Dr. Bridget Carnahan: Altered States of Consciousness and Women's Empowerment

Dr. Bridget Carnahan, Medical Director of Field Trip Health Seattle ketamine clinic, shares her unique journey in psychedelic medicine. Discover how altered states of consciousness can empower women to build lives of beauty, address the fear of losing control during a trip, and explore the potential of psychedelics for women.
a woman with eyes closed relfecting on profound insights gained in ketamine therapy

Ketamine Pt 1 – A Medical Doctor Gives Her Perspective on Ketamine Therapy

To kick off Season 4 of The High Guide, creator and host April Pride is in discussion with Dr. Bridget Carnahan who began her care of women on The Farm as a mid-wife. Witnessing the altered state that birth induces inspired her to attend medical school to study altered states of consciousness and how women can leverage their subconscious to build a life of beauty.
Featuring Dr. Bridget Carnahan, Medical Director Field Trip Health Seattle ketamine clinic
After listening to this episode, you will have a better understanding of:

  • Dr. Carnahan’s unique experience in psychedelic medicine
  • How fear of losing control during a trip correlates with trust IRL
  • The potential psychedelics hold for women
  • The High Guide’s content was created to help our listeners learn to trust

Episode Guests

Dr. Bridget Carnahan, Field Trip Health

Episode Resources & Additional Reading

The High Guide episode #41 “Psychedelics & Death of the EGO” [LINK]
Episode #44: Growth Mindset Tripping [LINK]
Episode 28. JOURNEY #3: Tripping to Trust Your Gut [LINK]
Goop, Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy [LINK]

More Episodes from the Podcast

Podcast Episode Full Transcription

0:00:00.0 Dr. Bridge Carnahan, Field Trip Health: I think that psychedelics potentially can help people find that within their own minds, within their own… What they’ve been given inherently, that there are pathways that could be utilized to find that trust. And so that’s what I’m hopeful that psychedelics could offer to people.


0:00:22.1 April Pride, host: Hey, I’m April Pride, your host on The High Guide Podcast. This is the show for women who have an open and curious mind, and this is a show all about women changing their lives, thanks to altered states of consciousness. At the top of the show, you just heard from Dr. Bridget Carnahan, Director of Field Trip Health, Seattle Clinic, for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. She has witnessed ketamine’s role in helping her patients with varied personal backgrounds cultivate trust within themselves and with others. In this episode, Dr. Carnahan will explain how her patients are using ketamine as a tool to make big life changes, big life decisions with confidence, thanks to gaining trust and shedding fear. Perhaps you’ve heard of ketamine to relieve symptoms of depression, perhaps not. But this year, 2023, I have little doubt that ketamine will cross your radar, because so many people, including me, have found success clawing our way back to the light after a couple of very dark years, thanks to ketamine. And I’ll share more of my personal ketamine story in our next episode.

0:01:22.8 April Pride, host: Today, we’re gonna meet Dr. Carnahan, one of your High Guides this season. Have you ever wondered why doctors adopt ketamine and other “psychedelics” to treat patients? The answer is because they see results where all else has failed. And Dr. Carnahan sets up this season with an insightful conversation about the role of ketamine to help us more easily access self-trust by addressing the universal human fear of losing control. As with every episode, we’ll jump into the word of the week before Dr. Carnahan and I explore ketamine as a tool to trust your gut. And remember to stay to the almost end for our trip tips. But first, hello, [chuckle] each of you patient, loyal listeners, I know it’s been half a year. If you’re back here, then you must love the show, so please remember to rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts, the more reviews, the easier for people to find the show, making their path to better well-being more clear. If you’re new to The High Guide, please subscribe so you don’t miss an episode of this very personal fourth season, which I’ve titled “Ketamine for Divorce, Depression, and Dependency.” I know that title begs a whole host of questions for your host, but again, more on these specifics in next week’s show.


0:02:41.0 April Pride, host: Now, for the word of the week. Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy or KAP is a mental health treatment method that involves using ketamine’s trance-inducing and pain-relieving properties to help individuals work through various mental and emotional challenges such as treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It can also be used for those experiencing substance use and physical pain. One of the significant benefits of ketamine-based therapy is that compared to other antidepressants which have a very slow onset time, ketamine is a very rapidly acting analgesic.


0:03:20.2 April Pride, host: Today, we meet Dr. Bridget Carnahan, director of Field Trip Health, Seattle Clinic. I met Dr. Carnahan while visiting the clinic as a guest to a Field Trip co-founder. Field Trip Health is a Toronto-based chain of wellness clinics that due to current regulations is focused on ketamine-assisted psychotherapy but has plans to uphold psilocybin and MDMA, and I’m sure LSD, etcetera, etcetera, therapy into its many of the services as laws change. Dr. Carnahan shares the roots of her fascination with altered states of consciousness, and you may be surprised.

0:03:53.3 Dr. Bridge Carnahan, Field Trip Health: I was initially a midwife and then decided to go back to school. I was very interested in birth as a rite of passage initially. And witnessing in the home birth setting, especially how women would really be in an altered state of consciousness and sort of find their own inner strength through the process of giving birth, I think that birth does take people… When we look at what happens to brain waves during the birth process, the hormones of birth take people to an altered state of consciousness. It’s a little bit like what the mind looks like during the dream state, and I think that it’s possible that people may be tapping into the collective unconscious. They may be tapping into information, levels of awareness that people access in altered states of consciousness.


0:04:44.8 April Pride, host: Some women may call it a dream state, others a nightmare, much like the wildly varied outcomes induced by psychedelics. No matter how the altered state was induced, once you’re not in your right mind, you’ve suppressed normal thought patterns that are heavily influenced by our ego, the seat of which is the default mode network. In the last season, we talked a lot about the impact of a fixed versus a flexible mindset on one’s intension going into a psychedelic experience, and your focus while under the influence. To continue with the childbirth comparison, I’ve talked to plenty of women whose sole reason for creating a birth plan, and I certainly had one, was to mitigate the likelihood of an emergency or unplanned C-section, only to have a C-section. Having a plan in place, so you can avoid facing a great fear, is always a good idea in theory. Just as our first child birth experience answers a lot of questions for what the next experience, bringing human life into the world maybe like. Dr. Carnahan’s ketamine patients are able to relax and reframe their need for control simply, because they trust what to expect.

0:05:55.1 Dr. Bridge Carnahan, Field Trip Health: So I would say that a majority of people coming in are feeling afraid about letting go of control in this way, and that the majority of people after their first ketamine experience are much less nervous, they feel relieved. They feel like it was soothing in some way. They feel a sense of, I would say, relief from their anxiety, and a feeling that it was a loving experience, an experience of self-love. That’s what I hear most often.

0:06:29.0 April Pride, host: Well, you mentioned that people are afraid of losing control. So is that part of why sometimes their experience is less intense, because they just haven’t allowed themself to go in more deeply? What’s your guess as to why one person can have such different experiences from treatment to treatment?

0:06:53.1 Dr. Bridge Carnahan, Field Trip Health: I don’t think it’s purely linear. I think we all have aspects to our personality that want to control things and that want us to be safe. So when you think about, “Who are the different elements or who are the different identities within me?” On one day, you may be working to explore that component of yourself. On another day, that component might not be coming up. So it’s like… I wouldn’t say it’s like certain people can’t let go of control, and so they really struggle with feeling like that nothing’s happening. I do think that there are times when someone is struggling with that component of their self, and there’s this thing about control that they are ready to explore. It’s important to explore, and so that’s what they’re exploring that day. But, yeah, I’ve seen people who have very deep journeys and then they come back, and they have this experience of not letting go of control, you know? [chuckle] But I think that that’s not the only reason why people don’t go into a psychedelic space, I think there can be stuff in the rational mind that really is wanting your attention, and so you kind of aren’t hanging out in that zone during your ketamine journey.

0:08:14.9 Dr. Bridge Carnahan, Field Trip Health: So I think it’s important for people who are interested in exploring ketamine to know this vast space in the psyche, the human psyche. What material is coming up during a ketamine journey can really vary, and that there can be value in whatever comes up. It’s sort of like a dream, and trusting that your dream might be some sort of way for your subconscious to communicate something to you, that the experience that you have on ketamine can hold value in various subtle ways. And so letting the process unfolds, knowing that the ketamine journey could be different, very different each time someone comes in, if they’re coming in for six different sessions, it can be different each time, and people often comment on how surprised they are that it’s not consistent. People can have very deep psychedelic experiences at a lower dose, and then go up a little to a higher dose to see what that’s like and have it be quite mundane or just nothing.

0:09:24.2 Dr. Bridge Carnahan, Field Trip Health: It’s, I would say, an unpredictable medicine. Being open to whatever the experience has, even if it feels like boredom, can be valuable to work on trusting yourself and becoming your own ally, letting go a little bit of how it’s supposed to be or what should happen, it can be very valuable for people to develop that sense of trust in themselves. Because the experiences people are having with ketamine create, I think, a sense of trust in one’s life. Often they create a sense of being connected in terms of the default mode network.


0:10:05.8 April Pride, host: Okay, going back to the default mode network. Sound familiar? You may recall that Ego Death mini-episode of this podcast. Ego death is more likely to happen while you’re in an altered state, because as our mind is coping in reactionary center, the default mode network or DMN is where we surrender to our ego or surrender our ego. Psychedelic substances such as ketamine and LSD and psilocybin and DMT disable the default mode network, quieting an overactive DMN that disrupts loops tapes of negative self-talk, yep, so we can separate our true self from the stories we have embodied: Stories we’ve embodied to protect our bodies, stories that keep us safe from anything that will relinquish the control we have over predictable outcomes. We are born with processing tools within the mind that filter through our sensory inputs, absorbing the information it deems necessary to our survival.

0:11:05.1 April Pride, host: This is the main purpose of the ego, it’s to protect our body. One way to do this is to honor our fear of losing control. The temporary suppression of our ego that occurs when we mute our mind with psychedelics effectively allows us to reboot our brain mainframe, free from clutter and glitches, we’re more readily able to tap into consciousness and increase our capacity to see and appreciate the truth of reality, regardless of what we think it might be. And this includes the sense of connectedness to something greater than ourselves.


0:11:44.1 Dr. Bridge Carnahan, Field Trip Health: Stimulating a part of the mind that oftentimes, not always, but oftentimes, gives people a sense of being connected, a sense of trusting their own life, a sense of, “Actually, it all makes sense. And the things that are challenging for me, I can appreciate them as part of my meaning in my life path.” And it reduces the sense of anxiety that people experience around things that are considered problems in their life, and it creates a sense of, “I can change my perspective on this and see the beauty in how my life is unfolding even though there have been these challenges.” And so that combined with what’s going on neuro-chemically allows people to have sort of a psychological anchor to use to perpetuate and integrate and create more lasting effect from the neuro-chemical piece of it.


0:12:41.2 April Pride, host: And just what is the neuro-chemical piece of it? Stay tuned for yet another episode later in this season with Dr. Carnahan and our other medical expert, Lauren Swanson, who is the lead clinician for telehealth ketamine platform, Wondermed, and the changes to our brain’s wiring, this is just the beginning. And of course, individual experiences vary yet, collectively, the outcomes include restored optimism, thanks to our restored trust in your gut.

0:13:09.7 Dr. Bridge Carnahan, Field Trip Health: Yeah, and well, it’s interesting to hear different people’s experiences, I think it really is individualized. I have heard people describe this sense of well-being that they experienced in their ketamine journey and trust in their life to be something that they can sort of anchor to. It’s a feeling that they carry forward and that they can access in the future. It’s something they know is always there. Even when they’re not feeling it, they know mentally that there’s this other place that does exist, and that it gives them a sense of well-being and a sense of trust. As far as working with the storm or working with these intense emotional states that do come up, no matter what, you’re gonna have that experience come back. I think it’s just a matter of practicing being with what is, being able to trust discomfort a little bit more, and moving away from pathologizing discomfort as a problem always, being able to be curious and interested in what your own life and experience has to offer you, becoming your own ally in that and turning towards it rather than away from it, and I think it’s easier to do that if you know… If you have this other perspective on it.

0:14:38.1 Dr. Bridge Carnahan, Field Trip Health: If you have this perspective of trust about it, there’s something about that trust that allows you to turn towards the discomfort lovingly and with acceptance. And then it doesn’t feel like it’s wrong. It doesn’t feel like it’s a problem as much. It feels like it’s just part of what there is, and if you… I think the feeling of being overwhelmed, the feeling of suffering is often very much connected to the feeling that, “There’s something wrong with me, I need to make this go away. This is not healthy, I’m ill,” all those things. If you can kind of move beyond thinking of it that way and trust that this is your life path, it makes the suffering less significant. And finding solidarity with other people who are suffering knowing that “This is something that we’re sharing, it’s not all on my shoulders,” finding groups, integration groups really helps with that, and moving beyond this isolation that I think a lot of us are really struggling with in our society.

0:15:52.8 April Pride, host: This idea of trust is one that has been a theme in my life for probably a decade now. I was given the mantra “Trust in faith.” And in the second season of this podcast, I worked with Patchwerks, which is an electronic music hardware supplier-retailer that’s based here in Seattle, and members of their community created guided trips with just music, and one was about cultivating trust in yourself, learning to trust yourself. If the goal here is to trust yourself, because shit is gonna happen and you can’t rely on anybody to fix it for you, right? Would you say that that is ultimately the goal that you have for patients is just that they need to learn to trust themselves?

0:16:37.3 Dr. Bridge Carnahan, Field Trip Health: I definitely think that knowing that you are your own ally, and that you can trust the way that your life is unfolding are very valuable pieces, and I’m coming to this with my own perspective and my own life experience, and so I really wanna honor that that’s not the only possibility, and that trust is a formative experience that people develop with themselves. And we haven’t all had an equal playing field in terms of what our early life experience was like, and having that foundation for trusting yourself isn’t always easy. So I think that… I do think that there’s something inherent that people have inside them, even if it has been removed so far away from their consciousness. I think that psychedelics potentially can help people find that within their own minds, within their own… What they’ve been given inherently, that there are pathways in there that could be utilized to find that trust. And so that’s what I’m hopeful that psychedelics could offer to people, and especially to people who had just really rough formative years, and it seems very far away.


0:18:00.1 April Pride, host: So, why did I start this season on ketamine-assisted psychotherapy with a discussion about trust and control? Because I believe psychedelics can help humans reach their potential, and I believe they do this by helping us get out of our own way. Control is enforced through self-creative behavior that gives us our best chance at a predictable, safe outcome. As I said early on the show, anyone who knows me knows that my relationship with predictability and safety is, well, complicated. We’ll get into this more in our next episode, and I leave you with today’s Trip Tips, which I will also include in the show notes.

0:18:35.2 April Pride, host: Today’s Trip Tips are a little different. Because we’ve covered a lot of relative topics in the first 50 episodes of this show, below are three previous episodes to refer to for more information, if any of these topics we discussed in today’s show interest you. Number one, episode 41, Psychedelics and Death of the Ego. First, listen to this very, very short episode, if you are ready to step into a phase of self-surrender, transition, and a loss of self-identity, a feeling of being part of something larger than yourself, feeling of wholeness and enlightenment. Number two, episode number 44, Growth Mindset Tripping. This is the second thing you should listen to. It’s an episode that reveals how a fixed mindset can hijack your trip, and we dive into the mental training necessary to cultivate the emotional strength you’ll need for your psychedelic journey. And last up, number three, episode number 28, which is journey number three of our site audio series, It’s Time to Trip. So tune in to this audio composed as a soundtrack for a psychedelic journey, intended to help you learn to always trust your gut, even when you’re not under the influence of medicine.


0:19:45.8 April Pride, host: Thank you for listening to this episode of The High Guide. I’m your host, April Pride. Please check out our website, thehigh.guide for our shroom strain reviews and guide to psilocybin. And tune in next Friday for another episode of The High Guide, a show all about women changing their lives, thanks to altered states of consciousness.


Episode Credits

Producer & Host: April Pride

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