How To Create The Best Playlist For Ketamine Therapy

How To Create The Best Playlist For Ketamine Therapy

Wavepaths Communications Manager •

What is the best playlist for ketamine therapy? It’s an important question to ask as music is a core contributor to the therapeutic outcomes of ketamine sessions.

Patients that undergo sublingual ketamine therapy, intravenous ketamine therapy, intranasal, and intramuscular ketamine therapy all share one common factor in their psychedelic therapy settings: music.

The pharmacodynamics (the physiological effects) of ketamine give rise to antidepressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. However, most practitioners find music is a key component in optimising ketamine therapy for positive outcomes.

Yet, even after attempting to discover “how to create the best playlist for ketamine therapy,” or searching online for “ketamine infusion playlists” patients, therapists and practitioners are often left with unanswered questions. It can be difficult for therapist to understand what playlist is best for ketamine therapy and what music can best support therapeutic processing.

In this post, I aim to clear up some of the confusion by answering common questions. I hope to empower you with  confidence and agency in selecting the best music for your clinical practice or therapeutic work with ketamine therapy.


Key Takeaways and Terms

    • Music allows the experiential qualities of ketamine therapy to unfold.

    • Playlists do not support the full potential of psychedelic medicine.

    • The quality of inducing a journey is pertinent to music as a catalyst for beneficial psychedelic therapy sessions.

    • Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy is a legal form of psychedelic medicine used as an intervention for treatment resistant depression.

What’s the best playlist for ketamine therapy?

While playlists can be designed to match the general arch of a ketamine experience, they do not support the full potential of this psychedelic medicine. Fixed playlists are, by definition, not personalised to the individual. They are not adaptive to the ever-evolving subjective experience of an individual navigating a psychedelic journey.

Music for psychedelic therapy is a novel area of research that is gaining traction. Wavepaths’ founder and CEO Dr. Mendel Kaelen earned the world’s first PhD in the neuroscience of music for psychedelic therapy. This article aims to provide some insight from Dr. Kaelen’s findings and enable agency in selecting the best music for your ketamine therapy sessions.

Why do people listen to music during ketamine therapy sessions?

Music can make or break the therapeutic experience.

The right selection of music or playlist can often be more important to a patient’s experience than drug dosage.

Ketamine therapy sessions can last anywhere from 15 minutes if intravenous to an hour if sublingual. During this time, patients often experience “altered states of consciousness,” insights, and meaningful experiences.

The direct relationship between subjective experiences and therapy outcomes has been established by early psychedelic researchers and continues to be supported by current research. Several factors contribute to the valence of a psychedelic experience: mindset, environmental setting, music, therapeutic relationship and of course the medicine.

Psychedelic therapy differentiates itself from traditional pharmaceutical treatments for depression on a central tenet: experientiality. Experiential medicines like ketamine, and other psychedelics, typically involve a small number of sessions whereby individuals are administered a high dose of a psychedelic substance that can facilitate profoundly personally meaningful experiences. Music allows the experiential qualities of ketamine therapy to unfold, and can provide the sense of a journey during a session.

Patients report positive effects induced from being open to the effects of music and surrendering to the journey that music can guide.

Music Functions as a Hidden Therapist that Evokes the Sense of Being on a Journey

Music functions as a “hidden therapist” during a ketamine session.

Patients find music to be one of the most important factors in guiding their sessions, but the wrong selection of music can be harmful to a patient’s journey.

Key study insights: Nineteen patients in a psychedelic trial found that while the likelihood of a reduction in depression depended on a positive response to the music, it did not depend on the intensity of the drug effects, demonstrating that it was the interaction between the music and the psychedelics which was critical in this study, and not the drug alone.

While many patients who undergo ketamine treatment attribute therapeutic effects entirely to the dosage, the right musical selection can completely alter the nature of a session.

How can I trust that I’ve selected the right music to guide my ketamine sessions?

Deciding on the best music for ketamine therapy can be an overwhelming process. You may question whether you have made the right selection.

Trusting music as a guide is an intentional process.

Three particular aspects of a musical selection contribute to therapeutic outcome.

Wavepaths researchers studying music for psilocybin therapy found that patients have to:

    • Like the music (‘liking’),
    • Have to feel the music resonate with their emotional state (‘resonance’), and
    • Have to feel open to the experiences and imagery evoked by the music (‘openness’).

Liking, or personal preference towards a style, genre, or subset of instruments used during the therapy session

Resonance, the ability for music to resonate with one’s inner emotional state

Openness, the ability for the participant to be open to the experiences and imagery evoked by music

Feel safe, supported, and open

It is imperative to select music that will resonate with patients’ inner landscape. If the music resonates with a patient in a way that makes them feel safe and supported, that can allow challenging emotions to safely arise, a process which is central to many therapeutic practices. While resonance feeds openness, ‘openness’ is also determined by the mindset a patient brings to the session.

What factors of music can be harmful or detract from the experience?

Liking, resonance, and openness are important factors for forming a strong connection with music during psychedelic experiences. But this may lead you to wonder what qualities of music detract from the experience?

Playlists become repetitive, and patients may find themselves accustomed to the music selections over multiple sessions, whereas music that unfolds with the medicine evokes a sense of presence.

If patients do not resonate with the music selection, the music can be more harmful than helpful. It can even be described as “manipulative,” or an “unwelcome presence.” Because of this, it is extremely important to prioritise careful curation based on individual preferences.

Choice and agency are important for patients dealing with trauma, anxiety, and depression. A lack of choice and agency during the therapeutic process can harm patients’ journeys. Patients with anxiety tend to struggle most with transitions between songs, find these most disruptive, and therefore find generative music designed for psychedelic therapy far more therapeutic.

Why is Wavepaths the best option for my psychedelic therapy sessions?

With Wavepaths, every session is unique, generated live for each patient. When a session unfolds live, it also lends to immersion in the present moment, as the live music is only available in this present moment.

Agency is never reduced or removed by our technology, only strengthened.

Intelligently Designed for Ketamine Therapy, Personalised to Each Patient, Unfolding Live in the Moment, Unique Every Time

Wavepaths is intelligently designed for ketamine therapy sessions and templates are adapted to dosage, time, drug intensity, and intended therapeutic outcome. Wavepaths liberates therapists to strategically design sessions for their patients based on preset themes or adapt sessions in real time based on the specific needs of each patient and their unfolding experience.

While Wavepaths enables advanced adaptivity, our core emotional areas are composed intuitively by musicians that are experienced with crafting music for psychedelic medicine.

Start experiencing Wavepaths music today.

If you are a practitioner or clinician, sign-up to access Wavepaths.

If you are a patient or listener, join Wavepaths Deep Listening Community.



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