IFS-Ketamine-Assisted Couples Retreat

Free Psychedelic Integration Group

The IFS-Ketamine Assisted two-day retreat for couples is a unique, cutting-edge experience that helps couples learn how to identify, slow down, and de-escalate protective emotional reactions during conflict.

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a powerful method of understanding the mind’s natural multiplicity (parts or subpersonalities), and is an evidenced-based psychotherapy for healing trauma and emotional development. Ketamine is an FDA-approved treatment for psychiatric symptoms associated with depression and can dramatically reverse patterns of avoidance, anxiety/panic, emotional overwhelm, numbness, and hopelessness. Combining IFS with ketamine in a group experience brings together three of the most powerful and effective strategies to create a deeply transformative and healing experience.     

Connection Within Leads to Connection Between

The goal of this retreat is to improve your moment-to-moment ability to regulate your emotions, and bring compassion, calm, and courage into hard conversations. 

Unlike typical couples therapy interventions, which focus on building strength in the attachment between each partner (communication skills, kindness, etc.), the IFS-Ketamine-Assisted Group for Couples will focus on “Self-leadership” of your internal parts (mental habits, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs). Having a stable attachment to others depends on your ability to stabilize and care for your inner sub-personalities and their frequent conflicts (for example, a caretaker, procrastinator, and perfectionist parts). De-escalating inner polarities inherently leads to greater poise, tact, courage and ingenuity, all useful resources for resolving outer conflicts. 

Required Reading: 

Required reading before the retreat is Richard Schwartz’s book, No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model.

Recommended reading is Jay Earley’s book, Self-Therapy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Wholeness Using IFS, A Cutting-Edge Psychotherapy

Looking for an individual retreat experience? Enrollment for our two-day ketamine-IFS retreat focused on depression is now open.

Bootcamp for Transforming Shame and Fear into Connection

Couple holding hands with engagement ring

The main aim of this group will be to immediately relieve burdens of shame, overwhelm, fear, and hopelessness carried by your hardest-working protective parts—the parts of you that manage the day-to-day business of partnership—with little time for authentic intimacy. Besides being guided by a twenty-year veteran couples therapist, you will have an incredibly powerful and reliable neurological assistant: Ketamine.

Ketamine: A catalyst for healing

Ketamine has been widely and safely used in emergency and surgical anesthesia applications for 50 years. Used in therapeutic psychiatry since 2006 in research, and in recent years with FDA-approval, ketamine can bestow upon its benefactor a remarkable sense of clarity and calm, confidence and creativity.

We will use intramuscular (IM) ketamine to greatly expand self-awareness, reduce typical shame and fear reactions to strong emotional content, and improve your ability to accept yourself and accept your partner. Without being flooded with vulnerability or dominated by a protective reaction, healing can begin. You will have the wider vision to see pain or discomfort as the opportunities they can truly be, and to experience yourself as more alive, sensitive, and resourceful.

Blackboard with the chemical formula of Ketamine

Opening New Windows: Altered perceptions and side-effects of Ketamine 

A rare side-effect of ketamine is nausea which can be managed by fasting in the hours before a journey, and be the use of an anti-nausea medication, which we can prescribe.

So-called psychedelic hallucinations are also referred to by scientists as a “side-effect” of ketamine. In psychiatric and personal growth uses, however, it is these very altered perceptions that our group will use to great benefit for your relationship.

Illustration of a magical book that contains fantastic stories

Although ketamine is not a “classic psychedelic,” and is technically a “disassociative anesthetic,” most people do have vivid, altered sensory experiences. Neuroscientists hypothesize that the psychedelic effects of a medicine like ketamine cause the brain’s hierarchical organization (rigid associations, beliefs, feelings, and thoughts such as “the sky is blue”) to loosen and temporarily dis-associate (“the sky is an ocean,” or “I am the sky.”) According to their model, psychedelics reduce the brain’s reliance on prior beliefs about the world. Learn more about How Psychedelics Open a New Window on the Mechanisms of Perception.

Our group will exploit ketamine’s powerful ability to open the brain’s programing, to change inflexible narratives about yourself and your partner, and to increase your cognitive and emotional flexibility.  

The process: What will happen in our group time?

Our group processing time will focus on preparing for the medicine, integrating emotional experiences, and taking steps toward genuine intimacy. I will teach IFS concepts and ask you to work with your own parts during group meditations, exercises, and in between sessions. If volunteers oblige, you may have the chance to work with me facilitating your parts work, in front of the group. You can learn more about the concept of “parts” and “working with parts” by watching Richard Schwartz speak about it, below.  

Each couple will have the experience of getting support from the group as they courageously move towards vulnerability and flow (curiosity, clarity, compassion, courage) at moments of high distress instead of getting locked into protective rigidity (defensiveness, selfishness, confusion, fear.)

"...it turns out that we are all multiple."

A powerful tool to disrupt projection: The You-Turn

I will teach and facilitate what is called the “You-Turn,” a technique designed to interrupt the intimacy-robbing pattern known as projection. Projection is the unsolicited attribution of your feelings onto the other, in a reflexive protective response.

For example, imagine that you feel intense anxiety and pressure about a report you’ve been asked to produce for your boss. At dinner, your partner asks you to pass the ketchup and you explode with irritation, “Why can’t you get it yourself?” By fixating on your partner, you’ve bypassed the harder work of sorting out, befriending, and speaking for your own feelings. 

Mindset for a ketamine journey

In our group, I’ll encourage best practices for relationship-orientated behavior (empathy, kindness, honesty, communication, forgiveness) but these skills won’t be taught directly. It is my experience that healthy between-partner behaviors naturally increase once each partner is given the chance to get a hold of themselves (the You-Turn), and allow the body to get in sync with the mind. Once you’ve opened up more clarity, calm, and connection within you through the You-Turn, then you are ready for what we call the ReTurn, which is dialogue with your partner.

In this group, you will have all the most powerful tools to support you in that work.    

Who am I in conflict?

Rather than focusing on how to behave as a couple, (something taught in most conventional relationship enhancement programs), this unique group will exclusively focus on each partner’s internal mental habits, specifically addressing the question, “Who am I in conflict?”

It is during conflict that your most human and relatable sense of you—what IFS calls “Self”— disappears. Your primitive brain stem kicks into gear and stimulates parts of you that we call “protectors.”

Colorful board game figures and dice on the field, hobby

Protector parts value self-protection over your whole system’s best interest. Like the military issuing martial law, your inner army of protective parts take charge of managing relations with your partner. Predictably, your partner’s army of protectors must march out to meet yours. In the blink of an eye, gone is the child-like playfulness, creativity, hopefulness, and vibrance that once flowed between the two of you. Unless both sides can get relief from the stress of being in conflict, qualities essential for growth–trust, curiosity, and hope—get exiled, leaving increasingly fewer reasons for wanting to make the relationship “home.”


Friday, September 13, 2024: 6-8pm, Zoom
Saturday, September 14, 8:45am – 3pm
Sunday, September 15, 9am-3pm
Friday, September 20, 4-6pm, Zoom

Format of the group

We will use ketamine to greatly expand self-awareness, reduce typical shame and fear reactions to strong emotional content, and improve your ability to accept all parts of you. Without being flooded with vulnerability or dominated by a protective reaction, more healing can begin. With the loving and supportive energy from our group, you will have the wider vision to see pain or discomfort as the opportunities they can truly be, and to experience yourself as more alive, sensitive, and resourceful.

Ketamine, most widely known as an anesthetic agent, and has gained recognition in the field of psychiatry for its remarkable antidepressant effects.

Unlike conventional antidepressants which may take weeks to alleviate symptoms, ketamine has shown rapid and robust antidepressant effects, often providing relief within hours. This makes it a promising option for individuals struggling with treatment-resistant depression or those looking for a powerful breakthrough to help jumpstart healthier behavioral changes. Ketamine works by modulating the neurotransmitter glutamate, which plays a crucial role in mood regulation. Learn more about how ketamine works to treat depression (I especially encourage you to watch the video/lecture by John Krystal on aforementioned link.)

Outline of the K-IFS Couples Day-Retreat:

  • 2 hour zoom meeting Friday night 6-8pm: Introductions, brief overview of core IFS concepts, You-Turn 101; addressing managers fears, what to expect, Q&A
  • Saturday: 8:45-10:30 – Group meeting: Slowing the mind, centering, getting into Self
  • 10:30-12:00: Ketamine IM journey on floor mats in room together as a group
  • 12-1:00: Initial group processing
  • 1-1:30: Break: Snacks provided (bagels and fruit)
  • 1:30-3:00 – Group meeting; Body movement; Integration; How are you seeing your Self differently? What parts of you are you most curious about? How to work with your parts.
  • Sunday: 9am – 10am: Check-in
  • 10-12pm: The fundamentals of the inner system; Dealing with your inner polarities before tackling a polarity with your partner 
  • 12:00 – 12:30: Food break
    12:30pm-1:30pm: Practice getting into Self and getting to know from protector parts with Self; small group work
  • 1:30pm-3:00pm: Debrief from small groups; How can I love and care for my protectors? Self-care and other-care
  • 2 hour zoom meeting, 1 week post-retreat integration on the following Friday 4-6pm; What are you learning from your journey? What new connections inside of you have led to connection between you and your partner?


Note: Retreat is limited to 6 couples (not for solo partners) 

$1199 per person – Early-bird registration prior to August 9, 2024 (Includes medical assessment)

$1399 per person – Standard registration after August 9, 2024 (Includes medical assessment)


  • A partial tuition refund of $400 will be given if you withdraw prior to 90 calendar days before the retreat.
  • Tuition is non-refundable inside of 90 days before the retreat.
  • We ask you to report if you have signs or symptoms of any communicable disease (COVID/flu/cold) before attending the retreat.


Meetings will be held at our office space at 4300 Montgomery, Avenue, Bethesda, MD.

About Your Teacher: Keith Miller, LICSW

I’m a social worker with 20 years of clinical experience as a psychotherapist in private practice. Since 2007, I’ve been the owner and Clinical Director of Keith Miller Counseling, a private practice that has provided mental health and couples counseling to thousands of people. In 2022, since a majority of our clients and staff preferred remote therapy, we closed our Dupont Circle location to focus on in-person care in Bethesda. In February, 2023 I founded Calliope Health Ketamine, offering ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.

I completed my Level I training in Internal Family Systems therapy in 2008, going on to become a Certified IFS therapist, and completed Level III and Advanced IFIO (Intimacy from the Inside-Out, IFS-for-couples, training. 

I’ve been a national speaker and educator on the topic of mindfulness in psychotherapy and am the author of several books on personal growth and relationships, including many free webinars and courses, and  Love Under Repair: How to Save Your Marriage and Survive Couples Therapy. I regularly teach my course for couples, Mindful Marriage, a mindfulness-based and IFS curriculum for relationship enhancement. In 2021, I started the psychology and spirituality podcast, The Soul of Life.

Keith Miller with Rick Doblin
Keith Miller (left) with Rick Doblin, Ph.D., the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
Anna Richards - Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner

Anna Richards, PMHNP

Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric Mental Health Practitioner
Board Certified

I am a psychiatric nurse practitioner with 10 years of clinical experience across the lifespan in a variety of settings. I am experienced in treating psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and substance abuse as well as extensive work in crisis stabilization. I have a special interest in treatment resistant depression, trauma related disorders, and bereavement.

My past clinical experience led to an interest in ketamine assisted psychotherapy because many of my clients seeking treatment through psychotropic medications are met with limited relief of symptoms and/or intolerable side effects. I believe in patience, persistence, and collaboration with my clients as a path forward to recovery.