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How to Select the Best Ketamine Clinic and Recognize Potential Red Flags

As ketamine therapy continues to gain broader acceptance as an effective and safe treatment option for depression and other mental illnesses, and with an increasing number of ketamine clinics opening nationwide, finding the right clinic may seem like a daunting task. With over twelve years of experience administering ketamine to my patients, I have developed strong opinions on various aspects of ketamine therapy and on finding the optimal treatment for individuals dealing with trauma and mental health issues. For instance, I believe that all ketamine providers should adhere to minimum standards of care in accordance with ethical guidelines, ketamine therapy recipients should ideally receive adjunctive psychotherapy, and, in my view, attention should be given to the clinic’s setting and atmosphere.

As you embark on a potentially transformative journey, selecting the right ketamine clinic is a crucial first step. Let this be a guide to help you choose wisely. In this post, I’ll discuss key considerations to assist you in making an informed decision aligned with your unique needs. Furthermore, I'll highlight some potential red flags to watch for.

Staff Qualifications and Expertise

The first and foremost consideration when choosing a ketamine clinic is the expertise of the staff. Qualified healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and mental health practitioners, should be at the forefront of your decision-making process. Look for clinics with staff members who have specialized training in administering ketamine and managing mental health conditions. Professional accreditation and ongoing education are indicators of a commitment to delivering high-quality care. Recognizing that ketamine therapy is an evolving field, it is important to find a team that stays abreast of the latest science and research.

Review the staff biographies to determine if team members possess a compelling "why" or a story that explains their reasons for offering ketamine therapy. While not necessarily required or explicitly stated in a team bio (but a fair question during a consultation), personal staff experiences with ketamine journeys can provide invaluable insights and perspectives, given that they have firsthand experience with the medicine.

The use of aggressive marketing language or pressure tactics on website or during consultations, aimed at persuading potential clients to pursue ketamine therapy or other services may suggest a business and profit-oriented model rather than a facility genuinely dedicated to promoting healing. It could be a sign to continue searching for another clinic for your ketamine therapy journeys.

Clinic Facilities and Atmosphere

A cozy space filled with floor seating and pillows with a window looking outside

The physical space where you undergo ketamine therapy can markedly influence your overall experience and outcome.  Look for clinics that offer a warm, welcoming, and comfortable setting. Pay attention to details, ensuring the space is designed to promote relaxation and a sense of security. A soothing atmosphere can augment the therapeutic effects of ketamine, leading to a more positive treatment outcome. Evaluate factors like the clinic's ambiance, privacy, and amenities to ensure your comfort throughout the process.

It's reasonable to assume that most people would not prefer a sterile, clinical atmosphere reminiscent of a hospital room for their ketamine journeys or psychedelic experiences. Take a careful look at the clinic photos and videos, and don't hesitate to request a tour.

Adherence to Safety Protocols

Safety should be a top priority when evaluating ketamine clinics. Inquire about the clinic's safety protocols and guidelines for ketamine administration. A reputable clinic will have strict measures in place to monitor patients during sessions, respond to any adverse reactions promptly, and ensure a controlled and secure environment. Transparency about safety practices is a hallmark of a trustworthy clinic.

It's a positive indicator if the ketamine provider is involved with or is a member of the American Society of Ketamine Physicians, Psychotherapists, and Practitioners (ASKP3) organization. ASKP3 is a non-profit group comprised of professionals dedicated to the safe clinical use of ketamine. It is led by experts who provide education and uphold ethical standards for patient care.

Any indication of a lack of knowledge and proficiency in the immediate treatment of potential side effects, such as hypertension, respiratory distress (i.e., hypoxia and apnea), nausea, or other potential medical emergencies, is a concerning sign and warrants looking for alternative options. Moreover, clinics that endorse the use of ketamine without direct medical supervision should be deemed unacceptable. A fair question to pose is whether someone will be present for the entire duration of your ketamine journeys, and the unequivocal answer should be yes.

Form of Ketamine and Route of Administration

Ketamine is available through four main routes: intravenous (IV), intramuscular (IM), intranasal, and oral. IV administration is considered superior in certain respects, encompassing efficiency, precise control over dosage, and, ultimately, safety. However, the choice of the route should always be tailored to the specific medical scenario, patient needs, and treatment goals. Regardless of the selected form of ketamine and the chosen route of administration, proper administration and monitoring by qualified healthcare professionals are essential.

IV fluid bag with blue background

IV and IM ketamine exists as a racemic mixture, meaning it contains equal amounts of two molecules called enantiomers: (S)-ketamine and (R)-ketamine. Despite having the same chemical formula, these enantiomers can exhibit different pharmacological properties, such as varying levels of effect, potency, or side effects. Understanding the properties of individual enantiomers is important because they can have different effects on the body, and sometimes only one enantiomer may be responsible for the desired therapeutic effect. One specific nasal form of ketamine (Esketamine), marketed under the brand name Spravato, contains solely (S)-ketamine. However, research has shown that both the R and S forms of ketamine play a role in the drug's antidepressant effects.

Be especially wary of ketamine from compounding pharmacies, as is often the case with oral ketamine forms. Oral ketamine, frequently intended for at-home use, poses the highest risks, as indicated by a recent FDA warning. The advisory emphasizes that dosages in each lozenge frequently vary when formulated by a compounding pharmacy, raising concerns regarding both efficiency and safety.

Patient-Centered Approach, Individualized Care, and Psychotherapy

Each patient is unique, and their mental health journey is equally distinct. Seek clinics that embrace a patient-centered approach, providing personalized treatment plans tailored to your specific diagnosis, needs, and goals. A clinic that prioritizes open communication, actively involves you and other members of your treatment team in decision-making, and respects your concerns fosters a collaborative and supportive atmosphere.

Healing can be a challenging journey, but having the right people in your corner can make all the difference. Look for a clinic that encourages collaborative care, involving your therapist, primary doctor, psychiatrist, and other healthcare team members to empower your comprehensive wellness plan.

The absence of psychotherapy as an integral part of the clinic's treatment process might imply that you won't experience as significant benefits compared to a clinic that recognizes and leverages the synergistic potential of combining the medicine with psychotherapy. Going a step further, check if the psychotherapist is specifically trained in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP). Not all psychotherapy practices are equal, and there are intricacies involved when utilizing ketamine in the psychotherapeutic process.

Reviews and Testimonials

Learn from the experiences of others who have walked a similar path. Explore reviews and testimonials from previous patients to gain insights into the clinic's reputation and the effectiveness of its treatments. Positive testimonials can provide reassurance, while any recurring concerns raised in reviews should be carefully considered.

Pay attention to both negative reviews and the clinic's response to criticism. Assess whether they place blame, offer empathy, or provide a solution, with the patient's well-being as the top priority. The reality is that some patients may not respond positively to ketamine therapy, leading to potential dissatisfaction. This is to be expected.

Unprofessionalism and a lack of attention to safety should be deemed unacceptable compromises when choosing the right ketamine clinic.


Take some time to review clinic websites. Do they explain the process, showcase the space, and provide educational resources for further understanding of ketamine therapy? The website should exude informativeness rather than a sales-oriented tone. Ensure they address safety, risks, and the acknowledgment that ketamine therapy may not be effective or appropriate for everyone. Complete transparency and honesty are crucial factors to look out for.

Beware of unrealistic claims and overly optimistic promises about the effectiveness of their treatments without scientific evidence. Guarantees of quick or miraculous cures for mental health conditions is always a concerning sign.


Choosing the right ketamine clinic is a pivotal step towards achieving positive outcomes in your mental health journey. However, not all ketamine clinics are created equal or operate with the good intentions. By prioritizing factors such as staff qualifications, clinic facilities, safety protocols, and a patient-centered approach, you can confidently select a clinic that aligns with your expectations. Remember, your well-being is paramount, and the right clinic will not only offer effective treatment but also create a supportive environment for your overall healing.

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