Clinician Spotlight: Lance Johns, LMFT

Innerwell Team

Let’s start with something easy. Can you tell us a little about your professional background and areas of focus?

I started off providing psychotherapy to college students and then worked in community mental health. During that time, I worked with a wide range of individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds and concerns, including PTSD, substance use, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression. I then went into teletherapy and have been doing that full time and work with depression, substance use, and trauma. Throughout my education and career, I have also been interested in social anxiety because it seemed so fundamental to the human condition and could simultaneously enhance and hinder human connection. To this end, psychedelics appear to have a profound ability to facilitate a sense of social belonging and interconnectedness.

How would you describe your approach to therapy?

The goal is to enhance flexibility--psychological flexibility. This is the ability to evolve or adapt according to the context--for you to act in accordance with what the current situation calls for you to do. Our behaviors have worked at some point in our lives, but they may now be obsolete. However, entrenched behavioral patterns have been established and we can't easily get out of them. We rely on the mind's interpretation of the world, rather than what is in front of us.
Thus, I help clients act from the feet up as opposed to the mind down--to take flexible and purposeful action. This means learning how to look at thoughts rather than through them; to accept emotions rather than resist them; to view yourself (your identity) as a spacious container holding multiple--at times, contradictory--experiences, rather than a mere label; and to identify your values with passion and act in accordance with them.

What would your patients say about you?

That I provide a good context for openness and exploration and a balance of challenge, novelty and compassion. I have also been told that I know when to guide them to their own solutions and when to be more directive.

How did you become interested in working with psychedelics including ketamine?

I've had my own experiences with psychedelics and often wondered how psychotherapy could enhance the impact that psychedelics have on one's life. I knew that part of the goal of psychotherapy was a transformation in perspective and the development of a transcendent self. These are two experiences that psychedelics offer and thus it made sense to me that you would combine the two. I believe that ketamine is specifically positioned for this because it is safe, widely used and has been extensively studied.

What excites you most about the future of psychedelics?

Their ability to provide further insight into how the brain works. We know only a little about the human brain, psychedelics offer a window into alternative perceptions that are otherwise inaccessible. I also think the potential to use psychedelics, albeit wisely, for a variety of problems is unlimited and exciting.

Enough about work! Let’s try some rapid fire questions;
  • First, Where do you live? - Southern CA
  • What's a perfect afternoon? - Reading, hiking, playing music.
  • Favorite food? Pizza/Pasta - Give me some cheesy Lasagna!
  • Describe yourself in two words. - Flexible and Open

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