for mental health disorders that has gained popularity in recent years. It involves the use of the anesthetic drug ketamine, which is administered under controlled conditions while the patient is undergoing therapy with a trained mental health professional.

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is gaining popularity as a treatment for mental health disorders due to its potential to provide rapid relief from symptoms such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. 

Unlike traditional talk therapy, which can take months or even years to produce results, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may produce improvements in mood and emotional resilience within hours or days of treatment.

Learn more about our ketamine-assisted psychotherapy program, Calliope Health.

In this article, we will explore what ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is, how it works, and the potential benefits and risks associated with this treatment. We will also discuss the current state of research on ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and provide a step-by-step guide to what patients can expect during a therapy session. 

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of this innovative and potentially life-changing treatment for mental health disorders.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a powerful medication that was first developed in the 1960s as an anesthetic for use in surgery. It is a dissociative anesthetic, which means that it can produce feelings of detachment from reality and a loss of sensation in the body.

Ketamine has a long history of use in the medical field, and it is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as an anesthetic and pain reliever. In addition to its use in surgery, it is also used as a sedative in intensive care units and emergency rooms.

Ketamine has gained attention in recent years as a potential treatment for mental health disorders, particularly depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

The use of ketamine for these purposes is sometimes referred to as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, and it involves administering the drug in a controlled setting under the supervision of a trained medical professional.

Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) is a type of treatment for mental health disorders that combines the use of the anesthetic drug ketamine with traditional talk therapy. 

Unlike traditional talk therapy, which relies on the verbal exchange between patient and therapist to explore emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, KAP includes a pharmacological component that can facilitate a deeper exploration of the patient’s inner world.

One of the key differences between traditional talk therapy and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is the speed and intensity of the therapeutic process. 

Traditional talk therapy can take months or even years to produce meaningful change, while ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can produce rapid and significant improvements in mood and functioning after just a few sessions. 

Background of spiral of human silhouette face line and abstract elements on the subject of consciousness, the mind, artificial intelligence and technology

This is because ketamine has been shown to have powerful antidepressant and anxiolytic effects, which can help to quickly alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

Another key difference between traditional talk therapy and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is the way that the therapy is conducted. In traditional talk therapy, the therapist and patient sit in a room and engage in a dialogue that is meant to help the patient gain insight into their emotions and behaviors. 

Learn more about our ketamine-assisted psychotherapy program, Calliope Health.

In ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, the patient receives a low dose of ketamine, typically through an IV infusion, and is guided through a journey of self-exploration by the therapist. 

During this journey, the patient may experience altered states of consciousness that can help them to gain new insights into their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

The benefits of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for mental health disorders are many. One of the primary benefits is the rapid and significant improvement in mood and functioning that patients can experience after just a few sessions. 

This can be particularly important for patients who are experiencing severe symptoms of depression or anxiety and are struggling to function in their daily lives.

Another benefit of KAP is that it can provide a unique and powerful tool for exploring the patient’s inner world. The altered states of consciousness that ketamine can produce can help patients to gain new insights into their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and to uncover the root causes of their mental health issues. 

This can be particularly helpful for patients who have been stuck in negative patterns of thinking and behavior for years and have been unable to make progress with traditional talk therapy.

How Does Ketamine-Assisted Therapy Work?

Ketamine works by blocking NMDA receptors in the brain, which in turn affects the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate is a key player in the brain’s ability to process information and form new connections, so by altering its release, ketamine can have a profound impact on a person’s mood, thoughts, and behaviors.

Specifically, ketamine’s ability to block NMDA receptors leads to an increase in the production of another neurotransmitter called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). 

BDNF is critical for the growth and survival of neurons in the brain, and it’s also involved in the formation of new synapses (the connections between neurons). 

Ketamine chemical compound illustrated in white marker on a blue background.

Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of ketamine

By increasing BDNF levels, ketamine can help promote the growth of new neurons and synapses, which may help to counteract the negative effects of mental health disorders.

Additionally, ketamine has been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain, which is believed to play a role in the development and maintenance of mental health disorders. By reducing inflammation, ketamine may help to alleviate symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

It’s important to note that the exact mechanisms by which ketamine works to treat mental health disorders are still being studied, and researchers are working to better understand the complex interactions between neurotransmitters, receptors, and brain circuits. 

Nonetheless, the evidence so far suggests that ketamine can have a profound impact on a person’s mental health, particularly when used in combination with psychotherapy.

Learn more about our ketamine-assisted psychotherapy program, Calliope Health.

The Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Process

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy involves a unique process that differs from traditional talk therapy. Here’s a step-by-step guide to what patients can expect during a ketamine session:

  1. Pre-Treatment Preparation: Prior to the treatment session, patients typically meet with their therapist to discuss their mental health history and current symptoms. The therapist will also provide detailed instructions on how to prepare for the ketamine infusion, including dietary restrictions and medication adjustments.
  2. Administration of Ketamine: Ketamine is typically administered through an IV infusion that takes place in a comfortable and private setting. During the infusion, patients are carefully monitored by medical professionals to ensure their safety and comfort.
  3. Altered State of Consciousness: As the ketamine begins to take effect, patients may experience an altered state of consciousness that is different from traditional talk therapy. Some patients describe feeling a sense of detachment from their physical body or a heightened awareness of their thoughts and emotions.
  4. Therapeutic Exploration: During the altered state of consciousness, patients work with their therapist to explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The therapist may use a variety of techniques to facilitate this process, including guided imagery, music therapy, and mindfulness practices.
  5. Integration: After the ketamine infusion is complete, patients typically spend some time resting and reflecting on their experience. The therapist then works with the patient to integrate insights gained during the session into their daily life and develop coping strategies for managing their symptoms.

Risks and Side Effects of Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Like any medical treatment, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy carries potential risks and side effects that patients should be aware of before undergoing the treatment.

One potential side effect of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is dissociation. Dissociation is a mental state in which a person feels disconnected from their surroundings, themselves, or reality. 

This can manifest as feelings of detachment, depersonalization, or derealization. While dissociation can be a therapeutic experience for some patients, it can also be distressing or uncomfortable for others.

During a ketamine-assisted therapy session, patients may experience dissociative symptoms as the drug takes effect. These symptoms typically last for a few minutes to an hour and can include altered perceptions of time and space, visual or auditory hallucinations, and feelings of detachment from the body or surroundings. 

While these symptoms can be alarming, they are usually temporary and will dissipate as the drug wears off.

Other potential side effects of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision or other visual disturbances
  • Fatigue or drowsiness

It’s important to note that not all patients will experience these side effects, and that they are usually mild and short-lived. However, patients should still be aware of the potential risks and discuss them with their healthcare provider before undergoing ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.

In conclusion, while ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for mental health disorders, it is not without potential side effects. 

Patients should be fully informed about these risks before deciding to undergo the treatment, and should discuss any concerns or questions with their healthcare provider.

Research and Evidence

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a relatively new treatment option for mental health disorders, but it has been gaining traction due to its potential benefits. As such, research studies have been conducted to evaluate its effectiveness and safety.

A number of clinical trials have shown promising results for the use of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy in treating depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. 

For example, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2018 found that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy was associated with significant improvements in depression symptoms compared to a control group that received a placebo treatment. 

Another study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2019 found that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy was effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD in military veterans.

Furthermore, a number of studies have investigated the long-term effects of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2021 found that patients who received ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for depression experienced sustained improvements in mood and cognitive function up to three months after treatment. 

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in 2018 found that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy was associated with significant reductions in alcohol cravings and relapse rates in patients with alcohol use disorder.

Overall, the current state of research on ketamine-assisted psychotherapy suggests that it is a promising treatment option for a variety of mental health disorders. However, further research is needed to fully understand its long-term effects and potential risks.

 It is important for patients to discuss the risks and benefits of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy with their healthcare provider and to carefully weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before starting this treatment.

Learn more about our ketamine-assisted psychotherapy program, Calliope Health.

Is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Right for You?

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a relatively new treatment for mental health disorders, and as such, it is not yet widely available or typically covered by insurance. 

However, for those who are struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or addiction, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may offer a promising alternative to traditional talk therapy or medication.

If you are considering ketamine-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment option, it’s important to speak with a qualified mental health professional who has experience administering this type of therapy. 

They can help you determine whether you are a good candidate for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and guide you through the treatment process.

Some factors that may make ketamine-assisted psychotherapy a good option for you include:

  • A history of treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, or PTSD
  • A desire to try a new approach to therapy or medication
  • A willingness to undergo the potentially intense and transformative experience of a ketamine session
  • A lack of other viable treatment options

However, it’s important to note that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may not be appropriate for everyone. Individuals with a history of substance abuse or addiction may not be good candidates for this treatment, as ketamine has the potential to be abused and can be habit-forming. 

Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions or taking certain medications may not be able to safely undergo ketamine therapy.

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy shows promise as a treatment option for individuals struggling with mental health disorders, particularly those who have not found relief through traditional forms of therapy or medication. 

As with any treatment, it’s important to carefully consider whether ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is right for you and to seek guidance from a qualified mental health professional. 

By working with a skilled therapist and keeping an open mind, you may find that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can offer a path towards greater emotional wellness and resilience.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about our services relating to ketamine-assisted psychotherapy through the Calliope Health Clinic, you can contact us here or visit Calliope.Health.

Lockdown – A Poem by Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM

Empty city streets

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Silhouette of helping hand between two climber

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

– Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM
March 13th 2020

Why Choose Keith Miller & Associates For Online Counseling?

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Keith Miller & Associates has been serving the mental health needs of the DC Metro area for over 12 years and has a proven track record of helping people through psychotherapy.

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Our online counseling is the same service we have been providing in person in our offices for over a decade but with the added convenience for you of being online. No traveling to an office. You can now participate in professional counseling anywhere you have an internet connection and a computer or mobile device.

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Is Facebook Bad for Your Mental Health?

Facebook is bad for your mental health.Ping. Ping ping ping. Swoosh. Ping.

Oh hi. Hello. I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. Ping. Sorry. Okay, I’ll put this thing away. I posted a video of my dog on Facebook this afternoon; he learned to hula hoop. I had to share. The people love it. Ping ping ping.

That’s one way to start a conversation with a friend, a business partner or a would-be lover.

Personally, I prefer to communicate, to become acquainted with others in analog.

Since its inception in February 2004, Facebook has been used as a gathering place to meet like minds and to like faces; to stay connected with old friends; and of course, to share cat memes and argue over Dexter’s fate. But these days we argue over other things too, real life things with real consequences. Now, instead of bringing people together our collective constant presence on Facebook is tearing them apart.

Facebook might be bad for your mental health.

Arguments. The comments section. It’s all compounded by the comparisons. Your college roommate has it all: the husband, the house, the baby. Her life is perfect. Or it seems that way. Her life may be great, but yours is too. That’s hard to remember sometimes when filters so easily mask credit card debt and sleepless nights.

The truth is, Facebook is making us all pretty unhappy. A Danish research firm, the Happiness Research Institute, has the evidence to prove it. A study conducted among 1,095 Facebook users asked participants to not log in to the site for a period of seven days. A control group was instructed to maintain normal activity. At the end of the study period, those who abstained were 55 percent less likely to feel stressed and reported many fewer instances of restlessness or loneliness. Of the control group, 81 percent reported feeling ‘happy’ while 88 percent of non-Facebook users felt happiness.

“Facebook is a constant bombardment of everyone else’s great news, but many of us look out of the window and see grey skies and rain, especially in Denmark.” said Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute said. “The main takeaway from this study is awareness of the negative aspects that social comparisons have, and how we should be mindful of how Facebook and social media affect how we evaluate our lives.”

It’s true of Denmark, and of Washington DC and Bethesda MD too. When envy and conflict rise over community and the generous spirit of sharing good tidings, it might be time to consider taking a break — for seven days or longer. Spend the time you’d take to share the video of our friend’s hula hooping dog, and read a book with your toddler; linger a little longer over the dinner table; and take care to take care of yourself first.

Mindfulness & Self Care Are Key to Relieving Holiday Stress

Stress & Anxiety During the Holiday Season | Washington DC psychotherapistIt’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all

For some of us, the holiday season dredges up more feelings of stress and anxiety than it does feelings of comfort and joy. The family gatherings, buying gifts and the travel to relatives: You may have every intention to celebrate, but something is holding you back. Maybe you just can’t wait for it to be January?

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can take good care of yourself without completely unplugging from your family’s ritual and tradition. Perhaps it means skipping an event or two to lower your stress level. Try to find your own way to enjoy family time the way you want to.

Talk to a few family member about how you’re feeling.

Do you have a trusted family member — maybe it’s that aunt, a sibling, or a favorite cousin — you can confide in? Confide with cheer. Share what’s on your mind and know you’re not alone if you feel stressed or anxious about spending so much time with the family. Make a plan to get away together; go out for coffee, pack your hiking boots, or download some relaxing meditations to help you let go when it all gets to be too much.

Get involved.

Sitting on the sidelines can amplify our anxiety. Sometimes our level of satisfaction is directly linked to our level of feeling invested, even though it’s more effort and work. Maybe this is the year you offer to host the family’s Christmas Eve gathering. Or perhaps you only do one part with gusto —,you plan plan the menu, find the centerpieces, or concoct the holiday cocktail. Think about your own interests and energy level, and offer to do something you feel good about doing.

Give back.

You don’t have to spend all of your time with your family. Take a few hours this holiday season, and spend them giving back to your community; volunteer opportunities may be available through local places of worship, homeless shelters, or animal shelters.

Be mindful of your own mental health.

Only you know your own triggers for stress. If going caroling with the family is going to put you in a sour mood, plan ahead and talk it through with family so they’re in the loop about what could make the activity more enjoyable for you. Maybe hire a car service to drive you to holiday parties or shopping? Maybe this is the year you decide to accept your uncle’s choices and let go of the burden of feeling responsible for his behavior. And if the general hubbub of the season leads to overwhelming anxiety that overtakes your daily thoughts and feelings, stop and reach out for help.

Everyone needs a little extra support every now and then; there is absolutely no shame in seeking out the help you need. Talk to a trusted family member or a friend, or:

Contact the experienced Washington DC psychotherapists at Keith Miller & Associates for an appointment to discuss how you can relieve holiday stress.


Call 202-629-1949

Mental Illness Is Not a Four-Letter Word. Know the Warning Signs.

Washington DC Anxiety Therapy“Mental illness isn’t something that can happen to me. Not to my family.”

The thing is, it could happen. You might be surprised to learn just how common mental disorders are; an estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a given year.

Even given these numbers, most families are caught unaware and unprepared to cope with learning their loved one has a mental illness. There will be challenges, physical and emotional, and you might often feel vulnerable to the opinions and judgments of others, but through it all, the most important thing to remember is this:

There is hope, and there is help for coping with mental illness.

Mental illness is not a four-letter word.

A mental illness is a disease, plain and simple — one that causes mild to severe disruptions in thought or behavior, and can inhibit the sufferer’s ability to meet life’s ordinary demands and routines. The American Medical Association recognizes more than 200 forms of mental illness, the more common of which are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.

Such illness can be caused by, or related to any number of factors such as excessive stress, genetics, biochemical imbalances, or a combination of these things. A patient can often be treated to full recovery with the aid of an experienced Washington DC psychotherapist.

What are the warning signs of mental illness?

There are a number of physical and psychological signs that may indicate the presence of a mental illness. It’s especially important to pay attention to sudden variations in thoughts and behavior; review the lists of potential signs below, but keep in mind that it’s the onset of drastic change that might indicate a serious problem.

In Adults, Young Adults and Adolescents:

  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Strange thoughts (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Substance abuse

In Older Children:

  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive complaints of physical ailments
  • Changes in ability to manage responsibilities – at home and/or at school
  • Defiance of authority, truancy, theft, and/or vandalism
  • Intense fear
  • Prolonged negative mood, often accompanied by poor appetite or thoughts of death
  • Frequent outbursts of anger

In Younger Children:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive worry or anxiety (i.e. refusing to go to bed or school)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call the experienced psychotherapists in Washington DC and Bethesda, Maryland for guidance and mental health counseling.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, the best place to go is to your nearest emergency room. You may also find these resources helpful:

National Suicide Hotlines USA
Toll-Free / 24 hours a day / 7 days a week




Call 202-629-1949

Can Meditation Help Your Relationship?

Meditation and RelationshipsIt is no secret relationships take a lot of work: communication, dedication, trust, and friendship. Successfully navigating these waters also centers around personal mindfulness, that is the act of staying active and present in a situation. Mindfulness allows you to observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance without inherent judgment on the situation.

Mindfulness meditation is an excellent step towards improving a relationship. When you are clear within yourself, becoming clear in a relationship is easier and more accessible.

Meditation dials down stress.

The most widely known benefit of meditation is stress reduction. Your body and brain, under great stress, falls into a constant state of fight or flight. Meditation allows you to slow down, evaluate your sense and presence of self, and relax your body. The stress reducing effects of meditation have been known to last several hours following a meditation session, leaving you more relaxed and in control of your body.

The impact of your more relaxed state will have an immediate effect on your relationship. When stressed, little things become big problems. Running late, not putting up the dishes, forgetting to return the latest Redbox movie, all of these things can become points of frustration when we are stressed. In a more relaxed state, we are able to better go with the flow and acknowledge that our partners are fallible human beings instead of the perfect person we inadvertently demand they be.

We are able to better communicate and empathize with one another, leading to effective conversations about issues in the relationship or solving misgivings that have occurred.

Meditation helps us understand our feelings.

Research on mindfulness meditation has shown there is an increase in the activation and size of our middle prefrontal cortex, or the mPFC. Neuroscientists believe the mPFC integrates our higher “intellectual” brain areas with our emotional areas. A well-formed mPFC better connects our intellectual being with our emotional being, resulting in a better understanding and control of our emotions.

Being tuned into our emotions, but not controlled by them, allows us to give a calm, rational response to incidents in our relationships. This brings about less misunderstandings and subsequent arguments. We remain in the present and can process what our partner is trying to tell us without letting our defenses flare up. When we enter a conversation from a place of defensiveness, our ability to listen and comprehend what our partner is trying to say diminishes. Our goal becomes to defend ourselves, not work together. Mindfulness meditation helps eliminate this kind of conversation for a healthier relationship.

Having this control over our emotional state also helps us better understand our own emotions and what is causing them. Often, we know we feel a certain emotion like anger or sadness, but cannot properly articulate why we feel this way. Why did we react the way we did to a certain situation with our partner? Mindfulness meditation, along with honing our mPFC, allows us to better understand what we are feeling, why we are feeling this way, and shows us a clear path to correcting feelings of hurt. We can speak to our partner rationally, with an in-depth knowledge of our inner self, and work together to correct any misgivings.

The professionals at the Keith Miller Counseling Center can help you take the steps towards a healthier mind and relationship with mindfulness meditation. Call us today!

Take Psychotherapy to the Next Level with Guided Meditation

Washington DC CounselingMeditation is an excellent way to achieve a state of mental calm and clarity. Numerous scientific studies have shown performing 20 minutes of meditation daily provide countless health and mental benefits. These benefits include: a decrease in depression and anxiety, an increase in disease immunity, and a huge jump in the ability to focus. Meditation creates what is known as a “super mind”, with better memory retention, creative thinking skills, decision making, and information processing. You gain a new control over your life and your mental and emotional states.

However, meditation can be difficult, especially for those suffering from anxiety or depression. The ability to channel your mind is a learned tool and can be overwhelming to start. How can you achieve these amazing benefits when you can’t silence your mind?

A Powerful Psychotherapy

Enter guided meditation, a powerful psychotherapy tool intended to aid in transitioning from hopelessness to empowerment.

Guided meditation is an excellent tool to guide you through the act of meditating without the stress and distraction of attempting to shut your mind off alone. A trained professional leads you through the process gently and confidently, helping keep you on track to achieve mental and emotional clarity and focus. Some techniques utilize written text or video, while others, particularly with counseling professionals, are done by verbal instruction. Music therapy may also be provided as stimuli for relaxation.

Why Use Guided Meditations?

Guided meditations are useful for unlocking emotions and feelings often trapped within. Your trusted professional takes you on a deep journey through your subconscious, where you will be more open to positive suggestions and life changes. The wall blocking you from achieving change is eliminated; despite your brain’s insistence it cannot be done.

What to Expect from Psychotherapy with Guided Meditations

Guided meditation begins with a series of relaxing visualizations. You are instructed on how to breathe, how to channel energy, and how to slowly uncoil the barriers between your conscious and subconscious mind. As you become more relaxed and still, the journey into the deep recesses of your brain begins, accessing your body’s natural relaxation response. Positive energy and thoughts are transferred to your subconscious, focusing on your inner strength. Everyone is equipped with the power to make change within themselves, it’s just a matter of honing those skills and retraining the brain to remember the positive, rather than the negative.

Each session can be individually tailored for the change or exploration needed. Importantly, previous knowledge of meditation is not necessary—you will be literally guided through the process to reach optimal benefits, even if you unable turn off your mind alone. With enough practice, these positive guided meditation sessions will become part of your everyday life. You will feel more confident, more capable, and stronger than before.

Meditate & Be Mindful: It’s Good for Your Health

In the 1940’s, if you told someone you were going running, they probably would have asked, “Who’s chasing you?”

Know what happened next? The scientists charged in, validated the benefits of exercise, and now we all do it – and if we don’t, we feel guilty about it.

Right now, meditation is at the point where exercise was a few decades ago. It is, as Time Magazine put it, a revolution in health and mental health. As a result of the new science, meditation is now being shown as effective at performance enhancement for such elite organizations ranging from Google, to NBA teams, and the US Marines.

The practice of mindfulness is one that is growing ever more widely talked about. The world is moving faster; stress levels are higher; and more and more people are coming to understand the benefits of meditation and mindfulness.

But what are those benefits exactly?

The practice—it is, in fact, something that one must practice—of mindfulness has been proven scientifically to improve the physical and mental well-being of all who take the time to stop, breathe, and meditate.

Mindfulness can diminish the severity of pain.

So much of how we perceive pain is mental; truly, some of it really is all in your head, and meditation can help. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that pain perception is cut nearly in half when the sufferer turned to mindfulness.

Mindfulness lowers stress.

Not only can the practice of mindfulness make us feel more relaxed and calm in the midst of a stressful situation, science has shown that it’s linked with markedly decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Mindful meditation makes us feel less stressed, because it changes the chemistry of your body.

Mindfulness increases our ability to feel empathy.

One study conducted at Northeastern University College of Science found even a brief period of mindfulness improved participants’ levels of compassion by as much as 50 percent; likewise, a different study published in the journal PLOS ONE, the practice of meditation showed more brain activity in regions linked with empathy while meditating than when not meditating.

Mindfulness can make us healthier.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Health found that people who engage in mindful meditation miss fewer days of work related to respiratory issues. When they do fall ill, those with mindfulness practice experience shortened and less severe symptoms.

Mindfulness is beneficial, even when you’re not in active practice.

Your brain’s emotional processing center, the amygdala, is “exercised” every time you meditate. The result is that your brain’s distress tolerance threshold (your “window of tolerance) is expanded, even when you’re not meditating. If you’re stressed or anxious mediation expands your emotional window of tolerance as much or more than anti-anxiety medication.

Mindfulness counseling

Keith Miller specializes in mindfulness-based psychotherapy for anxiety and stress.


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Fermented Foods May Help Relieve Social Anxiety Symptoms

Bethesda MD Psychotherapy | social anxietyDo you struggle with social anxiety?

Do you find it difficult to connect with people on a personal level in social settings?

Are you sick and tired of feeling uncomfortable at parties?

Did you know there’s food you can eat to relieve social anxiety?

It’s true, according to a research study to be published in the August issue of Psychiatry Research. Researchers at the University of Maryland and Virginia’s College of William and Mary have found that certain microorganisms in fermented foods actually increase the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that counterbalances other neurotransmitters involved with anxiety disorders.

take our anxiety quiz“It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety,” said Matthew Hilimire, assistant professor of psychology at William & Mary. “I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”

It’s all about how the gut and the brain interact.

Hillmire and his colleagues developed a questionnaire that asked more than 700 William & Mary students about fermented food consumption, neuroticism, and social anxiety. Participants were asked to indicate if, in the last 30 days, and how much they had eaten of certain foods, including:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir or food or drinks that contain yogurt
  • Soy milk
  • Miso soup
  • Sauerkraut
  • Dark chocolate
  • Juices that contain microalgae
  • Pickles
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi

What the researchers found is a striking correlation between the amount of good bacteria in the respondents’ gut, and the levels of anxiety in their brains. Those William & Mary students who ate more, and more servings of these probiotic-laden foods were less likely to report social anxiety symptoms such as sweaty palms or racing hearts. Fermented food consumption also had an interesting effect on those students who reported high degrees of neuroticism: The more fermented foods they ate, the fewer their symptoms of social anxiety became.

Probiotics have previously been proven to inhibit anxiety…

But this conversation is the first in regards to social anxiety, specifically.

“Probiotics have also been shown to modify the body’s response to stress, and stress response is highly linked to mental health disorders, such as social anxiety,” Hillmire noted. “In addition, consumption of fermented milk has been shown to reduce the brain’s response to negative facial expressions. By reducing the brain’s response to negative social stimuli, social anxiety symptoms might be reduced.”


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Mindfulness: There’s an App for That

Mindfulness: It can help easy your stress and anxiety. Ask Keith Miller & Associates how. | Washington DC psychotherapyThere’s no better way to ease the stress and anxiety that wreaks havoc on your daily life than with a little mindfulness and meditation. But shutting out the distraction, noise, and interruptions can be difficult, and it’s for that reason that smart software developers everywhere have — you guessed it — developed an array of meditation and mindfulness apps that range from free, to just a few dollars to help you gain a little inner peace, wherever you are.

There’s a mindfulness app for that.

In fact, there are a few we’ve tried on for size:


Headspace is so much more than an app; it’s meditation made simple, an easy way to treat your head right. Using proven meditation and mindfulness techniques, Headspace will help you train your brain to lead a healthier, happier, more enjoyable life. The Headspace app experience starts with a quick body scan and a guided, mindfulness coaching session with the company’s founder: “Don’t force your breath, your body already knows how to breathe.”

The Mindfulness App

The Mindfulness App from MindApps can help reduce your stress and increase your wellbeing — in just 20 minutes today. Great for everyone, including beginners and experienced practitioners of meditation and mindfulness, The Mindfulness App is easy to use. Just choose between different types of guided meditations, or meditate in silence, and enjoy the scientifically proven health benefits that come along with the practice of mindfulness.

Stop, Breathe & Think

We’re big proponents of practicing mindfulness here at our psychotherapy practice in Washington, DC, and there simply aren’t enough good things to say about this particular meditation companion app. It’s all in the name of the product, really. Stop. Breathe. And think. The free app features a varied sampling of mindfulness exercises, ranging from short to long: Got just five minutes to clear your head? Or want to tune the world out for an hour? Stop, Breathe & Think is your go-to.

What exactly is mindfulness?

These apps sound great, and all — but they won’t help you if you aren’t sure what mindfulness is, or why it’s surging in popularity as a helpful practice for fitness and mental health resiliency.

Mindfulness is scientifically defined as “state, process and practice of remembering to observe moment-to-moment experience with openness and without automatic patterns of previously conditioned thoughts, emotions or behaviors.” It’s been shown to offer a variety of health benefits, including improved sleep, decreased anxiety, and turning on genetic markers of immune-system functioning .

More than anything, mindfulness is a practice — a habit — that allows you to experience more of life in its fullest. To learn more about mindfulness and meditation, and how its practice can improve the quality of your life, contact Keith Miller & Associates (with offices in Washington, DC & Bethesda, Maryland) for an appointment today.


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Our fees are between $200-$400 for 50 minutes, depending on your counselor. We do not accept insurance, meaning we are not "in-network" with any health plans.
However, many of our clients submit claims to their out-of-network health insurance and receive 40-60% reimbursement.