Gastroenterology Behavioral Medicine Program
Housed within the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Division of Gastroenterology, the Gastrointestinal Behavioral Medicine program provides a broad range of services to the Digestive Health Center’s gastroenterology, hepatology, and lifestyle medicine patients.
Stress can negatively impact our physical and mental health and the GI tract is one of the first systems in the body to experience the consequences of stress. Living with chronic and unpredictable GI symptoms can be stressful and affect work, relationships, and your overall quality of life. Psychological interventions that address stress, lifestyle factors and, in many cases, GI symptoms directly, can provide helpful tools to improve physical health and mental well-being. Our Health Psychology Service is beneficial for patients with a wide range of GI conditions, including those with poorly understood symptoms that have not responded to standard medical interventions.
Outpatient services are staffed by licensed clinical psychologists, health psychology trainees, and our certified health and wellness coach, all of whom have specialized training in digestive diseases. We work directly with your gastroenterologist and physicians to coordinate your care.
All of the therapists on our team1 are trained in hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and brief solution-focused treatments. These psychological interventions have proven efficacy in a number of well-controlled clinical trials and are widely accepted as the most effective psychological interventions for GI conditions. Services include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Gut-directed hypnotherapy
- Mindfulness based interventions
- Relaxation training
- Coping with a chronic illness
- Disease education
- Assistance with weight loss
- Psychological evaluations for bariatric surgery
Hospitalization can be a difficult and stressful experience for any patient. The GI Behavioral Medicine program offers inpatients a variety of services ranging from addressing pain and sleep difficulty, to providing education and brief solution focused clinical services. Our health psychologists and health coach are available to meet with our patients and their families to provide support, counseling, and treatment planning.
Medical Nutrition Therapy
Our registered dietitians and nutritionists help patients obtain symptom relief through nutritional changes. Our comprehensive review of dietary factors details what may be affecting your GI condition or symptoms. Our medical nutrition staff also participates in our comprehensive Neuromotility and Weight Clinic which addresses weight loss and weight gain coinciding with GI and motility disorders.
Patients at the Digestive Health Center can also participate in our free health coaching services, frequently at the time of their medical appointment. Our certified health and wellness coach provides education to patients on their diagnosis and offers instruction on quick relaxation and coping techniques which have been shown to be beneficial for a number of conditions. Our health coach also coordinates with our health psychologists, physicians, and dietitians to provide follow-up and support to patients receiving services.
Support and Education Groups
Our specialists and trainees hold a number of support groups for patients of the Digestive Health Center. Support groups can be an important way to access information and aid in coping. We currently hold a Bariatric Surgery Weight Loss Support Group for our post-surgical patients, as well as an IBD Support Group for our patients with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Our support groups occur once a month and also feature our ‘Meet the Experts’ series where a specialist (physician, dieticians, community advocates, etc) periodically joins the group to answer questions and provide information on the latest research and news impacting patients.
In addition to our monthly support groups, we also offer periodic education groups which are open to any Northwestern patient and the community at large to provide information regarding the identification and treatment of Gastrointestinal Diseases.
Many of the conditions we treat through the Digestive Health Center and the GI Behavioral Medicine Program can be complex and enduring. Chronic medical illness can take a toll not only on the individual, but on the entire family. Our Family Education program offers patients and their families the opportunity to meet with our experts to answer questions, explore treatment options, and learn how to cope.
Patients of the GI Behavioral Medicine Program have access to specialized media to support their treatment. Audio and video recordings range from relaxation exercises, guided meditation to address sleep and pain, and hypnosis for IBD and IBS. Our patients have access to media resources from some of the top providers in the field of GI Psychology and Health Psychology. Contributors include Dr. Andrea Bradford, Assistant Professor, Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. Scott Hoye, Member Chair of the American Psychological Associations Division of Hypnosis; Dr. Sarah Quinton, Director of the Northwestern GI Behavioral Medicine Program; and more.
Patients can access digital health resources here.
Meet the Team
Meet the Behavioral Medicine for Digestive Health Team
In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.