Meet Sonia Albin, Journey Clinical KAP Provider in Houston, Texas

Community Stories
June 26, 2024

Sonia Albin, LPC is a Journey Clinical KAP Provider based in Houston, Texas. She is the founder of Kite Ecotherapy, and her work focuses mainly on treatment of complex trauma and eating disorders. You can connect with her via her website. We sat down with Sonia to ask her about how she has integrated KAP into her practice.

How did you become interested in ecotherapy and how do you combine it with KAP?

“I got into ecotherapy as an educator first. My degree is in Aquatic and Fishery Science, and through my experiences, I realized I liked teaching and talking a lot more than research. When I got into counseling, I always knew I wanted to bring that into my practice. Nature has always been a huge part of my life. It's where I go to heal, to process. It's where I feel the most at home.”

Sonia shares how she combines ecotherapy with KAP: “I do a lot of sessions outdoors. We revisit the same places, and clients start to build a relationship with the space and the wildlife that we might see there. That’s just a really grounding experience to be connected to your environment, especially in a city like Houston.”

What was your process of becoming a KAP Provider with Journey Clinical like?

“I started personally exploring different medicines in my own therapeutic work. I went to a conference that focused on psychedelic medicine as treatment for eating disorders, and my mind was just completely blown because a lot of my clients struggle so much, and some of them have struggled for decades. To hear that there was treatment available that was showing such quick improvements, I just knew that I wanted to be a part of that. I had a one-on-one with someone from the Journey Clinical team that I clicked with right away, and I signed up that same day. 

I took my time before offering KAP in my practice – I did and redid the training. I did a lot of research. I connected with other KAP Providers in my area, and went through the experience myself before offering it to people.”

What client outcomes have you seen from KAP with patients with eating disorders? 

Sonia notes the impact that KAP can have on patients struggling with eating disorders: “Eating disorder treatment has traditionally been kind of linear, in my opinion. You go through intensive treatment, partial hospitalization, and it's been very CBT and DBT heavy, which is very useful. But these are more mental tools – I think that people with eating disorders often need a more existential approach. 

It's like, we can teach you how to think about eating, but purpose or worth is something that you have to intrinsically feel in your body. And that's often just not something that's accessible to someone who has been living in a state of fight or flight for a really long time. To them, eating disorders are effective coping mechanisms. I think KAP gives these individuals the freedom to disconnect from the structure and protection of the eating disorder, and recognize they can still feel safe outside of that. 

The clients that I have been working with are individuals who have been really stuck in their lives for an extended period of time. They've tried a lot of different kinds of therapies and modalities, and they're at a point where they say, ‘I just need something completely different. I need a reset.’ And so the clients that I've done KAP with are describing exactly that, just a feeling of not being stuck anymore. They're expressing a lot more self confidence and a desire for what the future might look like, considering different possibilities and different thought patterns and emotional patterns. It's really, really exciting. It's like watching somebody awaken.”

What role do you think music plays in a KAP dosing session?

Sonia often integrates music into her patient’s dosing sessions to enhance the experience: “I think it's central to the experience and can really help define the journey. There's something magical that happens with music and the brain when you're in that state of consciousness. For me personally, [KAP] actually woke up my love of music again, which I feel like I was disconnected from for a long time.”

What has the community aspect of Journey Clinical been like for you?

“The community is one of the biggest attractors for me. Working in private practice, I really have to seek out that connection, consultation, and information from other mental health professionals. That’s why it’s so helpful to be able to ask questions through the member portal. Journey Clinical is super responsive. Even when there's a post and somebody in the comments poses a medical question, somebody from Journey Clinical will jump in and answer. I've never felt like I can't reach out to someone, and even if I have a question in the moment with a client, I'll say, ‘let's see if we can find an answer to that right now.’ And we usually can. I feel like it's a very supportive community. It's really easy to communicate. The providers that I work with are also very responsive. And in Houston, the KAP Providers all consult, chat, and feel connected.” 

How do you introduce KAP to your clients as an option?

“The way that I've approached it is I let people know that I'm offering the service. I let them know why I think it might be a good option for them, especially for the individuals who don't really want to go with traditional psychiatry but are still looking for some further relief. 

I think time and education is the best route. You know, I encourage people to do their own research and ask their own questions. I'm happy to provide information, but the ‘buy in’ comes from them. I present the information. If they're interested in it, I take them through the process. If they're not, we don't really talk about it again unless they bring it up. And if I have a group KAP session coming up or something, I can share that.

Also, we don't have to jump right into KAP. I explain to them that KAP is an option as an adjunct to the work that we're already doing. We don't need to do just one preparation session. We can prepare for months. And if we get to a place where KAP feels right for them, then we'll jump in.”

What advice would you give to therapists interested in offering KAP? 

“I would advise them to reach out to other therapists who are doing it, read about it, and get to know the leaders in the field. Somebody asked me, ‘How do you get referrals?’ I just talk about it all the time. I’m around other clinicians and I’m just really excited about it, and that’s it.

Another piece of advice would be to undergo the treatment yourself if you’re eligible – it’s so valuable to have your own experience with the medicine. I know another Journey Clinical member that I trade KAP sessions with and we practice a lot on each other, and that’s really helpful.”