Dissertation Title:

Rescuing the Firefighter’s Psyche: An Analysis of Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy to Treat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


Alexandra Jabr

Date, Time & Place:

May 6, 2023 at 1:00 pm
Lecture Hall at the Lambert Campus


This qualitative, phenomenological study explores the lived experiences of fire department union leaders who were invited to share their perspectives on the value of using ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) for firefighters diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Currently, the occurrence of PTSD and depression among firefighters is nearly five times higher than the civilian population. KAP is an integrative practice that has the potential to create a unique pathway for firefighters to reintegrate the fragmented pieces of their psyches following a traumatic event. Recently, KAP has been creating new opportunities for healing depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and PTSD where traditional modalities have failed. As published research on the use of KAP for treatment of trauma among first responders is sparse, the review of literature focuses on the history of psychedelics, KAP for mental health disorders, and selected depth psychological concepts related to the psyche of firefighters. Data was gathered using semistructured interviews with eight union leaders from California fire departments. Analysis of the data from the interviews yielded three major themes: perceptions of ketamine, bridging accessibility to KAP, and identified barriers to KAP. Due to a lack of awareness and education on this treatment modality, the option of KAP remains overlooked by policy makers within fire departments who influence mental health initiatives for their firefighters. The incorporation of a depth psychological perspective on the findings offers insight into personal and collective elements of persona, the shadow, and individuation influencing the lack of focus on trauma and the treatment of PTSD within the fire department. This study is an attempt to create awareness of KAP as an adjunct therapy for healing individuals in the fire service and to provide better understanding of benefits and limitations of this form of therapy based on insights gleaned from fire department union leaders.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Integrative Therapy & Healing Practices, H, 2018
  • Chair: Dr. Patricia Katsky
  • Reader: Dr. Jonathan Erickson
  • External Reader: Dr. Jim Holbrook
  • Keywords: Ketamine, KAP, Firefighters, Psychedelic Therapy, Depth Psychology, Mental Health, PTSD