Gut Focused Psychological Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) aims to identify patterns of behaviour and thinking that lead to negative emotions. These emotions can sometimes hinder progress toward desired life goals. CBT is one of the most studied techniques involving a mind–body intervention for reducing the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). “The therapist and patient collaborate to identify distorted cognitions, which are derived from maladaptive beliefs or assumptions. These cognitions and beliefs are subjected to logical analysis and empirical hypothesistesting which leads individuals to realign their thinking with reality.” CBT attempts to reduce physical symptoms by assessing the association between physical sensations, thought, emotions and physiological responses. Interpretation of abdominal discomfort for IBS can lead to actions that involve seeking medical consultation, hyper vigilance toward bodily sensations and increased physiological arousal and anxiety. CBT then teaches patients about how to reframe their minds so that their evaluations and judgements about their symptoms aren’t so harsh. When CBT is used for treatment it usually consists of five steps.

The first step is to educate. Education about the underlying pathogenesis of functional bowel diseases and the relationship between physiological and physical symptoms, and how the effect of stress can impact on the intestinal tract. The CBT model of treatment is closely looked at along with the patient. There will eventually come a time when the patients is asked to record their emotions and symptoms which include their perceived relation to each other. Later, the patient and therapist work together to try and identify the underlying assumptions and thought related or, or are influencing their symptoms. Stress management techniques are formulated and practiced. Lastly, the patients are encouraged to re-engage themselves with foods/activities that they have been avoiding, and monitor their actual symptoms in order to monitor their learned response.