In honor of Pride month this June, we sat down with two of our member psychotherapists who are dedicated to delivering KAP to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Clare McBee (she/her) is a licensed independent clinical social worker in Boston, Massachusetts and specializes in working with people who are living with trauma. She is trained by MAPS for MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy, but was very interested in doing psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in her practice already, so she partnered with Journey Clinical to become a KAP provider.
Dr. Erik James Escareño DSW, LCSW (they/them) is the founder and CEO of Wombat Mental Health Services, a group practice on a mission to make sure that mental health services are accessible for underserved communities, more particularly LGBTQIA2TS (TS stands for two spirit), and BIPOC clients who are deaf, hard hearing, or disabled.
Clare McBee LICSW
I’ve seen Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy be helpful for people healing from the traumas that trans, nonbinary and queer folks experience on a daily basis. Many of the clients I see were rejected by their families of origin; that resulted in developmental trauma and internalized shame, not to mention what it’s been like to live in a climate that has sometimes been hostile to who they are. KAP can help people meet that shame from Self and to be able to start to heal that. One of my clients, for example, met himself as a child in his KAP session and said, “There’s nothing wrong with you”.
Currently, there’s a lack of queer providers that are competent in serving LGBTQIA+ folks with psychedelic-assisted treatment. Being able to sit in space with another person who shares those identities can be very meaningful. I have a waitlist of queer, trans, nonbinary folks who are searching for a KAP therapist who is competent in treating and affirming those experiences. I would encourage my peers to seek additional training, in addition to considering coming out and being known as somebody who is either a member of this community or is trained in how to support this community. There’s not enough of us, and there’s a huge number of people wanting to work with a therapist that they feel will understand their experiences.
No intervention is a magic bullet, and that is especially true for psychedelic-assisted treatment. This method requires a lot of preparation and deep, ongoing integration work in order to make effective use of these treatments, and to transform the adaptive glimpses that a psychedelic treatment session may offer us into meaningful change in our lives. But I can say without hesitation that KAP has been an incredible tool for my clients. I have been privileged to watch many brave and beautiful trans, queer, and non-binary folks commit to KAP and integration work, and to grow their resilience and healing potential in powerful ways. But KAP is still not accessible to many, because there are no existing infrastructures that compel insurance companies to cover it.
I try to get as much of a client’s KAP treatment covered by their insurance as I can, but I have watched several clients slow down or prematurely pause their KAP treatment because they cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs.
I recently partnered with a non-profit called Thank You Life, which is working to reduce barriers to psychedelic treatment by raising funds to support KAP treatment for folks who cannot afford it. Through Thank You Life I have set up my very own treatment fund to support my clients who cannot sustain the out-of-pocket KAP costs. The money in this fund will go towards supplementing KAP treatment for LGBTQI+ clients who are hoping to benefit from KAP with me, but who are facing financial barriers.
Dr. Erik James Escareño LCSW, DSW
At Wombat Mental Health Services (WMH), we often talk about re-indigenizing, reimagining and re-indigenizing our practice, by asking ourselves what mental health would look like if untouched by colonialism. The strength in our practice is that it’s for us, by us. I’m part of the majority of the groups we serve and they also make up a good fabric of all of our employees here as well.
Personally, I identify as a two spirited person. LGBTQIA+ usually stands for Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual, and the “plus” goes on. One identity that falls within the “plus” is Two Spirit. Through colonization, religion, erasure and other types of oppression, a lot of the history and words that indigenous communities used to describe gender started to get lost or demonized. As a result, oftentimes we didn’t have words to fully understand what our full genders were. Two Spirit was an encompassing word that came up in the 90s as a way to capture this identity. Other tribes may have their own words for what third genders represent in their communities, and they can go all the way up until five or six genders.
KAP is a start for us to incorporate more psychedelics within therapeutic services for treating clinically resistant depression or alcohol use, substance use, and a wide range of disorders that are not necessarily effective in the typical treatment. Marginalized communities have historical trauma built into the weaves of their community, which can lead to intergenerational trauma and complex PTSD. LGBTQIA2S folks need additional spaces. Allies may not necessarily have the full breadth or understanding of the travesties within our own communities that we have to endure or the moments we want to celebrate.
For one of my clients, KAP has given them a broader perspective to be able to live as their most authentic self. The experience was mind blowing for them because they started to see better options for themselves as far as what they wanted in their life, and then make a plan in therapy on how to go about making those changes. For them, KAP was life changing. It was life changing for them to have a container that is understanding of their identity. There’s a lack of therapists who are psychedelically informed and there’s a huge demand for this.
As KAP practitioners, we have an opportunity to reimagine and re-indigenize what mental health looks like and it is a perfect opportunity through KAP with Journey Clinical because you can create space for you and for your community.
We are trying to figure out ways to supplement treatment, because a lot of our marginalized communities may not have the funds. In addition to our existing assistance programs and to celebrate our 1st anniversary, we have created the Wombat Assistance Fund in partnership with SPM Disability Justice Fund to help those facing financial or logistical hardships access the care they need.