You may have noticed the first interviews with patients who participated in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy in different Czech media such as DVTV or aktuálně.cz. When we announced our investment in Psyon three years ago, this is exactly what we hoped for. We wanted to play our part in starting a psychedelic clinic that would provide help for people unable to find help elsewhere. How did it get all the way up to this point?
Psyon opened its doors in the fall of 2019 and the teams embarked on with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) in late 2020, making Psyon the first European psychedelic clinic. Since then, 150 clients have scheduled meetings with Psyon's therapists and over 250 ketamine sessions have been completed.
Interest is much higher, and the clinic is currently booked up to months in advance. Conveniently, the second part of the building where Psyon is located in Prague 6 has also obtained its certificate of occupancy as a medical facility - which will help to significantly increase capacity and offer help to a higher number of people.
“We have learnt so much in the past two years”, claims one of Psyon’s founders, psychologist Stanislav Milotinský. “We have successfully started a functional medical facility that has more than 20 employees. On the professional level, our personnel, including our therapist, has grown tremendously and we are able to provide premium professional care as well as human care. We see that our job makes sense and works well, but we also try very hard to remain humble. We educate ourselves periodically, we share experiences and we treat our care with the utmost respect. Given the nature and the scale of what we do, I dare say we offer world-class treatment,” he adds.
One of the key factors that makes Psyon unique globally among medical facilities is the contractual cooperation with health insurance companies, including the largest VZP, which has the greatest number of people registered in the Czech Republic.
This has helped to significantly increase the accessibility of KAP - clients currently pay 7 thousand Czech crowns compared to the previous 25 thousand Czech crowns. People who are even unable to cover the reduced price can take advantage of a fund that is co-funded by Miton. To put this into perspective: a similar therapy abroad costs between 2 to 8 thousand euros/dollars (between 45 and 180 thousand Czech crowns).
At first, Psyon offered help to patients with depressive disorders. This has also changed over time and currently the list of indications became much broader. Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy has also become available to patients with eating disorders, PTSD, addictions or anxiety disorders.
It is important to check the results of such mental health care on a regular basis. The effectiveness of KAP is measured by two standardised questionnaires (GAD-7 for anxiety and PHQ-9 for depression) or by the clinical evaluation of the patient’s condition.
“We can say that even a single experience with ketamine within our psychotherapeutic model works and has effects even months after its administration,” confirms Stanislav Milotinský. “Clients often refer to changes that are commonly not measurable on symptomatology scales and that presents a shift in deeper and fundamental aspects of the way they feel and function in life.”
The list of indications was not the only one to be extended, but also the scope of services that Psyon offers. After psychedelic therapy, there is also a psychiatric outpatient clinic, where people can book appointments even if they don’t want to try psychedelics. The clinic also offers a “common” psychotherapy or a child clinical psychology section.
The clinical studies in which Psyon takes part are also important. They allow for a more thorough and detailed assessment of the effectiveness of psychedelic substances in mental health treatments. Last year the clinic took part in a study with a prolonged version of ketamine. This year the study with the 5-MeO-DMT substance will begin. Starting in 2024, Psyon is also expected to participate in an extensive study examining the use of psilocybin. All the studies mentioned are aimed at the treatment of depressive disorders.
The clinic is discussing possible future participation in the MAPS study. Such studies use the substance MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorders. The last two studies mentioned fall into a III. phase of clinical evaluation, which means that they closely precede the introduction of psilocybin and MDMA into ordinary medical practices.
What are Psyon’s plans? It is important to increase capacities. This will be made possible both by the expansion of existing premises, as well as the contemplated expansion to other Czech cities. But not only there. Thanks to our contact with our colleagues abroad it is safe to say that Psyon is a world-class clinic and can easily be compared to similar places abroad. It is only logical that we are also considering expanding beyond the Czech borders.
It is essential to train therapists for further development as they are indispensable in helping clients through KAP. To get an idea of how crucial the therapists are to the success of this method, you can listen to the experiences of Psyon clients linked above.
“Our plan is to launch a KAP course for therapists and further expand our care. Raising public awareness about this topic is also important. Most people still find the connection between psychedelics and mental disorders treatments very surprising. Nevertheless, the public’s perception on such issues is clearly changing for the better, hopefully also thanks to our work.” concludes Stanislav Milotinský.
The author of this article is the head of Miton Psychonauts, our fund that focuses on investments in the areas of mental health.
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