I started my professional career in the mental health field as a school psychologist in the early 1990’s. I was quickly thrown into the reality of mental health and psychotherapy. One of the most critical reality checks I discovered is that you can’t fix everyone and not everyone wants to be fixed. This struggle was especially apparent working with patients who were fully committed and putting in the hard work of facing their condition and their trauma head-on. They took their medications, never missed an appointment, and did their homework despite only making modest improvements. I struggled to find anything that would make their lives more tolerable and to unlock any avenue of healing.
In my frustration, I decided to go back to school to focus my training on helping the most severely afflicted patient populations, which led me to earn a Doctorate level in Psychology. At that point, surely I would have all the answers. Unfortunately I began to see even more clearly the complexities of individual struggle with debilitating mental health conditions. I moved into working with adults and children and doing a little forensic work, just to stay on top of my game.
My tenure at a mental health hospital really brought the realities home to stay. The effects of psychotropic medications on my patients including sleep disruption, weight gain, decreased sexual function created an entirely new set of symptoms to tame. Ultimately, I made my way into private practice and teaching at a local university in Austin, Texas. While teaching my students the nuances of psychotherapy and psychometrics, I struggled with the question that haunted me from my first day, “Are we really doing the best we can?”. Then through a strange series of events, I ended up working with a phenomenal Veterans Affairs (VA) doctor who had several years of practice under his belt administering ketamine to treat PTSD in our veteran population. This began my passion and journey into the psychotropic use of ketamine in treating a number of severe and chronic mental health conditions.
Some time into my newfound work, I began to receive requests from physicians to consult with them as they also began working with ketamine in a psychotropical context. Time and time again, we witnessed dramatic improvements in our patient’s mental illnesses. Unfortunately, I also learned that ketamine is expensive, costing patients anywhere between $500 and $1,400 per treatment (depending on the condition being treated and its severity). Furthermore, I saw that this life-saving therapy was being used as a last ditch effort because of the steep price point, made worse by the necessity of undergoing several treatments to attain lasting results.
As we continued out work, I began to regularly get referrals for treating civilian PTSD patients. Most notably, teenage girls that had been repeatedly sexually assaulted. It became evident from the get go that ketamine was having a remarkable effect on their recovery. It’s not uncommon for me to get phone calls from thankful family members of these young women for delivering them a miracle. My response to these gracious families is always the same: that I only did what I could and that the real hero is the ketamine. Even when patients don’t know that they want to get better and have been resistant to traditional therapies, the ketamine doesn’t ask for permission; in fact, it works in approximately 80% of patients. Often, that success rate can improve even further when ketamine therapy is paired with integrated talk therapy from a therapist well versed in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.
Ultimately, I had finally found a treatment for my patients that worked rapidly, in a short amount of space, and with a remarkably low side effect profile. Right then, I tasked myself with finding a way to bring ketamine to as many people as possible. As a Clinical Psychologist, I have spoken out against the stigma of mental health and became a regular contributor on many radio and television shows. I was surprised to find that I was being asked to contribute to economic-focused shows like LiquidLunch with John Tabacco. Once the cameras were off, John would ask me about the need to bring ketamine assisted therapy to the masses.
Before I knew it, I was meeting with investment folks and heads of publicly traded companies. I spent countless hours meeting and talking with different individuals about ketamine therapy and the necessity to address mental health on both a national and global level. One of the individuals who showed the most intrigue and passion for the topic of mental health is now someone I call a friend, Matt Pinz. He thought I really had something but did his own research and came to his own conclusions. Almost a year later, along with Matt and the faith in few others, we launched Tripsitter Clinic.
We had three goals in mind as we began developing Tripsitter Clinic. Those goals remain the same today and will guide us well into the future:
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