All About GastroPsychology

What is Gastro-Intestinal (GI) Psychology?

Living with chronic and unpredictable digestive symptoms can affect daily life. Digestive issues can increase stress levels and interfere with meaningful activities that support wellness. Many patients also experience a range of emotions that are associated with their digestive condition.

GI psychology recognizes the challenges that patients with digestive issues may experience. Unlike traditional psychotherapy, GI health psychology focuses on enhancing psychological resources to optimize digestive wellness and strengthen resilience to stress. Our GI health psychologist is specialized in the use of behavioral treatments that influence the brain-gut connection to reduce symptom severity and enhance quality of life. This whole-person approach embraces the interconnected relationship between digestive and emotional health.

What role does GI psychology have in the brain-gut connection?

The brain and gut are in constant communication. The brain has a major role in supporting healthy digestive functions. There are a number of factors that could interrupt brain-gut communication pathways, which may affect the experience of symptoms. Several of these factors can be addressed with GI health psychology. Stress or intense emotions can interfere with digestion and aggravate symptoms. In addition, the experience of GI symptoms can result in a pattern of distressing thoughts and emotions that worsen stress and increase bothersome symptoms. By identifying your modifiable factors that influence the brain-gut connection, GI health psychology can help develop a personalized treatment plan that is specific to your needs.

How Does GI Psychology Work?

GI psychology is a short-term, skills-based treatment. It is beneficial for patients who are interested in a proactive approach to better managing their symptoms and are willing to practice skills to support gut health in-between sessions. Although the number of sessions will vary for each patient, research has shown that brief interventions for symptom-specific problems can be effective. The GI psychologist will further discuss treatment planning in the initial consultation.  

GI psychology uses evidence-based treatments that are directed toward the brain-gut connection to improve symptom management, quality of life, and adaptive coping skills to reduce stress. The GI psychologist will work with you to determine which treatment approach would be the most appropriate for your specific goals and will communicate this with your gastroenterologist. An important aspect of GI psychology is the role of practicing skills in-between sessions to maximize their effectiveness on the brain-gut connection.

What Can GI Psychology help with?

  • Disorders of the Gut-Brain Interaction (DGBI) - also referred to as Functional GI Disorders
  • Dyspepsia
  • Centrally Mediated Abdominal Pain Syndrome
  • Functional Abdominal Bloating/Distension
  • Functional Dysphagia
  • Functional Constipation, Diarrhea, and Fecal Incontinence
  • Functional Nausea
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

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DR. TEETERS in video chat with patient while taking notes