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The Roots to Thrive (RTT) theory (Dames, 2022) and program development began in 2017 as a resilience development program through Vancouver Island University and Island Health. The program was delivered in a community of practice framework designed to serve healthcare providers facing depression, anxiety, and burnout. In 2019, the program received grant funds to combine psychedelic-assisted therapy, beginning with ketamine. It has evolved within a program of research and in consultation with Indigenous elders to provide a decolonized approach to care and organizational operations. The program’s primary focus is to establish a relational environment that enables healing to unfold; this is accomplished through a uniquely designed community of practice model. This program represents a collaboration of health care experts and agencies that contribute to the research and equity-informed curriculum, including but not limited to Vancouver Island University, the Snuneymuxw First Nation, local health authorities, the BC Nurses Union, the BC Support Unit, and the BC Ministry of Health. 

In 2020, with the assistance of federal and provincial grant funds, RTT expanded to include Ketamine-assisted Therapy (KaT), referred to as RTT-Kat. In 2021, RTT expanded to include Psilocybin-assisted therapy (PaT) for those who held Health Canada Exemptions within a newly formed non-profit.  In 2022, Roots to Thrive (RTT) spun off the full suite of service delivery programming (RTT, RTT-KaT, RTT-PaT) from Vancouver Island University to a non-profit society.  Vancouver Island University continues to direct RTT research and development, and places nursing and graduate students in the RTT program as the main Psychedelic-assisted Therapy practicum site. 

How it Works

Each participant will join a 12- week CoP, referred to as RTT, which provides support and life-skill development among participants. This research-informed group model addresses trauma and relational attachment issues and provides a practice environment that promotes the integration of learning into daily life. RTT has been evolving in a Person-Oriented Research project since 2018, enabling patient partners (who are also Health Care Providers facing treatment resistant PTSD, Depression, or Generalized Anxiety) to inform programming as they experience it themselves. The program co-creates a space of unconditional positive regard and a felt experience of belonging, allowing participants to experience relational trust, sometimes for the first time. This safe container paves the path for relational trust and the feeling of belonging. When this space is created, and trust is established, the feeling of ‘community’ that we so often talk about becomes a felt sense in the body. From this more secure place, the body can step back from the felt sense of threat in the body, which allows them to move through and release past trauma. Participants are offered three ketamine Sits with the RTT-KaT interdisciplinary team throughout the 12-week CoP. 

Ketamine Assisted therapy (KaT) works by re-orienting participants away from unhelpful patterns towards empowered awareness and more secure ways of being. KaT is radically different from traditional therapy because a primary healing tenant involves traversing non-ordinary states of consciousness, which provide a non-ordinary pathway to take on new ways of seeing and being in the world. 

Highlights of Research

Research into psychedelic-assisted therapies is remerging. Studies demonstrate positive outcomes in the treatment of depression, PTSD, addiction, and end-of-life distress (Carhart-Harris & Goodwin, 2017). In particular, ketamine has demonstrated significant positive mental health outcomes in mood disorder patients (Brachman et al., 2016; Conley et al., 2021; Krystal et al., 2017; McGowan et al., 2017), and medicines with a psychedelic modality are having significant impacts on depression, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), all of which are common comorbidities in addiction (Guss, Krause, & Sloshower, 2020; Ly et al., 2018; Magaraggia, Kuipers, & Schreiver, 2021; Wong, 2017). 

RTT, RTT-KaT, and RTT-PaT continue to be developed in a program of research to ensure we are maximizing benefits. Thus far, the program continues to receive positive feedback and is demonstrating significantly positive results on the most common mental health conditions in Canada (Dames & Javorski, 2018; Dames, 2022; Dames, Kryskow, & Watler, 2022; Kryskow et al., 2022; Masuda, Kryskow, Dames, 2022; Moyer et al., 2022), providing significant relief for various mental health conditions.

RTT Related Reference List

Dames, S. (2022).  Root Strength: A Health and Care Professionals’ Guide to Minimizing Stress and Maximizing Thriving. Elsevier Textbook. 

Dames, S. & Javorski, S. (2018). Sense of Coherence, a Worthy Factor toward Nursing Student and New Graduate Satisfaction with Nursing, Goal Setting Affinities, and Coping Tendencies. Quality Advancement in Nursing Education, (4)1. doi: 10.17483/2368-6669.1108. Role: lead author, percent contribution: 95%.  

Dames, S., Kryskow, P., Watler, C. (2022). A Cohort-Based Case Report: The Impact of Ketamine-Assisted Therapy Embedded in a Community of Practice Framework for Healthcare Providers with PTSD and Depression.  Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.803279 

Dames, S., Young, W., Krigolson, O., Zhang, K., Stoller, L., Bartle, R. (2022). Changes in Cognitive Control Following a Novel Resilience-Focused Nursing Educational Program: An Exploratory Study. Quality Advancement in Nursing Education, (8)2. doi: 10.17483/2368-6669.1330

Tsang, V., Tao, B., Dames, S., Kryskow, P. (2022). Ketamine-assisted Therapy: Safety Data. Data Collected, now in publication process. 

Masuda, V., Kryskow, P., Dames, S. (2022). Case Report: Psilocybin-Assisted Group Therapy for Anxiety and Depression in Patients with Serious Cancer Diagnosis. Data Collected, now in publication process.

Moyer, R., Tsang, V., Kryskow, P., Walsh, Z. & Dames, S. (2022). A Pilot Study Comparing a Community of Practice Program with and without Concurrent Ketamine-assisted Therapy. Data Collected, now in publication process.